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Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $7.81

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Glad All Three Books Come Out This Year!, February 4, 2014
This book worked for me as a thriller, as speculative fiction and as literature. Annihilation has a great hook – Area X - and pulled me into the story because the author kept a strong hold on the plot. The story is tightly focused and leaves the reader wanting more information than it gives about the both Area X and the world outside its borders. It is the most accessible of VanderMeer’s books and I can imagine will appeal both to readers of his previous books as well as to those who have not read him before.

At a high level this story is a about a group of four women with specifically chosen skill sets sent by the government on an exploratory expedition into an area of the country which has been closed off due to an undisclosed and presumably catastrophic event in the past. The narrative is told in first person by the expedition's biologist. As the expedition moves into the woods, the reader finds out more about the location - called Area X - as well as about the biologist whose eyes we see it through. The tension grows and while we find out more about the expedition we also discover that the more we learn the more questions we have.

While this book is the first volume of a trilogy, I found the ending satisfying in that it stands by itself as well as leaving the reader wanting more. This is a book written by a confident writer who knows exactly what he is doing - the story is tightly edited and completely devoid of any extemporaneous material. And there is a lot going on here - I think this is a book that will stand up to multiple readings. Highly recommended. I can’t wait for Authority!


Amazon Kindle Touch Lighted Leather Cover, Black (does not fit Kindle Paperwhite)
Amazon Kindle Touch Lighted Leather Cover, Black (does not fit Kindle Paperwhite)
2 used & new from $69.83

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is what i needed for my Kindle Touch, December 25, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I think that the reason for all the mixed reviews on this product is that everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to a Kindle Cover. I know that I was recently searching for a cover for an iPad and it was a tough search. Also, it is very difficult to know what a cover is like until you have it in your hot little hands. Since Amazon has a great return policy, I would recommend getting it and sending it back if it is not what you want. I think I take a little exception with some of the reviews because if I order something and don't like it because it doesn't fit my specific needs, I don't think it would be appropriate to give a negative review based on those needs. I would be more inclined to send it back and say to myself "that is not what I was looking for but it might be what others want."

Fot those who want to know what it is like - it is not a soft cover. It is basically a hard plastic covered with leather. And unlike the K3 Keyboard lighted cover, it is a smooth and slippery finish rather than a pebble finish. It is very form fitting - the Kindle fits into the plastic inside snuggly and the cover closes easily. I find no need for a strap and in fact would find a strap to be annoying when holding the Kindle. The light is more even and focused than the K3K cover light. I can see that if you hold it in a particular way that it might shine in your eye. Not an issue with me.

For me, it gets 4 stars because it is pretty light, it protects the Kindle, the light does the job and I like the integrated look of the Kindle in the cover. I found the weight of the K3K lighted cover to be a little on the heavy and bulky side and I found myself taking the Kindle out of the cover and reading 'naked' when the opportunity presented itself. I think with this cover I will not do that very often.

I dropped it down to 4 stars because it is pricey, and the light itself feels a little fragile - it will be interesting to see how it wears over time. But the cover does not feel 'cheap' to me. It feels like some thought went into the design. It may not be for everybody, but if you want a alternative to a bulky book light and want the option to read in a dark room or in bed, it should fill your needs. In addition, it provides enough protection that I now feel comfortable taking my Kindle to work or when I venture out somewhere and want to be able to read when waiting in line, at the Dr's office, etc.


One Touch of Scandal (Fraternitas Aureae Crucis Book 1)
One Touch of Scandal (Fraternitas Aureae Crucis Book 1)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $3.79

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth as silk..., September 28, 2010
Liz Carlyle is so consistently good that one almost starts to take her for granted. Her historical romances are always well-written and compelling. Her characters are well-developed, interesting and rarely TSTL. Her books are a marvelous blend of humor and angst with a heaping helping of hotness thrown in the mix just to keep it spicy! Her latest book, One Touch of Scandal, continues her long string of entertaining historicals.

OToS in the first in a new trilogy by LC featuring the Fraternitas Aureae Crucis. This is one of those groups or clubs that occasionally appear in romance novels where the members all seem to be devilishly handsome and full of secrets. This type of thing is not one of my favorite devices in a romance, but LC uses it effectively and never lets it take over the narrative. It actually lends a nice, almost gothic, tone to the book. OToS opens with our heroine, Grace Gauthier about to be engaged to her employer. The engagement is cut short when someone murders her intended and the police decide that Grace is their top suspect. Grace goes to the aforementioned gentlemen's club in search of a family friend who may be able to help her out of this mess. Instead of finding the family friend, she meets Lord Ruthveyn, a dark and mysterious war hero (I told you these clubs are full of dark and mysterious guys) who agrees to help her prove her innocence. It's at this point, that we almost had a problem. Turns out that LC has added a touch of the paranormal to her latest and I really don't care for paranormal elements in my romance reading, but I stayed with it and found that this twist didn't bother me too much. Seems the dark and mysterious Lord Ruthveyn has some very helpful psychic abilities. Thanks to LC's careful handling, this element never overwhelms the rest of the story and thus, I was able to move on and enjoy the book. Per usual, with LC, the characters were well drawn and complex. I liked them both and enjoyed watching their relationship develop. So, good story, strong characters, witty dialogue and just the right amount of heat all add up to another excellent historical by Ms. Carlyle. I am looking forward to the next in this trilogy and I really hope that Ms. Carlyle introduces us to more feline characters. I loved Lord Ruthveyn's elegant felines.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2010 9:00 AM PST


Dark Road to Darjeeling (A Lady Julia Grey Novel)
Dark Road to Darjeeling (A Lady Julia Grey Novel)
by Deanna Raybourn
Edition: Paperback
73 used & new from $1.48

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking the Dark Road..., September 23, 2010
If you are a fan of historical mysteries and you haven't read the first three books in Deanna Raybourn's amazing Lady Julia Grey series then I would suggest that you do so immediately. This is a fantastic series featuring excellent writing, wonderful characters, exacting period detail, and sharp as a tack dialogue.

The first three books in the series found Julia and Nicholas meeting over the body of her first husband, bonding over adventures involving her family and his and finally realizing that they are meant to be. The newest book was bound to be a challenge for it would be the first to feature the couple as husband and wife. These are two incredibly strong-willed people and I wondered if DR would be able to find a way to allow them to make all of the compromises a newly married couple must make and still retain their individuality. I needn't have worried, because in DR's masterful hands Julia and Nicholas manage to navigate their way through the rocky waters of their new marriage and emerge not only stronger as a couple, but also with their individual character intact.

The book opens with Julia's siblings Plum and Portia tracking the newlywed Brisbanes down while they are on their honeymoon. Portia requests their assistance in the matter of her ex-partner Jane. Jane is recently widowed and expecting a child. She is living on her husband's tea plantation in India and Portia is concerned about her safety, as well as her state of mind. The group travels to India, where they set about figuring out if there was indeed foul play involved in Jane's husband's death. Initially, I bemoaned the fact that this book was going to be set in India since England is my favorite setting for historical mysteries, but I soon changed my tune. The setting was perfect. The exotic locale pulled Nicholas and Julia out of their normal comfort zone and, in my opinion, placed them on a more even playing field. As they begin investigating the strange occurrences around the plantation, they both are forced to deal with people and places terribly unfamiliar to them. It was interesting to watch their different investigative styles emerge as they struggle with their individual desire to be the one to solve the mystery versus their obvious strength when they work as a team. The plot was well-developed and the ending was a bit of a shocker. Although I started to suspect the truth about 3/4ths of the way through, I wasn't sure that DR would go in that direction, but I thought it provided a solid twist.

The most satisfying aspect of the book for me was watching Nicholas and Julia figure out how to be husband and wife. It was clear that the idea of melding their lives was causing both some real angst. I was pleased to see that they continued to treat each other with the respect and affection that they have always shared. The romance lover in me was thrilled to find that the intimacy of the marital bed had not dampened the heated attraction between the two. When Nicholas and Julia married at the end of the last book, I was alternately excited and concerned. I was so happy that they were together finally, but wondered if DR would be able to keep their relationship interesting. After reading Dark Road to Darjeeling, I feel nothing but optimistic that this relationship will continue to develop and grow in all kinds of intriguing ways. While I have loved all three of the previous books in the series, I have to say that Dark Road to Darjeeling was pretty nearly flawless. I came away from it anticipating all of the amazing adventures that the future holds for these two characters as well as the rest of the eccentric March clan. Kudos Ms. Raybourn! Keep 'em coming...
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2012 6:58 AM PDT


Kindle: Amazon's Original Wireless Reading Device (1st generation)
Kindle: Amazon's Original Wireless Reading Device (1st generation)
57 used & new from $43.78

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What does the Kindle offer that makes it worth the purchase?, March 20, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When the Kindle was first released, one of the most compelling arguments against purchasing it was that it did not really fill a need. There are already books and books have been working just fine, thank you, for a long period of time. And not only are there books, but there are very good libraries where books can be borrowed freely and conveniently.

The argument for the Kindle was most often an argument of convenience. Want a book when you are sitting in an airport? Want a book when you are sitting in bed? Order it and download it in 1 minute! Sounds like the ultimate convenience for the "ugly American" who wants for nothing and yet needs for everything.

But it is not that simple. Because the best thing about the Kindle is that, like Jeff Bezo's has pointed out, it `disappears'. And that is a very good thing. What does this mean? It means that once you get over the newness of the Kindle and try out all of the `experimental' features -surf the web, try to locate your house on Google maps, check the time, load and listen to an MP3, turn the sleep mode off and on to check out the screensaver pictures, play Minesweeper -once all that stuff is finished, you are going to actually read something and then you will forget all about the device in your hand and get lost in the text. That is what the Kindle was made for and that is what it does best. And it is the number one reason I am very happy with the Kindle that my lovely wife got for me as a Valentine's Day gift.

Uniformed users (in some cases people who have never used a Kindle) complain about the lack of a back light on the device. But that is by design. The best thing about the technology used on the Kindle - and on other similar devices - is that it is designed to look like the printed page. But it is a page that does not yellow with age. And unlike the printed page, if the font size is too small, you can make it larger. That is a huge step forward for me. It means that after a long day staring at a (back lit) computer screen I can come home with tired eyes and pick up the Kindle and read without straining my eyes even more. If left my glasses upstairs and I don't feel like getting up, I can just move up the font size a little more and get them later. The text is crystal clear, easy to read and the font size is easy to adjust. The contrast is excellent to me - I am actually glad that the screen background is not completely white - as white would cause more glare than the current Kindle very light gray background.

Additionally, the device is small and light. Pick up and read a large novel - like Stephen King's `Duma Key' or Dan Simmons' `The Terror' and then pick up the Kindle. Which would you rather spend an hour holding? And even if you can get it from the library, how many of us can read a 700 - 900 page book in the 1 to 3 weeks we can keep it checked out?

But for me it is all about the eyestrain. And I am sure a lot of people who love to read would agree with me that it is very hard to sit down and concentrate on a book when you spend your day sitting in front of a computer screen reading and writing for 8 hours. To me it is worth the expense to be able to read more for pleasure.

I really hope that this device continues to sell because the more Kindles (or other book readers) that sell, the more eBooks that will be sold. And the more sales that are made, the more likely that publishers will get more books converted to eBook format. There are a lot of writers who are out of print or have books out of print that I have no doubt would sell on the Kindle. Even successful mystery series writers could benefit from eBooks. How many times have you read a series such as William Tapply's Brady Coyne books or Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer books or Ed McBain's 87th precinct books and you end up having to search for one or more of the books in the series? The library doesn't have it, it is no longer in print so brick and mortar stores or even online resources can't help. So you have to go with a second hand copy. It may be inexpensive, but it might take 2 weeks before the book is in your hand.

If it was available in eBook format you could get it when you want it. I would rather buy an eBook of an older mystery book for 3 or 4 bucks that spend the same for getting a second hand copy shipped to me. Who knows what condition the book will be in once it arrives? And what if the font size is small or the pages have yellowed with age? The Kindle version will be easy to read, convenient and the writer or his heirs will actually get paid for their work. Sounds like a win-win to me. I just hope that publishers start seeing it that way as well. Why should varied and interesting writers like John D MacDonald or John Steinbeck or Peter De Vries or John Hersey (to name a few) have books that are out of print? I understand the legal legwork required for author's who have passed away, but ultimately I think getting these writers out in the marketplace will benefit everyone.

The same goes with magazines. If this concept catches on it could really provide a convenient service in which both the seller and consumer would benefit. Unfortunately, the selection is currently small. And I am not sure that I see the benefit of a magazine like `Time' or `Newsweek' has on the Kindle. Both of those magazines are filled with photos and are meant to be viewed as much as read. Magazines like `The Nation' are a much better example of where the Kindle format can translate magazines comes into play. The reason that the `The Nation' is a perfect example of a Kindle magazine has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact that this magazine is meant to be read and is dense with words - not photos. I hope other magazines and journals see the advantage of this format and make it available and soon.

Finally, the Kindle is a great way to read the classics. Not only are these books readily available online, but they are often free or available on a donation basis. Again, I can think of many times when I tried to read an older classic but was defeated not by the words but by the small text or the weathered and yellow paper that made it hard to read. With the Kindle it is about the words - as it should be. I highly recommend that Kindle owners look around the web to see what is available - and when you find a great book, think about making a donation to the people or organizations that have gone to the effort to keep these books alive.

Last thoughts: I have to agree that the cover could use a little work. I tried to work with the plastic clip and use the cover as designed, but ended up following the advice of multiple readers and got a piece of Velcro to hold the Kindle in the cover. That makes it possible to use the cover - which both protects the device and give a convenient hand hold for reading. It also holds the Might Bright light pretty conveniently - another solid recommendation by fellow readers.


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