Archive for October, 2012

This last few weeks, I’ve not taken much time to write reviews of my recent reads (well, the new TV season has started!) so I thought I’d write a few notes.

The Timekeeper by Mitch Alborn

This was rather a sweet story about a boy who was the first to mark time (in the sense of dividing it into years, months, weeks, days, hours) and how it became an obsession for him. In the story, he becomes Father Time. His tale is interwoven with those of a young teenage girl and a dying old man. While I loved the story, I felt the moralising about appreciating the time we have was a touch heavy handed.

Still, I gave The Time Keeper 4 stars out of 5

Les Chevaliers d’Emeraude – L’Enlevement by Anne Robillard

OK, I admit it, I’m a complete sucker for this series. I love Robillard’s understanding of character. Even though they are in a fantasy setting, they feel fresh and timeless. After all, a man in love with his best friend’s wife is still conflicted and in pain whether he’s a 21st century person or a heroic mediaeval knight.

One thing I’m noticing about this series is that it is more episodic than many I’ve read. By that I mean that in many epic fantasy series each book has its own “quest” if you like, feeding into a larger series arc. With Robillard there seems to be a lot more mini character development arcs – at this point it seems that character is far more important to her than plot development. In that sense, she reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin.

I have to say though, I’m really happy the first series is already complete – it would be so frustrating to have to wait five years for the next book a la Martin. Having said that, as I’m reading them in ebook format I do need to wait on the publisher releasing them.

Naturally, I gave L’Enlevement 5 out of 5 stars.

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks This is the second in Weeks’ Lightbringer series – the followup to the Black Prism. I’ve not enjoyed this series quite as much as his Night Angel trilogy, but it is still a great read. Weeks develops his world and characters with the trademark WTF???? Weeks moment. I look forward to seeing where he goes with this.

For the first time I split this book between the Audible audiobook and reading on the Kindle. I really got into the book, so I was so happy to be able to continue listening while doing necessary chores. I did get some strange looks from my husband walking round the apartment as I laughed at a particularly funny quip from Kip or froze to think “what??? Did he really do…?”

I gave The Blinding Knife 4 stars out of 5

American Gods by Neil Gaiman There was a recent special offer on this book so I decided to give it a go. Gaiman did say in the accompanying blurb that this book was not for everyone, and I have to say that was the case for me. I can’t even say with any certainty why I struggled to get into this book. It was original, imaginative, well written. At times, it could be violent and crude, but that has never turned me away from A Song of Ice and Fire.

I suspect it was because the characters were unsympathetic to me. I personally felt that I could neither relate to nor like Shadow, which meant i struggled to like the book.

I gave American Gods 3 stars out of 5

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

As a Harry Potter fan, I was anxiously awaiting the release of JKR’s first adult novel – or at least her first novel geared towards adults. I’d had it pre-ordered for my Kindle, so I was very very disappointed on release day when the book was unreadable. Although the publisher and Amazon fixed this later in the day, in the meantime, I’d returned my order and bought it from Kobo. Rather a poor start to a major book launch.

The Casual Vacancy is VERY different to Harry Potter. There is the odd flash of JKR’s great humour, and understanding of character, but other than that, it’s a character study along with some political soapboxing. I enjoyed the beginning, getting to know the characters and the setup, the middle lagged for me somewhat, and although the ending picked up, I found it very depressing. This was the first book I read on my new Kobo Glo though.

I gave The Casual Vacancy 3 stars out of 5.

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Although this Heroes of Olympus series is for young adults, I love it. Riordan’s style is light, witty, and fun and he knows how to end a chapter on a cliffhanger. His world building is also imaginative and fun; Greek and Roman gods wandering around our world. The Mark of Athena is no exception to his high standard. I look forward to hearing more of the seven demigods and the next great prophesy. I also listened to this on Audible as well as Kindle, which enhanced the experience.

I gave The Mark of Athena 4.5 stars out of 5.

As I have mentioned a few times now, I’m starting to get into audiobooks a lot. Jeff Bezos sucked me in with the Whispersync for Voice and the great deals on bundling the ebook and Audible book. I can imagine I’ll do a lot more listening.

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Recent Reads and Audible

Posted: October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

This last few weeks, I’ve not taken much time to write reviews of my recent reads (well, the new TV season has started!) so I thought I’d write a few notes.

The Timekeeper by Mitch Alborn

This was rather a sweet story about a boy who was the first to mark time (in the sense of dividing it into years, months, weeks, days, hours) and how it became an obsession for him. In the story, he becomes Father Time. His tale is interwoven with those of a young teenage girl and a dying old man. While I loved the story, I felt the moralising about appreciating the time we have was a touch heavy handed.

Still, I gave The Time Keeper 4 stars out of 5

Les Chevaliers d’Emeraude – L’Enlevement by Anne Robillard

OK, I admit it, I’m a complete sucker for this series. I love Robillard’s understanding of character. Even though they are in a fantasy setting, they feel fresh and timeless. After all, a man in love with his best friend’s wife is still conflicted and in pain whether he’s a 21st century person or a heroic mediaeval knight.

One thing I’m noticing about this series is that it is more episodic than many I’ve read. By that I mean that in many epic fantasy series each book has its own “quest” if you like, feeding into a larger series arc. With Robillard there seems to be a lot more mini character development arcs – at this point it seems that character is far more important to her than plot development. In that sense, she reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin.

I have to say though, I’m really happy the first series is already complete – it would be so frustrating to have to wait five years for the next book a la Martin. Having said that, as I’m reading them in ebook format I do need to wait on the publisher releasing them.

Naturally, I gave L’Enlevement 5 out of 5 stars.

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

This is the second in Weeks’ Lightbringer series – the followup to the Black Prism. I’ve not enjoyed this series quite as much as his Night Angel trilogy, but it is still a great read. Weeks develops his world and characters with the trademark WTF???? Weeks moment. I look forward to seeing where he goes with this.

For the first time I split this book between the Audible audiobook and reading on the Kindle. I really got into the book, so I was so happy to be able to continue listening while doing necessary chores. I did get some strange looks from my husband walking round the apartment as I laughed at a particularly funny quip from Kip or froze to think “what??? Did he really do…?”

I gave The Blinding Knife 4 stars out of 5

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

There was a recent special offer on this book so I decided to give it a go. Gaiman did say in the accompanying blurb that this book was not for everyone, and I have to say that was the case for me. I can’t even say with any certainty why I struggled to get into this book. It was original, imaginative, well written. At times, it could be violent and crude, but that has never turned me away from A Song of Ice and Fire.

I suspect it was because the characters were unsympathetic to me. I personally felt that I could neither relate to nor like Shadow, which meant i struggled to like the book.

I gave American Gods 3 stars out of 5

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

As a Harry Potter fan, I was anxiously awaiting the release of JKR’s first adult novel – or at least her first novel geared towards adults. I’d had it pre-ordered for my Kindle, so I was very very disappointed on release day when the book was unreadable. Although the publisher and Amazon fixed this later in the day, in the meantime, I’d returned my order and bought it from Kobo. Rather a poor start to a major book launch.

The Casual Vacancy is VERY different to Harry Potter. There is the odd flash of JKR’s great humour, and understanding of character, but other than that, it’s a character study along with some political soapboxing. I enjoyed the beginning, getting to know the characters and the setup, the middle lagged for me somewhat, and although the ending picked up, I found it very depressing. This was the first book I read on my new Kobo Glo though.

I gave The Casual Vacancy 3 stars out of 5.

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Although this Heroes of Olympus series is for young adults, I love it. Riordan’s style is light, witty, and fun and he knows how to end a chapter on a cliffhanger. His world building is also imaginative and fun; Greek and Roman gods wandering around our world. The Mark of Athena is no exception to his high standard. I look forward to hearing more of the seven demigods and the next great prophesy. I also listened to this on Audible as well as Kindle, which enhanced the experience.

I gave The Mark of Athena 4.5 stars out of 5.

As I have mentioned a few times now, I’m starting to get into audiobooks a lot. Jeff Bezos sucked me in with the Whispersync for Voice and the great deals on bundling the ebook and Audible book. I can imagine I’ll do a lot more listening.

I've had my hands on the Kobo Glo for a few days now, and it is a very nice device. I took some pictures to compare it with my Kobo Touch and Kindle Touch.

Here is a picture of the three devices with the Kobo Glo unlit
Kindle Touch, Kobo Touch and Kobo Glo unlit

To my eyes, the Kobo Glo's screen is noticeably lighter than the Kobo Touch's and on a par with that of the Kindle Touch, making more of a contrast between the screen and text. With its 1GHz processor, page turns on the new Glo are considerably faster than on the Kobo Touch and the Kindle Touch.

You may notice from the images that the Kobo Glo has dropped the physical home button. Personally, I'd have preferred that they keep it. Access to the Home screen is now via on-screen menus.

The Kobo Glo comes with a slightly updated UI, which, according to the forums, and my own experience, is still rather buggy. Once or twice I noticed that the device got stuck on a page and I had to turn it off to get back to reading. I imagine a firmware update will be coming soon to fix this. It's annoying, but not a deal breaker for me.

The big selling point of the Glo is of course the in-built lighting. "Comfort light" as Kobo markets it. Here is an image of the Kobo Touch vs the Kobo Glo with the screen lit

Glo lit

On my device at least the light is not perfectly evenly distributed. There is shadowing at the bottom of the screen. Kobo has quite cleverly got around this by reversing the menu bar at the bottom so it is white on black to disguise that somewhat. I understand from the forums that some people find the shadowing too irritating. My own feeling is that it doesn't bother me at all, and that the Comfort Light is a great improvement over book lights or less than ideal ambient lighting.

One thing on which I am undecided – whether or not to leave the Glo light on in all lighting conditions. Amazon recommends that you do so on their Paperwhite, whereas Kobo suggests only when you need it. In any case I've had it on a lot and noticed no significant drain on battery power.

All in all the Kobo Glo is a great upgrade to the Kobo line. If you're buying a first Kobo, the extra $30 for the Kobo Glo over the Kobo Touch is worth the expense in my opinion. Of course, as an entry level ereader, for $79 you can also get the Kobo Mini which looks so cute. If you already have a Touch and are thinking of upgrading that's probably more a case of personal preference. If you read a lot in less than ideal lighting conditions it might be a great purchase for you.

Sigh. I really should not have spent yesterday evening looking at reviews for the Kindle Paperwhite eReader. They unanimously give the device a “glowing” review. Now I really, REALLY want one. This is a device I use on a daily basis, so it’s something I don’t mind paying for. In addition, it appears Amazon has discontinued the Kindle Touch, so there will be no more software updates. That is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

As I live in Canada, I am unable to purchase directly from Amazon, so I’ve had to go through shopereaders.com. They called me yesterday to confirm my order, and I will likely receive it the first week in November. Their first batch is 20, and I’m the 30th preorder. Other than the front lighting, new screen and capacitive touch, I’m very excited about the updated UI. From what I’ve seen on the review videos, it looks so much nicer with the book covers.

On the other hand, I won’t have to wait as long for my Kobo Glo. Tracking indicates it’s halfway between Mississauga and Montreal, so I imagine it will arrive tomorrow. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in person. I have been searching the web for reviews/unboxings of the Kobo Glo, but there seem to be very few. In a way, it’s sad that it’s been overshadowed by the Kindle Paperwhite launch. Naturally, I will post a review once I have it.

I could have really done with my Kobo Glo this morning – I was awake at 4am and wanted to read. I didn’t want to wake my husband, so ended up reading on my Nexus 7 tablet.

On a different matter, I mentioned in a recent post that I’d been blown away with Amazon’s new Whispersync for Voice and I’ve been experimenting with it. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’ve even reactivated my Audible account. The book with which I most appreciated using it was Brent Weeks’ The Blinding Knife. I really got into this book, but as we were expecting weekend guests, I didn’t have time to sit and read a lot. With the audiobook, I found I was able to listen to it while i was working around our house, switching to my Kindle when I took a break. Tor has decided to delay the publication of the final Wheel of Time as an ebook until three months after the hardback – boo, hiss, Tor – and as I really don’t want another hardback, I will be getting the Audible version on release day.

I will not be doing my Most Difficult Books this next week or two as I’m busy with other things, but will catch up at some point. My next post will likely be the review of the Kobo Glo – see you then!