Archives for: July 2011
Book Review: The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion 0 comments

Ever find yourself unable to think of anything to say? Need an ace-in-the-hole to start the conversation when you are at a mix-and-mingle? Do you lead a small group of some kind – a book club, a work group, a Bible study? Are you the one always trying to find an ice breaker activity? Have a difficult time finding a subject to discuss with your grandchildren? This book of 1001 conversation starters was included in the Big Deal Sale and is still selling for $2.99 today. After asking myself what was keeping me from buying the book and not getting a good answer, I one-clicked.
 
The questions start with ones most everyone will feel comfortable answering. Well, except #10: What books on your shelf are begging to be read? My answer: All of them and please don’t ask how many that is. (You might want to update this question to include books on your Kindle.) 🙂
 
The questions become more probing and personal as the book progresses. Here are a couple you might ask your teenager: # 539. What does it mean when two people are said to have “chemistry?” or #559. What’s the best way to resist peer pressure?
 
If you want to create a record of your life or your relatives’ lives, the questions in the Blast from the Past chapter might help you get the process started. I need to ask my father #304: What was your first job? How much did you get paid?
 
The book’s final chapters address ethics and spiritual matters and ask probing questions about faith, eternity, and the role of religion in society. You can search all through the book, but you won’t find answers. This is about what you and those you are talking with think, not what the author of the book thinks.
 
Written by Garry Poole, The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion is available for only $2.99.

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Book Review: Saint Training 0 comments

Mary Clare has purposed in her heart to commit her life to serving God and the Catholic church, becoming a mother superior in her quest for perfection. A topic this serious should not be laugh-out-loud funny, but it is. With Saint Training, Elizabeth Fixmer has written a delightful novel for the middle grades that is a funny read for children and adults alike.
 
Mary Clare is the oldest daughter in a very large family. She takes on the weight of too little money for the family’s needs, too much work to be done around the house, and too many changes in her world and around the world in 1967.
 
Mary Clare experiences conflicted feelings as she tries to fix everything around her, understand her changing emotions, and practice being a saint, sin-free and serving others. In seeking sinlessness, poor Mary Clare is a failure before she begins, but her dogged determination is admirable.
 
If you are familiar with Catholic schools or mass, the book will be more meaningful. Even without the background, the book is enjoyable. Not reading this book just might be a sin.
 
I downloaded the book when Zondervan Publishing offered it free last year. Today Saint Training is selling for only 99 cents . The book isn’t preachy; there’s no hidden message; it’s just a fun read.
 
Click here to purchase Saint Training

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Book Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell 1 comment

This Harry Potter-esq tale is a dashing good tale that weaved a bit of magic spell as I read it. Priced at just $2.99 don’t be surprised if it pulls a vanishing act soon.
I read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as a book club selection, so it wasn’t something I would have selected on my own, but thoroughly enjoyed. It is very long – 800 print pages- and the beginning is slow. But, say about 200 pages into it, you get snared in the cooky world and start to believe in magic. It has plenty of dry British humor and a bit of a dark side, but not enough to be scary.
Book Description: Susanna Clarke’s novel is an epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the two magicians who emerge to change its history. In the year 1806, in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, most people believe magic to have long since disappeared from England — until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Another practising magician emerges: the young and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s pupil and the two join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic and soon he risks sacrificing not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything else he holds dear.
This book is selling today for $2.99.

Click here to purchase Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

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Book Review: Hard Spell: An Occult Crimes Unit Investigation by Justin Gustainis 2 comments

Book reviewed by: Maria Schneider who is the author of Under Witch Moon , an urban fantasy that is not pulp or hard boiled, but does involve a witch. She reads almost anything, including thrillers, urban fantasy and mysteries of all sorts. You can find her work on Amazon.
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If you like hard-boiled crime fiction and wizardry, this is the book for you. Hard Spell is edgy, dark and spell-binding.
It starts with: “My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.” That sets the tone, and the succinctness gives you an idea of the pace: non-stop, turn the page, what happens next. It’s part thriller, part urban fantasy and still manages to have a detective with a lot of loyalty and passion for stopping those on the wrong side of the law, especially when they come after people he knows. Like any good pulp fiction there are clichés–but Gustainis weaves in a unique flavor, some awesome world building and some creative characters. He has a lot to chose from: vampires, banshees, humans, and even an ogre or two. He creates his own history; a mash of witch hunt facts, modern day settings and creatures from both. Gustainis does it all with a flair that keeps the plot moving. For the first quarter I was skeptical–wondering at this “huge evil” and the “certain doom” that was ill-defined and a little too pat for a good plot, but as any good book does, that plot was filled in. There were no info dumps so it took some time to learn about Markowski, his past and the nature of the evil being fought. Markowski is not magical himself; he relies on his wits, his gun and after he proves himself, his partner.
Formatting: Chapter Breaks are completely missing so there are some extremely jarring transitions. From one paragraph to the next, the characters are suddenly in a different place or a new character that wasn’t in a previous conversation, is now talking. This is obviously a formatting mistake (Chapter Headings and page breaks didn’t make it in the Kindle version). Once I figured out this anomaly, it was not nearly as disconcerting.
Language warning: This is noir and involves cops, SWAT teams and crime. The language is not safe for work. It was natural in most spots, but probably could have been toned down in a couple of scenes without losing anything.
If you like Dresden Files, I think you’ll like Hard Spell. Today this book is only 99 cents!

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Housekeeping: Scheduling and other changes; Big Deal, and Active Content on sale 4 comments

Got Plans for the Weekend?
We do! This weekend we start our new schedule.
Saturdays will be four posts, beginning with a bundle at 8:00am and the other posts at 12:00noon, 4:00pm, and 8:00pm Central (Chicago) time. We may include Christian fiction on Saturday, too.
Sunday’s first four posts will be Christian fiction, inspirational and religious books (8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00am, and 2:00pm). The next four posts on Sunday will be books of general interest, posting every two hours beginning at 4:00pm Central time. Monday through Friday posts will begin at 6:00am and post every 2 hours through 8:00pm.
With the change we also plan to sleep later on Saturday mornings.
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Where, oh where, has the little Kindle gone?
Did you notice that the mini-Kindle picture has been removed from the book cover picture of Kindle books? The Last Letter (99 cents) before and after book covers show the change. Is Amazon preparing for the next Kindle device that looks very different from previous Kindles?
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You better believe it’s a Big Deal
More than 900 Kindle books are on sale for $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, and $3.99. The sales ends next Wednesday, July 27, so don’t don’t miss the cheap reads on The Big Deal Sale. The young adult and children’s selections include some classics you might also enjoy.
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Braintonik Games has reduced the price of their active content for Kindle to 99 cents until July 25.

Blossom: The goal is to build an irrigation system that delivers water to flowers by manipulating the game tiles with water pipes on them.
Futoshiki: Futoshiki is a Japanese number logic puzzle. Each row and column must be filled with unique numbers. Futoshiki has a twist – greater-than or less-than signs between some cells.
Strimko: The object of the game is to place a set of numbers in rows or columns without repeating them in any row or column. Strimko adds a concept of “streams” that crisscross throughout the puzzle.

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Repost of Book Review: Mozart’s Sister 0 comments

We are reposting this book review today as Mozart’s Sister is now selling for only $2.99.
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Thank goodness I stuck with this book to see it through to the end.
This book by Nancy Moser is, obviously, about Mozart’s Sister Anna Maria, who usually went by Nannerl. It is clearly a fictionalized account, but is thoroughly researched so it makes for a lazy way to learn some interesting history.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, known to his older sister as Wolfie, begins to display his musical genius as a young boy. For an older sister who is nearly as gifted at playing the piano, this makes for a strained relationship. Their father is determined to show the world their musical gifts are from God and continually pushes them to perform before audiences. When they were just 12 and 7, they set out on a Grand Tour of Europe, playing before royalty in many countries.
As such, the first part of the book read like a travelogue of 18th Century Europe. The first person narration hardly sounds like a young girl, except for repeated complaints that her little brother receives more attention and Nannerl’s predictable remarks that it wasn’t fair she couldn’t be a composer just because she was female.
Even so, the story was interesting enough to keep me reading.
The second half became much more interesting. Nannerl and Mozart were separated when he went to Vienna and she had to cope with her father’s efforts to control his son from afar. She also came to realize that her most marriageable years had passed while she was occupied with music. It is a far more interesting tale to see her balance her gifts in music with just-as-strong desires to be a wife and mother. Nannerl’s situation is made more complicated by her brother’s notoriety which was not well received in their hometown of Salzburg and the archbishop’s desire to retaliate for perceived slights from the Mozart men.
I don’t know much about classical music, yet I thought the book would have benefited from stronger musical themes. Overall, I found it a rewarding read. If Kindle books are ever accompanied by a made-for-the-book musical score when you read them, this could be a real knockout.
Mozart’s Sister is selling for $2.99 in the Kindle store.

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Housekeeping – We’re back!, Kindle tablet, and 99 cent cheap reads 1 comment

Back to Schedule
Effective today we are back on full schedule and appreciate your continued patience as we worked through a few things. After this experience we may make a few changes to our posting schedule. We’ll let you know next week in the Housekeeping post and we’ll have a new Worst Case Scenario poll next week, too.
Prices and free active content have been just a bit of a roller coaster ride the last few days. You don’t have to follow Kindle pricing very long to know that every so often prices gyrate for a few days and then settle down again. Let’s hope things have moved to the settled down phase.
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Kindle Tablet as Soon as August?
Engadget had an article that speculates Amazon will announce a Kindle tablet as early as August. You can read the full article here. I use a Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet and the device pictured in this article has a similar appearance. If you have an Android-based device, the four symbols at the bottom of the photo will look very familiar.
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Summer Cheap Reads Predominantly Romance
The genre with the most books at great cheap prices this summer has been romance. We will post them as they become available. Sorry, men, perhaps action and adventure books will be the great cheap reads in August.
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Cheap Reads and Active Content for 99 Cents Each

Highlander’s Sword : Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent, until her brother’s death leaves her an heiress. Soon she is caught in a hastily arranged marriage with a Highland warrior.
The Scrubs: James Jeter, the notorious serial killer with a sixth sense, holds court inside London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison. Under the influence of a hallucinogen, Jeter can create an alternative world known as “The Rift” containing the souls of his victims.
Calendar – Schedule Tool for Kindle: Calendar lets you see events and to-do lists quickly and easily with day, month and week views. It lets you create events (including recurring events) and daily to-do lists.

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