Posts Tagged ‘kindle’

So now that Kobo has announced its new lineup, I’m pretty confident Amazon won’t be too far behind.  I have some updates I’d love to see in the new lineup.

My absolute dream device would be an eInk/LCD hybrid.  I’d love to be able to switch between a tablet and eReader.  I don’t think that’s going to happen, though.

For eInk readers, I’d love to see audio support reinstated.  I didn’t miss it when it disappeared from the Paperwhite, but at that point I wasn’t as heavily invested in Audible and audiobooks as I am now.  I would also love to see full Audible integration as we have it on the Fire, immersion reading included.  I would snap that baby up in a New York minute.  I ADORE the Audible integration on the Fire, but I do prefer reading on eInk.

In terms of the Fire, of course any improvement in specs and screen would be welcome.  Not that the current Fire isn’t excellent.  I would also welcome a better way of organising content.  The Favourites drawer isn’t nearly flexible enough.  I like Kobo’s idea of a Reading Mode where you can switch off all other distractions and optimise battery usage.  On the other hand, the Fire has something similar already – it’s called Airplane mode…

What would you like tot see in the new Kindle devices?  Let me know in the comments.

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Get 1 free audiobook credit at audible.com!

As many of my regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both ebooks and audiobooks.  For those of you unsure about e-reading or looking to take the first step, take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to eReading.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For my audiobook needs I go to Audible.  Here’s how it works.  You can either buy audiobooks at full price, with no membership or monthly commitment.  An average audiobook, say for example The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling, costs around $25 USD for non members.  A larger book, like say Fires of Heaven from the Wheel of Time may be as much as $60 USD, but most are in the $25 USD range.

Alternatively, you can choose to take a membership with Audible.  The basic plan $14.95 USD per month which gives you one credit per month to use on any audiobook.  An ideal introduction to Audible.  The Platinum plan, which I have, is two credits to spend on books a month.  That costs $22.95 USD per month.  They also have an Annual plan for which you pay $149.50 USD for 12 credits or $229.50 USD for 24.  Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook.  Monthly memberships also entitle you to substantial discounts on a la carte audiobooks over and above your one or two a month.

I understand that many of you may be reluctant to sign up for a monthly plan.  With Audible there is no term commitment.  You are free to cancel your membership at any time with no additional charges.  Audible is part of the Amazon family, which means outstanding customer service.  I can personally confirm that cancelling a membership is no problem.  I did that at one point before I became addicted to audiobooks.  If memory serves, they offered me a deal where I paid something like $10 or $20 a year, got no credits, but retained my membership discount on a la carte audiobooks, but I could just as easily have cancelled.

As I mentioned, Audible is part of the Amazon group of companies which allows it to offer the totally awesome Whispersync for Voice.  This is where the Kindle ebook and Audible are bundled together and your place is synced across all devices both for reading and listening.  You do have to buy the two separately, but the Audible audiobook is offered at a substantial discount, usually for $3.99 – $12.99 USD.  With Whispersync for Voice I might listen to a chapter or two on my iPhone during my commute, read on my Kindle during my lunch hour, switch back to Audible to travel back home and I never need to worry about keeping my place no matter what medium I’m enjoying – Amazon and Audible do all that for you.  Not every audiobook or Kindle book is setup for Whispersync for Voice, but a significant number are, and it’s growing.

You can see what I mean by looking at my Audible library:

Audible ws library

You can see that under the eBook companion column, Knife of Dreams has Whispersync for Voice enabled.

Ws 2

Here you can see that I have the audiobook for The Count of Monte Cristo and as I don’t yet own the matching Kindle ebook it is prompting me to purchase it.

If you’re in the US, Amazon makes it super easy for you to get setup with Whispersync for Voice.  If a Kindle book is compatible it will have the words Whispersync for Voice: Ready right at the top of the book details.  Once you’ve purchased it, you will be asked if you want to purchase the matching Audible audiobook at a reduced cost and passed through to Audible.   Conversely, if you’ve bought the Audible book first, clicking on the Buy Matching Kindle Book link will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book at a reduced price.  For example, for Kushiel’s Dart I would be offered the Kindle book at $5.99 instead of the $10.25 it would normally cost.

If you have a Kindle Fire, it’s even easier.  When buying a Kindle book you will be prompted to Add Professional Narration for between $3.99 USD and $12.99 USD.  You can then access Immersion Reading where you can follow along on the Kindle and the text will be highlighted as the audio narration progresses.

For those of us not in the US, it is a little trickier.  Whispersync for Voice isn’t advertised nearly as well as for our US cousins.  For example in the Canadian store, the one I use, the Whispersync for Voice: Ready is not highlighted in the description.  Searching for Whispersync for Voice doesn’t bring any results unlike in the US Store.  However, it does work;  you just need to be a little more creative.

Here’s how I’ve found it working for me.  I go to Audible first and search for the book in which I’m interested.  Let’s take Knife of Dreams as an example.

Kod

You see that Whispersync for Voice-ready is highlighted in red, so this book is enabled for the service.  You will see that it is showing the normal member price of $39.15.  Don’t buy the Audible book yet!  Next, I go to the Canadian Kindle store and search for the book

KoD2

Whispersync for Voice is not mentioned anywhere, so you need to take the chance and hope it’s the right version.  Once you’ve bought the Kindle book, head on back to Audible where you’ll see something like this (using The Cuckoo’s Calling  as an example here):

Cuckoo

You will see that you are now being offered the Audible book at a reduced price – $12.99 USD instead of $17.18 USD – because you own the Kindle ebook.  Buy it and you’re all set up for Whispersync for Voice.  Enjoy! I understand Audible hopes to integrate more fully for those of us in Canada at some point, but not quite yet.  I look forward to it.

If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Audible’s Whispersync for Voice information page. It will help you get setup with a classic novel to help you try it out.  I can thoroughly recommend it.

If you have any questions on Audible or about Whispersync for Voice please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out.

Get 1 free audiobook credit at audible.com!

As many of my regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both ebooks and audiobooks.  For those of you unsure about e-reading or looking to take the first step, take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to eReading.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For my audiobook needs I go to Audible.  Here’s how it works.  You can either buy audiobooks at full price, with no membership or monthly commitment.  An average audiobook, say for example The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling, costs around $25 USD for non members.  A larger book, like say Fires of Heaven from the Wheel of Time may be as much as $60 USD, but most are in the $25 USD range.

Alternatively, you can choose to take a membership with Audible.  The basic plan $14.95 USD per month which gives you one credit per month to use on any audiobook.  An ideal introduction to Audible.  The Platinum plan, which I have, is two credits to spend on books a month.  That costs $22.95 USD per month.  They also have an Annual plan for which you pay $149.50 USD for 12 credits or $229.50 USD for 24.  Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook.  Monthly memberships also entitle you to substantial discounts on a la carte audiobooks over and above your one or two a month.

I understand that many of you may be reluctant to sign up for a monthly plan.  With Audible there is no term commitment.  You are free to cancel your membership at any time with no additional charges.  Audible is part of the Amazon family, which means outstanding customer service.  I can personally confirm that cancelling a membership is no problem.  I did that at one point before I became addicted to audiobooks.  If memory serves, they offered me a deal where I paid something like $10 or $20 a year, got no credits, but retained my membership discount on a la carte audiobooks, but I could just as easily have cancelled.

As I mentioned, Audible is part of the Amazon group of companies which allows it to offer the totally awesome Whispersync for Voice.  This is where the Kindle ebook and Audible are bundled together and your place is synced across all devices both for reading and listening.  You do have to buy the two separately, but the Audible audiobook is offered at a substantial discount, usually for $3.99 – $12.99 USD.  With Whispersync for Voice I might listen to a chapter or two on my iPhone during my commute, read on my Kindle during my lunch hour, switch back to Audible to travel back home and I never need to worry about keeping my place no matter what medium I’m enjoying – Amazon and Audible do all that for you.  Not every audiobook or Kindle book is setup for Whispersync for Voice, but a significant number are, and it’s growing. 

You can see what I mean by looking at my Audible library:

Audible ws library

You can see that under the eBook companion column, Knife of Dreams has Whispersync for Voice enabled.

Ws 2

Here you can see that I have the audiobook for The Count of Monte Cristo and as I don’t yet own the matching Kindle ebook it is prompting me to purchase it.  

If you’re in the US, Amazon makes it super easy for you to get setup with Whispersync for Voice.  If a Kindle book is compatible it will have the words Whispersync for Voice: Ready right at the top of the book details.  Once you’ve purchased it, you will be asked if you want to purchase the matching Audible audiobook at a reduced cost and passed through to Audible.   Conversely, if you’ve bought the Audible book first, clicking on the Buy Matching Kindle Book link will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book at a reduced price.  For example, for Kushiel’s Dart I would be offered the Kindle book at $5.99 instead of the $10.25 it would normally cost.

If you have a Kindle Fire, it’s even easier.  When buying a Kindle book you will be prompted to Add Professional Narration for between $3.99 USD and $12.99 USD.  You can then access Immersion Reading where you can follow along on the Kindle and the text will be highlighted as the audio narration progresses.

For those of us not in the US, it is a little trickier.  Whispersync for Voice isn’t advertised nearly as well as for our US cousins.  For example in the Canadian store, the one I use, the Whispersync for Voice: Ready is not highlighted in the description.  Searching for Whispersync for Voice doesn’t bring any results unlike in the US Store.  However, it does work;  you just need to be a little more creative.  

Here’s how I’ve found it working for me.  I go to Audible first and search for the book in which I’m interested.  Let’s take Knife of Dreams as an example.  

Kod

You see that Whispersync for Voice-ready is highlighted in red, so this book is enabled for the service.  You will see that it is showing the normal member price of $39.15.  Don’t buy the Audible book yet!  Next, I go to the Canadian Kindle store and search for the book

KoD2

Whispersync for Voice is not mentioned anywhere, so you need to take the chance and hope it’s the right version.  Once you’ve bought the Kindle book, head on back to Audible where you’ll see something like this (using The Cuckoo’s Calling  as an example here):

Cuckoo

You will see that you are now being offered the Audible book at a reduced price – $12.99 USD instead of $17.18 USD – because you own the Kindle ebook.  Buy it and you’re all set up for Whispersync for Voice.  Enjoy! I understand Audible hopes to integrate more fully for those of us in Canada at some point, but not quite yet.  I look forward to it.

If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Audible’s Whispersync for Voice information page. It will help you get setup with a classic novel to help you try it out.  I can thoroughly recommend it.

If you have any questions on Audible or about Whispersync for Voice please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out.

This week could more easily have been described as “listening roundup” as I’ve been listening more than reading – or rather I have been listening and reading along on my brand spanking new Kindle Fire.

Here is what I have been reading and listening to this past week. 

I recently finished Siege and Storm in both Kindle and Audible by Leigh Bardugo, the followup to Shadow and Bone.  To be honest I was rather disappointed in this book.  I loved the Russian-style setting of the first book, and my enjoyment of this continued into the second book.  However, I found the pacing of this second book rather slow.  After a promising start, the story slows down to a crawl.  It also annoys me when young protagonists suddenly find themselves in a leadership position with no training or experience, just because they have some unrelated power.  

On a positive side some new and very interesting characters were introduced, especially Sturmhond.  Also the ending picked up again dramatically and I will certainly read the final book in the Grisha trilogy to see how it all ends.

I listened to Graceling by Kristin Cashore from Audible which was marked as a full cast production.  I have to say it really irritated me. Clearly the cast wasn’t in the room at the same time, so there was a pause waiting on the next person speaking.  That really threw me out of the story.

This week I was also directed to the Gem trilogy by German author Kerstin Gier.  Originally written in German, it is set in London and tells the story of Gwyneth, a young girl whose family carries a time travelling gene.  Thanks @katytastic for the recommendation.  I LOVED this book.  Gwyneth is a fun character, and for the audiobook Marisa Calin’s narration really brings it to life.  I particularly appreciated that, unlike her cousin, Gwyneth hasn’t been inducted into the family’s secrets, so we learn at the same time she does, often by her mistakes.

I have finished the audiobook for the sequel, Sapphire Blue, and also started the German ebook of Smaragdgrun (Emerald Green).  The English translation of the book doesn’t come out til October and I don’t want to wait that long!  My husband must be irritated that I have my headphones on the whole time listening to it.

I have also started to read/listen to Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist.  It’s early days yet, but so far so good.

Added to my Library this week

  • Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier – both Kindle and Audible formats
  • Smaragdgruen by Kerstin Gier – Kindle format (Amazon Germany)
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore – both Kindle and Audible formats
  • Infinity Blade by Brandon Sanderson – Kindle format
  • Blood Skies by Stephen Montano – Kindle format

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Today a friend alerted me (thanks Stèphane!) that Amazon has sneaked its 7inch Amazon Kindle Fire tablet into the Canadian store for pre-order.  I have put one on pre-order for your reviewing pleasure.  I may return it as I did the Kobo Aura, but I do want to check it out.

(more…)

Ereading still causes a lot of confusion.  I thought it might be useful to put together a post of some common questions regarding ereading and to do my best to answer them.

What is eReading?
Simply put, ereading is reading a book, comic, magazine or other similar content on an electronic device rather than in hard copy.

Why should I give up my paperback and switch to ereading?
Like many things, ereading is not an either/or activity.  There is no reason why you cannot read books in both hard copy and ebook formats.  It is very much a personal choice.

Having said that, there are pros and cons to ereading.  I have listed some here to help you decide if ereading is right for you.

Pros:
Convenience
.  With ereading you can carry your entire library around with you on your eReader, smartphone or tablet.   Can you imagine carrying around all 14 hardback books in the Wheel of Time series?  With ereading that is no issue. Likewise, if you’re living in a small space, an ereader takes up much less room than forty shelves of books.

Accessibility.  Most ereaders and ereading applications allow you to adjust the font size to suit your eyesight.  This is a real lifesaver if your eyesight isn’t what it was.

Never lose your place.  Most eReaders and devices keep your place for you, and some automatically synchronise over multiple devices.  Amazon even synchronises between the Amazon Kindle ebook and the Audible audiobook.

Additional cool features.  eReading gives you lots of extra features.  These range from such inbuilt dictionaries (if you’re unsure of the meaning of a word, click or tap on it and the definition will pop up) to additional background information and references and social sharing of your reading.

24-hour bookstore.  Imagine the scenario.  You finish a real page turner of a book at 2am and you really can’t wait to see what happens next.  With eReading, a few clicks later you can be reading the sequel, often by 2.01am.  Also, if you’re anxiously waiting for that hot, new release by your favourite author, most new release books are released at 12am PST (in Canada) and delivered automatically to your device at that time if you pre-order.  Of course, if you’re trying to watch your book budget, that Buy Now button can be more of a con…

Millions of free books.  That’s correct.  Thanks to efforts like Project Gutenberg, there are millions of legally available free ebooks for your ereading pleasure.   

Free ebooks on Amazon
Free ebooks on Kobo 
Free ebooks on Sony 

Your books are backed up by the store.  If anything happens to your eReader, you can rest assured that you have not lost your entire library.  Simply log back into the store and redownload them.

Cons;
You’re renting not buying.  When you “buy” an ebook, you’re actually buying a licence to read that ebook on your devices, not an actual ebook.  This means that, in theory, it’s easier to lose access to your entire library if, say, your ebook provider goes out of business.

Read eBooks cannot be resold, donated or regifted.  Linked to the above, the licence you buy cannot be resold, donated or regifted to another person, at least not at this point.  This may be a deal breaker for some of you who like to share your reading material with others.  Amazon Kindle customers in the United States do have limited options to lend Kindle books to others, but this is highly restricted by the publishers and usually allows only one loan per ebook, and on very select titles.

DRM is a pain in the neck.  DRM – or digital rights management –  is software applied to ebooks to prevent your illegally sharing them or changing their format.  It locks the ebook to a specific format and sometimes account and device.  It means, for example, that you cannot read a Kindle book on a Kobo eReader and vice versa.  There is no way to legally convert the ebook to make this possible.  

eReaders and devices are more fragile than paperbacks.  If you drop a paperback in the bath, you’re only out $7 or so.  That cost is considerably more if you drop your eReader…

These are what I see as the pros and cons.  It is really your personal preference if any of these are deallbreakers for you.

I like to borrow my books from a library.  I can’t do that with eBooks, can I?
Certainly you can!  Let me refer you to my post on borrowing eBooks.

I need a specialised eReader, don’t I?
Not at all.  If you have a computer, smartphone or tablet you can get started on eReading.  You would need to download an application.  Many are linked to a specific eBook store.  Here are some of the most popular.

AmazonKoboSonyBarnes & NobleApple

There are other, more general applications, but if you are new to eReading, I would recommend you begin with one of the major providers.

You may also prefer to start off with a free application to see if ereading is for you before investing in a dedicated eReader.

OK, I’m interested.  How do I get started with eReading?
Excellent!  The first thing you would need to do is choose an ebook provider.  I would recommend you try some of the free ebooks from one or two providers to see which one best suits your needs and is best for you.  

Here are links to the main stores (for Canada):

AmazonKoboSony 

In each case the steps are very much the same.

  1. go to the site for your preferred ebook store
  2. register for an account if you don’t already have one (look for a sign in or register link)
  3. download the application for your computer, smartphone and/or tablet
  4. sign in to the application with the store account
  5. browse the store for a book you’d like to buy
  6. add to cart and go through the payment process.  
  7. in the ereading application look for a “sync” function to have the book downloaded to the application if it doesn’t appear there automatically

And there you have it – your first ebook.  Congratulations!

Which dedicated eReader should I go for?
This is a very personal decision.  It really depends on what you want and what is important to you.  Please check out my eReader reviews for some suggestions or please feel free to get in touch with me if you have more specific questions. 

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So on my day off work this week I took a trip to Plattsburgh NY to purchase a Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve wanted one ever since Jeff Bezos presented the project launch back in early September, but they are not available to ship to Canada. I’ve been keeping an eye on Bestbuy.com for stock information and when they came in stock last week I decided to go ahead and purchase one.

The bad
When I first got it home, my initial reaction was, well, it’s nice, but not overwhelmingly so. I had been keen to see the new UI, but was exceptionally frustrated to know that as I had the cheaper special offers version there was only room for THREE books on the home screen in the new Cover View. THREE!!! Three!!! The rest of the space is taken up by Amazon advertising. That is ridiculous. Fortunately a quick Google search helped somewhat. Hint:

From Home screen go to Settings -> Device Options -> Personalise Your Kindle and turn off Recommended Content. This will give you an extra three books on your home screen. Having said that, it is lovely to have book covers as a home screen rather than just lines of text.

In this iteration, Amazon has dropped the physical home button – presumably to save space. It has been replaced by a virtual home button at the top left of the screen. I assure you I didn’t realise how much I used that button until it disappeared. I really hope Amazon brings it back.

You should be aware that in this version of the Kindle, Amazon has dropped support for text to speech and audiobooks. This is not a deal breaker for me as I listen to my Audible content on my iPhone. However, if audio support is important to you, the Kindle Paperwhite is not for you.

It has also halved the storage capacity of the device from 4Gb to 2Gb. My free space has dropped from 2348Mb free on my Kindle Touch to 717Mb free on the Paperwhite. However as the average ebook is only about a quarter to half an Mb, I have enough room left for a while. On my Kobo Glo I have 1129 Mb left.

The good
In my use of the device so far, the new capacitive touch screen is responsive, although currently page turns on the Kindle Touch and Kobo Glo are noticeably faster than on the new Kindle Paperwhite. The Paperwhite is currently busy indexing all my books, so I anticipate this will speed up significantly once this is completed.

As with all Kindle products, the setup was exceptionally easy. It found and connected to my home wifi network with no problem, and as soon as I entered my Amazon account details all my content was available to me.

I like the way they’ve separated Cloud content from Device content. As the storage space has been significantly reduced, it’s clear Amazon is pushing you to their Cloud. As I’m not yet nearing the limit of my device storage it’s not such a big deal for me.

The new “time to read” function is quite fun. The book I’m currently reading at the moment, Cephrael’s Hand by Melissa McPhail, doesn’t have chapter divisions, so it can’t tell me about the chapter, but it’s been interesting to see how much time I have left in the book. I haven’t finished it yet, so not sure how accurate it is at this point.

The frakking GORGEOUS
The screen. What can I say about the screen? It is GORGEOUS. Here are two photos comparing it to the Kindle Touch and the Kobo Glo, although I don’t think they do it justice.

Kindle Touch vs Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Touch vs Kindle Paperwhite

Kobo Glo vs Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Glo

I have the light setting to 11 of 22 for moderate lighting conditions and it really doesn’t look as though there is a light on at all, it just lightens the screen and heightens the contrast beautifully. There is some minor shading at the bottom where the LEDs are, but it is barely noticeable to me (I know some people are sensitive to this) and certainly didn’t detract from reading.

The new fonts are also beautiful. Normally, I don’t bother too much with fonts, concentrating more on the content than the packaging, but the new ones are simply stunning.

Although the Kindle Touch’s screen and contrast are also good, I’d compare this to reading a cheap mass market paperback (Touch) compared to a high quality hardback (Kindle Paperwhite).

I use my ereader on a daily basis, so this is a worthwhile upgrade for me, and if you were to upgrade, I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.

So in the last 48 hours both Kobo and Amazon have released details of the next iterations of their ereader products. Full details can be found at the Kindle and Kobo websites. It should be noted that I watched the Amazon press conference, but all I know of the new Kobo offerings is what Kobo has put on their website.

At the lower price point end of the scale, Amazon has refreshed the screen and reduced the price of their base model Kindle – it now costs just $69. It doesn’t have a touch interface. The Kobo base end model is now touch based, but reduced in size to a 5 inch screen. It costs just $79 dollars. As an advocate of e-reading it’s great to see that the entry level models are so reasonably priced.

Naturally, I was most interested in the touch readers. The big selling feature of both the new Kobo and Kindle touch devices is the front lighting to allow you to read when in a darkened environment. I often like to read in bed in the morning when I wake up, and don’t like to disturb my husband sleeping next to me, so this is something to which I was looking forward. I have had the lighted Kindle cover, but that adds a lot of bulk and weight to the device.

For once Amazon and Kobo were playing catchup to Barnes and Noble who launched their Nook with Glowlight six months ago. It remains to be seen if Amazon and Kobo do it better.

Both new touch devices are offering enhanced displays. Kobo is offering the 6″ Pearl E Ink touch screen, Plus XGA High Resolution with 16 levels of grey scale. The new Amazon Paperwhite offers 25% more contrast compared to the current edition with a 6″ Paperwhite display, 212 ppi, optimized font technology and 16-level gray scale.

In terms of battery life, Amazon appears to have taken the lead here. Amazon states that a single charge lasts up to eight weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 10. Battery life will vary based on light and wireless usage. Kobo states one month per charge… with the footnote that that is with the light turned off. With the light on, you can only expect 55 hours of reading. That’s probably not much more than I would expect from my Nexus 7 tablet.

Two other things jumped out at me regarding the new Kindle Paperwhite. The touch screen is capacitive (like the iPad or Nexus) rather than the infrared of the current Kindle Touch. Capacitive allows for faster response than infrared and does away with the need for a large bevel, making the device thinner. I found an interesting info graphic regarding the differences. When typing on my eInk infrared touch devices I’ve grown used to typing a letter – breathe – type the next letter – breathe – next letter. It will be interesting to see how much better that is on a new Kindle capacitive touch device.

The second thing to jump out at me was that Amazon has FINALLY updated the UI for the Touch. All I can say is Halle-frickin’-lujah. It was about time. Lines of text as a navigation system are so last millennium. They’re finally switching to using book covers. I hope that with the faster touch response time this will make a wonderful experience.

Oh yes, one other new feature that Amazon has added is a guide as to how much time it will take you to finish the current chapter. That may be a gimmick, but it could be useful. I imagine I’ll just have to try for myself.

Both these devices look great, and I hope to add them to my collection. I had planned to purchase the Kindle Paperwhite first, but Amazon’s US centric focus foiled me: “this product is not available in your country”. So I went ahead and placed my order for the Kobo Glo. It should be with me on or around the first of October. I will certainly do a full review.

With regard to the tablets, I’m going to direct you to the Kindle Fire and Kobo Arc product pages. With my disappointment in the Kobo Vox, and the Kindle Fire’s lack of availability and content in Canada, I’m hard pressed to recommend either of these devices over a more open tablet such as the Google Nexus. Of course, your mileage may vary, as they say.

One other thing from the Amazon press conference which did absolutely blow me away was Whispersync for Voice. Amazon owns Audible, one of the main suppliers of audiobooks and now through Whispersync the two media are tightly integrated. You can listen to the audiobook in the car, then pick up the book on your Kindle when you get home and, get this, it will track your progress, so you will never lose your place. That just blows me away. Also, Amazon is now offering audiobooks of some of the books you own at a fraction of the normal price: when browsing Amazon’s site today I came across this:

Whispersync for Voice

Now you can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible audiobook.

Because you own this Kindle book, you can add the professional narration of Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time) for the reduced price of $8.99. Normal price would be around $50 if I remember correctly.

I’m not big audiobook fan, but that could convert me.

And on that note, I’ll sign off.

The genre of political thriller is not one I read particularly often, and it usually has to have a very interesting premise for me to pick it up in the first place.  This one did catch my attention: what could happen if wealthy and influential individuals lost a loved one in a terrorist attack and had the means, motive and opportunity to take personal revenge?

The first half of the novel introduces the protagonists, describes the initial terrorist incident which sparked the titular revenge, while the second half follows its setup and first stages of execution.  One thing I found detracted from the novel slightly was the abrupt end.  I understand this is the first in a two book series, and it felt as though the ending was neither a tied up ending nor a lead in to book two. 

I found the characters to be well developed and in general sympathetic – at times it was all too easy to forget that what they are planning will cost the lives of many innocents in the name of personal revenge.  The author does very well though in the way he describes their grief to gain the reader's empathy.

The descriptions of the political and practical discussions was also very well done – it was intelligently written and easily accessible to someone who doesn't move in the exalted circles of the protagonists. That said, I would have welcomed a more moderate religious viewpoint to balance the fanaticism on both sides of the Islamic/Christian divide.

I will certainly be checking out book two when it it is published and look forward to it.  I gave The Serpent's Head: Revenge four stars.

This last couple of months I've got through a few good books, and rather than reviewing each individually, I decided to write a post discussing all of them.  On the fourth of May no fewer than four new releases were downloaded to my Kindle, so I am happy I had a week off work to read them all.

Fair Game – Patricia Briggs
This is the next book in the Alpha and Omega series, and it was the usual enjoyable Briggs fare.  Anna and Charles are interesting characters and it's fun to see their development.  I was particularly interested in the end game changer – I understand it's impacting the Mercy Thompson series, too.  I had been surprised that Briggs was planning a new Mercy book.  I'd felt the character had come to the end of her story, but this will add a new dimension.  I look forward to Frost Bitten next year

I gave Fair Game four stars.

The Iron King – Julie Kanawa.
This is an ebook I borrowed from the library.  A Young Adult novel, it is the usual tale of modern teen finds she has an undiscovered past and hidden powers, finds herself in a fantasy world.  It's been done before, and better executed, but the storyline and characters were engaging enough for me to want to borrow the sequels from the library.

I gave The Iron King three stars

Unholy Night – Seth Grahame-Smith
This is Grahame-Smith's take on the three Magi of the Nativity.  As the Magi are only mentioned briefly in the Gospels, the author has created a whole storyline for them.  Personally, I did not enjoy this nearly as much as his previous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  I missed Jane Austen's wit from the former and the genuinely interesting real life story of the American President from the latter.

I gave Unholy Night two stars

Orange as Marmalade – Fran Stewart
I confess I'm a sucker for gentle mysteries where the cat helps to solve the crime, With this one I particularly enjoyed that it was written mainly from the cat owner's point of view, with regular snarky comments from the cat as she tries to make her owner see the clues she herself has found.  I will certainly be adding this series to my "to follow" list.

I gave Orange as Marmalade four stars

Les Dragons de l'Empereur Noir – Anne Robillard
I don't often read in French, preferring to read in my native English, but I couldn't call myself a self-respecting fantasy lit fan living in Quebec and not read Robillard's popular series. I've been meaning to read them ever since I arrived in Quebec nearly seven years ago, but it took publisher Welland's decision to finally publish them as ebooks for me to read them.  This is the second in the series and I adored both this and the first one.  Robillard's writing reminds me in many ways of Patricia Briggs or George R.R. Martin.  All of these writers have a very keen understanding of character.  Whether Robillard is writing from young Kira's point of view or that of the older, experienced knight Wellan, it is easy to understand and empathize with them.  I can't wait for book three to be published in ebook format.

I gave Les Dragons de l'Empereur Noir five stars

The Alchemyst – Michael Scott
It is not very often that I am beaten by a book and do not finish it, but this is one of those cases.  The premise sounded intriguing – a book involving the ancient alchemist Nicolas Flamel – but I had real problems with the execution.  The biggest issue I had was that the author plunged straight into the action without really introducing the characters.  I really found myself thinking why should I care about these people?  In the end I found I didn't care enough to finish the book.

I gave The Alchemyst one star

Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch
This is the second in the Gentlemen Bastards series of books.  I knew I was going to enjoy it when five minutes in I was giggling out loud at the banter between Locke and Jean.  This book reminded me more of a buddy road movie than an epic fantasy novel; it hangs on the relationship between these two characters – and Lynch describes it beautifully.

I gave Red Seas Under Red Skies five stars

Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Roth's Divergent series is tipped by some to be the next Hunger Games, and it is easy to see why.  The post apocalyptic world Roth creates feels real – and scary – and her characters are engaging and multi dimensional.  This is the second of the series, and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first one, it is still an excellent read.

I gave Insurgent four stars

The Serpent's Shadow – Rick Riordan
This is the third and final book in Riordan's Kane Chronicles series dealing with Egyptian mythology.  I have not enjoyed this series as much as the Heroes of Olympus one based on Greek/Roman mythology, but it's still a fun read.  The series is lifted from the banal by the banter and wit sprinkled throughout the pages, but still it is fairly predictable. 

I gave The Serpent's Shadow three stars

Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
Some reviews on Goodreads criticized the novel for being bloated with too many of the minutiae of Sookie's everyday life.  That wasn't a problem for me personally.  I enjoyed reading about easygoing Southern life.  The mystery was fun if not a page-turner, and Sookie was as annoying as ever with her boyfriend angst and her insistence on proceeding despite multiple flashing, neon warning signs.  I enjoyed the book in spite of these faults.  It felt like meeting up again with old friends.

I gave Deadlocked five stars

What next?
My Kobo reader is away for servicing, so I'm unable to read the next two ebooks I have in mind as they're non-Kindle compatible ePubs.  These are Anne Robillard's A.N.G.E. and the next in Julie Kanawa's Iron series.  In the meantime I'm reading Burned, the next in the House of Night series.