Archive for the ‘Jean AAR’ Category

Barnes & Noble Nook Color: A Review

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

nook-colorUnconditional love – that’s what I give my lovely Nook Color.  I’ve now had it for three weeks, even though the device has been out since November, and I’ve got a fairly good idea of its capabilities.  First, it must be said that the NC is a very specific device.  It’s a color touch screen tablet that’s still, first and foremost, a device for reading books.  When it comes to reading, the NC mostly succeeds.  In other areas, not so much.

The Looooove

  • Reading Library Books: This is the most important reason that I got an eBook reader, and I have no complaints.  Adobe Digital Editions, that’s another matter.
  • Size:  I deliberately chose a larger size that more closely resembles (so it seems, anyway) the dimensions on a paper page, and I love the 8” x 5” dimensions with a 7” screen.  I’m all in favor of fewer page turns.
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Let It Snow

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

winterEven though there’s still snow on the ground, I can feel spring around the air.  Unlike many people, I mourn the loss of the winter when spring comes – I’m not really one for rain and flowers.  So as I was happily shoveling the snow the other day, I thought about my favorite winter romances.

Except I couldn’t really think of any, except one: Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas. The story of Evie Jenner and the utterly ruined Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is one that has remained readers’ favorites since it came out five years ago – it climbed four spots to land at #3 on the recent Top 100 Romances poll.  It’s pretty hard to ignore the appeal of St. Vincent, who is so deliciously, unrepentantly bad, but who learns to love the stuttering Evie over a backdrop of frigid winter.  Their race up to Gretna Green remains memorable for those thick sandwiches of thinly sliced meats and cheeses; the hot bricks and fragrant wine that St. Vincent procures for the freezing Evie; and their quick growth to intimacy while cuddled for mutual warmth in the rocking carriage.  I love this section every time I read it, and I spent a happy fifteen minutes with my shovel on the driveway while I thought of Evie and St. Vincent.

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Apple Has Caused a Ruckus. Again.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

apple_its_showtimeBut this time it’s not over the latest iPod iteration or another generation-defining device.  Nope, now they’re pissing people off with their new subscription rules.

The facts are these: Consumers can now subscribe to magazines and newspapers through the iTunes App Store.  The pieces were put in place with Newsweek and the Daily, in October and earlier this month respectively.  But now you can subscribe to almost anything, provided the publishers agree to the new regulations.  And the big sticking point for the publishers is that if consumers make the purchase from within the iTunes App Store, Apple takes a 30% cut of the revenue.  If you make the purchase outside the App store, Apple gets nothing.  And the publisher can’t provide a Web site link from within the app.

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Steam Away

Monday, February 7th, 2011

soulless_coverI don’t know about you, but I am sick – sick sick sick – of Regencies and paranormals.  I’m not the only one: Lynn wants Italy, I want France, and LinnieGayl wants post-WWI.  But we’re saying much the same thing – we want something different.

So the imminent ballooning of steampunk comes as a breath of fresh…steam.  (It may have come into prominence during the 80s and 90s, according to Wikipedia, but to me, it’s new.)  This genre mixes different elements together – sci-fi-ish technology, occasional fantasy elements, usually an alternate historical setting, and a mystery or romance or two – and the combination is absolutely irresistible.

I first encountered steampunk in the form of Gail Carriger’s Soulless, the beginning of her wonderful Parasol Protectorate.  It’s perhaps steampunk at its “purest,” in that it remains confined to an alternate Victorian setting, and features steam machinery, dirigibles, and many gadgets that could have arisen from the technological advances of the time.  That it has a mystery and romance is an added bonus.

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No Personal Jet Packs Yet, But Still

Friday, January 14th, 2011

O CarAccording to the experts, there was very little or nothing particularly new at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.  Well, pooh on you, you jaded roosters – I found it plenty fascinating.

It’s not just the whole tablet thing, although there’s more than enough variation to keep us occupied for at least another year.  We’ve got tablets that slide out and tablets that dock in, tablets that swivel and flip and connect.  (Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if next year they came up with a tablet that could dance.)  But aside from all the tablets, and the obvious implications for readers on the digital book market, one thing struck me in general: The In Death reality is a lot closer than I thought.

For those who aren’t familiar with J.D. Robb’s In Death series, it depicts a world fifty years in the future, where there are autochefs and robot servants, handheld audio/visual communication devices, lots of synthetic foods, weird and wacky cars;  in short, everything that could be touched by technology has been touched, and possibly enhanced.

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Yet Another eBookstore…with a Difference?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

The news has been floating around for a while, but Google finally made it official on Wednesday: Google Editions, their eBook store, launched on Monday.

What’s the big deal?  Well, as many of us agree, the proprietary formats are just a pain.  You can’t read Adobe DRM on Kindle, you can’t read AMZ on anything except Kindle-compatible devices, blah blah blah.  (Although the Bluefire app, which reads Adobe-DRM books on Apple devices, just broke through a major barrier.)

Anyway, the difference with Google Editions is that their books are entirely Web-based.  This means that you would be able to read books anywhere, on any device, as long you can connect to the internet and have a Web browser.

The tech media are talking it up, saying it makes a significant difference, that it will provide true competition to the juggernauts.  And in a way it is.  Without being tied to a proprietary format, readers can read on anything.  Similar to most eBook stores, the purchased books will stay on your virtual bookshelf, which you can access as long as you have a Google account.  Reading the fine print on the Google Editions page (which is directed at potential booksellers, not consumers), there are some points of interest:

Vive la France!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

France_Paris_Night1This subject has been on my mind for a while, but two recent-ish blogs got me writing: Joanna Bourne’s musings on the topic, and Lynn’s request for Italian-set romance novels.

See, I love France.  I love the food and the art and the cinema.  I love the cobblestone streets strewn with leaves and dog poo alike, and I love the mega-stores and tiny boutiques.  I appreciate their massive anal attitude towards their language, and am utterly envious of French women who all seem born with the Instant Style Gene.  Whenever I go to France, the minute I step off the plane, I feel like I’ve come home.

In other words, I don’t get the semi-automatic “anti-French, anti-revolution bias” that Jennie at Dear Author says is “common to most everyone but the French”, but that, honestly, I think is really only common to English-speakers.  (Stereo)typically-speaking.  So I’m happy whenever I read a book that’s mainly set in France.  (The temporary excursions just, somehow, don’t count.)  Pre-Louis XIV is pretty thin on the grounds, but there’s always Susan Carroll’s witch series, starting with Silver Rose, and the second book of the Renaissance Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.  In the pre-Revolutionary 18th century there are Georgette Heyer’s classic These Old Shades and Anne Stuart’s recent Ruthless.  Turn-of-the-century, I’ve read Susan Johnson’s Forbidden and Judy Cuevas’ Beast, and heard amazing things about Bliss and Dance. All are really good books.

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The Best? Or the Favorites?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

When I submitted my entries for the 2007 Top 100 Romance Poll, my exposure to romance novels was still fairly limited.  But in the past three years my reading has expanded in both breadth and depth, stretching across genres and eras and sensuality ratings.  My list of TBR books and Auto-Read authors has doubled in length, and I’ve found much delight in some damn good books that have come across my way.  However, this also leaves me with a quandary: With so many books to choose from, do I vote for the best, or my favourite?

After all, the poll’s title (“Top 100”) can be open to interpretation, and for me the two are not necessarily mutual.  For instance, I think Nora Roberts’s Angels Fall is one of her best books.  Plot, character, setting, structure, dialogue – you name it, she aces it.  I really enjoyed it, both times I read it, and I’ll continue to re-read it.  But do I read it as often as I read Sweet Revenge?  Hell no.  Sweet Revenge is faulty, but every time I read it I store away my critic’s hat and just enjoy.  I need my annual fix of the un-tannable Englishman and felonious Arabian princess.  However, when it came time to rank the books, my head overruled my habits, and Angels Fall went in at #6 with Sweet Revenge at #69.  Ditto Connie Brockway’s My Dearest Enemy and Bridal Favors. I re-read the latter probably twice as much as the former, but I think the former is the better book.  So I listed them as #10 and #22 respectively.

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Good on You, Zach Braff

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Garden-State-DVDUnlike romance novels, I feel almost no urgency to see movies when they come out (I make exceptions for Pixar, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Robert Downey Jr).  This explains why last night I watched Garden State for the first time, despite hearing buzz and recommendations and positive reviews galore over the past, oh, six years.  And I was absolutely delighted.

It wasn’t just Zach Braff (who was sympathetic and altogether lovely), or Natalie Portman (whom I found utterly charming and likable), or even the story (which concerns the aimless twenty-somethings and one young man’s journey to confront Who He Is).  Actually, what charmed me the most was the romance.

After all, we know about the double standard.  And no, not the gender one.  I’m talking about the literary double standard that pigeonholes certain plots as belonging to certain genres, even if the lines are crossed all the time.  And Garden State, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, goes like this:

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The eBook Format Wars

Monday, August 9th, 2010

books_really_suckA lot can happen in one week.  Seven days ago, I was madly researching eBook readers, gung ho over the prospect of quasi-unlimited digital storage, heaps of portable reading material, and so on and so forth.  Now, my interest has skydived.  Why?  It’s those bloody format wars.

I’ll just say first off, I have no claims to being a tech expert; I’m a consumer and I try to be informed, but that’s it.  So as a potential consumer, this is how I see it: Without stripping DRMs, there is no single portable device that reads all the major eBook formats.  And that’s a pain.

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