Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

August 22

Comments: 5

[TSS] Kindle for PC and iPhone and eReading

by Ann-Katrina

Amazon KindleThe updates have been scarce recently because I’ve been busy. But I’ve been reading…and reading in a new way: Kindle for PC.

So, I downloaded it a few months ago but never really used it. I mean, reading from the laptop just isn’t ideal. Then I downloaded the Kindle for iPhone and then downloaded a few free books from the Kindle store.

Then one day I’d forgotten my paperback books and was stuck in a waiting room when I remembered that I had the Kindle on my iPhone, so I pulled it out, loaded a book and started reading. It was surprisingly comfortable.

When I was about halfway through the book, I decided I wanted to continue and fired up the Netbook. When I figured out how to change the background color from white to pale yellow, we were in business.

One thing I noticed, however, was that it took me longer to finish the book than if I’d read it in dead tree form. It wasn’t horrible, but I did put the book “down” more often and forgot about it for longer periods of time.

But at any rate I did enjoy reading the eBook more than I anticipated and while I can’t say I’m an eBook convert, I can say that I’m likely to read more short eBooks. In the future I’ll probably wind up with a dedicated eReader (or an iPad…but the eInk displays sound more comfortable on the eyes).

The Man Who Was ThursdayRight now, I’ve started reading The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton. Since I’m only a few pages in, I haven’t formed a solid opinion of the story, but have formed a solid opinion about Chesterton’s writing: That man has a wonderful way with words. It’s playful and adept.

I’m curious now how many out there have a Kindle or other eReading device and how they like it.

Do you use the Kindle or Kindle for PC or iPhone (or any other iteration of the Kindle software) and what has been your experience with it? What about another eReading device?

Now’s your chance to convince an eReading novice to pull the switch.

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July 18

Comments: 12

[TSS] Is it Ever Possible to Leave the House Without Coming Back with a Truckload of Books?

by Ann-Katrina

Fresh on the heels of finishing both Pharos by Alice Thompson and Stolen by Lucy Christopher (finally!), I discovered another book, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, waiting for me in my mailbox on Saturday and I couldn’t resist starting it.

Pharos by Alice Thompson Pharos was an intriguing read. The best part about the book was the prose. It was evocative, (usually) spare, and eloquent. The story itself wasn’t bad, but I still need to digest it a bit before I try to express my opinions coherently.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher Stolen. Oh, Stolen. What can I say about that book? Well, first I’d say that it’s agonizingly slow in the beginning and although it does pick up somewhat around the later middle and end, it’s still relatively slow throughout. That said, I did like the story. Basically, I kinda wish it was written by someone else. But that one is also digesting so I can write a cogent review.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow I’m about two thirds of the way through Plain Kate and I’m enjoying the journey. There is so much to love about this book so far: it’s a fairytale without gratuitous sugarcoating, there’s talk of witchcraft, there’s a blood-sucking ghost, and the protagonist isn’t handed all of her heart’s desires on a silver platter—she actually has to work for it. That said, I’ve spotted a couple of (minor) problems which I’ll address in the review, but as of now, this one’s a winner. (I’m totally in love with Taggle, Kate’s cat, because he’s just plain hilarious.)

Assuming I finish Plain Kate today (which I’m positive I will), I’ll take in a few short stories or possibly read one of the new books that came home with me today.

And speaking of new books, I’m now of the belief that it’s darn near impossible to leave the house without coming back with a bucket-load of books. This morning while grocery shopping, I noticed that they were having a 75% off sale, so I decided to rummage through the remains and have now added 3 new books (technically 4, but one of them is a craft book) to my library. I’m not really complaining though because they were only a buck apiece.

The Third Option by Vince FlynnThe Wire in the Blood by Val McDermidThe Distant Echo by Val McDermid

I hadn’t realized I’d picked up two books by the same author, but I’m hoping that I really like her style because she’s a new to me author (both of them actually).  Also, I hadn’t realized that The Wire in the Blood is the second book of a series, so I’ll have to scout out the first one before reading it.

If anyone has read Flynn or McDermid or these books specifically, I’d love to hear about your experiences with them.

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July 11

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[TSS] When An Author Doesn’t Know Her Characters…

by Ann-Katrina

It shows.

Have you ever started reading a book and then paused because one of the characters did something entirely out of character?

Don’t get me wrong, a good story will challenge a well-established character to step outside her normal boundaries and push the limits, yes, but that changed behavior rarely has an Invasion of the Body Snatchers feel to it. You’ll see the character is being tested and her actions will typically be in line with her personality.

For an example, I was reading a book (which shall remain nameless) wherein the main character was said to be independent, strong-willed, and an honour student. And every single one of her actions throughout the story contradicted these established personality traits. Every single one.

It was as though the author was trying to wedge the character into a mould which simply didn’t suit her. What it really boiled down to was the character having no motives for her actions and it screamed this author doesn’t know the first thing about who I am. And it made for painful reading.

This is something I see more of in contemporary Young Adult literature and I have to wonder if it’s because the authors believe they can “get away with it” because the young are less inclined to look beneath the surface? It also plagues some contemporary mainstream adult fiction and I have to wonder if it’s because the masses in general are less inclined to look beneath the surface, too.

Then again, maybe I’m the only one to notice this, or care. Maybe it is only all about the plot. Maybe characters don’t matter. Maybe I’m asking too much when I ask for both good characters and an entertaining plot. (But I believe strong character development can make a weak plot better and a good plot great. I could be wrong about that, too.)

OK, rant finished.

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July 4

Comments: 7

[TSS] To Read in Silence, or Not…

by Ann-Katrina

(Before I start this week’s Sunday Salon, I want to wish all my U.S. readers a happy 4th of July…may your barbeque be extra delicious and your fireworks extra sparkly!)

Sunday Salon This is something I’ve been curious about for a while, but never actually gotten around to discussing.

At the end of a book I was reading, the author had published a playlist.

Interesting, I thought, but wouldn’t the music distract from the reading experience?

Of course, this thought process comes from my own desire to read in silence or with light (usually classical) music since lyrics tend to distract me.

Then I realized it’s probably because I imagine how each of the  words sound as I read (aka subvocalize). This gives me a feel for the rhythm and flow and tone of the prose. Listening to music, especially if there are lyrics, interferes with that. It’s like listening to two sometimes incongruent songs at the same time.

Now writing is a different story. While I sometimes prefer to write in silence, I almost always require music while editing or rewriting. A particular song can even inspire an entire scene. In that vein, I can certainly see the usefulness in a playlist.

But it still comes back to the original question…as a reader, how inclined are you to listen to music (or the author’s designated playlist) while reading a book?

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May 23

Comments: 2

[TSS]: State of the TBR Pile

by Ann-Katrina

Since I needed to take a week off reading, I’ve fallen behind on my reading schedule. I did manage to wake up this morning and read The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott.

The Unwritten Rule It’s a relatively quick read and a touching story, if a bit angst-y for my tastes. Sarah has a crush on Ryan. Problem is, Ryan is dating Brianna, Sarah’s best friend. But eventually Sarah learns that Ryan has feelings for her too. What ensues is a lot of self-doubt, guilt, and general emotional messiness.

As the story progressed, I found myself realizing that Brianna was the true star of the book although it was narrated by Sarah and essentially was about the relationship between Sarah and Ryan. I hope to have the full review written and posted inside this week.

Books next in the TBR queue include:

StolenRumor Has ItShadeClaire de LuneThe Deadly SisterSilent Scream

Stolen by Lucy Christopher: Yes, I’m still trying to slog my way through that one. From everything I’ve heard, there is a pay-off…it’s just a matter of making it that far. Right now, I’m up to page 89 (just shy of the halfway mark) and the pace is still rather slow, but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it picks up soon.

Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell: While this book is also a slower read, I find that the pacing is appropriate for the unfolding story (or, rather, stories). I’m about halfway through and it’s just starting to pick up, but the Anglicisms are still throwing me for a loop.

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready, Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson, The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer, and Silent Scream by Karen Rose.

The rest of this very clear and sunny day will be spent catching up on housework and if there’s time, curling up with a good book and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. (Wish me luck because I’m really looking forward to that ice cream.)

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