Category: Housekeeping
Housekeeping: Spring cleaning and Cheap reads 0 comments

broom.panSpring cleaning?
Don’t forget your Kindle when you are spring cleaning.
Jesse Doogan, an editor at Tyndale House, prepared a list to give guidance for our e-readers. The first step is take stock of what you have on your Kindle – books, apps, music, videos or audiobooks. You might be surprised how many items are on your device.
The next thing I would do is delete – permanently delete samples you’ve downloaded, clippings you don’t need, letters from Amazon, anything you don’t need that is cluttering your Kindle.
Archive the books you have read. You can reload them at any time so you don’t need them to keep them on your device.
Remove audiobooks you have finished. Remove the apps that didn’t turn out as expected. Send them packing.
Review your to-be-read list. Do you need to remove a few titles that no longer interest you? Did you recently download a bestseller you want to move up the list? Spring clean your TBR list to suit your current interests and don’t feel guilty.
If you have extra time:
• Write reviews of books you have recently read.
•  Update your collections to better suit your needs
• Go to the Manage Your Content and Devices page at Amazon, deleting and updating titles
You’ve worked hard on your cleaning. Take a break and enjoy your fresh-as-springtime Kindle.
Cheap Reads – British Family Sagas – Only 99 cents each
Simon and Schuster UK has lowered the price on these three family sagas by popular British author Carol Rose to just 99 cents each.
You can read the reviews from the UK Kindle Store readers by following these links: A Sister’s Shame Reviews; Eve of the Isle Reviews and Lily of Love Lane Reviews.

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Housekeeping: Kindle Outlet Store; MYK is now MYC&D and Cheap Reads 4 comments

broom.panKindle Outlet Store
Amazon has opened a Kindle Outlet Store where you can save as much as 25% on refurbished models of the Kindle Fire, Paperwhite, Touch and more. A certified refurbished Kindle is a pre-owned Kindle that has been refurbished and tested to look and work like new. The device is then certified and given the same 1-year limited warranty you get with a new Kindle.
Amazon provided this nifty graphic of how the certified refurbished Kindle process works:

I have order refurbished Kindles – several Kindle 2 (remember those?), a Kindle DX, and at least five Kindle Fires. Only one Kindle Fire did not work properly and Amazon quickly sent a replacement. Sadly the replacement had issues and Amazon quickly replaced that one just as quickly. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another refurbished Kindle.
If you are thinking of buying a Kindle or another Kindle, a refurbished one might be a good option for you. A pair and a spare is my philosophy. I often read 2-3 books concurrently and having a Kindle on the bedside table and one in the den makes that much easier. Click on the KINDLE OUTLET STORE icon above and check out the deals.
Manage Your Kindle page renamed
MYK GraphicThe Manage Your Kindle page is now labeled Manage Your Content and Devices in the banner across the top of the Kindle Store webpage on the right side.
Overall it’s a minor change but does reflect more accurately the many users who have the Kindle app on their phones, tablets, and PCs. If you are like me, you have a growing inventory of books, apps, audiobooks, videos and more that occasionally need attention. You can also manage your music through the cloud player from this page, too.
Cheap Reads
Spring may finally be here and love is in the air! Several publishers have slashed prices on romances to just 99 cents each. Here’s a chance to buy a few beach reads if you missed them the first time around.

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Housekeeping: My thoughts on Fire TV, Unsolicited advice for authors and Cheap reads 0 comments

broom.panMy thoughts on Fire TV
Yesterday Amazon announced Fire TV ($99.00), their long-awaited video-streaming device.
Amazon is late coming to a device market already served by Roku, Google and Apple. At $99 the device costs more than Roku and Google. The rumored price break for Amazon Prime members didn’t materialize.
The device offers features competitors don’t provide: Voice searching; large gaming inventory coming soon; a faster processor and larger memory. If you are a gamer or frequently watch movies, Fire TV is a great device. See the deal available when you buy the Amazon Fire Game Controller for $39.99 .
Because Amazon is late getting in this market, they may have to offer incentives to motivate sales. Many consumers have already purchased a device and are content with it. The extras aren’t enough to sway many of them to purchase now.
Amazon has taught the buying public that if they just wait a year, a much better device will be offered at about the same price, maybe even cheaper.
Amazon’s benefit for having their own devices will be the data they gather from what Fire TV users are watching and/or playing. The device has a feature called ASAP which will predict what movies and shows you want to watch and will queue them on the device for you. That’s a bit intrusive.
The information will drive future marketing, movie production, game development and other media decisions. It’s the same reason Amazon bought Goodreads; they want to know the reading habits of its target audience.
Unsolicited Advice for Authors
When several reader reviews comment that your book needs an editor, you need to hire an editor. I don’t mean that you ask your parent, best friend or high school English teacher to read your book. They may be highly qualified, but you want an evaluation by someone who will be brutally honest. A disinterested third party who is experienced and reputable will help move your book from mediocre to a successful publishing experience.
I tried to read a book recently. At the very beginning I learned that the young woman regretted leaving her childhood home at age 18. Before I had read 20% of the book, that idea had been reiterated in some manner 27 times. The first time was valuable information. The second time was a reminder. The third time was annoying and every time after that was an insult to my reading comprehension.
Please, hire an editor and avoid those one- and two-star reviews.
Cheap Reads
These three history books are selling for only 99 cents each today.

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Housekeeping: Anti-Trust Settlement; Alternative to Prime Membership & Cheap Reads 0 comments

broom.panThe Anti-Trust Settlement
It came a bit later than announced, but this week consumers received the credit from the settlement five major publishers negotiated with the United States Department of Justice. Many Kindlers were very pleased with the credit amount received. All of us wondered how it was calculated.
Barnes & Noble provided its customers with a detailed report of their credit. I have a B&N account and have purchased only one book – To Cut a Long Story Short ($5.69) by Jeffrey Archer. I bought it for 99 cents in September 2011.
This is the information that B&N provided me of how my credit was determined:

Credit Calc

If a book was purchased from Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster or HarperCollins during the period in the suit and the book had been on the NYTimes Bestsellers List during its publishing history, the credit given was $3.71. Any other book purchased from these publishers was given a $.73 credit. My 99 cent purchase netted me a 73 cent credit.
Read more about the credit on this page at Amazon. Bookmark or add this page to your favorites so you can track the remaining balance of your credit.
Prime Membership alternatives
Still undecided about paying the $99 annual fee to be a member of Amazon Prime? This article from listed five alternatives to consider. Two of the alternatives are no longer viable as the time to buy a membership at $79 has expired. The remaining three may be better for you than paying for Prime:
1) Some credit cards offer free Amazon Prime Membership
2) Use Shoprunner – a membership shipping service
3) Use Amazon’s Super Saver free shipping for orders of $35 or more
Cheap Reads
Today you can purchase three Dan Gordon Intelligence Thrillers by Haggai Carmon for $1.99 each.

The Chameleon Conspiracy ($1.99) The Chameleon is actually more than a mere criminal—he’s an undercover sleeper agent. But Gordon is more than he seems, too. He’s an experienced hunter, trained by the Mossad, working now for the CIA.
The Red Syndrome ($1.99) The Red Syndrome describes a plausible and frighteningly simple terrorist conspiracy: Introduce a lethal biological weapon into the nation’s food supply in a way never before imagined. Which Americans belong to the Iranian-backed Islamic fundamentalist splinter group that threatens the U.S. population? Can they be stopped?
Triangle of Deception ($1.99) Dan Gordon goes undercover to infiltrate and destroy an international Hezbollah funding plot. But when his cover is blown he wonders if he’s been a sacrificial lamb for the CIA all along.

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Housekeeping: Video-streaming device; Coming inspirational fiction deal; $20 Kindle credit and Cheap Reads 0 comments

broom.panAmazon’s video-streaming device coming soon
According to people close to Amazon’s plans, the company will begin shipping its long-awaited video-streaming device sometime in early April. In addition to carrying Amazon’s Instant Video, the device will carry multiple apps for Roku (Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora) and Apple set-top boxes and also run Android software.
Amazon has not announced pricing but people familiar with the company’s plans said that the device will likely come with incentives for Prime members.
Other reports from people familiar with the matter say that Amazon has talked with record companies and music publishers with plans to create an on-demand music-streaming service for Prime customers.
We’ll let you know the details when the device becomes available so you can purchase one.
Inspirational fiction fans
This Saturday’s Kindle Daily Deal will be a great opportunity to fill your Kindle for summer reading. Inspirational/Christian fiction by favorite authors will be selling at great prices. I can’t tell you more, but be sure to swing by the site Saturday and link to the great reads at cheap prices. That’s two days from now – Saturday, March 22.
$20 Instant Credit Toward a New Kindle
For a limited time you can get a $20 instant credit toward a new Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite or 20dollars
Kindle Paperwhite 3G.
You can also get an Amazon gift card when you trade in your old e-reader. You might receive as much as $68.30 for your Kindle Paperwhite 3G. Amazon doesn’t place as much value on Nook, Sony, or Kobo e-readers. Amazon is only paying $15 for one of those.
Read all about the credit, trading in your old e-reader, and more on this webpage.
Cheap Reads
These three small town romances are selling for $1.99 each today.

Trinity Falls ($1.99) Ean Fever is burned out by the hectic pace of New York City and his cutthroat law career. Longing for a sense of community, he’s returned to his hometown of Trinity Falls, Ohio. Maybe he can even help save the Town Center from greedy developers looking to destroy its small businesses—like Books & Bakery, owned by Megan McCloud. Megan was once an awkward girl next door, but Ean discovers she’s grown into a strong-willed, beautiful woman…
Crazy Little Thing Called Love ($1.99) Etta Green kissed Everson, Texas, goodbye years ago. A big city chef, she intends to return only long enough to settle her beloved grandmother’s estate and then hightail it back to Chicago. But Grammy Hazel had other plans. In her will, she left Etta part-ownership of a B&B that’s about to go bankrupt before it even opens. And what’s worse–Etta’s partner is Donny Joe Ledbetter, a handsome devil with some serious bad boy charm.
Welcome to Last Chance ($1.99) Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.
I’ve owned the Cut ‘n’ Curl beauty shop for years, and I’ve seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she’s running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she’s worked real hard to make a fresh start. She’s turned my son Clay’s life upside down without even realizing it.

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Housekeeping: Grammar faux pas; Sophisticated reader quiz and Cheap read 2 comments

broom.panGrammar faux pas
Grammar and spelling errors can make us cringe or even smile. The one below made me giggle aloud. Do you see the error? Review
Considered the best mystery novel ever written by many readers, And Then There Were None is the story of 10 strangers, each lured to Indian Island by a mysterious host. Once his guests have arrived, the host accuses each person of murder. Unable to leave the island, the guests begin to share their darkest secrets–until they begin to die.

Are you a sophisticated reader?
The Christian Science Monitor has developed a quiz of classic literature to determine if you are a sophisticated reader. I’m a more casual reader and was not familiar with many of the books in the quiz. I had read maybe 15% of the titles, but still did okay.
Take the quiz here and see how you score. It’s difficult!
Prime Membership Increasing
See our post here about increase in price. You have one week to enroll at $79.
Cheap Read – Historical fiction
This year is the 100th anniversary of the start of the military conflict that was known as the War to End All Wars or World War I. I have made a personal commitment to read books that are set during this time in the world’s history or about the war itself.
I purchased Somewhere in France ($8.89) when it was the B&N price match. The audio version of A World Undone ($13.12 Kindle/$5.49 Audiobook) is on my must-listen list for this year.
The historical family saga below is selling for $1.99 today. It is set during the WWI era and written by Annie Groves, a popular British author. Ms. Groves also writes under the name Penny Jordan, a bestselling author of over 170 novels.
Ellie Pride ($1.99) A stirring, heartrending story of love, passion, duty and family, set in the early years of the 1900s as the First World War looms.
After the tragic death of her mother, beautiful, headstrong Ellie Pride must forge her own way in the world. Having made a deathbed promise to her mother to forsake passion for stability and social status, Ellie rejects the advances of local craftsman Gideon Walker, despite her deep attraction to him.
With her grieving father struggling to cope, Ellie is exiled to live with her aunt and uncle. Her mother hoped Ellie would be able to escape her humble roots forever. But despite the so-called luxury, Ellie is left frightened and alone. Her uncle quickly reveals a terrifying cruelty that forces her into a loveless marriage in order to escape him.
Struggling to support her weak husband against his penny-pinching father, Ellie never forgets her love for Gideon. Their paths are destined to cross again and again. But when events take a tragic turn, Ellie needs all her pride and strength to overcome hardship, and to triumph.

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Housekeeping: Where is that credit?; Popular Books by State; Recommendations and Cheap Reads 9 comments

broom.panWhere is that credit?
Another month has passed and the credits from the Agency Model book settlement with major publishers hasn’t been credited to accounts yet. The Amazon information page still states that the credits are anticipated in January 2014.
Popular Books by State
State Books2Scribd, an e-book subscription service, released a report of each state’s most popular book chosen by their customers from their more than 300,000 selections. The information isn’t a true picture of what America is reading because we don’t know the demograpics of Scribd’s customer base.
Do you really believe that the most popular book in Alaska is Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book? Are hundreds of Alaskans spending their winter evening hours reading a cookbook?
Read the complete article to find the most popular book where you live.
Amazon’s Recommendations
After purchasing a Kindle book I often browse through the selection of books that other customers have purchased that are a similar genre or by the same author. I’ve found some very good books at reasonable prices.
I’ve read about the complex algorithms that Amazon uses to determine the bestselling books and how it must be constantly changed, modified and adjusted because as soon as someone has determined how it works, they work to game the systems.
Stephan Eirik Clark penned an article for where he reveals that publishers pay Amazon to include their books among your recommendations. While I’m not surprised, I am a bit bothered by that news. Did you know that those recommendations are paid ads?
Clark references a much longer article by George Packer in the New Yorker titled Is Amazon Good for Books?. Interesting reading.
Cheap Reads
These Kindle Singles are shorter reads by well-known and new authors and journalists and essayists. Buy them for 99 cents or $1.99 each today.

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Housekeeping: Passwords; Book Club; Pre-Orders and Cheap Reads 0 comments

broom.panBack to normal
Thanks to all of you for your patience last week as Housekeeping took a sick day. I appreciate the helpful advice, too. My favorite was that my husband should be the one who slices the apples.
Passwords and Security – Free advice
How long have you had the same password at Amazon? Any idea how secure it is from a hacker? The average Amazon customer could be at risk.
Bruce Schneier, author of Carry On ($14.99) offers advice on how to develop a more secure password. He calls it the “Schneier scheme”:

…if you want your password to be hard to guess, you should choose something that this process (hacking software) will miss. My advice is to take a sentence and turn it into a password. Something like “This little piggy went to market” might become “tlpWENT2m”. That nine-character password won’t be in anyone’s dictionary. Of course, don’t use this one, because I’ve written about it. Choose your own sentence — something personal.

He provides a few examples:
WIw7,mstmsritt… = When I was seven, my sister threw my stuffed rabbit in the toilet.
Wow…doestcst = Wow, does that couch smell terrible.
Ltime@go-inag~faaa! = Long time ago in a galaxy not far away at all.
I’m considering using a line from a favorite novel, one that isn’t well-known. You might use the first letters from the titles of a trilogy. Maybe you can develop one from a list of your favorite authors. Whatever you choose please update your Amazon password to protect your credit card, gift card balance and other information that would be available if someone hacked your account.
Read more about hackers and what you can do to thwart them in this article.
DCR Book Club
We continue our discussion of Orphan Train at the DCR Book Club. Several just recently read the book and have added their thoughts and impressions.
Our next read in the book club will be contemporary fiction. I’ll be posting a poll soon to choose a novel to read. If you have read any of the books below, please click on this post’s title and leave a comment to let us know if it would be a good read for the club:
When I Found You ($3.99)
Labor Day ($4.99)
600 Hours of Edward ($3.99) and
The Silver Linings Playbook ($4.99)
Historical fiction fans will be happy to hear that one of the books in Dana Fuller Ross’s Wagon West series is now available for the Kindle. You can pre-order Wagons West: Missouri for $4.99 and receive it on your Kindle May 6.
If you have been reading Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point Series, this year’s installments are now available. Chance ($5.49) just released this week. Book description: With its breathtaking vistas and down-to-earth people, Thunder Point is the perfect place for FBI agent Laine Carrington to recuperate from a gunshot wound and contemplate her future. Eric Gentry is also new to Thunder Point. Although he’s a man with a dark past, he’s determined to put down roots and get to know the daughter he only recently discovered.
The Promise ($7.99 pre-order) will release on June 24.
Book description: Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it’s time to move on from his loss. But as the town’s only doctor, the dating pool is limited. That is, until a stunning physician’s assistant applies for a job at his clinic.
The third book is Homecoming and should release in August but is not yet available to pre-order.
Cheap Reads – Celeb Memoirs for only $1.99 each

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Housekeeping: Taking a sick day and Cheap read and listen 6 comments

Loyal fans –
While slicing apples on Wednesday, I was a bit overzealous and sliced the tip from a finger. I’m fine, but typing is difficult and painful. Housekeeping will return next week with additional content. Thank you for your patience.
Feast for the Senses: A Musical Odyssey in Umbria (99 cents for Kindle Edition with Audio/Video) If you love orchestral music, travel, and culture, download “Feast for the Senses: A Musical Odyssey in Umbria” now! This Vook transports you, along with the New World Symphony orchestra to breathtaking Umbria through travelogue text and documentary video. Take this incredible journey without ever leaving home…
In this Vook you’ll enjoy a virtual backstage pass to a series of concerts in the palazzos, churches, and hills of central Italy. With footage captured by Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers, you’ll experience the vistas, local customs, and cuisine of the region, and also get a rare glimpse at the behind-the-scenes preparation of world-class musicians as they set the stage for their performances.
Audio/Video content is available on latest generation Kindle Fire (except 1st generation), Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices. All other devices receive text only.

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Housekeeping: Ten worst couples in literature, Most romantic cities, Conversation hearts, and Cheap reads 0 comments

broom.panTen worst couples in literature
A blog in The Guardian, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, has identified the 10 worst couples in literature. The blogger was spurred to develop the list after J.K. Rowling announced that she regrets her decision to write Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger into a relationship in the Harry Potter series. Rowling also said the duo would have likely needed relationship counselling. Ouch!
Here are a few of the worst couples according to The Guardian:
Romeo and Juliet: One of the most irritating, self-absorbed couples to have ever graced the stage.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby): It is quite clear that Tom and Daisy are a horrid pairing from the very beginning of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. They are the perfect example of an awful marriage. In a way, they are well matched because they deserve each other, in all of their selfishness, greed and arrogance.
Edward Cullen and Bella Swan (Twilight): Edward is a vampire. He’s a vampire. That is never going to be an easy ride.
Amazon’s 20 Most Romantic Cities
Amazon has released the list of top 20 most romantic cities in America. The cities were determined by compiling sales data of romance novels and relationship books; romantic comedy movies; a collection of romantic music; as well as the sales of sexual wellness products, among cities with more than 100,000 residents.
Read the complete list here. The top ten cities are:
1. San Antonio (First time in the top 20)
2. Seattle
3. Knoxville, Tenn.
4. Miami
5. Alexandria, Va.
6. Orlando, Fla.
7. Vancouver, Wash.
8. Cincinnati
9. Spokane, Wash.
10. Dayton, Ohio
Reading with your sweetheart
Necco, the candy company that makes the classic Valentine treat Sweethearts candy has brought back five old phrases this year. Love the yellow one!
The Sweetheart candies, known as conversation hearts, have been made from the same 02-09-14-candy-hearts-ftrsimple recipe since 1902 when they were first introduced. More than 8 billion candy hearts are made every year to keep up with the demand.
Many of their phrases have been retired while currently popular sayings are added yearly. The most popular new or reintroduced sayings for conversation candy hearts this year are “Tweet Me,” “Text Me,” “You Rock,” “Love Bug,” “Soul Mate,” and “Me + You.”
Cheap Read
Sometimes we don’t want to read about other people’s happily-ever-after or personsal success story. We want to create our own. This book is selling for only 99 cents and has the sub-title 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of Their Money—and Live Richly Ever After.
The Big Payoff: Financial Fitness for Couples (99 cents) Couples who are strapped for time and weighed down by costly fixed expenses need more than a personal finance pep talk: They need a plan. In The Big Payoff, CNBC correspondent Sharon Epperson lays out a nuts-and-bolts program that couples of all ages can use to realize their financial dreams. From stretching your budget and investing wisely in your home to protecting your family’s money and building wealth over the years, The Big Payoff offers a concise bounty of precious information and practical steps toward financial wellness.
It’s never too late or too early to start, and now is the best time to start planning. Whether you are newlyweds or fast-approaching retirement, just starting a family or soon to be empty-nesters, this book is for you. After working hard to provide for your family, the reward of discovering your financial strength will be the peace of mind to enjoy your marriage, your family, and the rest of your lives together.

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