Archives for: January 2012
Top 4 for 2011 for Young Adult Fiction by several readers 1 comment

Recently several site users have mentioned young adult fiction titles as books they have enjoyed. Here are four of their recommendations.
 
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner ($1.99) Jackie wrote: This is a GREAT series. I read The Thief about a year ago, and promptly got the next 2 (The Queen of Attolia ($5.99) and The King of Attolia ($6.99)) for my Kindle. I was so excited when I saw this great discount – my set is complete! This is one great buy everyone should take advantage of!
Book Description: The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
 

LuvMyKindle would gave a shout out for Glenn Bullion’s two stand alones, Demonspawn and Mind Slide. They are both YA paranormal’s with males as the lead characters; both are distinctive, fast-moving stories combining likeable characters, action, suspense, friendship, a bit of violence/horror, and (non-graphic) romance.
Demonspawn ($2.99) My name’s Alex. I used to think I was normal. I have a job, an apartment, good friends. I have a sister I adore, and the most beautiful woman in the world happens to be my best friend. I see ghosts. So what, right? It’s on television all the time. All kinds of people see ghosts. But seeing ghosts turns into seeing demons. Seeing demons turns into walking through walls. It only keeps getting better. It just so happens I’m half demon, the only one of my kind.
Mind Slide ($2.99) A random act of nature changed Mason’s life forever. He lost his parents on that fateful day, even his memories of them. But he gained something in return. Mason has the ability to “mind slide”, the ability to project his consciousness. He can be anywhere in the world. Watching. Listening.
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach ($1.99) Stacey wrote: Stupid Fast is a book that I have in my high school library, that never stays on the shelf. It is laugh out loud funny; I’ve even gotten the boys to pass it around.
Book Description: Fifteen-year-old Felton Reinstein has always been on the smallish side, but in his sophomore year he starts growing…and growing. During gym one day he smokes the football jocks in a 600-yard race. Felton has never been interested in sports, but there’s no doubt-he is “stupid fast.” As he juggles his newfound athletic prowess, his mom’s sudden depression, an annoying little brother, and his first love, he discovers a shocking secret about his past which explains why he’s turning out the way he is.

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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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Housekeeping – Personal note; Updates through Manage Your Kindle Page; and Cheap Reads 4 comments

A Personal Note
The last five days, I have suffered from a raging ear infection that put me down for the count. A few errors made it to the site and a few things were put on hold. The Top 4 for 2011 will resume Monday.
Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and the books of all things romantic are being offered at great prices. You might want to purchase a few extra for the coming blizzard or spring break or summer vacation. After all, everyone loves a romance.
 
Updating a book from Manage Your Kindle Page
I received the following e-mail recently from Amazon:

We are happy to announce that an updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Book Book by Author Author is now available. The version you received had the following issues that have been corrected:

Typos existed throughout the book

Before you update to the new version, check to see that all devices that you have used to read this book are connected to a network and that their Annotations Backup settings are turned on. This will ensure that your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading location are retained in the new version. For help with modifying settings, please visit http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport.

You can get this new version by going to the Manage Your Kindle page at http://amazon.com/MYKupdate. Find the book in your Kindle Library and click on the “update available” link next to the book’s title. Within 5 minutes, any of your devices that have the eBook currently downloaded and have an active wireless connection will be updated automatically.

Because the book was not active on my Kindle, I downloaded it. Back on the MYK page, when I selected Update this Title, I was given one more opportunity to ensure that I had taken the steps to protect highlights, notes, and furthest page read.

A corrected version of this book is available.

The previous version will be replaced with the corrected version.

Before clicking update, please be sure the wireless and Annotations Backup settings are turned on for each of your devices. Doing so will retain any highlights, notes, and furthest page read. You can check and adjust your Annotations Backup settings by navigating to the settings menu on your device. For further help with modifying settings, go to http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport and check the help pages for the devices or applications you are using.

Once the update option is selected, it is no longer available.
  
Cheap Reads Even Cheaper
A few books previously featured are now at an even cheaper price – only $1.99 each.
 

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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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Housekeeping: Kindle Touch and the Cover; Pre-Order Posts on January 24 and a Cheap Read 13 comments

I never liked it anyway

A few weeks ago, I started having trouble with my previously awesome Kindle Touch with 3G. The touch screen suddenly became unresponsive. I’d tap a book and it wouldn’t open up, or would take a long time to open. I tried a hard reset, which helped briefly. A few times I tried to turn it on and it reset itself. The battery didn’t hold a charge. I figured it must be a bug in the device and got on the forums at Amazon to see if other users had experienced similar problems.
Several of them had and the suggestion was to take it out of the cover. Seriously?
As mentioned in the review, I purchased the official leather cover. It did the job, but I was disappointed with the color and feel of it. There is an indication the cover somehow interferes with the Kindle’s operation.
I popped the Kindle out and it immediately returned to normal. I didn’t call customer service, but sent the cover back to Amazon and received a full refund. I’d like to use it to buy a new cover, but I’m a little cautious of having problems again.
If you’re having trouble with your Kindle, try taking it out of the cover and see if helps. Also, I’m accepting suggestions for a new cover.
 
Pre-Orders Only on Tuesday, January 24
Publishers are releasing many books the week of January 30 and some of them are at cheap prices. Tuesday, January 24, every regular post will be a pre-order offer with delivery scheduled during the week of January 30.
As an example The Qualities of Wood, contemporary fiction for only $1.99, is releasing Tuesday, January 31:
 
A haunting and beautifully written debut novel by an exciting new talent. When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behaviour of her neighbours, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart. The Qualities of Wood is a stunning novel from an exciting new writer. Perfect for readers of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.

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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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Housekeeping – Server changes; Goodreads book tracking; and Cheap Reads 6 comments

Whew! Glad that’s over
This week we transitioned to a new server and cleared a few speed bumps along the way. The site is growing and we’ve updated and expanded to improve your experience. You will be able to buy cheap reads faster than ever before. If you experience any glitches on our site, please let us know. Our IT support will be right on it.
 
Meeting Goals; Keeping Track
At the beginning of 2011, I (Susan) decided I wanted to track how many books I read, instead of just having a vague idea. I asked for suggestions and several of you recommended Goodreads.
It’s like a social network for book lovers, where you can track what books you’re reading, share reviews and interact with other readers. It has been a lot of fun to check in with you and see the books you enjoy. Signing up for the 2011 Reading Challenge, I made a goal to read 55 books (that’s more than one a week!) and by the end of the year, had read 70. A few were children’s books but I discovered I read more than I thought.
One of the things I enjoy most about Goodreads is the virtual book shelf where you can line up the covers of books you’ve read. I scanned through the titles from 2011 and it was like reconnecting with some old friends (and a few distant acquaintances who had sucked up my time.)
One of my favorite books for the year was The Hunger Games.
This series is written for young adults, but many grown ups have enjoyed it as well. I had avoided it because I thought it would be violent but found it a compelling character study, except for the third book, which was a disappointment compared to the first two. The first book of trilogy is selling for $4.69.
 
For the 2012 Reading Challenge, my goal is 62 books. Do you have a reading goal this year? How many books do you hope to get to know in 2012?
 
Cheap Reads
Each short book below is only 89 cents – history, language and contemporary fiction.
 

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Housekeeping: Holiday treats, 100 best-selling books, and cartoon fun 0 comments

Holiday Favorite Treat Poll
We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and had an opportunity to relax with friends and family and read, too. In our informal poll of your favorite holiday treat, fudge and frosted sugar cookies were popular choices. Favorite write-in responses were gingerbread, divinity and pumpkin pie. If you enjoyed as many treats as we did, you had a wonderful, sugar-filled holiday.
 
100 Best-Selling Books for 2011
Amazon announced the 100 best-selling books for 2011 and several cheap reads were in the top 30. One book, Ascend by Amanda Hocking, is no longer available as a cheap read as Ms. Hocking has re-published the book through a traditional publisher. A Kindle Single that is 40 pages long is one of the top “books.” Is that fair? Should a book have a minimum length to qualify?
Nine cheap reads from the top 30 that are still available for less than $3 each are below. The prices are as low as 79 cents up to $2.99 each. Only two of the books are $2.99 and most are 99 cents.
 

  
Your Top Reads for 2011
Again this year we will feature your top four reads from 2011. The reads don’t have to be cheap reads, just your favorites. Please send your list along with a 1-3 sentence description or reason you liked the books to us via Your Two Cents Worth tab. If you don’t have four reads, send one, two, or three of your favorites.
Next week we will post our top four reads for 2011.
 
From USA Today
Tiger and I vacationed for a few days over the holiday break and enjoyed reading USA Today each morning. This cartoon was featured on Friday, December 30:

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