Charlotte’s Web 50 Years Later
Amazon had a good Daily Deal on the Saturday of Easter weekend and I purchased the beloved children’s book Charlotte’s Web ($6.99 Audiobook $4.99). I read it the next week – nearly 50 years after the first time I opened the book.
E.B White has penned a charming tale of the bucolic life of Fern and Avery and their adventures on the farm. They lived large with Wilbur the pig, Tennyson the rat and Charlotte the spider, sheep, geese, and cows.
This time around I realized why this book wasn’t a favorite of my childhood – the story was too close to home. We had pigs on our farm, but we didn’t have a hired hand named Lurvy. We children carried the slop to the pigs. And, yes, we dumped it right on their heads because they wouldn’t move away from the trough.
Our barn had plenty of spiders and we often walked into the webs. Honestly, they were a nuisance. Even though we had great mouser cats, the mice still took refuge in the hay and the milking stanchions where the ground corn was dropped. Thankfully, we had no rats.
When I read the book way back in grade school, I knew the story was a stretch and I didn’t get into the spirit of talking animals and web-writing spiders. On the other hand, any story I read about the big city was the gospel truth because I wasn’t familiar with the setting.
Great fiction may just depend on your personal experiences and points of reference. Charlotte’s Web was better this time around. I haven’t slopped the pigs recently and I’ve romanticized the daily farm chores over years. Amazing how good a book becomes when your perspective changes.
A Real Deal: Free Kindle Version and Free Audiobook
Download this Kindle version of Pride and Prejudice free and click on the ADD AUDIBLE NARRATION to get it free, too.
In this classic historic romance by Jane Austen, young Elizabeth Bennet strives for love, independence and honesty in the vapid high society of 19th century England.
Cheap Reads – Military Non-Fiction
Prior to the Memorial Day holiday weekend publishers have reduced the price of military non-fiction titles. The four below are selling for $1.99 each today .
Last week I told you about the update on my original 8.9” Kindle Fire that deregistered my device. I use this Fire every day to play 7 Little Words and Monkey Wrench (both free). Occasionally I will read a children’s book or cookbook on the larger screen.
I had noticed that since the update new books were not appearing on the carousel. That happens every so often. I have always been able to go to the books tab and see recent purchases when on the cloud tab. The last update has caused something to go wrong because new books have not loaded for nearly two weeks.
Audiobooks continue to appear as does the daily Washington Post app refresh. I do not use the WP app, but Mr. Bezos keeps faithfully sending the update.
Has anyone else had a similar problem with your Kindle Fire? Any suggestions for kick-starting it?
Booktrope, a book-publishing software platform for authors, will close at the end of May. The company raised $1 million in investment in 2015 and provided authors easy access to editors, designers, marketers and support staff. The message posted on their website states that even with a collection of excellent books, sufficient revenues were not generated to make the business viable.
The good news is that those excellent books will still be available as Booktrope struck a deal with Amazon to reissue its titles via Amazon Publishing.
Many Booktrope authors have reduced the price on their books until the end of the month. Follow this link to Booktrope books priced from 99 cents to $2.99 each. I have included only books with 4-star or higher reviews in the link. However, I am unable to filter out offensive categories.
Shingaling – A Wonder Story
If you are an adult who fell in love with R. J. Palacio’s young adult novel Wonder ($9.99) and have read the follow-up stories, you will want to purchase Shingaling (99 cents Audiobook $2.99), a novella. The selection is a quick read and a great addition to the series.
Description: The third Wonder Story is about life as a fifth grader at Beecher Prep through the eyes of Charlotte, the girl who had been chosen to be Auggie’s “welcome” buddy.
Readers will not only learn more about Charlotte and her budding friendship with Summer (they solve a mystery together), but how the girls at Beecher Prep react to Auggie attending their school for the first time, and how Charlotte came to write the precept she used at the end of Wonder, “It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”
I’m old and handicapped so I enjoy audiobooks for many reasons. Last night I was about 5 chapters from the end of a very intense mystery when my audio stopped reading my book to me. I was so disappointed and frustrated.
Then this morning I remembered my older kindle and found that it had synchronized with my Fire so I was able to read the remaining chapters and put a period to the end of the book. Life is back to normal once again. Oh happy day!
Pam’s story just made us smile. Serious readers understand her feelings when she was unable to resolve the mystery of the book. Love that Pam’s life is back to normal once again. By the way: Pam’s Fire is working fine. We concluded there was a glitch during the download process that caused the book to stop abruptly.
My self-de-registering Fire
The month of April was a very busy time for us. In addition to our father’s rapidly failing health, a sister-in-law had several major surgeries and we helped the family with four children make all their school, sports and church activities; visit their mother in a hospital 50 miles from home and prepare for a move to a new house.
Paula’s husband Tiger had a small medical issue and spent four days in the hospital. He’s just fine now, but we didn’t get much sleep for several weeks.
While at the hospital I (Paula) pulled my original large (8.9″) Fire tablet out of my Kindle bag one evening and was surprised to find that it had de-registered. I had been using the hospital’s open wi-fi and didn’t really think much about it. I re-registered the device and all my content became available. I’m remembering that this happened on April 22.
On April 29, I received an e-mail from Amazon that included this:
We’re writing to let you know about an issue you may have encountered on your Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. If you’re having trouble finding your books, videos, or other content on your device, your device may have been deregistered from your Amazon account during a recent software update. [snip]
If you haven’t already, you should re-register your device to your Amazon account to access and download your content.
OOPS! That software update didn’t go smoothly. I was relieved that being on an open wi-fi network didn’t cause the issue. Why it took took Amazon a week to get the word out is a bit perplexing.
The good news is that Amazon gave me a $5 credit as an apology.
A Heartfelt Thank You
Many of you left words of sympathy, voiced prayers and wrapped us in your cyber arms this past week after we shared in our Housekeeping post telling of our father’s passing. Each note touched us deeply and helped us as we adjust to life without Dad’s presence.
Romances are selling cheap this week. Buy the three contemporary and three historical romances below for only 99 cents each.
DonnaC sent a note asking us to share our impressions of the Amazon’s Echo ($179.99) after having the device for a few months. Echo is the hands-free speaker you control with your voice and is a grown-up version of Siri or Okay Google on Apple and Android phones. In addition to accessing the internet, Echo also connects to your Amazon music and audiobooks.
DonnaC asked this question:
Has Alexa (voice of the Echo) become a part of your household, or is she that visiting relative who won’t leave?
The answer is: It just depends. My husband and I often ask Alexa for the temperature and the weather forecast. We ask for sports scores and team schedules. We listened to local basketball games by asking Alexa to play the call letters of the station. We could listen to any radio station that is partnered with IHeartRadio. I ask her to spell words and she has helped us resolve a few crossword conundrums. When it comes to joke telling (which are really riddles) 50% are actually funny.
Alexa has the ability to search the internet to find answers to questions. The finesse in asking the question increases the probability of a reply. I have not spent enough time with her to have developed the art of asking the question correctly. I’ve read a few books about Alexa, however, the writers just slapped some basic facts on the page and didn’t give meaningful advice.
Alexa is used most at our house for music. With the huge Prime music library and play-lists, the selections are near limitless. Sitting on the loveseat and giving the voice commands to play, skip, pause, and increase or decrease volume is sweet. Christmas music filled our house during the holidays.
Over the last few weeks while we have contemplated our father’s life and his declining health, instrumental hymns played throughout our home were soothing to our tired souls.
One disadvantage is that the Echo must be connected to a power source. Alexa sits in the den where we spend the most time. Our house is large, but she responds to our voice from the rooms adjacent.
I have sent feedback to Amazon regarding the audiobook feature. I listen at 3x the speed of the narrator. I have not yet found a way to increase the reading speed.
I believe the Echo is worth the price even though we don’t use the full capabilities such as controlling our house lights or keeping our shopping list. Amazon is constantly working to improve the Echo and adds new features regularly. Each week I receive an email of new content, apps and uses. Another bonus with Echo is that the product continues to improve and expand, but I do not pay an additional monthly fee.
Voice-activated technology is the wave of the future and practicing with the Echo is putting me ahead of the average person.
My Alexa Tap ($129.99) arrived several weeks ago. This portable Alexa can be taken anywhere and needs only a wi-fi or hotspot connection. The big negative is that I must push a button and then speak to activate it. After the hands-free Echo, pushing a button seems old-school and awkward, even if it saves the battery life.
My husband had a recent 4-day stay in the hospital and I packed the Tap along. I connected to the open wi-fi using an app on my Fire. The instrumental music I chose from Prime provide white noise to mask the hospital sounds to allow him to rest. I worked from the small table shown in the picture. See the Tap?
Younger users who gather in outdoor venues might enjoy the portability more. Simply set up a hot spot on a phone, connect the Tap via the app and then add a wireless speaker. Instant party music.
The Dot, which can only be purchased via voice shopping from the Echo, is a slimmed down version of the original. The little thing is only about 2” inches high. I have one in our kitchen where the Echo voice commands don’t reach. The Dot does all the things the Echo does and is voice activated. The speaker quality is less because of the small size.
Amazon made a limited supply and says that when the supply is gone, that’s it. I will admit that the Dot was a frivolous purchase but once I was in, why not go whole-hog? The Dot is in an upstairs bedroom to play music and listen to news and weather.
To answer DonnaC’s original question: Alexa is a part of our every-other or every-three day life. That’s our fault, not Alexa’s. We haven’t spent the time learning all that she can do. She’s welcome in our home anytime because we just don’t know when we might need her.
Today is a difficult day for the two ladies who bring you this site. Our father, age 96, passed into heaven’s gates early Sunday morning. An amazingly healthy man for being well past 90, his physical health failed in the last month. His mind remained sharp.
Dad prepared us for this day as he led us to a faith in God, not putting our faith in anything or anyone on this earth – not even him. There is no greater gift.
He lived a life of integrity. He served his country honorably as a member of the Flying Tigers during World War II. He loved the land and was a farmer all of his life. The farm still has 12 cows because he just wasn’t ready to sell the last of the herd.
He was married to our mother for 44 years and a widower 21 years. He had four sons and four daughters; 12 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. His greatest desire was that his children have a happy childhood.
He was a natural teacher. He taught us to work on the farm, in the garden and in school. We always had chores and we could never get out of doing them.
Dad encouraged us to read by being an example. The highlight of his day the last 10-15 years was the mail delivery when three local and regional newspapers would arrive. Dad also read books – many, many books. The last 20 years of his life, he often read a book a day. Our challenge was finding a constant supply of garage sale bargains and library discards. He had a Kindle, but the controls were frustrating in his later years.
Paula has a special memory of Dad as a teacher: When I was five, kindergarten was not mandatory in our state. Children could attend for half-day classes, but the parents were responsible for transporting the child home. Because we lived eight miles from the school, they decided I would start school with first grade. Dad was worried that the other children would be ahead of me. That winter he taught me to read from a book called Come Play with Us. I learned basic addition and subtraction and simple spelling words. When first grade started, I was months ahead of the students who had attended kindergarten.
Today we will gather with family and friends to celebrate his life. We will laugh and cry as we remember his character and personality. And each time we read a book, we will think of Dad.
We have written about our father in previous posts that can be read here and here.
A Reason to Buy the Oasis
Brooke, a loyal DCR follower, sent an email explaining why she would ordering the Oasis ($289.99). Brave Brooke did this after I had given my opinion on the overpriced reader in last week’s Housekeeping. She had compelling reasons for making her decision:
I’ve now read everything out there on the Oasis, and decided to purchase it. Why?
I’m retired and we live in Mexico for half the year, where physical books are either non-existent (most English language) or ludicrously expensive (Spanish language). So regardless of which language I’m reading, ebooks on Kindle are my default choice. I read maybe 8 hours a day, so a comfortable Kindle is something I have no problem paying for.
I’ve purchased the Kindle 1, DX, Keyboard and Voyage. Except for the lighting feature on the Voyage, my favorite by far was the Keyboard. I underline and take lots of notes, and that is very iffy on the Voyage. Also, finding a particular note or highlight can be impossible on the Voyage if you have more than a couple of pages. I need to download the My Clipping file and find it in that file. Annoying.
With the bulge at the side, the Oasis seems to have a better grip (I actually found the Kindle 1 the easiest to hold) than the Voyage and three cheers for returning the page turning buttons. It is made from stronger materials than the Voyage, so I will actually try reading it at times without the cover.
Brooke sent a follow-up note that she ordered the Oasis with the burgundy cover. The estimated delivery date was September. Due to travel schedules, she cancelled the order and will try again later this fall when she hopes for more timely delivery.
The Oasis is an acceptable option for some, especially those who are able to read for hours at a time. The comparison of the thickness to the Kindle 1 and ease of holding were enlightening to me as I have only held the slim versions of the Kindle.
Brooke has promised that she will let us know if the reader meets her expectations when she finally has one in her hands.
Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth!
Today is the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth of England. Even though the United States fought for freedom from the monarchy, we still enjoy following the Royal family. The Queen is a role model in that she looks amazing for 90 years of age and continues to fulfill her role. Her two great-grandchildren are pretty darn cute, too.
Biographies of the Queen are plentiful, but few are selling cheap. The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy from HarperCollins is selling for $3.99 today. Written in 2012, the book gives insight to Elizabeth’s reign. Description: The royal family have been through a tumultuous decade, but with the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, Prince Philip’s 90th birthday and the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee celebrations, there is renewed interest and appreciation of our monarchy. The Queen is an in-depth look at the woman at the centre of it all and is the only biography to take Elizabeth II seriously as the subject of historical biography, or to examine the influences that formed her and the ideas she represents.
Cheap Reads – Young adult titles
Publishers have lowered the prices on some great young adult novels. Enjoy a fun read by Dave Barry, a dystopian spy thriller by Debra Driza and a military thriller by Trent Reedy.
The Worst Class Trip Ever (99 cents Audiobook $3.99) In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. In a fast-paced adventure with the monuments as a backdrop, the kids try to stay out of danger and out of the doghouse while trying to save the president from attack—or maybe not. Written for ages 8-12.
MILA 2.0 ($1.99) Mila was living with her mother in a small Minnesota town when she discovered she was also living a lie. She was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was never supposed to remember the past. Now she has no choice but to run–from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much, and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. Written for ages 12 and older.
Divided We Fall ($1.99 Audiobook $3.99) Danny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. He enlisted in the Idaho National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission … but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead. Written for ages 14 and older.
Kindle Oasis – Getting the thumbs down
Yesterday Amazon announced the Kindle Oasis – the eighth generation of the popular reader. You can read what trade sites are saying about the device on these links:
Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is the funkiest e-reader it’s ever made at theverge.com.
Meet Amazon’s New E-Reader, the Kindle Oasis at fortune.com.
Amazon’s redesigned Kindle Oasis reader costs a whopping $290 at arstechnica.com.
Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is an ereader only for the true bookworms at techradar.
New Kindle shockingly different — so’s the price at USA Today.
And finally, BBC News asks this: Does the world want a £270 e-reader? BTW – £270 is about $385 United States.
I skimmed each article and didn’t read anyone who thought the price as great. In articles before this release, many of the tech-sperts were saying that the Voyage is overpriced at $199.99.
Many of you commented on the device on the announcement post. The price is the deal-breaker for all of us. I took the time to customize an order of the Oasis to add 3G wireless connectivity (plus $70) and remove the special offers (plus $20). That brought the cost to $20 more than my first Kindle 2.
Amazon customers are asking questions and others are giving snarking answers. Read the dialogue here.
My opinion: The Oasis may have cutting-edge egonomics, lighting and a clever way to extend battery life. But if you are happy with a PaperWhite or a Voyage, upgrading to the Oasis seems like an expensive addition to your Kindle inventory.
If the sales aren’t what Amazon is expecting, perhaps the Oasis will be offered at a lower price this coming summer during Prime Day or as a Black Friday deal. This device also makes the Paperwhite and Voyage more attractive to customers wanting a new reader.
Will there be a new Kindle Fire released in 2016? I did not find any rumors on the web today. Amazon’s energy seems to be in the Fire TV for now. Perhaps a new Fire will be announced in October before the Christmas shopping rush.
Cheap Read – Non-fiction for only 99 cents each
Black Titan (99 cents Audiobook $4.49) The grandson of slaves, born into poverty in 1892 in the Deep South, A. G. Gaston died more than a century later with a fortune worth well over $130 million and a business empire spanning communications, real estate, and insurance. Gaston was, by any measure, a heroic figure whose wealth and influence bore comparison to J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. Here, for the first time, is the story of the life of this extraordinary pioneer, told by his niece and grandniece.
Bound for the Promised Land (99 cents) Harriet Tubman is one of the giants of American history—a fearless visionary who led scores of her fellow slaves to freedom and battled courageously behind enemy lines during the Civil War. And yet in the nine decades since her death, next to nothing has been written about this extraordinary woman aside from juvenile biographies. The truth about Harriet Tubman has become lost inside a legend woven of racial and gender stereotypes. Now at last, in this long-overdue biography, historian Kate Clifford Larson gives Harriet Tubman the powerful, intimate, meticulously detailed life she deserves.
Another Fire Coming Soon
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted on April 4 that the “all-new, top of the line Kindle [is] almost ready” and promised more details this week.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the high-end device would come with a case that can recharge the reader as well as protect it. The Fire should be thinner without the need to hold all the power. Rumors are that a solar-charged Kindle is in the works, but will not be unveiled anytime soon.
Watch Daily Cheap Reads for details when the device is released for orders.
Honest to goodness, these typos are from books in the Kindle Store:
I turn slightly, give him a pathetic wave good-bye, and then drop back down onto the bench with my hands in my head.
He said, “Whoever gets this job wins a really good, really decadent steak finner with all the fixings.
So when you want to get rid of a blog in your drain from shaving gel or hair, all you need to do is the following.
I recently blogged about Julia Quinn’s latest book Because of Miss Bridgerton ($6.99). The Regency romance is the first in a series for fans of the very popular Bridgerton series.
Ms. Quinn’s sister is a cartoonist and has created a strip called Bridgertons over Troubled Waters. Go here to read the blog and see the cute Bridgerton cartoon. You can also follow a link to previous cartoons.
Amazon has cut the price on 99 romances to just 99 cents each. Eight-one of the novels and novellas have 4-star or better reviews so shop wisely.
Follow the link to browse all of the 99 Kindle Romances for 99 cents each.
Here are three of the popular romances that have audiobooks selling for just $1.99 when you buy the Kindle book:
99 romances for 99c each
Sunday Surprise for Susan
On Easter Sunday, I got a surprise. It wasn’t from the Easter Bunny, it was from the U.S. Postal Service. As I was cooking ham and stirring gravy for dinner, there was a knock at the door and the postal carrier handed over an Amazon box. I’d placed the order earlier in the week and knew it was on the way, but did not expect to see it so soon.
“You’re working today?” I asked the carrier.
“We have to deliver Amazon on Sundays,” he replied.
He didn’t seem at all put out, but I felt terrible for causing him to work on Easter Sunday. The delivery was a surprise because 1.) I’m not a Prime member and 2.) I am definitely not in a major metropolitan area which Amazon earlier identified for Sunday delivery.
Apparently, the service is rolling out into more areas as the Post Office tries to compete. Digging around, I found it is possible on your Amazon profile address package to check a box that you would prefer only weekday delivery.
To set your preference, select the drop-down arrow on YOUR ACCOUNT in the upper right corner of any Amazon page. Select YOUR ACCOUNT. Scroll down to the SETTINGS section and select MANAGE ADDRESS BOOK.
Select EDIT for the address you want to update. Scroll down to vote yes or no for the weekend delivery.
Amazon Tap, Tap, Tapping Along
My (Paula) Amazon Tap ($129.99) arrives today! I even ordered the green Sling Cover ($19.99).
I’m no expert on the device, but a Tap is a portable version of the Echo. Instead of voice commands, you must push a button to request action, thus the name Tap. The smaller Echo look-alike has stereo sound.
The device can be connected to wi-fi networks and hot spots such as a phone and then your Amazon music library and the tunes available through Prime can be enjoyed at the beach, the backyard, the office – anywhere you can get wireless service.
You can also hear the news, listen to weather reports, and order a pizza.
One of the most attractive features of the Echo and Tap are that Amazon is continually adding features and improvements. The device you buy today will only get more feature-rich.
These psychological suspense and crime fiction novels are selling for only 99 cents each.
Monkey Wrench App Review
I’ve always loved word puzzles and games. Several years ago I found 7 Little Words (Free) and have played the daily puzzle ever since.
The makers of that great game recently introduced another word/trivia puzzle – Monkey Wrench (Free). This app includes a daily puzzle to solve and a free 50-puzzle pack. You can purchase additional packs for as little as 99 cents.
With each puzzle you can select easy, normal or hard. Easy is very easy, normal is probably the place to start to learn the game and hard is usually challenging. If you love word games, I recommend you download Monkey Wrench to your Fire or Android device and start playing today.
Paula’s Top 3 by International Authors
Written by Liane Moriarty, The Last Anniversary ($4.99 Audiobook $3.99) brings together a family for the final year of the annual celebration on their private island in Australia. Long-held secrets are revealed and family and friends are shocked by the news. Ms. Moriarty weaves a compelling, enjoyable tale.
I finally started the Clifton Chronicles, Jeffery Archer’s popular family saga series. The first book in the series, Only Time Will Tell ($9.99), introduces Harry Clifton and was an interesting read. Because it ended on a cliffhanger, I have purchased the next books in the saga.
I thoroughly enjoyed The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared ($9.99) and eagerly awaited The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden ($11.99), both by Jonas Jonasson. This book was filled with quirky characters and unlikely situations. Read this one as a fun, outside-the-box work of fiction and you will shake your head and marvel at the Jonasson’s creativity.
NOTE: All books in this list were purchased when priced at $4.99 each or less.
Buy these romances by popular authors for only $1.99 each.
Love ($1.99 Audiobook $3.49) Was it her biker boots, her belligerent blue jeans…or her mean left hook? Jason Halloran never knew what hit him. But just as his perfectly predictable life seemed to be going nowhere, sassy, street- smart Dana Roberts began driving him up a wall!
Sweet Spot ($1.99) “Responsibility” should be Nicole Keyes’s middle name. After all, not many people would sacrifice their lives to run the family bakery and raise a younger sibling. But with Nicole’s twin sister now blissfully married and her younger sis turning out more femme fatale than girl-next-door, super reliable Nicole is getting sick of putting everyone else’s needs first!
The Best Bride ($1.99) Elizabeth Abbot is finally pulling her life back together. She’s endured enough heartbreak at the hands of her deceitful ex-husband and is determined to provide a happy life for her daughter. That’s exactly why she should stay away from Travis Haynes, the sheriff of Glenwood, with his trademark Stetson and sexy smile.