Category: Book Reviews
LuvMyKindle, an avid reader, Top 4 from 2011 2 comments

LuvMyKindle is an avid reader constantly in search of escape, flitting from book to book like a hummingbird searching out the best nectar. LuvMyKindle writes:

Reading fiction is a great source of escapism and relaxation for me, and sometimes insightful and inspiring, too. My Top Four Reads of 2011 may not be “world literature” or “literary fiction” but what they all had in common was that they each quickly engaged and interested me in the settings, storylines, and characters, and each author awed and impressed me with the original, clever, and imaginative spins they created. All of these books moved at a fast pace and had me ignoring other activities, thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter” when next thing I knew, I had read five more chapters and still had a hard time putting down my Kindle; I read each of these books in only one or two days. Here are my top reads:

The Necromancer by Pamela M. Richter is one of my all time favorites. The author delivers captivating, complex plotting with memorable main and supporting characters (including a very twisted, delusional villain), heart-pounding suspense, sweet and funny moments, serious themes, supernatural elements, brainwashing, icky evil bugs, a witch’s coven, and a kitty-cat. Well-done story-telling and weaving of all the intricate threads – truly a must read! You can purchase the book for only $2.99 today.
 
 
 

 
Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan (99 cents) How can I not include the book that had me crying the most tears in 2011? Throughout the last 15% of this story, my throat was hurting and I had trouble seeing the written words through all my tears. Yes, I know it was fiction, but still. This was a wonderful, touching story about a woman who experienced heart-breaking, awful trauma. The story picks up speed and dispenses back story details as it is told. It’s an emotional story that will evoke both laughter and tears, and will stay with you long after you finish reading it.
What Luck! by Alex Knight (99 cents) An utterly unique, whimsical, delightfully refreshing story about a vampire couple and a bunch of zany, eccentric characters. Told with old world charm in a modern setting and tons of tongue-in-cheek humor, this is truly not your typical vampire tale.
Executive Sick Days by Maria E. Schneider ($2.99) This is the third book in the Sedona O’Hala cozy mystery series. I love this author’s writing style and creativity, and enjoyed once again having access to Sedona (and her humorous internal dialogue), her quirky family, and all the different new/old outrageously nutty and flawed supporting characters and their crazy antics. (I know people like them in real life. *sigh*) In addition to the main mystery (which I only had partially figured out), there was the hysterical secondary mystery of “the lunch thief” to figure out. Sedona’s love life was expanded on a bit more this time around, too. Loved it!

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Review: Kindle Fire 9 comments

Even though I’ve had the Kindle Fire since November, I’m just now getting around to writing a full review because it’s taken this long to play with all the features to get a feel for everything it can do.
First of all, what the Fire is not:
It’s not an iPad. It’s not the one device that will solve all your problems and make everything else you own obsolete.
It’s also not $600.
For $199, the Fire is a very nice tablet that does really well with what it’s designed to do. It’s marvelous to have one device for reading books, checking email, playing games, watching movies and surfing the Internet.
The Fire is relatively small, about the size of the original Kindle, or slightly smaller than a paperback. It has a little heft to it, but something about it feels like holding a book and I like that.
  
Favorite feature: The Carousel.
The homepage has a sort of bookshelf with your latest books and apps on it. Flip your finger across it and you can scroll through every book you’ve downloaded in the last two years. I could do this for hours! It’s a great way to keep some of those books from sliding off into archive oblivion.
 
Reading: You can line up your favorites on the bottom row of the bookcase so you can find them easily, even if it’s not necessarily the last book you read. I love seeing the book cover every time I start to read, something I miss on the Kindle.
Lots of options for reading here: Black letters on a white background; white letters on black; or black letters on ivory. I like this one best; it’s also most like a printed book. Besides the typical font size options, you can also change the spacing and margins. Although the lighting isn’t quite as comfortable as the Kindle, it doesn’t strain my eyes like a computer and I can read for a few hours without any trouble. (Yes, I tested this for you.) It also doesn’t require a separate light, so that is a nice option when traveling.
My only pet peeve is that I often read lying down. When you move the Fire, it automatically changes the page orientation, so I have to hold it at an odd angle to keep the page upright. The Fire is wi-fi only, so you do have to be connected to the Internet to get new books and it takes slightly longer than the 3G Kindle.
 
Apps: Let’s get right to what we really want to know: Angry Birds (99 cents). The Fire is a hit! I’m blasting through concrete and glass like there was no tomorrow. A few times the game was jerky, but it seemed to be a low battery issue. Battery life is acceptable, but nothing like we’re used to with the Kindle.
The only trouble with Amazon apps is they send a receipt when you download a free one. I haven’t used all my apps, but just got hooked on Wordoku. ($1) Sodoku combined with words – this is better than peanut butter and chocolate!
  
Movies: I’m surprised how much I enjoy watching movies on the Fire. The colors are absolutely brilliant. It’s easy to shop and download a movie from Amazon. It comes with a free month of Prime membership, so I got a few for free. My wi-fi at home works for books and apps, but times out trying to download movies, so I took the Fire to the office one afternoon to download a 24-hour rental.
While fine for personal viewing, family movie night would not work too well with a 7-inch screen.
The Fire does not have an external volume button, so you have to maneuver the screen to find the volume to adjust it. This is a pain when watching a movie or playing games and doesn’t always work correctly. That would be the first change I’d make on the next generation.
 
Internet: The Fire came loaded with some apps. Facebook works great, much easier than on my cell phone. The keyboard has useful buttons “.com” and “search” buttons. Some other things aren’t so intuitive and it takes awhile to get used to them. The Fire is a unique Amazon product and doesn’t necessarily do things like other electronics. A few glitches have popped up and at times the device runs slow.
This would be a good introductory product for children and teens, but parents should be aware that when connected to wi-fi, it provides access to the whole internet.
 
Bottom line: A good device for the money.

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Amber Drake, an avid reader, Top 4 plus one from 2011 0 comments

Amber Drake, an avid reader of everything including cereal boxes, reviews for BSC Reviews and tries to keep track of her life and thoughts on her blog, http://www.dragonashes.com/ (Dragon Ashes). Of the 230 books Amber read this year, she winnowed down her favorites to get five that she enjoyed a great deal but were also for sale at a lower price for those bargain hunters (like her!) out there. What follows are April’s favorites, read in 2011, that are currently priced at below $5.00:
 
Stranger: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer ($4.30) You may remember that last year I chose another Zoe Archer book as a favorite – this is from the same series. She does excellent characterizations that encompass a great many things other authors are afraid to touch on: race relations, beauty as a deficit, intelligence in women…basically she sticks real world people into fun and interesting historical situations, adds a bit of magic and a touch of romance and wham, you’ve got a tasty fireside read.
To get an even better price, The Blades of the Rose Bundle including Warrior, Scoundrel, Rebel, & Stranger is available for only $8.84.
 

A Secret Life by CJ Archer ($2.99) I have no idea if this author is related to Zoe Archer but considering I like both of their writing, it makes no difference to me! This one is a sweet historical romance involving a woman who only wants to write plays but has to hide that the playwright is a woman…and uses a man as her cover. Fun, with a sense of humor and a sweet romance.
Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett ($2.99) I must warn you, this book appeals to my childish side! It is full of high school boy type of bathroom humor that kept me giggling throughout. If you don’t like fart jokes, you probably won’t like this. However, if Monty Python silliness makes you giggle, you might want to give this one a try.
The Black Prism by Brent Weeks ($2.99) This is the first in a new fantasy series, set in a world where color rules. Magic is based upon the colors you can see and control and the more colors you can control, the more power you can have. Lots of action and an intriguing magic system kept the pages turning swiftly.
Wistril Compleat by Frank Tuttle (99 cents) I don’t generally like to count short stories as novels but this is a book full of short stories that involve all the same characters in different situations so it is more like a chopped up novel than an anthology. Each story was complete and interesting and the characters of the wizard Wistril and his apprentice were people I enjoyed following around while they are having adventures; even though they would rather be at home with a mug of ale and a good fire!

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Susan, the other cheap chick, Top 4 from 2011 1 comment

I’m Susan, the other cheap chick, and here are my top four reads from 2011.

The Eyre Affair is a rather unusual mystery. Thursday Next is a British detective tracking down a crafty villain who is going back into time and killing off literary characters. Thoroughly British, it is entertaining if impossible to explain. The book was published in 2003 and is still selling for $12.99, if that’s an indication of its popularity.
 
 
 
 
 

 
Where the Hell is Matt? was free for a long time, it’s still SuperCheap at $1.99. You Tube dancing sensation Matt tells the true story of how he traveled the world and inspired some heartfelt dancing.
 
As I said in my review, anyone who has had to make peace with their teenage self will relate to One Hit Wonder. This laid-back novel uses the creative frame of Mickey DeFalco’s teenage hit song to tell a touching, but realistic story. It’s priced $7.38 now.
 
Do children’s books count? If so, I’m adding The Softwire. I read Virus on Orbis 1, the first book in the series for middle-grade readers. I loved how well it conveyed the close connection between youth and technology. It is selling for $6.15 today.

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Book Review: The Merchant’s Daughter – Young adult Christian romance – $1.99 3 comments

I just read this book and am delighted to tell you it is being offered for $1.99 on the Kindle.
If you believe in fairy tales, or just enjoy the magic of romance, you’ll love Melanie Dickerson’s newest book The Merchant’s Daughter.
This Christian fiction is loosely based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Like her first novel, The Healer’s Apprentice ($1.99) inspired by Sleeping Beauty, this story is set in medieval Europe, this time in England.
Anabel is the daughter of a merchant, but after his death her family does not fulfill its obligation to work in the lord’s fields. She is forced to become an indentured servant for three years at the home of Lord Ranulf le Wyse. Rumors swirl about the irritable Lord le Wyse, who lost an eye and the use of his hand when he was mauled by a wolf. Anabel longs to join a nunnery, so she can read the Bible and escape marriage to Bailiff Tom, which her brother is trying to force upon her.
When Lord le Wyse protects her against the bailiff’s advances, a fragile friendship grows between them and Anabel believes he may not be the beast the servant girls whisper that he is.
This is an enchanting story with engaging characters, although at times I was frustrated with Anabel’s indecision. This is actually Christian fiction for young adults, so it reads quickly and the romance is tender, yet I thoroughly enjoyed it. A very interesting part of the story explored the challenges for people who didn’t have access to the Bible and priests who did not preach the word.
The Merchant’s Daughter is SuperCheap at just $1.99 on Kindle.

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Guest Book Review: Under Witch Aura by Maria E. Schnieder – $2.99 1 comment

LuvMyKindle is an avid reader constantly in search of escape, flitting from book to book like a hummingbird searching out the best nectar. Here is LuvMyKindle’s review:
 
I consider myself a devoted fan of Maria E. Schneider’s books. I love her writing style, vivid imagination, and the distinctive personalities she brings to her characters. Under Witch Aura, the second in the Moon Shadow series, delivers all that and more. The magic in this book seems to be a multi-dimensional character in itself as –it could be protective, healing, peaceful, and fun, or hungry, greedy, self-centered, and violent. Just like people, the magic is not always perfect and may be flawed and dangerous if one doesn’t use talent wisely.
 
Many of the varied paranormals from the first book are back, including Lynx. Adriel, the main character, is a bit more gutsy and edgy. Of course, there are new mad, bad, and dangerous evils and a bunch of creepy-crawlies. And, as much as I vehemently dislike seeing or reading about creepy-crawlies, I have to admit they made for some gripping (and itchy) moments in this story. I could tell a lot of research was done for this book and found the descriptions of the stones and their purposes very enjoyable and informative. I love the spin of witches and magic in this series, which I interpret as having its base in natural elements, herbs, stones, bonding, motivation, and confidence. It makes me think with the right supplies, determination, and knowledge of the corresponding rules, I, too, could perform a few spells.
 
In any case, I highly recommend this series to cozy paranormal/urban fantasy fans and dare readers not to be bewitched by Maria E. Schneider’s story-weaving magic. Purchase the book today for only $2.99.
 
The first book in the Moon Shadow Series is also available for $2.99:
Adriel should have known that with a werewolf, it never stopped with just one body. She would have gone to the police after witnessing Dolores’ death, but she wasn’t certain the killer she saw was responsible for the other murders. Besides, the police didn’t believe in werewolves, and they weren’t going to believe she was a witch either so what could she tell them?

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Housekeeping – extra helping this week – E-mail for the jr. Edition; Helping Santa, and Christmas Book Reviews 0 comments

This week we are posting an extra helping of housekeeping to keep you up-to-date. We all enjoy extra helpings this time of year, don’t we?
 
Daily e-mail for jr. edition and DCR UK
We are happy to announce that the jr. edition of DailyCheapReads and our UK DailyCheapReads site are now available by e-mail subscription. Just complete the little form in the right sidebar of each site and then confirm and activate to complete the process. If you are a parent or grandparent giving Kindle books to a child or teen, the jr. edition provides an easy way to see what is available to purchase. We respect your privacy and will only use the e-mail address for the daily distribution.
 
Helping Santa’s Helpers
A user sent us a note about her wonderful husband. He purchased her a Fire for Christmas and gave it to her early. She wanted us to know that he didn’t know to order through our site.
She suggested we give you tools for you to provide to your Santa’s helpers so they can order their gifts through us. When you are making that list, here are a few URLs you can include that will allow us to receive the sales credit and keep this site going well after the holidays:
 
Kindle Fire: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Color-Multi-touch-Display-Wi-Fi/dp/B0051VVOB2/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
Kindle 3G Keyboard: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HZYA6E/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
Kindle Touch 3G: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005890G8O/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
Touch Wi-Fi: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005890G8Y/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
Kindle, 6”: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0051QVESA/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
Kindle accessories: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Accessories/b/ref=sv_kinc_6?ie=UTF8&node=1268192011/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
Amazon gift cards: http://www.amazon.com/gp/gc/?tag=dailycheaprea-20
 
Reviews of Christmas Reads
The Cat Before Christmas by Lynn Michaels is a movie just waiting for a producer to select the cast and start filming.
Wiki, an incorrigible Siamese, doesn’t want to spend Christmas at the vet’s office while his owner Cary skis in Colorado. What begins as an innocent attempt to keep her home becomes an adventure that almost separates Wiki and Cary for good. The good news for Wiki is that this is a holiday story and all ends well after a few anxious days for Wiki.
Ms. Michaels states that the characters in the book are fictional, which is true of the human characters. The cat, however, is the real personality that is one of the nine lives in every feline. If you love cats, you will enjoy the story and nod and chuckle at Wiki’s adventures because you will know a cat just like him. If you don’t particularly care for cats, then you will be justified in your feelings as you read about the stress Wiki causes his mistress.
The Cat Before Christmas is selling today for only 99 cents. I recommend reading the novella now before the movie comes to a local theater.
 
Robyn Carr’s latest Christmas novel in the Virgin River series, Bring Me Home for Christmas, is another great book in the series. Becca Timm and Denny Cutler were seriously involved as young adults when Denny’s life abruptly changed with the death of his mother and an identity crisis while he searched for his biological father. Becca was involved in the college scene, didn’t understand Denny’s struggle, and their relationship ended.
With unresolved feelings and another man hinting at marriage, Becca travels to Virgin River to confront Denny. The story unfolds somewhat predictably, but I enjoyed watching Becca mature from her protected world of privilege to realizing that her talents could be used for the greater good. She finally catches up to where Denny, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, has been for some time. Now they are compatible beyond a physical attraction.
This book doesn’t hint at or set the stage for another book in the series and that could be because Ms. Carr’s Christmas novels can be stand alone installments. The town of Virgin River rallies around the spirit of community once again this holiday season and this story adds to the appeal of small town camaraderie. The book is selling today for $5.24.

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Review: Kindle Touch 16 comments

On my “old” Kindle 2, sometimes I’d actually touch the screen to try to pull up a book instead of using the five-way button.
So I was very excited about upgrading to the Kindle Touch with 3G.
Although its cousin the Kindle Fire has gotten most of the attention lately, this is one very nice piece of equipment.
The Kindle Touch is small and lightweight. It only has one button which is really a fine layer of fins that slide softly under your finger. Choosing a book is as simple as touching the title on the homepage, a nice step up from the five-way button. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally deleted a book on my old Kindle because of that.
 
Reading
The Touch gives two options for turning a page – slide your finger, reminiscent of flipping the page in a book, or tap the screen, which is what I usually do. Tap on the left to go back a page and at the top to pull down a menu. The screen is sensitive and I’ve often turned a page without meaning to, but no more so than with the button on the previous model. According to the users’ guide, the e-ink page refreshes more quickly and it does seem to be a bit faster. The Touch is designed so you can hold it and turn pages in one hand. (I’d like to see paperback that can do that!) This works without a hitch for me.
The dictionary feature is one of my favorites on the Kindle. It works beautifully on the Touch – just tap the word you want to know and a full definition pops up. The highlighting feature, however, is more difficult to navigate. I’ve tried it a few times and instead of highlighting, end up turning pages. The font size button is easy to handle and has options for spacing.
 
Games
The Kindle Touch is a big step up for playing games. Only a few are offered free on the Touch, but those that do load quickly and are so easy to play that if it wasn’t so nice to read books on the Touch, I’d be playing games all the time. If a keyboard is needed, it pops up on screen, so I don’t miss the keyboard at all.
  
Special Offers
Special offers are the bomb! I got the Kindle 3G with advertising for $149, as opposed to $189 without the advertising. (The WiFi Touch is just $99 with special offers; $139 without.)
So worth the $40 savings in many ways. For one thing, it’s $40. For another, the ads are only on the screen saver, so you don’t really see them. For one more, the ads are more attractive than the portraits of petrified writers. And one last thing, the offers give really good deals. Click on the ad to respond and Amazon sends the offer to your email. I got a book for $1 on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
 
Cover
Not too many covers were offered in the Amazon store when I ordered the Touch. I picked up this leather one for $39. It’s similar to a phone case in that the Kindle fits snugly inside. I was disappointed, because it was not as sturdy as I expected. Next time, I would order one with a strap that holds it closed. Also, the Touch only comes with a USB charger. If you don’t already have one, I’d recommend a power adapter ($9.99).
Overall, I am very pleased with the ease of use and features on the Touch. It would be great for new Kindle users or old pros looking to upgrade. I tap the Touch a “thumbs up.”

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Book Review: Christmas With Tucker 0 comments

Christmas With Tucker was a gift from my friend last year. A box of Kleenex later, I made it through this touching story that still warms my heart.
Christmas With Tucker is a pre-quel to Greg Kincaid’s very popular A Dog Named Christmas ($9.99). It’s 1962 in eastern Kansas and young George McCray is living on the farm with his grandparents. George’s dad was killed in a farm accident that summer. His mom and older sisters moved to Michigan, but his mother sensed he needed to stay on the farm for a bit longer. As he tries to adjust to the aching holes in his life, Grandpa brings home an Irish setter who belongs to a neighbor serving a sentence in jail.
Grandpa warns George not to get attached to the dog, which he promptly ignores. The dog fills some of the void in his life and guides him through a classic coming of age scenario.
A major element of the story is Grandpa’s job driving the county road maintainer. As a former country girl, I know full well the happiest sound on a winter day is the sound of the road grader opening a snow drifted road. Kincaid does an amazing job capturing that memory. I also appreciated the way he portrayed Grandma as a warm and caring, but hard working farm wife.
Christmas With Tucker is sentimental with a strong backbone and the accurate description of rural life gives it strong appeal to wide audiences. It’s available today for $9.99.

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Book Review: A Home For Christmas: The Sweetest Gift / A Christmas Angel – Christian fiction – 99 cents 0 comments

Don’t let the cover keep you from buying a great two-novella e-book, selling today for only 99 cents.
This weekend I quickly read through this well-written book. The romance novellas are perfect sweet reads for this holiday season. The Sweetest Gift by Mary Connealy is similar to The Gift of the Magi, yet has its own uniqueness. The sisters are interesting characters and I regretted that the story didn’t have time to develop their characters more. Perhaps they will appear in their own novella next season.
Robin Lee Hatcher’s A Christmas Angel brings a special Christmas to a nine-year-old girl and her father in rural Idaho. Superbly written, this story would appeal to teenagers, too.
 
The Sweetest Gift by Mary Connealy: Seattle, Washington 1899.
A spinster, librarian by day and concert pianist by night, marries a Nebraska rancher. Their worlds are so far apart that each is afraid to admit their marriage of convenience is turning into a love match.
When Christmas draws near Adelaide must decide if she can give up her hopes so her husband can have the stallion he needs for his ranch. And Graham may need to risk his perfect brood mare to show his love for his wife.
A Christmas Angel by Robin Lee Hatcher: Idaho 1892. Ten-year-old Annie Gerrard, stuck in a wheelchair since falling from the barn loft, hopes for a beautiful angel to go atop the Christmas tree, but God’s answer to her prayer is completely unexpected.
Annie’s widower father, Mick, never imagined his late wife’s in-laws would send Jennifer Whitmore to care for his daughter. Nor did he foresee the love she would bring into their home. Did he and Annie dare hope that Jennifer might choose to stay?
Both Christian historical Christmas romance novellas are included in this e-book for only 99 cents.
Click here to purchase A Home For Christmas: The Sweetest Gift / A Christmas Angel

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