Category: Housekeeping
Housekeeping: Echo Look, Bad Analogies and Cheap Reads 5 comments

Echo Look
Amazon has announced the Echo Look, a hands-free camera and style assistant. The web page tells us all about it:
• Introducing Echo Look—everything you love about Alexa, and now she can help you look your best
• Using just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blur
• See yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos.
• Get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists
• Echo Look helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook
• Ask Alexa to read the news and audiobooks, set alarms, get traffic and weather updates, control smart home devices, play music, and more
• Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Starbucks, Fitbit, NPR, and more
Paula’s thoughts: I can understand how bloggers who post many pictures would want the hands-free camera feature. Echo Look also solves the problem of family photos missing the one person at the camera.
After watching the video about how you can use it to get fashion advice, I decided the first buyers would be the narcissistic. Then I had the frightening thought, “What if someone gave me one as a gift? Are they saying? ‘Have you taken a good look at yourself lately? Here’s an Echo Look so you will know what you look like in that outfit.'”
The Echo Look sells for $199.99 but only by invitation.

Freshman Composition
The school year is nearing the end and teens around the country are scrambling to finish their essays and creative writing projects. Perhaps the analogies below were penned during the late night hours while suffering from writer’s block. My personal favorite is #10.


Cheap Reads
Enjoy these two novels by popular author Susan Wiggs selling for $1.99 today.
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Housekeeping: Daily Deal Repeats and Cheap Reads 5 comments

Daily Deal Repeats
Our new format with the Daily Deals and other Kindle sales featured on the first post of the day has saved us several hours a week. We hope that you are able to find the deals and buy great reads. One negative is that we no longer have a record of each book featured in the Daily Deal. We might accidentally post a book that has already been on sale just a few days earlier. No matter how hard we try, our memories just aren’t good enough to recall every book.
Sunday, April 23, World Book Day

Cheap Read
If you enjoy paranormal romance, you will want to buy the complete Alpha Underground Trilogy with bonus short stories for only 99 cents today. It’s chock full of danger, adventure, and romance.
Alpha Underground Trilogy (99 cents) Fen Young is a half-shifter whose inner beast is more mouse than wolf. Home is her castle, the only place she’s ever felt safe.
Enter Hunter Green, an uber-alpha strong enough to stop traffic with a single look. He’s handsome and enticing and seems like just the ticket to broaden Fen’s horizons…until the uber-alpha brushes off his admirer and summarily ejects her from her home pack.
Now treading water in the no-man’s land of outpack territory, Fen must confront a missing pack mate, a tantalizing stranger, and a serial killer targeting half-werewolves. Will she be able to shore up her waning power in time to save her friend…and half-breeds everywhere…before it’s too late?

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Housekeeping – Catching up; Amazon Improvements and Books by State 3 comments

A long dry spell
It’s been more than a month since I’ve done housekeeping! After Amazon reduced the commissions paid to its associates and we cut back on the number of posts, things appear to be going about as expected. We will continue to adjust as needed through the summer months.
We appreciate when you share about our site with your Kindle friends. The more folks who buy their books through our site, the more motivated we are to provide you with the latest great deals.
A solution for me, a dunderhead
Finally! Amazon has heard my plea!
First I must confess that I have books in my Kindle library that I have forgotten I own. I have browsed in the Kindle Store, come upon a book that sounds interesting and clicked on the buy it button. Amazon sends the screen that tells me that records indicate I already own the book. What isn’t said is, “Didn’t you see that light blue stripe across the top of the page telling you when you bought it?” Apparently not.
Finally Amazon has created a way to keep me from trying to buy again.
Great improvement, Amazon! My next request is that I be able to send to a device from this screen.
Which book in which state?
Check out this webpage that lists the most famous book set in each state in America. I wasn’t surprised by the one for my home state or the neighboring states.
For a bit of mental exercise, you might try to guess the book before you look at the list. The selections included classic fiction and contemporary memoirs.

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Housekeeping: HarperCollins Anniversary 2 comments

HarperCollins, a major publishing house in the United States, United Kingdom and around the world, is celebrating its 200th birthday this year.
The company has created a website commemorating the anniversary including milestones over the life of the company; 200 iconic HarperCollins titles; author comments and other entertaining tidbits to enjoy.
I encourage you to go to and browse the site.

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Housekeeping: New look in the Kindle Store – A quick rant 10 comments

May I just take a quick moment to tell you that I do not like the new look that has been implemented in the Kindle Store?

When I search for a book, I want to see that book first thing, not a list of the series! This new look is bothersome and distracting. I. Don’t. Like. It.
Books that are not part of a series appear as usual.
It’s tiresome to go from page to page and have different visuals depending on if the book is included in a series. Then because some series have three books and some have six books, the size of the books across the top ribbon may vary.
What do you think? Is it distracting to you? Or am I just change intolerant?

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Housekeeping: Sensitivity Readers, Short Read and Cheap Reads 3 comments
Sensitivity Readers – What Next?
It has come to this: Book publishers are so concerned about negative reactions from social justice activists that they are hiring “sensitivity readers” to peruse books prior to publication. The readers are looking for anything that could be considered racist, sexist or other so-called offensive content.
This practice adds to the price of the book, yet a children’s and young adult book editor says that this hiring has become “the norm in the business.”
I encourage you to read the complete article here. The comments posted are interesting reading, but contain occasional offensive language. (I’m filling the role of sensitivity reader for you.)
Paula’s thoughts: The sanitizing of our contemporary literature will lead to books that do not represent today’s reality. Authors will no longer write with passion; but rather with reserve.
And who are these “sensitivity readers”? What qualifies a person to be the one who decides what offends, marginalizes or otherwise denigrates? Are universities now offering four-year degrees that clearly show one has what it takes to perform this function? I see a cottage industry in the making where everyone is an expert.
Publishers should let the consumer decide if a book is worth reading. The social justice warriors will be vocal, but print the book that was written and be proud you have been true to the author. If you kowtow to the loudest voice, you will lose your readers.


Short Story Read
As the weather warms, you might be looking for a quick read. Enjoy The Piper, selling for only 99 cents. Description: Before the Great War, Hamish farms in the Highlands. When at the height of a spring gale, he hears a faint cry echoing across the glen, Hamish sets out into the stormy night to find the source. He spots a young boy lying wounded, a piper’s bag beside him. Hamish brings the piper to his home to stay the night, but by the time Hamish wakes the boy has vanished. He finds him again collapsed in the heather–dead.
Who was the mysterious piper, and who was seeking his death? As Hamish scours the countryside for answers, he finds that few of his neighbors are as honest as he, everyone, including Hamish, is a suspect.


Cheap Reads
Amazon has lowered the price on several novels under their Lake Union imprint to only $1.00 each. Available udiobooks are $1.99 when you buy the Kindle version.

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Housekeeping: Dropping In, Chocolat and Cheap Reads 0 comments
Dropping In
Amazon may be dropping your order via parachute in the future. A patent filed with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides details of how packages delivered by drones may use a parachute.
The filing was made public Tuesday and includes details of how the technology would place the package in the right spot, avoiding trees, carports, balconies, power lines, eaves and the like.
Read more about it and watch a video clip about drone delivery here.


Chocolat, but not in a fancy box
Enjoy calorie-free Chocolat ($1.99), a bestselling novel that has entranced readers with its mix of hedonism, whimsy, and, of course, chocolate.
Book Description: In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows.
Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne’s uncanny perception of its buyer’s private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch?
Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival.

Cheap Reads – Books about Presidents
This President’s Day holiday weekend would be a great time to read about one of the men who have served in the office over our nation’s history. Each of the six books below is selling for $1.99.

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Housekeeping: Rent or Buy the Book; Magazine Sale and Cheap Reads 0 comments
Rent or Buy
Amazon offers eTextbooks rentals for those who don’t need to own a traditional print copy. Not all rentable textbooks fit the traditional definition. Books from the Cherry Ames Series, historical fiction for pre-teens and teens about a young WWII nurse, are available for a minimal 30-day rent. If you need a bit more time to finish the book or four-book bundle, select any date beyond 30 days and the fee will be increased accordingly.
As the expiration date approaches, Amazon sends a helpful email reminding you to extend the rental period. You can also purchase the book and your rental fee paid will be applied to the current price, if you take action prior to the end of the rental period.
Notice that the email I received (at left) mentions that notes and highlights can be accessed after the expiration. If an enterprising student highlighted the complete textbook…..would those highlights be available?
Earlier this week I found this biography that can be purchased for $1.99 or rented for 30 days for 96 cents:
The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker, 1928–1933 : This is the first definitive study of the presidency of America’s least understood and most under-appreciated Chief Executive. Combining government with private resources, Hoover became the first president to pit government action against the economic cycle, setting precedents and spawning ideas employed by his successor and all future presidents.


Magazine Sale
Amazon is offering a great price on magazines subscriptions – just $5 for popular publications such as The New Yorker, Martha Stewart Living, Money, O The Oprah Magazine and more. Most subscriptions are for 12 months and several are all access (print and digital). NOTE: Confirm prices as the link has more than just the $5 deals.
This great rate is auto-renewing, but you can cancel your subscription through your Amazon account manager.

Relationship Reads
Valentine’s Day is less than a week away. These relationship advice books are only $1.99 each today.

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Housekeeping: Amazon Allowance; Free Audiobook and Cheap Reads 0 comments
Amazon Allowance
The marketing tag-line calls it an “easy way to fund shopping on Amazon.” It’s Amazon Allowance – the plan that you set up to add gift card funds for yourself or someone else on a one-time, daily, weekly, monthly, or every-two-week basis.
If your child is an avid reader, this option may be a solution to provide them a consistent spending budget. This is different from a gift card in that when funds are added to this account, it does not require a claim code.
Read more about this option here.
Free Audiobook – Heart of Darkness
This month’s free Kindle book and companion audiobook is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad, about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story’s narrator Marlow. Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames, London, England.
Just a reminder, you do not need to be a member of to download the free audiobook, but you must set up an account. Sign in using your Amazon password.


Cheap Reads – Mysteries by Joann Fluke
Joanne Fluke is well-known for Hannah Swenson cozy mystery series. She also writes traditional suspense novels. The four below are selling for only $1.99 each today.


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Housekeeping: E-book sales down; Romance for rent and Cheap Reads 4 comments
E-Book Sales Down
At the Digital Book World conference in New York City in mid-January, Jonathan Stolper, senior v-p and global managing director for Nielsen Book, announced that e-book sales had fallen 16% in 2016 compared to 2015. His analysis was based on actual sales reports for nine months and estimates of the last quarter of the year.
Stolper pointed to the increased price of digital books as the driver of the decline. Agency pricing by the Big Five trade houses began again in 2015 and raised e-book prices by an average of $3.
Another reason for the decline in e-book sales is that more book buyers use tablets and smartphones to read e-books. Readers who use dedicated e-book readers have consistently purchased more e-books than consumers who use other devices. In 2011, more than 70% of e-book buyers said they used dedicated e-book devices; by 2016 only 24% did.
Read the full article here.
Looking for love without long-term commitment?
Google has announced that for a limited time you can rent a digital romance. For only 99 cents each, you have 24 hours to read happily-ever-afters published by Harlequin. Sixty titles are in the selection including a few by favorite authors Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, and Diana Palmer. Sub-genres include inspirational, romantic suspense, historical, contemporary, military and more.
As a counter, Amazon has a sale of 99 romances for 99 cents each. No rentals here, so plan on a long-term commitment.
Amazon does offer textbook rentals. I wonder if Googles rent-a-novel will prompt Amazon to offer something similar. Would you pay $2.99 or $3.99 to rent a best seller for 24 hours.

Cheap Reads – Nathan Heller Crime Fiction Novels
Fill your Kindle with these exciting Nathan Heller crime fiction novels set in Chicago during the 30s and 40s. You can buy the Kindle version for only 99 cents each and buy the companion audiobook for $1.99 each.

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