Wednesday, December 31, 2008

GoodBye 2008!

I can't say I am sorry to be making the last post for 2008.  It has been an amazing year with terrific highs and lows. 

So, what is in store for 2009?  I checked my crystal ball and evidently it is broken since everything is cloudy.  Oh come on, it's a joke. . .

There are, however a couple of things that seem intuitively obvious to me: 

  • Digital books will become increasingly popular and the percentage of books sold this way will double (from 1% to at least 3%)
  • By January, 2010 the iPhone will up a more popular reading device than the Kindle

As additional "proof" for my predictions you only need to look at an article in the Huffington PostIt shows that five of the six most popular Christmas morning Google searches were iPhone, iTunes, and iPod Touch-driven. All six are:

  2. iTunes download
  3. iTunes store
  4. stores open on Christmas day
  6. iTunes gift card"

Add to that that TechCrunch is reporting rumors about a 7 inch - 9 inch iPod screen due out next fall. 

I want one of these!

So, Goodbye 2008 (and pretty much good riddance!) and Hello 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

eReaders -- Have you considered a "Netbook?"



Last week Stacey Higginbotham wrote an interesting blog piece on notebook computing and what that might mean for the electronics industry.

She notes that notebook PC sales have overtaken the sales of desktop type machines.  This is the direct result of WiFi and the almost ubiquitous access to the Internet.

This is of interest to me, because Henri needs a new eBook reader.  It's time. . .

I figured that it would be a great Christmas present, so I started looking very closely at all the eReaders -- Kindle (never), Sony, Cybooks, Irex, BeBook and a few others. 

From my perspective the best available option is the Irex.  It has a touch screen, is able to connect by WiFi to the Internet and allows you to make notes and annotations.  It reads protected Mobipocket files and unprotected PDF.  All in all, contrary to my first opinion, it has turned out to be a great machine.  Or at least it is until you check out the price -- $700!!!

Well, let me think!  Here is a pretty much single use device that costs more than a fully powered, big screen laptop.  Too rich for my blood!

But the laptop thought triggered an idea.

I have been hearing about netbooks so decided to check them out.  Acer makes one called the Aspire One.  It sells at Costco for $349.00.  This is a fully functional Windows XP notebook with 1 GB of RAM, a160GB hard drive that is net ready and weighs about 2 pounds.  And it has a great screen with brilliant colors.

Heck, with that capacity, it is a lot more robust than a couple of the laptops we have laying around. 

Because it has the XP operating system it can read protected Mobipocket, PDF and Microsoft reader eBooks.  Because it is net ready you really don't need to buy an software.  All you need to do is access email and Google Docs are you are ready to go.

Of course, if you want to work offline, you can always load Star Office (for free) and have a fully functioning road machine. 

Sony and Cybook readers are in the same price range and do a whole let less. 

Rumor has it that Dell and a couple of other companies are getting ready to introduce lighter, faster, cheaper models next year.

I would love to finish this piece by telling you that I bought Henri a net book and we are both very happy. But that is not what really happened.  What really happened is that I put off the decision and the purchase for a couple of months.

And Henri, lucky man, got a new shirt. . . .


Friday, December 26, 2008

Gail Fraser's Lumby eBooks


Got the holiday blues?  Looking for tradition and a simpler time?  Well Gail Fraser' has created exactly what you want.  All you need to do is take a trip to Lumby.

The Lumby stories are the perfect antidote for busy holidays.  You get to sit in your chair (preferably by a roaring fire) and travel to a far away town where neighbors are neighborly, problems are neatly solved and life is simple. 

These books are not my usual "cup of tea."  Too cute and too cheery for me.  But I got sucked in and I have to admit they were much more enjoyable than I ever would have thought.

I'd write more, but I need to get back to Lumby's Bounty and find out how it all ends.

This is recommended holiday reading and I know from personal experience that it really does block the background noise of cranky, over sugared kids.


Nestled in the Northwest is a quaint little town that its quirky residents are proud to call home. With charming shops lining its one main thoroughfare, Lumby is home to the oldest apple tree in the county and the smallest bank in the state. And though it's hours from the nearest big city, readers will always find Lumby close to their hearts

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

eBook Discounts for December 23, 2008

ebook logo

It is Christmas time and Gigi is feeling generous. This week we are offering a 20% discount on these titles -- and believe it or not; these are the most popular in the last week.

To get this great discount; use coupon code 8Xmas9 at checkout.

eBook cover
In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier (Adobe Reader) eBook edition
by White, Thomas
Have humans been sharing the planet with other intelligent life for millions of years without realizing it? This timely and important book considers the answers and implications, and encourages humans to reconsider our treatment of the species with which we share the earth. . . In this thought-provoking account, White relies on his more than fifteen year journey to understand the nature of dolphins
More Info
List Price : $90.00
Your price $68.40 (Using your 10% discount and $3.60 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Christmas Sweater eBook Edition
by Beck, Glenn
If You Could Change Your Life by Reversing Your Biggest Regrets, Sorrows and Mistakes...Would You? #1 New York Times bestselling author and renowned radio and television host Glenn Beck delivers an instant holiday classic about boyhood memories, wrenching life lessons, and the true meaning of the gifts we give to one another in love.
More Info
List Price : $17.99
Your price $12.30 (Using your 10% discount and $ .65 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Younger You (Mobipocket) eBook edition
by Braverman, Eric R. MD.
Break the aging code and feel 15 years younger from the inside out In the constant battle to stay young and feel fit. Many even risk elective surgical procedures just to look young again. But you dont need surgery, pricey cosmetics, or starvation to look and feel 15 years younger. The secret. . .
More Info
List Price : $24.95
Your price $18.96 (Using your 10% discount and $1.00n eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Charlemagne Pursuit eBook edition
by Berry, Steve
As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic, but now he wants the full story and asks his ex-boss, Stephanie Nelle, to secure the military files. What he learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.
More Info
List Price : $24.95
Your price $17.45 (Using your 10% discount and $ .92 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Wind Engineering: A Handbook for Structural Engineers (Adobe Reader) eBook edition
by Liu, Henry
Wind – a powerful and often destructive force, which can instantly and profoundly alter the skyline or the shoreline of our communities. Structural engineers must be aware of its effects when designing buildings that have to weather its force. This volume provides wind engineering information that will lead to the proper understanding of present and future building codes
More Info
List Price : $63.00
Your price $47.88 (Using your 10% discount and $2.52 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Of course, I've Read that Book!" or Readers Lie

Shocking news last week!

pinocchio According to a BBC poll 46% of men and 33% of women admit to lying about what they have read. In other words about 40% of the population would rather impress you than tell the truth about their reading habits.

Seems men want to appear intellectual or romantic and women want to make a good first impression.  Men are impressed by women who read news sites and women are impressed by men who read Shakespeare.  Hmmmm!

Of course this brings up a question for me.  What do you do about those books that you just can't make your self finish?  You know, the ones you bought, read the first (and possibly the last chapter) and then quit.  Does that count as having read it?

This is my dilemma:  Is it necessary to read every word of a book to consider it read?  Does skimming count?

Did I really read A Thousand Splendid SunsI read the first three chapters, skimmed the middle and read the last chapter. . . I wanted to read it; but somehow I just couldn't make myself do it. My mind kept wandering.

Does it count that I picked up The Forgotten Man and after a couple of chapters found it too depressing to keep going on?

I mean, I really wanted to like My Jesus YearBut unfortunately Benyamin Cohen is no A. J. Jacobs. And no matter how much I would like it to be, My Jesus Year is no substitute for The Year of Living Biblically.  I actually made it about half way through; did I read it?

Then of course there is the problem of memory.  As a life long prodigious reader, I would be hard put tell you exactly what I have read or not read.

And finally, there is the movie adaptation thing. . . Did I read The Hours or do I just remember the movie?  Actually this is one I know.  I read the first couple of chapters and threw the book in the trash in disgust.  Turns out, however, that I loved the movie.  Can I say I read it?

No matter how you answer these questions, the fact remains that the desire to look good will always trump the thirst for knowledge.  Always has, always will.  And not all books or writers are equal.  For every great best seller there is one that is "literary" and boring. And face it, some books make better movies than books.

And -- just so you know -- I almost never write reviews of books I haven't read.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Under Reported eBooks -- eBooks I have Read This Year but Haven't Reviewed

This morning I looked through the past book review postings on the site.  From the reviews posted you would think that about the only things I read are Romances, Biographies and Literary Fiction.  It would be a fair evaluation, although not exactly accurate. 

There are a number of books that I have read, but for various reasons have not reviewed.  For example, I don't know how to review a Mystery without giving away the plot.  Or (for another example) I try to stay away from political controversy so I never review books about politics or current events. 

Then there are the books that are either so bad I can't finish them, or the ones I struggle to finish because. . . well, just because.  I almost never review those either.  I mean what's the point; after all I want you to read the books I write about.

Which brings me to the point. . .listed below are some of the books I have read this year and not reviewed.  I am going to confine it to only the ones I have enjoyed.  Maybe one of these days I will post a list of the ones I couldn't finish. . . .

 Musicophilia by Sacks, Oliver

First of all I am a huge fan of Oliver Sacks and his work so this was a natural.  Added to the fact that I come from a family of musicians and music is a big part of our family culture.  Sacks explores the connection between the brain and music. 

Outliers by Gladwell, Malcolm

This was a fascinating study on intelligent people and how raw intelligence may actually be overrated.  It is also a study of how culture, environment, education and personality interplay with intelligence.  The stories are enthralling.  This was a book I read in fits and starts over several weeks. 

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Goodwin, Doris Kearns

Kerns is another favorite author.  Several years ago I did a reading project: I read at least one book about each of the US Presidents.  I wish that this book had been around then. But it is good reading now!

T is for Trespass by Grafton, Sue

I have read very one of Grafton's novels and am always anxious to get my hands on the latest one.  Now, however, I am starting to get worried since we are up to T;  are there really only six left?  Oh no!  Grafton is a master at building and holding tension and hasn't written a bunk one yet.  If you haven't read her books -- do yourself a favor and start one today!

DownHill Lie by Carl Hiaasen

I'm not a golfer, a golf watcher or even a Tiger Woods fan, but this take on golfing had me laughing out loud. . . 



So, there you have it.  A few of the other books I have enjoyed this year and highly recommend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

eBook Discounts for December 17, 2008

ebook logo

I tried to find a thread to these selections; something about brains but I couldn't get it to work. No matter. . . these are books to enjoy!

This week the coupon code is B2J8G -- your key to savings.
eBook cover
My Storke of Inslight eBook edition
by Taylor, Ph.D., Jill Bolte
brain scientist's journey from a debilitating stroke to full recovery becomes an inspiring exploration of human consciousness and its possibilities . . . fascinating journey into the mechanics of the human mind, My Stroke of Insight is both a valuable recovery guide for anyone touched by a brain injury, and an emotionally stirring testimony that deep internal peace truly is accessible to anyone, at any time.
More Info
List Price : $24.95
Your price $19.20 (Using your 10% discount and $1.01 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Pagan Stone eBook Edition
by: Roberts, Nora
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Blood Brothers and The Hollow—the conclusion to the electrifying trilogy of three men and three women who join forces—and hearts—to battle the ultimate evil.
More Info
List Price : $7.99
Your price $6.15 (Using your 10% discount and $ .32 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Inside Steve's Brain eBook edition
by Kahney, Leander
Inside Steve's Brain cuts through the cult of personality that surrounds Jobs to unearth the secrets to his unbelievable results. It reveals the real Steve Jobs-not his heart or his famous temper, but his mind. So what's really inside Steve's brain?
More Info
List Price : 23.95
Your price $20.48 (Using your 10% discount and 1.08 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Scarpetta eBook edition
by Cornwell, Patricia
From America¿s #1 bestselling crime writers comes the extraordinary new Kay Scarpetta novel. Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital¿s psychiatric prison ward.
More Info
List Price : $27.95
Your price $25.16 (Using your 10% discount and $1.26 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
C++ Without Fear (Mobipocket) eBook edition
by Overland, Brian
If you've always wanted to learn how to program a computer, or to learn the popular C++ programming language, here's the perfect book and CD to get you started. You'll find everything you need patiently explained and clearly illustrated, from general programming concepts and techniques to the particulars of the C++ language. In no time, you'll be writing your own programs!
More Info
List Price : $23.99
Your price $20.51 (Using your 10% discount and $1.08 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Book as a Form of Presentation Art

I have received a batch of emails related to the paper book as an artifact of past glory in paper publishing over the holiday weekend. One of the rather more prominent members of the group contributing to the thread involved called books in paper form a fetish. I was, in fact, quite amused by much of the content of that thread. The future is seldom what we expect it to be.

2007 tower Paper publishing is obviously being altered and even threatened by digital publishing. Of course every form of information will be altered or replaced by newer, more complex digital forms over time. The key qualifier here is, “Over time,”; and the key question in the thread is how long will this replacement process take in the case of the written word presented in book form?

The continued use of paper is clearly more expensive in many cases than the simple act of moving a digital file from one place to another. It is also clear that many more forms of digital information can be included in publications that enjoy the flexibility of digital publishing over paper. Still and all old habits die hard. I still have several newspapers delivered to my driveway even as I use the Internet to read several more each day.

How fast will all of the replacement of paper take place and how soon will I be forced to do without my many pages of birdcage liners that grace my weekly recycling contribution? I am reading about the future as I have done most of my adult life. In the future virtual reality will eventually take over the process of transferring complete information about any life experience.

Technology in terms of the presentation of information is clearly expanding our options. I wonder if any of the people contributing to that thread really understand exponential growth in technology and what it means to all of us. The capacity of single computers will exceed the capacity of the human brain somewhere in the next two decades if Ray Kurzweil is to be believed.

From that point to the point in time where exponential growth in data transfer technology and computing capacity lead to human minds with millions of times the capacity for data transfer and data manipulation of the current human mind is short indeed. I suspect that most of the people contributing to that thread can no more comprehend a world where living thousands of virtual lives in one short period of time will be a common experience than can I.

The time devoted to reading one book might instead be devoted to experiencing the lives of all of the characters in a lifeline presentation series in that world. Of course this idea presupposes that someone could be bothered to produce such a presentation in a world where the computers are the majority of the conscious minds around.

Exponential growth in computing power and data transfer capabilities dictates that such a world will be upon us before the next generation grapples with its somewhat diminished mortality. If, as Ray suspects, we are mere decades from downloading human consciousness into those immensely expanded computers mortality itself will be drastically altered if not eliminated.

So I find myself amused by the parochial nature of the discussion in that thread. It is not only the art of the book or the written word that is under duress here. It is more appropriate to consider what will happen to the art of experiencing life itself and how that will be transferred in such a world as will exist before this century is half over.

We do live in interesting times don’t we?

Friday, December 12, 2008

The O Henry Prize Stories 2008 edited by Laura Furman eBook edition

Short stories are always a crap shoot.  They can be masterpieces; a little gem hidden in the pages of a magazine.  They can be head scratchers; you finish wondering what the hell that was about!  They can be be alternatively irritating, amusing and even boring.

I am by nature a cereal box reader -- you know one of those people whose basic requirement for what they read is that it be printed somewhere.  I'm not picky about where.  So it should come as no surprise that I always keep at least one short story collection on my Palm. It is there to kill those odd few minutes when I am waiting for something else to happen.

Every year I buy the O Henry Prize stories.  And every year I have the same experience. . . There are a couple that I love, a few that I am more or less indifferent to and a couple I actually hate.  And I am always mystified as to why these twenty stories are considered the best. 

My reaction to the The O Henry Prize Stories 2008 isn't any different. For example, I loved Bad Neighbors by Edward P. Jones and hated A Composer and His Parakeets by Ha JinI found Folie à Deux some thing of a head scratcher. And finally (!) A Change in Fashion and A Little History of Modern Music made me smile. 

I read them all.  My reaction?  The best short stories are VERY short on humor.  Evidently to be considered for the best you must write serious (read often depressing) stories filled with angst.  I would have to characterize most of these stories as high-minded snippets reflecting human pain. 

I mean, think about these stories:

  • The Transitional Object: grades and sex in Paris. 
  • Bye-bye Natalia: email correspondence between Ukranian girl and her Cowboy
  • The Little Boy: how children survive an incompetent parent
  • A Game of Cards:  gin rummy and two life long friends
  • Other People's Deaths: the etiquette of death
  • Prison: surrogate parenting and sharing a womb
  • On the Lake:  Near drowning and parental guilt

Not exactly a bunch of happy people or funny subjects.  And yet these stories have stuck with me all week.  I find myself thinking about them at odd moments.  Wondering about the characters and ruminating on the nature of humans and their experiences.

I suppose in the long run, that is what makes these stories prize winners.

Here's what the publisher says:

An annual collection of the twenty best contemporary short stories selected by series editor Laura Furman from hundreds of literary magazines, The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008 is studded with extraordinary settings and characters: a teenager in survivalist Alaska, the seed keeper of a doomed Chinese village, a young woman trying to save her life in a Ukrainian internet café. Also included are the winning writers' comments on what inspired them, a short essay from each of the three eminent jurors, and an extensive resource list of literary magazines.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

eBook Discounts for December 11, 2008

ebook logo

Dogs, Trouble, Money, Betrayal and Plain talk head the agenda this week. To get your discount on any of these great titles use coupon code A9JG4 at checkout.

eBook cover
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog eBook edition
byGrogan, John
John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same. . . Is it possible for humans to discover the key to happiness through a bigger-than-life, bad-boy dog? Just ask the Grogans.
More Info
List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.82 (Using your 10% discount and $ .73 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Magic Lost, Trouble Found eBook Edition
by: Shearin, Lisa
Raine is a sorceress of moderate powers, from an extended family of smugglers and thieves. With a mix of street smarts and magic spells, she can usually take care of herself. But when her friend Quentin, a not-quite-reformed thief, steals an amulet from the home of a powerful necromancer, Raine finds herself wrapped up in more trouble than she cares for.
More Info
List Price : $7.99
Your price $7.19 (Using your 10% discount and $ .36 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Ascent of Money eBook edition
by: Ferguson, Niall.
Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters.
More Info
List Price : $29.95
Your price $23.05 (Using your 10% discount and $1.21 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Venetian Betrayal eBook edition
by: Berry, Steve
In 323 B.C.E, having conquered Persia, Alexander the Great set his sights on Arabia, then suddenly succumbed to a strange fever. Locating his final resting place–unknown to this day–remains a tantalizing goal for both archaeologists and treasure hunters. Now the quest for this coveted prize is about to heat up. And Cotton Malone–former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer–will be drawn into an intense geopolitical chess game.
More Info
List Price : $17.95
Your price $13.82 (Using your 10% discount and $ .73 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Make It Plain eBook edition
by: Vernon Jordan, Vernon / Daniels, Lee
Black Americans have always relied on the oral tradition-storytelling, preaching, and speechmaking-to assert their rights and preserve and pass on their history and culture. In the pulpit, courtroom, or cotton field, they have understood the power of words, distinctively delivered, to educate and inspire.
More Info
List Price : $26.00
Your price $22.23 (Using your 10% discount and $1.17 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

Monday, December 8, 2008

Books, eBooks and the Reading Public

Ever wonder who buys books and why? 

Well, if you have, there is a nifty service out there that tracks that kind of info.  The service, PubTrack, does online surveys of the book buying public.  And the results for 2007 were reported last week by Publishers Weekly.

stats Much to Henri's amusement, I am a person who is fascinated with statistics like these.  And yes, I know about "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics."  I guess it is the accountant buried in my soul that loves to quantify things.

I love the fact that fourteen billion dollars was spent on books!  It is interesting that only 3.2 billion (23%) was spent online. And I (for one) am less than thrilled to find out that only 3% of book purchases were non print (eBook and Audio Book) versions. 

PubTrack breaks the reading public into five groups:  Teens (13-17), Gen Y (18-28), Gen X (29-40), Boomers (41-59) and Matures (60 and up).  The statistics are then broken up to reflect buying habits and attitudes.  Each group has some noteworthy feature:

  • Only 9% of Teens actually buy books and when they do they primarily read fiction.
  • Gen Y consumers buy only 14% of the books sold but they buy about 1/3 of all those books online and are the biggest group (4%) of non print book buyers.
  • Gen X is interesting in the fact that there is nothing unusual or particularly interesting about them and that they closely mimic the statistics of the matures.
  • Boomers are the largest segment of the population (33%) and spend the most money on books. 
  • Matures read the most fiction of any group -- 56% and purchase very little online. 

Mildly interesting stuff. But as I looked over the stats I begin to wonder about trends, since these age groups are a moving target.  So just for fun I took a look at what happened when you combined the stats for Teens and Gen Y or what happens when you combine Boomers and Matures.  Probably only interesting to me. . .

Except that the trends when you combine Teens and Gen Y are probably a  peak into the future.  Like everyone in publishing, I have a great curiosity about what is going to happen.

When you reduce all the statistics to some simple percentages the picture becomes pretty clear. 












# of books buyers





# of books purchased





$$ spent





% purchased online





% non-print





I'll save your eyes and point out the really clear points about the combination of Teens and Gen Y:
  • They purchase only 18% of books
  • 49% of those books are purchased online
  • 6% of books bought are non-print version
Obviously, the future of printed books and they way they are bought is changing and will continue to change as the matures die out and are replaced with teens.  This is a pretty grim picture if you are a traditional publisher or one of the big three book retailers.  But if you are Jeff Bezos or an Amazon shareholder you probably feel pretty good about yourself.
Just one more piece in the growing evidence that publishers are going to have to change or perish.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs eBook edition

No, I don't knit.  Nor do I live in Manhattan.  But I am a woman who is lucky enough to have a group of long-time women friends who meet weekly.  So of course, I absolutely fell in love with Kate Jacobs'  Friday Night Knitting Club.

When I saw that Knit Two, the sequel, had been released I could hardly wait to download and read it.

I finished it a couple of days ago and sat down to write this review.  I spent the next half hour or so staring a the title, cover art and a blank page.  A classic case of writer's block. . . not something that ever happens to me.  I finally got up and walked away.

Over the last couple of days I have idly wondered what the hell that was all about.  I mean, I enjoyed the book.  It was a pleasant and easy read that kept me entertained over the holiday weekend.  So why was I at a loss for words?

I think I finally figured it out.  I was disappointed.  I wanted to love the book, but I just couldn't do it.  Instead, I ended up with a mild case of like.

The first couple of chapters required a whole lot of work-- I had to go back into my memory bank a long way to find these characters and to remember why I cared about them.  Once that was accomplished I was faced with these characters in their current incarnations. 

Jacobs draws strong, fully rounded characters.  These women are believable and almost stride off the pages into your real life.  In fact they became so real that I found myself getting annoyed with them.  Anita and Catherine in particular indulge in way too much angst and high drama for my taste.

I found, however, that my annoyance with the characters was vastly reassuring.  I have certainly been annoyed with all the women in my group at one time or another.  And I am sure they have been as annoyed with me.  Face it, humans are often annoying!

The real problem with this novel is the plot; a real disaster.  Now, coming from me, who can stretch credulity to extreme limits, this is a pretty amazing statement. 

Knit Two, graphically reminded me that I prefer the classic "no discernable plot rambler" to a highly contrived plot with a neat and tidy resolution that has one in a million odds of actually ever happening that way. 

Trust me, the plot stinks, but the book is worth reading for the characters.  And no matter how I diss this story, when the inevitable third book in the series is published, I will read it too. 

Here is the publisher synopsis:

Knit Two returns to the Manhattan knitting store Walker & Daughter five years after the death of the store's owner, Georgia Walker. Georgia's daughter Dakota is now an 18 year old freshman at NYU, running the knitting store part-time with the help of the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club.

Drawn together by their love for Dakota and the sense of family the club provides, each knitter is struggling with new challenges: for Catherine, finding love after divorce, for Darwin, newborn twins, for Lucie, being both a single mom and caregiver for her elderly mother, and for seventysomething Anita, marriage to her sweetheart Marty over the objections of her grown children. As Kate Jacobs returns to the world of Walker & Daughter, she's once again keyed into many of the stresses and joys of being a mother, wife, daughter and friend.

Every woman who picks up this book will see themselves in its characters¿the very thing that made The Friday Night Knitting Club such a huge word-of-mouth success. A true love letter to the power of women's friendships, and, of course, knitting, Knit Two is entertainment with a heart.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Roiling Role of Publishers

 Here is Henri's take on James Glieck's New York Times Article How to Publish without PerishingEnjoy! 

I’m confident that James Glieck is sufficiently abused by now that he won’t mind serving as an object lesson. If you haven’t heard he consigned the world publishing industry to the Limbo of artisans in a marketplace where books in print are only bought because of their beauty. By doing so he entered the publisher free zone, called the blogosphere by some, without a helmet.

Of course his article was published in the NY Times so he at least had the services of an editor, thousands of coworkers and, oh yes, a publisher to get his article out to the public. The real discussion on the Internet related to this was whether to bury him in purple prose or a nice puce necktie made of paper.

A lot of amusing stuff got said at his expense but none of it will really matter. We are going to be so far beyond the printed word before long that a generation from now children will be asking, “What is a keyboard, daddy?” Being a good dad he will have to rummage around in his virtual garage to find one to show them.

The invention of writing was a real hallmark in the development of human society. It allowed ideas to stick around long enough to be dissed by the next generation as, “Old hat,” remember that phrase? Of course the next few generations are going to be developing total immersion virtual reality and that will probably put paid to the written word once and for all.

The extension of the human memory made possible by writing is now meeting the challenge of the extension of the human environment made possible by the computer. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how much impact computers will have on the human mind itself within a couple of decades.

It seems likely that within the next two generations computers will be directly connected to the human brain. In that world there will be no need for sitting at a keyboard, you will be able to write and edit text faster than the speed of thought. Computer time is significantly faster than the human finger or even the human mind.

As computers get more and more powerful eventually they will exceed the capacity of any single human mind. Some of the prophets out there are clearly of the faith that computers will pass up humans in thinking capacity by 2030 and never look back.

As for me,I will be so old that a virtual life may be the best option unless the optimistic among us are right and we will be able to rebuild our bodies by then. Of course I really doubt that I would ever voluntarily undergo the blessings of the kind of hormonal vitality that goes with excessive youth again for any reason.

I’ll probably wind up living my virtual life sitting in my perfectly comfortable virtual chair in front of my virtual fireplace petting my virtual cat and reading my copy of the one millionth virtual tome in my favorite series by the greatest virtual author of all time, myself. No publisher needed, thank you very much.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

eBook Discounts for December 6, 2008

ebook logo

Coooking, Comedy and Civility head the non-fiction selections this week. I like that alliteration. For fiction you have a long suspense full novel to get lost in or quick stories to relish in those stolen in between moments. No matter your choice, enjoy!

Use coupon code DH59Y to get your discount on any or all of these great titles!

eBook cover
Talk Turkey To Me eBook edition
by Ferguson, Renee S.
A spirited and playful how-to cookbook that will guide you humorously on your journey to prepare the perfect turkey or celebration dinner. Whether you choose to cook your turkey the traditional way-roasted in the oven-or on a grill rotisserie, up-side-down, or even from frozen (for those that didn't thaw the bird), you'll find that this cookbook is like no other.
More Info
List Price : $14.97
Your price $12.80 (Using your 10% discount and $ .67 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Arctic Drift eBook Edition
by: Cussler, Clive and Dirk Cussler
In his new novel, however, the twentieth Dirk Pitt adventure, Cussler may have topped even himself. A potential breakthrough discovery to reverse global warming . . . a series of unexplained sudden deaths in British Columbia . . . a rash of international incidents between the United States and one of its closest allies that threatens to erupt into an actual shooting war . . . Filled with the breathtaking suspense and audacious imagination that have become his hallmarks, this is a tour de force¿
More Info
List Price : $27.95
Your price $21.51 (Using your 10% discount and $1.13 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Too Fat to Fish eBook edition
by Bozza, Anthony, Lange, Artie
A natural storyteller with a bottomless pit of material, Lange grew up in a close-knit, working-class Italian family in Union, New Jersey, a maniacal Yankees fan who pursued the two things his father said he was cut out for—sports and comedy. With every trial in his life, from his drug addiction to his obesity to his fights with his mother, Artie mines the humor, pathos, and humanity in these events and turns them into comedy classics.
More Info
List Price : $24.95
Your price $19.20 (Using your 10% discount and $1.01 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The O. Henry Prize Stories 2007 eBook edition
by: Furman, Laura (Editor)
Culled from dozens of the most prestigious literary magazines throughout America and Canada, the 20 stories included in this year's O. Henry Prize collection make an impressive and eclectic crop, including seasoned vets (Alice Munro), rising stars (Tony D'Souza) and virtual unknowns (Jan Ellison, with her first published story).. . Readers will want to relish each of these stories at its own well-deserved pace; a collection this good deserves savoring. Also included are essays written by the three jurors
More Info
List Price : $14.95
Your price $11.51 (Using your 10% discount and $ .61 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Case for Civility eBook edition
by Guinness, Os
In a world torn apart by religious extremism on the one side and a strident secularism on the other, no question is more urgent than how we live with our deepest differences—especially our religious and ideological differences. The Case for Civility is a proposal for restoring civility in America as a way to foster civility around the world.
More Info
List Price : $18.95
Your price $16.20 (Using your 10% discount and $ .85 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

Monday, December 1, 2008

Is the Digital Era creating New Life for P-Books?

After a very long weekend of too much food, too many relatives and too little sleep, I woke up yesterday, poured a cup of coffee and started reading the New York Times.  The first article to catch my attention was How to Publish Without Perishing.

nytlogo153x23 In this piece James Gleick opines that there is a bright future for printed, bound books:

I think, on the contrary, we’ve reached a shining moment for this ancient technology. Publishers may or may not figure out how to make money again (it was never a good way to get rich), but their product has a chance for new life: as a physical object, and as an idea, and as a set of literary forms. . . .

Go back to an old-fashioned idea: that a book, printed in ink on durable paper, acid-free for longevity, is a thing of beauty. Make it as well as you can. People want to cherish it.


While I find this an interesting view, I wonder if Mr. Gleick has been out and about in the real world lately.  Has he been to his local bookstore?  Does he have any contact at all with "the younger generation"?

Later in the day I found myself inside the local Barnes and Noble.  In our town, they have the best selection of CDs and it is Christmas time. 

The store was moderately busy.  A few people in the coffee shop, a few people sitting in the oversize chairs (mostly they looked like they were waiting for someone), a bustling staff and a handful of customers. 

barnes chars I took a seat and did some intense people watching over the next half hour.  Anything was better than facing the chaos in my house!

I found the demographics very telling.  I saw children (approximately 5-13) accompanied by parents; I saw middle aged women, and I saw old men and women.  Aside from the staff, I did not see one person between the age of about 13 and 30.  None!

I was willing to chalk it up to a very unscientific survey and leave it at that.  I decided I better quite procrastinating.  So I started gathering my stuff and getting ready to go clean up my house.  And then I saw her.  A real life teenage girl.  She just appeared before my eyes. I was so intrigued by the sight I just stared.

She looked around for a moment, and then she threw herself into a chair with a big sigh.  She routed around in her jean's pocket and pulled out a cell phone.  Within seconds she was texting away.  Totally ignoring all the beautifully bound books along with everyone in the store.

I for one, am unwilling to bet that she will someday wake up and find a book a thing of beauty; something to cherish.  I doubt that she will see a book as an idea or a set of literary forms.

She may see it as furniture (a great way to warm up a room and give it a little class).  Kind of like the antique rolltop desk I inherited from my grandmother.  Beautiful but with very limited usability.   

Friday, November 28, 2008

'Tis The Season! A Novel by Lorna Landvik

Once I read Patty Jane's House of Curl, that was it. I was a Lorna Landvik fan. Whenever I see that she has a new book on the way, I impatiently wait for it to be released.

When I saw the title of her latest book -- 'Tis the Season -- I was disappointed. Christmas, after all, is not my favorite time of year. And I have a philosophical problem with books released to capture some sort of of cheap holiday sentiment.

I read the synopsis in Publishers Weekly. This is a book about a 26 year old Paris Hilton like celebrity. Now I was very disappointed.

But even worse, I saw that the novel was written as a series of email exchanges. I don't know about you, but I read more email each day then I want to. Who needs to read more for leisure? Now, I was bitterly disappointed.

Three strikes and your out, right? This was one Landvik novel I was going to take a pass on. Too bad, she used to be such a fun writer.

But then, I hurt my hand. I was in pain, I couldn't type and was totally out of sorts. I might have even been missing email (a little). So in spite of myself, I downloaded and started reading this novel.

Here is where I eat a little humble pie.

For the next 4 or 5 hours I was totally engrossed. Forgot about my hand. Forgot I hate email. Forgot my philosophical objects. Forgot to be annoyed by Christmas. Even forgot that I have no natural way to relate to a 26 year old spoiled heiress.

I admit it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Is it great literature? No!

Is it up to Landvik's usual writing standards? No.

Is it a great way to escape for a few hours. Oh yes!

All I can say, is download, read and enjoy. In many ways it is the perfect remedy for the Holiday Blues.

Here's the publishers blurb:

Heiress Caroline Dixon has managed to alienate nearly everyone with her alcohol-fueled antics, which have also provided near-constant fodder for the poison-pen tabloids and their gossip-hungry readers. But like so many girls-behaving-badly, the twenty-six-year-old socialite gets her comeuppance, followed by a newfound attempt to live a saner existence, or at least one more firmly rooted in the real world.

As Caro tentatively begins atoning for past misdeeds, she reaches out to two wonderful people who years ago brought meaning to her life: her former nanny, Astrid Brevald, now living in Norway and Arizona dude ranch owner, Cyril Dale. While Astrid fondly remembers Caro as a special, sweet little girl left in her charge, Cyril recalls how he and his late wife were quite taken with the quick-witted teenager Caro had become when she spent a difficult period in her life at the ranch as her father was dying.

In a series of e-mail exchanges, Caro reveals the depth of her pain and the lengths she went to hide it. In turn, Astrid and Cyril share their own stories of challenging times and offer the unconditional support this young woman has never known. The correspondence leads to the promise of a reunion, just in time for Christmas. But the holiday brings unexpected revelations that change the way everyone sees themselves and one another.

At once heartfelt and witty, ’Tis the Season bears good tidings of great joy about the human condition–that down and out doesn’t mean over and done, that the things we need most are closer than we know, and that the true measure of one’s worth rests in the boundless depths of the soul.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

eBook Discounts for November 26, 2008

ebook logo

For many of us in the USA this is going to be a long holiday weekend. If you looking to escape all those people (or a few odd jobs) pick up one of these great titles and get lost in a book!

This week's coupon code is C3KL9

eBook cover
Do the Right Thing eBook edition
by Huckabee, Mike
Huckabee now presents the inside story of his low-budget, grassroots campaign. He treated middle-class and working-class voters with respect and spoke to their concerns about the economy, society, and the way our country is run. They responded nationwide with great passion, volunteering and making small donations, transforming his campaign into a true movement.
More Info
List Price : $25.95
Your price $19.97 (Using your 10% discount and $1.05 points in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
Breaking Dawn eBook Edition
by: Meyer, Stephenie
Twilight tempted the imagination. New Moon made readers thirsty for more. Eclipse turned the saga into a worldwide phenomenon. And now, the book that everyone has been waiting for.... Breaking Dawn, the final book in the #1 bestselling Twilight Saga, will take your breath away.
More Info
List Price : $l22.99
Your price $19.66 (Using your 10% discount and $1.03 iin eBook Reward points)
eBook cover Why We Suck eBook edition
by: Leary, Dr. Denis
Dr. Denis Leary uses his common sense, and his biting and hilarious take on the world, to attack the politically correct, the hypocritical, the obese, the thin--basically everyone who takes themselves too seriously. He does so with the extra oomph of a doctorate bestowed upon him by his alma mater Emerson College.
More Info
List Price : $26.95
Your price $20.74 (Using your 10% discount and $1.09 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
The Gate House eBook edition
by: DeMille, Nelson
The long awaited follow-up to his classic novel The Gold Coast.When John Sutter's aristocratic wife killed her mafia don lover, John left America and set out in his sailboat on a three-year journey around the world, eventually settling in London. Now, ten years later, he has come home to the Gold Coast. . .
More Info
List Price : $18.89
Your price $16.15 (Using your 10% discount and $ .85 in eBook Reward points)
eBook cover
OUTLIERS: The Story of Sucess eBook edition
by Gladwell, Malcolm
What makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
More Info
List Price : $list5
Your price $price5 (Using your 10% discount and $points5 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon