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review 2018-06-23 23:19
Love Mystery by Pamela Styles -- DNF
Love Mystery - Pamela Styles

Disclosure:  I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical and contemporary romances and non-fiction.


This is one of those books that you think maybe has some potential, but the execution just wrings every last drop of hope out.


All it took was a paragraph.  The first paragraph.


A sheep was gnawing on the corner of my coat. I snatched the fabric away, causing the animal to retreat, startled. I looked up, following her direction of travel. She had re-joined her flock on the hillside where I sat looking out, allowing rain to fall on my face, plastering long, wet, gray hair to my skin. I was struggling to breathe and closed my eyes intending to rest, just for a moment…

Styles, Pamela. Love Mystery (Love Magic Book 2) (Kindle Locations 15-19). Kindle Edition.


Gnawing.  Causing.  Following.  Looking.  Allowing.  Plastering.  Struggling.  Intending.


This kind of over-reliance on present participles is the mark of an amateur writer.  Perhaps one who hasn't done a lot of reading herself.  Perhaps one who hasn't had a good critique group to help her through the process of developing a prose style.


Regardless the reason, it makes for a disappointing reading experience. And it only gets worse in succeeding paragraphs.


That disappointment is intensified with clumsy repetitions.  "Pounding" appears three times in the next couple of paragraphs.   Or this:


This was not the best start to my eighteenth birthday. I could hear movement outside my bedroom, surely my mother, come to rouse me to celebrate. She knocked on the door.


“Alexis,” she called to me through the door.

Styles, Pamela. Love Mystery (Love Magic Book 2) (Kindle Locations 23-24). Kindle Edition.


There's no need to write "through the door." It's just extra words that don't add anything.


But here's the thing that pulled me completely out of the story, far more than just the unpolished writing.


There's the cover, first.




I post it here because they get changed so frequently on Amazon. Lovely young woman, flowers, soft colors.


Then the opening section of the book is titled "Alexis."


Then the opening scene depicts a person in the rain, with long wet gray hair, which suggests that the person is a woman.


But in fact, "Alexis" is a young man!


I had already built up a mental image, based on the cover art, of Alexis as a young woman.  Even though I'd only invested the few minutes necessary to get through two or three pages, the magic was completely broken when I learned my mental image had to be completely redrawn.


Shelly Lowenkopf, in his 1982 article for The Writer magazine "Creating the Rejection-Resistant Novel," says a writer only has three pages at the very most to capture a reader's attention.  I was barely three Kindle pages into this book when my attention was completely thrown out of the book, not only by the weak writing but now by the false mental image I had created based on the clues the writer had left.  That was enough for me to DNF.


Those problems were enough, but they weren't the end of my reasons.


The book is supposedly set in 1869 in the U.S., but the celebration of Samhain seemed  out of place with that era and location.  I could have bought it if the author had given me some kind of context. 


The context is provided in the Amazon listing description, but we all know that books get withdrawn or descriptions changed, and they don't accompany the book files to the reading device.  The description also clearly states that Alexis is male.  But reading the book on my Kindle, without access to the original listing, I had no way of knowing that.


All in all, it was a very disappointing experience, and I'm not inclined to read any further.  This lengthy review is to give other readers a full explanation of my analysis.  I'm sure there are people who won't like that I wrote more than I read, but that's just too bad.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-23 18:49
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, by Jason Fry
The Last Jedi (Star Wars) - Jason Fry

Almost forgot to review this! Like the novelization of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi was mostly worthwhile in terms of the additional context and peek inside characters' heads not offered in the film. However, I had even more questions about TLJ from the movie than I had for TFA. I also had not re-watched it yet. Moments I thought were not in the film were indeed in there when I eventually re-watched; I was so off in my head through TLJ, I missed a lot!


The most interesting new bits in the novel that I remember from my reading include details about General Hux's background and those of his fellow First Order officers. Apparently, Hux's father was also a military man but was crazy; Hux killed him (it's not revealed how)--it remains dangerous business being a father to a son in the Star Wars universe! Seriously, it's like being a Roman Caesar. In the film you can see Hux clash with other officers, but the novel clarifies that a few of them also served the Empire; they're used to doing things a certain way. Hux favors shows of strength rather than utilizing successful strategy.


Some additional scenes were filmed but not part of the final cut (available as deleted scenes in special features) and are described in the novel. These include a serious-turned-funny sequence where Luke tells Rey that newly arriving Caretaker species merchants are raiders who come regularly to steal and kill. Rey rushes down to them only to discover that they're having a party! Luke lied to make a point about how the Jedi would have taken a no-involvement stance. Something not filmed, though, is Luke inviting Rey to dance; it's sweet scene.


The biggest questions I had after seeing the film the first time involved Kylo Ren and Rey, of course. It somehow wasn't clear to me on a first viewing if Ren knew anything about Snoke forming the Force bond between him and Rey; he didn't. I also wondered if Snoke was telling the truth about that. In the book, before and during his monologue that ends with his death, we get a glimpse of Snoke's thoughts, and he did indeed bridge their minds (at least HE believes he did). There's also more about the fight from Rey's perspective especially; at the beginning she struggles a bit but essentially lets the Force guide her. It's pretty cool. She also senses Ben/Kylo as he fights and compares him to an animal finally freed from his cage.


Most revealing is why Rey leaves Ren alive once it's clear he's not going to turn and they struggle over Luke's light saber, which splits and knocks them unconscious. He wakes up, but Rey is already gone in the movie. In the book, there's a little scene where Rey awakens and contemplates what to do. She feels that the Force isn't done with Ren, and it's not her place to kill him.


There's also more about Rose and her sister, which helped me appreciate her more as a character. There's a bit more romantic tension between her and Finn, from her perspective at least, as she's annoyed each time he thinks only of Rey, not the larger cause.


And we get more about and from Leia, including her Force training and that moment where she and Ben sense each other as his ship is set to fire on hers. The thing that prevents him from killing her is that what he senses from her is worry--for him, not herself. My heart hurts; excuse me while I go cry over Carrie Fisher again.

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review 2018-06-23 15:26
Review: “The Flesh Cartel #13: The House Always Wins (The Flesh Cartel Season 4: Liberation)” (The Flesh Cartel, #13) by Rachel Haimowitz & Heidi Belleau
The Flesh Cartel #13: The House Always Wins (The Flesh Cartel Season 4: Liberation) - Heidi Belleau,Rachel Haimowitz


~ 4 stars ~


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text 2018-06-23 14:00
Reading progress update: I've read 12%.- does anyone respond like this?
Desert Dark - Sonja Stone

I wanted a lighter side to my Summer Of Spies reading so I picked up Desert Dark, knowing from the publisher's summary that it was a YA adventure book about a sixteen-year-old heroine attending a school for spies.


Well, it's light and fast and very YA. It started with an attempt on our heroine's life, did a "Three months earlier.." flip followed by an up close and personal murder.


Yet what caught me by surprise is our young heroine's reaction to her situation.


Day One of her new school she's put through a psych eval, finally told the kind of school she's been conned into signing up for and then been threatened with indefinite detention without charge under the Patriot Act if she tells anyone about it.


Her reaction?


"So I really get to work for CIA Black Ops? How cool is that?"


Suddenly, I'm in a parallel universe. Can you imagine any teen reacting that way?


I mean, is this kind of patriotic enthusiasm for illegal, lethal, organisations that set themselves outside of control by the democratic process in order to kill America's enemies a plausible response?


Yeh, I know, it's ENTERTAINMENT. It's not real. But still. Really?

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text 2018-06-22 23:54
Czytnik na wakacje – Kindle, PocketBooki i Bookeeny w letniej promocji

Po raz kolejny w tym miesiącu niemiecki Amazon obniżył ceny czytników Kindle. Od dziś czytniki Kindle Paperwhite 3 oraz Kindle 8 można kupić o 20 EUR taniej. Podobne obniżki proponuje także czytio.pl na niektóre urządzenia marki PocketBook i Bookeen.


Wybrane czytniki Kindle teraz o 20 EUR taniej (źródło: amazon.de)


Jak już pisałem wcześniej, czytnik na wakacje, to dobry pomysł. Doceni to każdy, kto dźwigał ze sobą książki a potem i tak zabrakło czytania np. w czasie kolejnej przesiadki czy kolejnego deszczowego dnia nad Bałtykiem, jeziorami czy w górach.


Kindle Paperwhite 3 i Kindle 8 taniej o 20 EUR

Kindle Paperwhite 3 to najpopularniejsze czytniki tej marki. Mają dotykowy ekran E-Ink o najwyższej obecnie dostępnej rozdzielczości 300 ppi i przekątnej 6 cali. Wbudowane oświetlenie pozwala na czytanie nawet przy niesprzyjającym świetle zewnętrznym, na przykład w poczekalniach czy środkach transportu publicznego. Za Kindle Paperwhite 3 (wysyłana do Polski wersja bez reklam, z polskim VATem) zapłacić teraz trzeba ok. 540 PLN.


Kindle Paperwhite 3 teraz kosztuje 124,02 EUR (źródło: amazon.de)


Z kolei Kindle 8 nie ma wbudowanego oświetlenia i posiada ekran o mniejszej rozdzielczości. Dlatego zapłacimy za niego mniej, bo ok. 270 PLN.

Przypominam, że od niedawna można w niemieckim Amazonie płacić bez używania karty płatniczej, wystarczy polskie konto bankowe. Przelewy realizuje i za przeliczanie na złotówki odpowiada polski integrator płatności – Przelewy24.


Również za Kindle 8 zapłacić teraz można od razu w złotówkach przez Przelewy24 (źródło: amazon.de)


Poradnik dla tych, co pierwszy raz

Dla tych, którzy do tej pory rzadko robili zakupy w niemieckim oddziale Amazonu, przygotowałem krótki poradnik, który tu powtórzę:

- sklep wysyła zakupy o wartości od 39 EUR na polski adres bez dodatkowych opłat za wysyłkę;

- do Polski wysyłane są czytniki Kindle bez reklam (opisane jako „Ohne Spezialangebote”). Czytniki z reklamami, Kindle Oasis 2 oraz niektóre inne produkty (np. głośniki Amazon Echo) nie są wysyłane do Polski. Można je zamówić przez pocztowego pośrednika, co opisałem w poradniku „Jak kupić Kindle Oasis 2 z dostawą do Polski”;

- dane do logowania w amerykańskim Amazonie czy europejskich oddziałach (w tym amazon.de) są takie same;

- ceny podane w sklepie mają uwzględnioną niemiecką stawkę VATu, po podaniu polskiego adresu dostawy, cena zostanie przeliczona wg polskiej (wyższej) stawki. Dlatego wartość zakupów w koszyku będzie inna niż na sklepowej stronie danego produktu;

- w Amazonie można płacić polskimi kartami płatniczymi. Za zakupy w amazon.de najlepiej płacić kartą rozliczaną w EUR. Można także korzystać z karty rozlicznej w złotówkach. Także wtedy (zazwyczaj) lepiej wybrać płatność w EUR i pozwolić, aby to bank dokonał przewalutowania;

- niedawno wprowadzona płatność przez przelewy24.pl umożliwia także zakupy bez podania numeru karty płatniczej;

- przeliczenie cen czytników podaję orientacyjnie, ostatecznie to od kursu euro i opłat w naszym banku zależy sposób przeliczenia na złotówki;

- obciążenie karty płatniczej następuje po wysłaniu paczki z zamówieniem. Przy pierwszym zakupie w Amazonie, karta płatnicza może być chwilowo obciążona kwotą 1 EUR (która zostanie zwrócona po kilku dniach);


PocketBook Touch HD 2 za mniej niż 600 PLN

Trwa przecena czytników PocketBook Touch HD 2 w sklepie polskiego dystrybutora tej marki. W czytio.pl za ten model w wersji brązowej zapłacimy teraz 599 PLN. W tę cenę wliczona jest dostawa kurierem, więc za przesyłkę nie trzeba już dopłacać.


PocketBook Touch HD 2 można teraz kupić z niecałe 600 PLN (źródło: czytio.pl)


Nie mam tego modelu, ale wcześniejsza wersja – Touch HD bardzo mi przypadła do gustu. Natomiast Touch HD 2 posiada sześciocalowy dotykowy ekran E-Ink 300 ppi z wbudowanym oświetleniem. Oświetlenie ma regulowaną temperaturę barwową. Ważnym atutem tego modelu są fizyczne przyciski zmiany stron. Obsługa wypożyczalni Legimi może też być atutem przemawiającym za tym czytnikiem.


Bookeen Saga za mniej niż 500 PLN

Właściciel sklepu czytio.pl jest też dystrybutorem czytników francuskiej firmy marki Bookeen. W ramach wakacyjnej obniżki kupić można uroczy model Bookeen Saga za 499 PLN. Pod względem parametrów odstaje on trochę od wspomnianych wyżej modeli (sześciocalowy dotykowy ekran 213 ppi z wbudowanym oświetleniem), ale fizyczne przyciski zmiany stron i zintegrowana z urządzeniem silikonowa okładka dodają mu funkcjonalności. Nie mam akurat tego modelu, ale z krótkich doświadczeń z wersją tego czytnika opracowaną dla francuskiej sieci Carrefour mogę potwierdzić, że to dobry sprzęt. Cena w Polsce jest niższa od tego, co można znaleźć we Francji.


Czytniki Bookeen Saga są teraz nawet tańsze niż we Francji (źródło: idealo.fr)


Korzystając z moich odsyłaczy przy zakupach czytników Kindle, motywujecie mnie do dalszej pracy :)


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