Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Living with the Dead - Kelley Armstrong

Living with the Dead is another novel in the Women of the Otherworld series. You really need to start from the beginning of this series to appreciate the later stories. This novel focuses on Hope's friend Robyn. Robyn is a nice normal human PR rep who gets tangled in a plot with clairvoyants, a half-demon, werewolves, a necromancers, and of course the Nast sorcerer cabal. By the times things get untangled Robyn's perspective on the world around her has radically changed. All the novels in this series are excellent. This one is no exception. Highly recommended.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Six Months of Kindle

I received my kindle in February of 2009. I've been using it to read books, magazines, blogs, and newspapers for over six months now. I still read paper books and magazines from time to time, but I actually miss the kindle when I switch back to dead trees.

I've read over 30 books on my kindle so I have some experience to work from. I also have a couple of reference books on the kindle that I search when needed. I subscribe to Reader's Digest on my kindle. For a while there I subscribed to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine too. I read those mystery stories to my Mom. I also tried the Chicago Tribune for a while, but I'm not a newspaper person. I also subscribed to a couple of blogs for a while, but I can follow blogs much easier on my computer. I already subscribe to too many paper periodicals, and in most of them the color pictures are something the kindle can't reproduce, so I'm sticking to paper for magazines.

I really like my kindle. Most of the things I've enumerated below are things you just can't do with a paper book. There's a short list of things you can do with a paper book you can't do with a kindle book. You can't riffle through the pages looking for pictures, diagrams, or maps. If there's a way to do this on a kindle I haven't figured it out. You can't lend a kindle book to someone else to read, or sell one on eBay when you've finished reading it. I miss those things.

I like being able to search kindle books the way I can search other documents on my computer. I like being able to turn pages with one hand and never have the wind blow my book shut or make me lose my place. I like that I can find lots of books for free and most for less than $10. I like the way the battery seems to last forever if I turn the wireless off. I love my tooled leather case from Oberon Design. I like that anywhere I am, I can order a new book and download it in minutes. I like that my kindle is small enough to fit in the pouch of my hoodie and is light enough to carry there.

I like that I can convert just about any file I have on my computer to a format that my kindle can read. I like that I can set bookmarks anywhere I want and go back to them later. They never fall out of the kindle the way they do from paper books. I like that I can read multiple books on my kindle and it remembers right where I am in each one. I like that I can look up a word I don't recognize right there and then, without having to carry around a dictionary. I actually find myself putting off reading some paper books I still haven't read so I can read something else on the kindle.

There are a few things I don't like about the kindle. Note, these are not comparisons to paper books. Rather these are design flaws or missing features of the electronic device or the books provided for it.

I don't like the way some books are not formatted well for the kindle. Some are obviously shoehorned in after the fact and are far from a perfect fit. They're readable, but it's annoying at times. Magazines and newspapers have this same problem when displayed on the kindle.

I don't like that the kindle doesn't have a touch screen. Come on! Even my phone has a touch screen. It's so intuitive these days that it's a huge letdown every time I have to use the little dip stick to navigate. Huge letdown.

I don't like that it can't read PDF files directly. The newer kindles can. It's just software people. Why can't my kindle be upgraded to do what the newer ones can? That's very disappointing.

Finally, the kindle costs too much. For the average person the initial cost is out of reach and the long term savings are very long. According to an AP-Ipsos survey from 2007, one out of four adults didn't read any books that year. If you throw out those non-readers the median for adult readers was seven books a year. I doubt that number has gotten higher in the last two years, so let's figure seven books a year.

Assuming the kindle lets you purchase a bestselling book for $9.99, and assuming the price of that same book in hardback would be about $16 on Amazon, you'd have to read about 50 books for the savings to pay for the current $299 kindle. That means the average reader would take over seven years to recoup the cost of their kindle. Too expensive.

All that said I don't regret buying my kindle one bit. I waited for version two to come out before I took the plunge, and I did a lot of research first. Basically I got what I expected. How many things can you say that about? The only reason I'd give up my kindle is for a touch screen color version. I'm waiting Amazon.

UPDATE: 11/29/2009

I installed the latest software release for my kindle and now I have PDF support. The update also enabled screen rotation, which is helpful for PDF files since you can't zoom in on them. It also extended the battery life by 75%. My battery life was great before because I leave the network off, but more battery life is always better. If you're interested you can win a new kindle at the noobie site.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol is everything I'd expected. More mysteries, ancient symbols, and clues to follow. The action was good. The villain was superb. It will make an excellent movie if they do it right. The only let down was that Brown waxed pedantic at times. They'll leave that out of a movie if they make one. All you couch potatoes won't have to worry about it. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hostile Intent - Michael Walsh

Hostile Intent is a novel about terrorism, greed, and revenge. Devlin is a super secret agent of the government and he's the last line of defense for the country. He's called on to stop one terrorist act but things only get worse. Are the terrorists out to destroy the country or Devlin himself? The writing is not as great as Flynn, Ludlum, or Connelly but it's good. You don't want to put this book down until you get to the end. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen - Janet Evanovich

Finger Lickin' Fifteen is the latest in the Stephanie Plum series. There are a few things you can always count on in a Stephanie Plum novel: blown up cars, escaping skips, fattening food, and lots of laughs. The old standby characters are there to please, and Lulu has a new cross-dressing boyfriend. Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly

The Scarecrow is a novel featuring newspaper reporter Jack McEvoy. He was the main protagonist in one of Connelly's previous novels, The Poet. FBI agent Rachel Walling is back too. She and Jack were lovers in The Poet, and things heat up again.

Jack has just been laid off at the paper where he works and he's determined to write a last best story. When he stumbles on a serial killer called the scarecrow he has his chance. But this killer is part of a team and the team is good at what they do. They make Jack's life very interesting. Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hunting Ground - Patricia Briggs

Hunting Ground is a new Alpha and Omega novel. The werewolves of America are getting ready to come out of the closet. Their counterparts in Europe and England are not particularly happy about it. The werewolves hold a summit meeting in Seattle to work out their issues and Anna and Charles are representing America for the Marrok. If that's not interesting enough, throw in the Fae and some vampires and you have a highly volatile mix. Very highly recommended.