Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cheap Read Worth Checking Out

Kissed By Darkness  (2.99)
Book #1

Freshman author writes an incredibly engaging book, that breaths new life into a dying and overwritten genre. Not to say I didn't have some minor issues with this book, but I was able to objectively allow minor issues to pass and maintain a moderate level of suspension of disbelief, in order to enjoy this book as a whole. No doubt, this author is very imaginative and isn’t afraid to step out of the cookie cutter genre box that others have fallen victim to.  As I mentioned, I did notice a few mistakes and had the feeling the author has yet to find her stride completely with this series.  However, if and when she does get there, she will most definitely be the next big UF writer to look out for.
Danger is always on the menu for Morgan Bailey, a sexy and street-smart bounty hunter, who prowls the dark underworld of Portland, Oregon hunting creatures of the night. Morgan’s never met a vampire she couldn’t dust or a demon she couldn't kill until she's hired to destroy a new kind of mystical threat: the Sunwalker.

A powerful immortal once believed myth, the Sunwalker carries with him an ancient secret which, if left unchecked, will destroy Morgan’s world. Pursued by a passionate Templar Knight and the target of the local vampire clans, an ancient power is awakened within her, unlike anything she’s ever known. Morgan must uncover the truth behind her mission and about herself, before the Darkness lurking inside swallows her whole.
Now for the good. The author has a talent for creating sexual tension and romance, not to mention a imaginative and fresh world. And although I would not classify this as strictly a PNR, she doesn't hold back or teases her fans either. There is also a good amount of humor and a bit of sarcasm, without seeming to be trying too hard, which is not always easy to do. As the book progressed, I found myself enjoying the protagonist's voice and humor more and more.  And shockingly enough, I definitely had some laugh out loud moments. A good use of description and grammar, makes this book an easy read. The pace is also exceptional, and is one of the reasons it kept glued throughout. And although this may be classified as just another Vamp book, it definitely delivers a fresh plot, that makes this anything but.

I had just a few minor issues, besides the ones mentioned previously. One being a lack of character & location back story. As in, random people and places are discussed with little to no back story, like they were introduced prior. Another confusion/annoyance, was the protagonist’s nationality. I had no idea whether or not the protagonist was British or just a visitor at one time, even though she mentions London in passing invariably.

In summary, I give this book a big thumbs up for its creativity, humor, romance, and pure enjoyment. If you are looking for good, fast, and cheap read, that rivals some of the more well known UF writers we all know and love, then look no further.

Warning: Violence and Sexual Content.

Sunwalker Saga

Friday, November 25, 2011

Twilight Causes Seizures

"And I'm not talking about the crotch seizures that the Twihards bust into when watching RPattz break the headboard with his ultimate sparkle strength...... Doctors believe that the red, white and black images flashing during the scene can trigger episodes of photosensitive epilepsy."   Go Here to read the full post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kindle Touch: Cool New Features, but Not exactly easy to use

My first impression of the Kindle Touch is its comfortable weight. It doesn't feel that much heavier than the K4, and I already love that there are fewer buttons for me to accidentally press while reading.  The touch is very different than its predecessors, so there will definitely be a learning curve, even for seasoned Kindle users.  Navigation is not exactly intuitive and Amazon doesn't provide any instructions (beyond basic set-up) preloaded or included with the device.  You'll have to search for it yourself and sift through  all the info or just work through it by trial and error.  I used a combination of the two approaches to just get a handle on managing my Kindle content.

  • Power Button is much easier to press (not as flush as the K4's)
  • Only one middle button on the bottom of the device.
  • Touch screen and Keyboard aren't overly sensitive.
  • Page turning is a bit faster than all previous Kindles, including the K4
  • Cool new screen savers (non-ad)

  • Again, no USB Pwr adapter (I thought it would be included with the touch. Obviously not).  
  • Without the 5-way controller I had no idea how to right toggle content. (Update: figured out from trial & error-hold finger on content.)
  • No electronic or paper instructions on how to use this darn thing. I had to search -Amazon's Kindle site to find info on navigation. Go Here if you want to learn more about navigating the new Touch.  
  • Slow at processing any action other than page turning.
  • Doesn't respond to my first touches consistently. (As in, responds when I don't want it to and doesn't when I do.)
  • Instead of accidental button pressing, I now accidentally hit the screen, causing an action to occur.  
  • Doesn't fit into a Quart size Ziplock like the K4 (Not a deal breaker).
  • Can't be used while encased in plastic, due to the touch feature (Close deal breaker).  As in, no lounging in the pool or tub with this ereader while in a zippy.  

What's New:
  • Icons replaced the home screen book sorting function.
  • A Kindle Store Icon (Shopping Cart) is included on the top of the Home Page for easy selection. It's also still located under the menu button.
  • There is also a back button Icon next to the Shopping Cart in the form of a Left Arrow <-- Icon.
  • A search window can be accessed by tapping. This will initiate the keyboard application at the bottom.
  • Sorting your Content or Collections can now be accessed in the Menu or by tapping Collections on the home page.

Navigation Tips:
  • Holding your finger on content brings its action menu up.
  • A quick tap will result in opening whatever you selected. 
  • Holding your finger on a word and dragging it will initiate the highlight function, when your content is open.
  • To place a bookmark: Tap the very right top corner of the page you wish to mark. 
  • To change Font Size or move through your content: Tap either top corners within your open content. It can also be changed by the same hand motions utilized by most touch-screen smart devices. 
In summary, I think the Touch is exactly what Amazon needed to update old faithful and keep themselves ahead in this competitive market.  However, in keeping with low costs, Amazon decided to skim on a few key accessories like the USB power adapter and full preloaded instructions.  It would have been nice to have either a very intuitive device or at least some help with figuring things out. As it stands, Amazon's site doesn't cover everything you need to know this new device. I count myself as being a pretty sharp person, so I have no doubt other people will be scratching their heads and getting a bit frustrated as well.  Once getting over this cumbersome learning curve, I can see this possibly becoming my new favorite ereader.  But as it stands now, this reader is more of a set-up and learn device that either requires a PhD or a workshop to fully understand.

Update:  I'm returning the Touch, since I rather use the K4. The Touch gets a bit heavy after reading from it for an extended period of time. I do like the easy page flipping and power button though, but that's pretty much it.  And since I've decided to keep the K4 as my main reader, I called CS and had them remove the Ads for $30.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn Steps it Up

Breaking Dawn
So, I went to see the new Twilight movie this afternoon, and I have to say it has to be the best of the bunch. I'm truly not a Twihard or whatever you call those sad moms who wear Edward tees and scream Robert Pattinson's name whenever they catch the fancy, but I thought it was overall one of the best productions in this franchise thus far.

The acting was much better by Kristen Stewart, who I'd previously judged to be a good child actor and a sub-par to bad adult actor.  Direction, editing, and comic relief was also a step-up as well. I was pleasantly surprised with the lightheartedness and obvious demonstration that they truly don't take themselves too seriously, especially with the more ridiculous parts that most book fans rejected.  Case in point, Bella's questionable baby name choices.

I was a bit shocked by what they did end up showing their mostly pre-teen audience, but I think they did stay true to the book as much as possible. The true test on whether this was entertainment gold for me is the amount of times I caught myself glancing at my watch or being distracted by the odd passerby.  Test passed, and was I was actually kinda PO'd that it ended when it did, even though I already knew they were splitting the last book up into two movies.  The worst part of this movie, as you can imagine, is that we now have to wait another year to watch the rest. Oy' vey, but I'm sure it will be well worth the wait, or as Roger Ebert so elegantly puts it, if it isn't, Charlie Swan has a gun and he knows how to use it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Art house strange, but leaves an impression

An interesting movie to say the least. From its long prelude to its extended ending, it sort of reminded me of 2001 Space Odyssey, sans the Apes. But like that film, life as we know it will end and begin again.

I can't say understood every nuisance of this film, but it definitely left an impression, which I can't often claim. It is a beautiful film about exactly what, well I am not entirely sure. The main focus is the end of the world, but also about depression and the evolution of young women, after she realizes something isn't quite right in the world. Instead of using this as an excuse to act out, as some might would, it becomes her salvation and she finds a bit a peace before the end. I would encourage those interested in seeing this movie to find a sitter and leave the impatient Hangover-type fan friends behind.
Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister Claire, and brother-in-law John. Despite Claire's best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco, with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth

Warning:  Nudity, Adult Content, & Animal Cruelty

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Excerpts and Stuff

Shadow Heir Excerpt  (Dec 27)
We don't have long to wait until the release of the final Dark Swan book, but I'm on the fence on whether I'll be peeking a bit early. In any case go Here if you don't mind a peek.

Spinoff time.  It looks like the Jane Jameson series is going to get its own spinoff.  The first book will be tittle The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires.  I don't recognize any of the characters from the JJ series, but I'm sure it will be an interesting read.  Go Here for more info.

The fifth book in the Vampires in America, aptly named Duncan, just released this last Friday on Kindle.  It should be another good read, but I'm not really digging the cover.

Home for the Holidays Excerpt
"This Cat and Bones story takes place right after the events in One Grave at a Time. Oh, and Ian fans, you’ll be glad to know that he plays a prominent role in Home for the Holidays."  Click HERE to read it.

2011 Goodreads Choice Awards
Go Here if you want your voice heard.  I can't wait to read the results.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kindle Accessories Review

BUILT Kindle and Kindle Touch Neoprene Envelope Case $29.99
I purchased this Envelope because I was tiring of repurchasing different sleeves and covers every time I got a new Ereader or upgraded. I had the Built Open Sleeve for my old K3, which I liked, but it's considerably too large for the new Kindle. It fits, but without a closure and snug grip, the ereader is liable to fall out if it's accidently turned upside down or sideways.

I've also previously purchased the Timbuk2 nylon envelope for a older version Kindle (K2), but I disliked its stiff bulkiness.

This Envelope gets 3 1/2 stars for the following reasons:

Pro: The shell is very well padded and secure, and the interior is plush and soft, with no chance for scratches.

Note/Observations: For those that are curious, no the K3 (Kindle Keyboard) does not fit into this envelope. It's a little over 1/2" too long. I have a feeling the new Timbuk2 envelope for K4/Touch might, since they usually run big.

Cons: The shell is already well padded, just like their other Open Sleeves, but the flap closure is just as padded and creates added bulkiness, that really isn't necessary IMO. I also really don't understand the side zipper pocket. I personally will never use it, unless I'm traveling for an extended period of time. There is also a bit of clunkiness in regards to it in the closed state. It does not exactly lay flat and flush (puffs out on the front top sides).

Overall, I'm a bit disappointed, especially for $30. I already have other sleeves that sort of work, so I don't need another I don't really care for. I'm returning this one and trying out the new Timbuk2 soft envelope.