23 February 2010

Godey's Fashions Coloring Book (Dover Pictorial Archives)

Godey's Fashions Coloring Book (Dover Pictorial Archives)
Godey's Fashions Coloring Book (Dover Pictorial Archives)


This coloring book starts with a short blurb about Lady's book (later Godey's Lady Book) aka who we can thank for these lovely images.

Each page gives us information about the page we're coloring -- including the year that fashion appeared, the fabrics used, what the accents are, etc.

While some adult coloring books require you to all but grab a magnifying glass for the details, this one is a bit kinder on the eyes. Some pages have almost no small areas leaving you to your own devices when it comes to just how much shading / sprucing up of the image you'd like to do. Or, alternatively, if you're in the mood for some of the more detailed challenges some pages do have fashions that will require you sharpen the colored pencils to a fine point before you start working on them.

Some of the coloring books that are geared towards adults might not be as appropriate for kids, but this one is just fine for them. Really small kids would maybe have problems with the pages that have some of the finer details, but beyond that, there's no reason why kids of all ages couldn't color these pages.

If you like Victorian fashion, history, and coloring then you won't want to miss this one.

5/5 stars

Medieval Tapestries Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Books)

Medieval Tapestries Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Books)
Medieval Tapestries Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Books)


This is definitely not your child's coloring book (or the coloring book you had as a child). From "Death on his Pale Horse" to "The Griffin Protects His Lady" there's something here for everyone, except maybe young children. It's a very detailed book. In fact if you have problems with your vision or hands -- you may want to pass. I have occasional hand troubles and will be skipping coloring in it on those days. It's also probably far too detailed for young children. Not to mention that death, unicorns in captivity, and Trojan war scenes may be a bit much for them (not that there's violence portrayed, there's not).

You'll want to break out colored pencils or very fine tipped markers for most of these. There are some rare areas that are wide open, but for the most part these are highly detailed pieces that will test your coloring skills.

An intro note in the book gives a brief history of tapestries and each page gives us the name / country of origin / year of the tapestry on the page we're coloring.

A must for older kids who are too old for traditional coloring books and adults who love to color.

5/5 stars

Mighty Bright Light

Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 Clip-On Light (Kindle Version) Black [Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging]
Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 Clip-On Light (Kindle Version) Black



- Batteries. It takes 3 AAA batteries (not included). For me using AAAs was a selling point as some of the other lights geared toward Kindles used batteries that I'm not likely to have around the house. Which type lasts longer? Who knows. But for me, I'd rather have a device that uses batteries I'll have easy access to.

- People worry about glare in such lights. Yes -- if you position in certain ways, there's a heck of a glare. However, I'm using it with a flip case. I just clipped on the side on the case, then angled the light itself in such a way that there is no glare at all. It's all about how you position it. Obviously if you angle the bulb right over the screen, it's going to reflect -- don't do that and you'll be fine.

- Is there enough coverage for my screen? Is it light enough? I can't speak for others, obviously -- but for me? Yes and yes. I have a K2. It lights up my entire screen and it's light enough even with just one bulb lit. My Mighty Bright arrived just as the sun was setting, I'd not yet turned on lights inside so it was nowhere near bright enough to read in here. I was quite pleased. The room I read in has very little light and so to only need to turn on one of the bulbs, that tells me it's bright enough. Would it be bright enough or wide enough for a DX? I can't say as I don't have access to one, I suspect it could be cutting it close, but for the K2 it's perfect. Maybe if you angled it just right with both bulbs on, maybe.

- The clip. It's as small as it can be given that it holds 3 AAA batteries. The bulk is, of course, on the back where the batteries are. The front of the clip is, I suppose, just the right size to fit on the upper side of your kindle. How awkward it would be on a bare Kindle, I don't know. I leave mine in a case, and prefer not to clip things on the Kindle itself. I suspect it works best with cases, but I am sure if you leave your Kindle naked it would work just fine though it would obviously leave you a lot less options about where you could clip it and therefore how many place you can angle the light from.

- The on / off button. Yes, it's easy to turn on and off. Just a light touch. This could be an issue if you pack it up to travel etc. However, I set it up against my leg while sitting in a chair and pressed up against it. Despite how easy it is to turn on, given the way the button sits, it wasn't quite as easy to just lean up against it to turn it on as it is to press it to turn it on. So assuming you were to pack it properly, the odds of it being turned on / off while traveling are slim. Plus, just remove the batteries in such situations and you're set.

I haven't had it long enough to see how well it holds up long term or to determine battery life. Guess we'll see. But, it's perfect so far for what I needed it for -- a light that really lights up my Kindle. Assuming it doesn't fall apart anytime soon, it'll keep it's 5/5 rating.

16 February 2010

Early Kindle Review

I've been using my Kindle since I got it at Christmas, and decided it was time to review it...

I'll just give you my opinions of its failings and high points. I should say I was actually in the "Why bother with e-readers?" camp. Until my bookshelves started to tell me something along the lines of "Hello, hey, you! No more room, stop buying books!!!" I researched several of the readers and after much debate chose the Kindle.

What it's not = the prettiest. I don't really see this as a flaw. There is a solution. Skins and cases. You can make it look however you'd like, which you could do with the others as well. I cared more about what they did than what they looked like.

The biggest thing that it's missing = the ability to use memory cards. Solution for this one? Well there isn't really one. Of course, you can make your own backups. And Amazon does allow you to archive the books you've bought with them. Meaning? If you've read books and no longer want them stored on your Kindle? Just archive them. They'll then show in your Archive folder. Then later if you want to re-read them, you can re-download them. Given how many books it holds, this shouldn't be an issue -- unless you plan to also use a lot of music files or audio books. As I don't, it's not an issue for me. If you do plan to do the audio book thing, an MP3 player is better for that -- or if you'll be mixing a lot of e-books with audio books, then an e-reader with expandable memory would probably be the better option for you.

Text to speech -- yes Kindle has it while others don't seem to. It's okay. It's pretty much what you've probably experienced from computer text to speech. Maybe a little better. I'd not want to have full books read to me this way, personally. You'd be better off going with audio books. However given the price differences for audio books if you're on a budget and in a bind or if you're just in a position where you couldn't read the screen for a short period of time for some reason, it could be handy.

Shopping for books - Personally I prefer the Amazon store on the computer then sending them to the Kindle. Mainly because I do a lot of "Amazon Window shopping" and I find it just easier to navigate. I like the 'click on one book and find related lists, we recommend, people who bought this also bought this' aspect of Amazon -- that just works better on the computer. But if you have an idea of what you're looking for, shopping right from the Kindle is very easy.

E-ink vs. Traditional books vs. pixels. Ah the most important part, really. For some people reading books on a computer screen wouldn't be an issue. We all read computer screens -- a lot. And yes they've improved over the years. But for me? The less time at one REALLY reading the better as I'm prone to migraines, and have a lot of health problems so even holding a laptop (or the heat from one in my lap, etc) causes me problems. So reading on an e-reader is perfect. Yes, it's like reading a book -- but better. You choose the font size. You choose if there are more or less words per line. I'm sold on e-ink and hope it and the Kindle are around for quite awhile.

Overall, it's so intuitive there's no real learning curve. You take it out of the box (no real packaging to wrestle with) and you can be reading a book within minutes. I doubt you'll even need to read the manual, it's that simple to use.

If you're the type who likes to keep software up to date, I do recommend reading the forums -- the updates can take some time to get to everyone as they release them in batches (presumably to not flood the network) and someone on the forums always announces when they get an update -- if you're impatient you can then go download it yourself, if you haven't received it, to manually update (available on the Kindle help page and easy to do). 5/5 stars despite it's few flaws. I'm in love with mine.

05 February 2010

Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck (Circles of Heck)

Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck (Circles of Heck)

Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck


In Rapacia, the sequel to Heck, we find Milton alive and not so well as he tries to adjust to being the freak that has come back to life. It seems that no one, not even his parents, knows how to deal with his sudden to return to the land of the living.

And where do we find Marlo? Moved to Rapacia, of course. There, Grabbit is in charge. Rapacia is the place where the kids learn about wants and greed. The types of classes that you would expect in Heck are here, taught by the teachers that you'd expect. The kids are also introduced to Mallvana -- it's probably just what you imagine it to be, Nirvana for kids, in Mall format.

Frankly, what is happening in the land of the living is far freakier than what is happening down in Heck -- at least for the first half of the book. Milton is stalked, meets the curator of a paranormal mall, hooks up with a lawyer who is beyond questionable, gets mixed up with a cult -- and that's a relatively nice fairly spoiler free way to explain it. I've got to say Milton's life in Heck seemed a lot easier than life on earth. At least, his second chance at life.

So yup, it's another wild ride for all involved. Not all of it good. It did seem a bit confusing in places. The Milton alive / Marlo dead thing seemed to take away some of the fun of the first book -- it felt as though there was a lot less character interaction / development in this book even as there were even more characters added to the mix. It was a little weird in that sense. Still despite those flaws, they were so minor that I did go ahead and pre-order the third book, because overall it did stay true to the first book / was just as fun as the first. And, of course I do want to see how those unresolved issues are dealt with.
4/5 stars

02 February 2010

I decided to put this whole e-book thing into real world perceptive. I went through the Amazon best seller list. Not the kindle list -- the book one. I took the first book I've not read but will / would.

Dead in the Family: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood). Currently #18 on Amazon's best seller list. One of Macmillan's authors (though not this particular series). List Price (which is what Macmillan is really basing the value of all books at) $25.95.

Current price for hardcover at amazon: $12.00. Current Kindle Price: $10.80.

Okay well they say Amazon is selling books too cheap.

BN price - Harcover $14.01
ebook - $10.80

WalMart - Hardcover - $11.99 (yes, cheaper than Amazon by 1 cent).

Overstock.com - $13.79

Powells - $25.95 Or $18 two different versions show up (one says trade paper and I doubt that they're charging $18 to pre-order a paperback that's not even on pre-order yet).

That's a good enough sample. I tried Target, they don't have it online. I wouldn't actually shop at overstock probably... But I figured I'd do a Google shopping search. Realistically I buy books from Amazon, BN, and would probably consider Target or if hard to find Powells.

Okay... Now Macmillan tells me ebooks are worth $15 because hardcovers cost $25. But they don't. The rare store sells at list price. Most discount and discount and discount. Publishers have known this forever and ever. Now they decided ooopsie. It was a mistake to let them say our books were worth $10-12 when we said $18-25. Well, too late. Customers got spoiled. Now raising prices just like THAT, boom, overnight? Not a wise move. I don't think an e-book is worth more than I've been paying for hardcover.

Interworld

InterWorld
InterWorld


InterWorld is the story of Joey, a teen boy who you'd not send on an errand to fetch you something from down the hall as he'd get lost. Still, somehow, it was a bit of a surprise to him when he managed to get so lost that he walked right into a whole 'nother world. Oh and when he did, he learned that he's a walker, one who walks between the various worlds -- an important role as he can lead teams who try to keep the peace in all of these worlds. But what if he'd rather go back home? It's possible. But it seems that is a one way trip, no more walking. So does he go home, knowing that he'll forget that all of these other worlds exist? Stay and become a peacekeeping walker? Maybe find a way to do all of the above?

The premise of the story is good. It just felt like there were some things that were slow, others perhaps a bit rushed. Some of the characters could have been flushed out a bit more. Overall it was an okay book, but nowhere near as good as Gaiman's other works.

3/5 stars
 

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