31 December 2010

2010 Superlatives! What were our favorite books of this past year?

There are so many possible way to look at a year full of reading! Let's look at the year behind us in as many ways as we can!

Feel free to copy my questions and answer only the ones that are applicable to you and post your reply as a comment to this thread!

What was the best Fictional book you read?

What was the best Non Fiction book you read?

What was the best book you liked but didn't expect to like?

What was the best book series you read?

How many books did you re-read this year?
Name the best book that you re-read this year.

Was there a title that everyone else loved but you just couldn't get into even though you tried?

What was the best book that held a bit of mystery?

What was the best self-help/philosophy/religion title you read?

What was the best poli-sci title?

What was the best parenting advice book that you read?

What was the best book that you finally read but had been meaning to for years?

What was the best book in a genre you'd never tried reading before?

What was the best hobby/how-to book that you read?

What book challenged you to change something about yourself?

What book from this year do you think you could read again already?

What title made you cry the hardest?

What title made you laugh the hardest?

What was the best juvenile/children's title?

What was the best book someone gave you?

What was the best book that someone recommended to you?

What is the title you have most recommended to others?

What is the best book you read to someone else?

What title is most necessary to have on your personally definitive shelf of books; one you couldn't be without?

What book do you wish you hadn't read?

How many books did you read this year?

Do you track your reading? How?

29 December 2010

Have you read a book or genre this year that is new or different for you?

I love to find things that I didn't expect to like! I like to challenge myself with new things. Has anyone found a genre or a particular book that they didn't expect to like but did like? Tell us about it!

Letters Of A Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Rupert Stewart

What a delightful book! Elinore Pruitt Rupert Stewart was a prolific writer of letters. After her husband died, leaving her with a young infant, she decided to head west and see as much of the world as possible.

After a bout of flu she was advised that she should travel out to Wyoming as she was supposed to fare better there. On a whim she contacted a man who was advertising for a housekeeper. She moved from Denver to Wyoming, near the Bad Land hills.

This book is a collection of letters which she wrote to a dear friend and former employer in Denver. Over the course of the letters on learns bits and pieces about her life...a few secrets even. If you've never read this type of book or if you just think you might not be interested, I would still encourage you to broaden your reading horizons and read this little gem.

At only 112 pages it is certainly a page-turner. I couldn't wait to see what Elinore and her gang might be upt to next. The best part is that she is quite the humorist. Not only does she find humor in many things, she is also able to convey humor through her writing. What a talent! How pleased must have been those people to whom she wrote letters! I can only imagine what a pleasure it must have been to know her. With such a bright and giving spirit, those around her must truly have been blessed.

She, too, was blessed. Moving to Wyoming brought her to a land that was much less inhabited than where she had previously lived. She had to learn new ways. She also learned independence as she was also on a quest to prove her own homestead! In the course of doing that she also made many life-long friends and found that she did not have to be always so fiercely independent because she was surrounded by people who loved her and cared for her.

27 December 2010

Our initial impression of VTech's Vreader...

V.Reader Animated E-Book System - PinkWell, here we are, only two days out from Christmas Day. Our darling 4 1/2 year old received her VReader on Christmas Day, from us. I am back to give our impression of it so far.

We didn't really find time to do much with it until very late last night. I was going to look at it a bit while she had a late snack of peppermint ice cream. Before I knew it she had finished and was back to me just as I was about to start playing with it.

I handed it over to her. We bought her five cartridges/titles for it, plus the one it came with. The titles we own are: Shrek, Toy Story 3, Olivia, Dora and Tinkerbell. The age spectrum varies a lot among those titles. I was eager to see the representation of various age levels. I was pleased to find that Shrek is much more difficult than some of the other titles. I believe it has the highest age rating; it is ages 5-7. Toy Story 3 has an age rating of 3-5. While Toy Story 3 was relatively easy/babyish for her, it was still fun and I believe engagin if not exactly challenging. This means the creators pulled together a pretty good package. The Shrek title will certainly last her a LONG time. Some of it is easy enough for her to do now but some will take her a while to master and that is good.

We'd played with the demo units in the stores this Christmas season. But demo units such as the stores had are not really definitive. There just wasn't enough variety in what it allowed the user to do. So far it seems that every title has the option of reading the title story or having the unit read it aloud to you. Each title also appears to have a lot of games, say, perhaps about 10-12, associated with the story! I was really surprised by the number of activities included in each title!

I think this unit is going to last her a long time. I believe we will end up buying a lot more titles. Our little one is a big reader. She is already reading 3 and 4 letter words on her own and I recently caught her decoding the word "chapter" as she tried to read a book herself! I love that she loves to read. I think her VReader is going to be a lovely compliment to her homeschooling as well as her personal enjoyment of books.

26 December 2010

So far I haven't strayed from posting strictly book reviews.

Pentago CE Game from Mindtwister USA travel versionI am going to post our favorite new board game because some of you may be interested in hearing about it.
I think it will become a new favorite for many of us. We love strategy games that don't tend to involve luck. This game has won many awards and is worthy of them!
I will include a link for an online version of it:

02 December 2010

An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List by Laurie Notaro

All right, I hate to admit it. Laurie Notaro makes me laugh. She can be vulgar and childish, yes; even irreverent.. That is the reason for my reticence. However, she can also really make me giggle.
 An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List
I'll also admit I have had greater enjoyment from other books she has written. Parts of this book were taken from various other books she wrote in the past; this is a compilation with some new material also, I believe.

In this book, Laurie shares that she is a clear-lights person with regard to Christmas trees and that she is "tired of living a brightly colored lie." She just isn't afraid to "call them as she sees them"; she says exactly what is on her mind. She writes things that some people would be embarrassed to think. And so I laugh.

Here is what happens when she looks to her fiance for some encouragement after meeting his family for the first time at their family Christmas celebration: "'This is horrible, they hate me,' I told him as I handed over some of the presents. 'I think I'd rather have my next Pap smear broadcast over satellite TV or have my credit report published in the paper or just about anything than go back in there." A bit later, whlie explaining how she ruined the entire holiday she writes "I had completely destroyed the family's holiday even further than I had when they thought I was a pregnant, homeless stripper with knotted hair."

I really enjoyed her spiel about hating Kmart stores and then finding that she was forced to shop at one on Christmas Eve one year. I have rated this title 3.5* out of 5.0.

01 December 2010

All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall

All Shook Up
I found out about this book through our son, Matthew. This book is proposed for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Award for 2011. Matthew's school gave a presentation to fourth graders highlighting some of the proposed titles of the Caudill Award for this year. ALL SHOOK UP is one of the books that interested him.

Josh Greenwood is a 13 year old boy who lives in Boston with his mom. When Josh's mom's mother falls and injures herself badly he learns that he must visit his dad for an extended time. His grandma lives in Florida and his mom is going to have to visit there to assist her with her recuperation. Josh's dad lives in Chicago which means that Josh will have to sign up to attend school there, away from all of his friends.

Upon arriving in Chicago it isn't long before Josh finds out that the shoe store his dad worked for has gone out of business and his dad is now making money doing gigs...singing as Elvis. Now, while this might sound pretty cool to some adults, Josh is extremely embarrassed at even the thought of it.

While living in Chicago Josh meets his dad's new girlfriend Viv, and her daughter, Ivory, as well as an elderly neighbor who is making his dad's Elvis-scarves for his stage shows.

The story is told through the eyes of a 13 year old. It's not deep, but it does remind one of how simple the viewpoint of a young teen can be. That said, there is a bit of character growth by the end of the book. I actually thought the book might be a bit more exciting than it was. The story does see Josh make a pretty bad decision that affected his dad worse than his dad's actions were affecting him. There is some resolution to that situation though and it certainly provides a point for discussion with younger readers. One interesting point occurs when Halloween sneaks up on them and they are not prepared; this finds Josh scrambling for a costume and he spends a bit of time wearing some of his dad's Elvis clothing. After doing so he finds that he actually had a bit of fun with it and begins to see things from his dad's side a bit more.

My son doesn't know that I have read the book. I bought the ebook for my NOOK. I also bought a hardcover version for him for Christmas. I think he will really enjoy the book and he'll be surprised to hear that Mom has already read it. If he saves enough to buy a NOOK (he received a gift card for B&N for is birthday) he will be pleased to find that he can read the ebook too!

I am rating this book a 3.5 on a 5.0 scale.

30 November 2010

PSA- to PARENTS purchasing VReaders as Christmas presents:

PSA- to PARENTS purchasing VReaders as Christmas presents:

The VReader requires an SD card in order to download the 6 "free"
books from the VTech website. I'm so glad I brought that bundle of
gifts down to wrap this evening. Now I have 4 AA batteries loaded
in it and I will be shopping for the necessary SD card as soon as I
have the chance!

Of course I will report back with details of the process of setting
up the VReader. It will be good to share my experience with anyone  
who can gain from it.

20 November 2010

NOOK on sale on Black Friday

The original NOOK (Wi-Fi) (not the NOOK Wi-Fi +3G) will be on sale the day after Thanksgiving.
The price will drop to an amazing $99! You can find it at Best Buy according to this site:


I saw the NOOK color!!

NOOK color is in the stores, Peeps!

If you have an opportunity, stop by a B&N and check it out!
I recalled last night that a store rep had called to tell me it was in stock and they would hold one for me for 48 hours. The store was abuzz!

I only had to wait a few minutes for my chance to see the demo.
I had our daughter, Marlo, with me.

It weighs noticably more than the original NOOK. It is fairly sleek and attractive. More attractive than I expected. The silly little corner piece for NOOK charms didn't bother me as much as expected, either.
The color is a nice dark slate with a slight sparkle to it without being truly shiny.

The screen is very nice. It's big. They've managed to allow the product to be mostly screen actually.

I really wanted to see an "interactive" child's book in action. The only real problem is that B&N has not provided training for the store agents so they only know what they know from playing with the product themselves or from reading the owner's manual (and did they??). When I asked to see a child's book I was told "no problem, great". We looked at a couple of them. Cute. But I was not quite impressed enough with the "interactivity" to think "I have to go home with this product!"

Upon arriving at home our son, Matthew, asked where we'd been. I told him. He had not been aware of a color version being marketed. He immediately wanted to know more. I told him to run find it online and I would look at it with him. He returned to me and we looked at the B&N site together. He managed to find an interactive child's book on their site and there was a demo for it!
Go down to where there is a NOOK with a bear in the picture and a button that says "Read To Me".
Click there for a nice demo.

That demo makes me think "Gee, I want to go home with that product!"

Before I left the store last night I told the agent that I was not making a purchase that night but that I'd be happy for her to place my name on the waiting list for the next shipment that is due in a few days. She did so.

Of course a big part of ME wants the NOOK Color now; I'll admit that. But I also want this for Gigi, our
4 1/2 year old who is now reading 3 and 4 letter words on her own. She loves books more than almost anything else. This would be an amazing gift for her and it is one that could continue to grow with her which is very important in a gift for a child.

Matt really likes what he saw too. I told him that there really wouldn't be much interactivity in books for kids his age (but what do I know, there could be, actually). He also knows that the NOOK original (Wi-FI-i) is going to be on sale on Black Friday at B&N for just $99. Our budget is stretched since we have five children. I wonder if we will add any NOOKs to our household this Christmas.

Christmas for book lovers...

So, Christmas is only 44 days away. Yes. It's true. It's also likely, if you are reading this,
that you are a person who is shopping for others. Those of us who shop for others are
not always on the ball about developing our own wish lists; we take the back seat.

And so here is your challenge. Make a list of your own wants. It will make it much
simpler for those who will buy you gifts.

Here is another challenge; perhaps a bit more motivating. List your book-related wants here.
I love to read about what other people are reading or wishing to read. Inspire us with your list.
Feel free to elaborate in regard to where you heard about the book or why you wish to read it.


My number one wish, I think, is for an additional cover for my NOOK.

I think the the top of my list is occupied by this little gem:
I love the feel of the cover; for that, alone, it is a very popular choice. The cover is graced with this quote, front to back: “A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” It's not as girlie as I'd like, to give me a very different cover from the one  I have but the price is certainly appealing at only $29.95.

If I felt I could be extravagant in my wish I would choose this one probably:
I like the inside even more as it could actually become my wallet. The only drawback I see is that while it is attractive the cover does not begin to compare in softness to the TupperQuote cover above. Price- $125. Still, I think they could charge more if it were as soft as the Tupper as it would combine great functionality with true fashionable appeal for a woman.

If I could be truly indulgent I would ask for the NOOK color.
For now, I am very happy with my original NOOK and I do appreciate the eInk technology which
is not used on the NOOK color. I would probably use both if I owned both though.

11 November 2010

What is on your Christmas list?

If you are reading this you are probably someone who is in charge of buying Christmas gifts.
I am doing pretty well, myself, with regard to this task. I don't like to get stressed about it
so I try to put some planning into it and approach it with thoughtfulness.

Often those of us who purchase gifts for others neglect to consider our own wants. We take
a back seat,but that just makes it difficult for those who want to buy us gifts. I am going to
challenge you to make their task easier by giving some thought to your own wishes as you
prepare for Christmas this year.

Now, since I like to keep this site pertaining to the love of reading, what I am asking you
to do is to post some of your book-related wants here for us to see. I love to hear about
what others are reading or hoping to read. Try to inspire us; point us in the direction of
something of which we were previously unaware.


I think the the top of my list is occupied by this little gem:
I love the feel of the cover; for that, alone, it is a very popular choice. The cover is graced with this quote, front to back: “A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” It's not as girlie as I'd like, to give me a very different cover from the one  I have but the price is certainly appealing at only $29.95.

If I felt I could be extravagant in my wish I would choose this one probably:
I like the inside even more as it could actually become my wallet. The only drawback I see is that while it is attractive the cover does not begin to compare in softness to the TupperQuote cover above. Price- $125. Still, I think they could charge more if it were as soft as the Tupper as it would combine great functionality with true fashionable appeal for a woman.

I already own this one:
I still like it. I am just ready for some variety. I chose this cover because it is a bit mysterious, with the large question mark on one side and the ampersand on the other. I also thought I liked the canvas inner cover. I have only had my NOOK for about 3months and already the inside is becoming dingy; the outside too, along the white areas. I just took a moment to try to give it a good cleaning. It does look better but the inside didn't improve a lot. These days I tend to be drawn to more feminine choices so I was a bit surprised that this is what I chose.

Books I hope to purchase with B&N gift cards are:
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Mr. Monk and The Dirty Cop

The Quiche of Death by MC Beaton
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

One Day by David Nicholls
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

(I am sure there will be more added and perhaps some deleted by the time Christmas actually arrives!)

I can't wait to see what your replies are...

08 November 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

What a good book.

Set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, The Help looks at the complicated relationship between the black hired help and those for whom they work.

The story primarily focuses on three women:

Smart Aibileen who raises and loves the babies of the white women who hire her. She works until she glimpses "her children's" first realizations that "the help" are supposed to be treated differently from others like themselves.

Sassy Minny is Aibileen's best friend and works oh-so-hard to hold her tongue when faced with stupidity.

Then there is Miss Skeeter. Her mother prefers that she answer to Eugenia.

When Miss Skeeter returned from her years at Ole Miss having not been proposed to she is determined to find a place for herself even if it isn't the place that others would chose for her.

A stroke of luck places Skeeter on the payroll of a local newspaper to write household tips for the readers. Trouble is...Skeeter has no practical knowledge in that area. Her need for such information brings her to the mercy of Aibileen, the maid of her best friend. That relationship is then tested as Miss Skeeter determines it is time to really explore the world of "the help".

The story romps along from point to point. Readers area also introduced to a few other characters whose stories will engage and entertain.

While the subject of the book chronicles a dangerous quest by these women the end of the book wraps up pretty nicely; a bit too nicely given the realities of the times. This will upset some readers and will please others. I, of course, was happy. I mean, this is fiction after all. Weaving what appears to be a happier-than-might-have-been ending is okay with me.
The point of the book is still apparent and that is what is most important. As someone who was born in the late 60s it is difficult to imagine living in such a time where people were treated differently only because of the color of their skin. I am so thankful for how far we've come today. Racial injustice is disgusting in all its forms. It is embarrassing and disheartening to realize that such things as this book explores were still occurring as little as 40-some years ago. I appluad Kathryn Stockett for exploring the subject, especially since it is one that is close to her family who resides in the south.

The book however, is a delight. Stockett managed to give us a glimpse into the time by manner of a fictional foray.


Updated to add:

This book is being made into a film.
The release date is set for August 2011.

The Help (film) < click here

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline: The Graphic NovelHave you ever wished you had a different life?

Coraline did. And then her wish came true... Be careful what you wish for.

This book came out in 2002; the film appeared in cinemas in 2009. We were living in England at that time. Our then 13 year old daughter begged to see the film. Of course I said "If you read the book first." And she read the book.

As Halloween has just passed by on the pages of the calendar the story came to my mind. I don't like scary films. Horror isn't my thing. I decided it was time to read Coraline for myself to see what it was all about.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the story is a bit eerie. But the story is really pretty nice; it definitely carries some themes in its pages.

In the story Coraline visited an alternate world; a world in which things were pretty much a mirror of reality but in which the people had button eyes. At first she was drawn to the world but soon she realized that the life she already had was what she really wanted.

Sometimes we wish for change in our lives when we really don't have it so bad. Coraline felt forgotten by her busy parents. Their busyness, however, had nothing to do with their love for her.
Parents, though, can look at this part of the story as a strong reminder. Yes, we are busy; sometimes unbelievably so. But do we really want to give our children the impression that we are too busy for them? At times in the past I have used reminders such as this to wake myself to the point of view of our children. I am going to make an extra effort, starting now, as I have in the past, to stop what I am doing when one of our many children comes to me with a request. If I truly can not fulfill that request of my time at the moment then I am going to be extra sure to make the time as soon as I finish the task that was at hand. I have always, always been blessed when I have acted in this manner; and I believe our children have to.

I think my favorite line from this book is:

"Coraline slept uneasily that night, waking from time to time to plot and plan and ponder, then falling back into sleep, never quite certain where her pondering ended and the dream began, one ear always open for the sound of something scratching at her windowpane or at her bedroom door.
Now to watch the film with our daughter.

02 November 2010

We are fast approaching the end of the year. Wanted to tell you...

I wanted to tell everyone that at the end of the year I think I will be asking everyone to list their superlatives for the year.

I'll ask things such as:
What was the best book you read for yourself this year?
What was the best book you read to a child this year?

...you get the idea.

So, if you don't track your reading you might want to begin thinking about books and categories and such!
It's always a great source for reading selections for the next year!

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I read the original Wizard of Oz to two of our children during our homeschooling.

I rated it a 3.5 out of 5*.

I give Maguire's Wicked 4 out of 5*.

I saw 'Wicked' the stage-show three times while living in London, I attended it with various visitors.
I enjoyed it but wouldn't say it was my favourite of all the shows we saw.

The book is good. It moved along not so very quickly until somewhere around the middle of the book. Then I felt it began to be interesting. I enjoyed the characters and the way they came to life. I enjoyed the protrayal of Elphaba except for a few things. I very much liked Fiyero. I didn't like that the two of them finally came together while he was married. But that's just me.

Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of th

I don't know how I missed the fact, right away, that a particular character was obviously the son of Elphaba. I did, however predict, as Elphaba did, that Fiyero might return as the Scarecrow. I was greatly disillusioned when that didn't happen. I feel it would have added SO MUCH more depth! From the point where we realize the Scarecrow wasn't Fiyero things just fell apart for me.

I thought there could have been even more intrigue, and certainly more loose ends tied up. I mean, Maguire worked very hard to make all the many varied connections throughout and then seemed to just end the book. There was no resolution for Elphaba. She never fully realized her maternal feelings toward Liir although I enjoyed seeing her attempt to come to terms with some sort of 'love' for him. She never achieved possession of Nessa's shoes from Dorothy. She never found out what exatlly happened to Sarima and her sisters and her son. And most glaringly, she never achieved ANY resolution toward the reinstatement of rights for Animals. Maguire seemed to be making a parallel statement of Animals vs animals that I felt was supposed to have some greater reflection on our society. I also felt he was alluding to something with regard to religion. If so, at least for me, he didn't make those statements clearly enough for me and so it remained a story, but one that was very involved, and, in the end, unfulfilling. If Maguire had connected the dots for me, as above, there is no way I'd have not rated this book 5*. The lack of finishing the story, in my opinion, brings it down to 4*, disappointingly.

On the final page we are left with 'In the life of a Witch, ther eis no after, in the ever after of a Witch, there is no happily; in the story of a Witch, there is no afterword. Of that part that is beyond the life story, beyond the story of the life, there is --alas, or perhaps thank mercy--no telling. She was dead, dead and gone, and all that was left of her was the carapace of her reputation for malice.' How very sad that makes me feel.

I will list some quotes from the book that I feel were meaningful or just well written.

Here is the funniest portion in the book, in my opinion:

"I want to mee Dorothy," he said.

"You're not that age already, lease preserve us," she said. "I always intended to pickle ou before you got to puberty."

pg 386

'But the Witch stopped herself short, hearing in her words about Madame Morrible--she had a choice--an echo of what the Elephant Princess Nastoya had once said to her: No one controls your destiny. Even at the very worst--there is always choice.' pg. 343.

'The nature of the world is to be calm, and enhance and support life, and evil is an absence of the inclination of matter to be at peace.' pg 344

'Evil is an act, not an appetite. How many haven't wanted to slash the throat of some boor across the dining room table? Present company excepted of course. Everyone has the appetite. If you give in to it, it, thta act is evil. The appetite is normal.' pg 345

'She was thirty-eight, and just realizing what it felt like to have a sense of home. For that, Sarima, thank you, she thought. Maybe the definition of home is the place where you are never forgiven, so you may always belong there, bound by guilt. And maybe the cost of belonging is worth it.' pg 350

"Boq returned the smile, warmly. 'Glinda used her glitter beads, and you used your exotic looks and background, but weren't you just doing the same thing, trying to maximize what you had in order to get what you wanted? People who claim that they're evil are usually no worse than the rest of us.' He sighed. 'It's people who cliam that they're good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.'

pg 357

Here is the funniest portion in the book, in my opinion:

"I want to mee Dorothy," he said.

"You're not that age already, lease preserve us," she said. "I always intended to pickle ou before you got to puberty."

pg 386

How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond by Cesar Millan

This is a book that only certain readers will read as it pertains directly to the ownership of a puppy. A friend recommened it to me as she knew we were in the process of selecting and bringing one home.

This book is very insightful. Cesar looks at nearly all aspects of having a young puppy enter your life. He attempts to equip you for the experience.

Our younger sons and I began watching the first season of his television series as I began reading this book. I have now finished watching the first season, along with having finished this book. We enjoy the series.

It is our hope that we will use much of Cesar's wisdom to mold our young pup into a well-adjusted, happy, well-behaved family pet. I am finding that I am a much better pet owner this time; better at caring for the pet, as well as better at guiding it toward proper and acceptable behaviour. My husband has commented that out of all seven people in our family, that I am doing the best and not sending any mixed messages to our young whelp.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about or has just purchased a puppy. I recalled pet ownership as not being a walk on Easy Street. It is very similar to parenting. This book, though, arms the reader and causes one to think about things before experiencing them.

27 October 2010

A new NOOK for this Christmas season...(update announced)

Okay, so maybe you haven't bought an ereader yet. Maybe you've been waiting for just the right model or edition, or maybe you've been waiting for those prices to come down yet again. Barnes and Noble has announced they have an additional NOOK model coming to market soon.


The expected shipping date for orders placed now is 19 November.

Will I be asking for one for Christmas? I don't think so. I just spent some time going through comparisons of both models. You can also do that, here:

It looks to me as if the color screen would mostly benefit those users who look at a lot of magazines or cookbooks, and probably young children reading illustrated books. The final reason is the only one that draws my attention. I could see our youngest child, and possibly our two pre-teen boys enjoying the use of it for such things. Of course then it wouldln't be available to me, would it? Besides, then I'd need to purchase lots of kids' titles or see if I could get them through the library lending service I use. If I knew I could get them from the library I'd be a lot more interested. My book expenses are already high. And there are several ereaders being marketed to children this season. So far our favorite appears to be Vtech's version. (I'll have to do a review of that as soon as I am able.)

This page can help you determine which NOOK might suit you best:

This page can further assist you in making that decision:

The new NOOKcolor will be able to do crossword puzzles. (I am not clear whether they will be pre-loaded or only purchasable.) It will also stream Pandora radio. I love Pandora radio but I have found that when I am reading with music playing I pay a lot of attention to the song and am much more distracted by it than I ever expected. I loaded a few songs onto my NOOK to see if I liked that feature or not; it's just not for me. I can always use my iPod for that. I find that I like specialized products that are meant to do one or two things, and do them well.

I do have a few photos on my NOOK as screensavers/wallpaper. I chose at least one photo of every member of our nuclear and extended family. The NOOK just cycles through each of them each time it is shut off. It takes a lot of memory to hold them though. That is the only reason I would like a memory card for mine. The new NOOKcolor would be lovely with self-loaded photos. But that just isn't why I purchased an ereader really. We have several digital photo frames that we need to load photos onto and place around our house (I need to get on that.)

The NOOKcolor will have more memory inherently and will, therefore, hold more books. The original NOOK still holds more books than most people will need it to. And both versions have upgradable memory.

I just noticed that the NOOKcolor will have free Wi-Fi in B&N stores but not at ATT hotspots as the NOOK wi-fi and NOOK wi-fi +3G do. Hmmm, that's odd; I wonder why.

I am confused by only one ability on the new NOOKcolor. It is noted that it has "borrowing" capability. All three NOOKs have the LendMe feature so it didn't change that. I do not know what "borrowing" means but aim to find out. When I am able to determine what that feature does I will report back.

The NOOKcolor is going to run on the ANDROID system which I think will please many users.

There is a drawback to the NOOKcolor people. It doesn't use eInk technology. That feature is part of what drew me to ereaders. The use of eInk means that an ereader is as easy on your eyes as the pages of a book. Bright, lit computer screens are very hard on the eyes. My eyes never tire from using my NOOK. Granted, the NOOKcolor can be seen at night. But I use my LightWedge reading light, just as I always have with regular paged books.
(I gave a link to the direct site but it can be purchased for a great price through Amazon and if you visit Amazon from a link on my page I am credited for having sent you there. Amazon is where I purchased our most recent LightWedge.)

Apps are being created now for use on the new NOOKcolor.

I will be interested in seeing one of these. I will be out today; perhaps we will stop by a large B&N store to see if they have one on hand yet. If any readers of my site have the chance to try one out please let us know.

To recap, I think I am going to stick with my eInk NOOK wi-fi+3G. I love it. Maybe I will ask for an additional cover for Christmas, and maybe a memory card...and of course a gift card for more ebooks!


Edited to add:

The Nook is now also available at Best Buy and Walmart and soon Books-A-Million stores, along with Barnes & Noble stores. This means that you have more places at which you may actually see and use the product before buying; always a good thing.

23 October 2010

What does a book fanatic want for her birthday?

Yes, I asked for and received a gift card for Barnes and Noble, among other wonderful gifts. I am very blessed by my famiy and friends and had a great birthday yesterday.

I received a $50 gift card to use at B&N. This morning I applied it to my account there so that I may use it to purchase ebooks for my NOOK.

So, what titles have I chosen?

Psych: A Fatal Frame of Mind by William Rabkin - What can I say? It's quick and easy fun. The kids and I LOVE the television show. We like to watch it together on dvd. I am finding that as we move into the long winter months here near Chicago that I am longing for the shows the kids and I have watched together the past few seasons: LOST, Monk, and Psych, among others. When I saw that this title was available I had to grab it right away. Also, I have to note that I feel the books in this series follow the characterizations more truly than I thought the Monk book series did.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman - Juvenile fiction; gotta love it, right? Well, I do. This is a book that I purchased for our daughter Marlo last fall or possibly the fall before. I have decided that I want to read the book so that I can watch the film with Marlo.

The Magicians and Mrs Quent by Galen Beckett - I have seen quite a few recommendations for this book among my fellow homeschool moms. I downloaded the free portion of it from B&N and am hooked enough that I believe I want to read the whole book. I can't wait to see how it progresses.

Love and Other Near Death Experiences by Mil Millington - I requested this book through http://www.paperbackswap.com/. The book became available and I ordered it. I couldn't recall what happy event was responsible for my having placed it on my wish list. After reading a couple pages of the book I texted my brother about it, telling him I couldn't wait to read the whole book and couldn't wait to loan it to him. That's when he told me he read it a couple months ago. So, that's how I found out about the book I guess! The book has one of the best first lines I've ever read. I've only read about 10-20 pages of it. As soon as I realized how much I was going to enjoy the book I downloaded the free portion to my NOOK. And now I've bought the entire book. I am excited that I will begin reading it very soon and am certain to post about it here! I am also certain to read some of his other titles.

I still have about $18 left on my gift card.
Any suggestions for me?

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett

When I was very young my parents spent many of their evenings watching the popular variety shows of the 70s. And there were so many from which to choose. Carol Burnett's show was one of them. We could all enjoy it together.

Carol wrote this book as an extension of a stage show she was doing on the road. She also thought it would be a great way to pass on her stories to her children and grandchildren. As a result, her book flows like small conversations and feels very intimate.

She was raised by her grandmother and took care of her younger sister upon the death of their mother.   She speaks of her sisterly affection for Jim Neighbors. Carol birthed three beautiful daughters; one she lost to cancer just before the show they wrote together was to be staged.

While on the tv game show "Password" with co-star Elizabeth Montgomery they experienced a situation that caused the show to be taped and broadcast on delay from there forward. Enough said (funny story, if you read the book!)

I did not know she was part of a variety show prior to her show; The Garry Moore Show.
She tells a few good stories about her cohorts from The Carol Burnett Show. The show ran an amazing eleven years; from 1967-1978.

Most of the stories in her book are simple...but that makes them very readable. The book moved along very, very quickly for me; almost too quickly. I gained a few laughs from it and am happy I took the time to read it.

07 October 2010

Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell

Somehow I came across this book in 2003 even though it was published in 1994. I am betting that I was in the library and saw it and thought it looked interesting.

Now, I wasn't even a year old when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in July1969. The Apollo 13 mission was moved from December 1969 to November 1969. I was just over a year old. Still, I recall there being all kinds of news about outerspace and NASA missions during my childhood. I knew it was a big deal.

I love Ron Howard's masterpiece, Apollo 13, the film from 1995. Jim Lovell wrote Lost Moon. Lovell was the commander of the  Apollo 13 mission. He was the first of only three people to fly to the moon twice and the only one who did so without landing there. That is from where he derived the title and I love the title of this book. Lost Moon. How poignant, how pivotal, how sad, and still...triumphant.

Lost Moon is a first-hand account of one of the most amazing scientific triumphs in history. Don't miss out on reading this amazing book.

06 October 2010

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Our nanny in England had read all of Agatha Christie's books. She loved them. I, however, had never read any. I learned that Ms. Chrisite's books have been read more than any other aside from the Bible and Shakespeare. I decided it was time to change the fact that I'd never read any of her books.

Murder on the Orient Express. The title made is sound interesting to me. We did a lot of travel in Europe. We never had the chance to travel overnight by train although we did travel by ferry and hhad berths on the ferries. I was certain I could visualize the book well enough to enjoy reading it.

Poirot is the thinking man's man. He thinks outside the box. My kids and I enjoy watching Monk and Psych. The mysteries on those shows tend to be solved in such a way that they are not easily unraveled by jus anyone; of course, if they could be, they wouldn't be very mysterious, would they?

There were certainly a large numbers of characters integral to this story. Ms. Christie did a good job of helping the reader distinguish each character though. She also managed to keep the story moving pretty well. She drew me in.

I liked the fact that the murder was solved by wit alone. The train was stranded in a snowdrift, set many years ago. There was no way to communicate with the outside world.

Want to know how to find the order of books in a series?

Don't you hate it when you aren't sure of the order of a book series?

An acquaintance of mine posted a useful site on the homeschool website we both used to frequent.
The site will assist you by giving you the order of the books in a series.

I use the site frequently. It's called the "What's Next Database".


01 October 2010

My favorite book light: LightWedge

I bought my LightWedge (paperback version) a few years ago. I love it. I do not travel without it. I use it daily.

The LightWedge provides ample light for reading but the light is directed across your page and does not distract theo ther people around you such as the driver of the vehicle you are in, or the person you may be sharing your bed with!

As I said, my LightWedge is a few years old. I think I probably bought it around 2005... It has a few minor scratches on it, nothing deep. I have never found a good "screen protector" for it. If I could find one that was the correct size and was not too expensive I would consider buying it for a new LightWedge. As it is, the age and condition of my current LightWedge are such that I would not bother; it's fine and serves its purpose.

That said, one of our sons has been wanting a LightWedge paperback version for a long time. Not long after I bought mine I bought LightWedge Minis for each of our five children, my husband, my dad, and my mother-in-law. I bought a knock-off of the LightWedge last year to give to our son. Within minutes it was obvious that its construction was very bad. I called to ask for my money to be returned and we threw it in the trash! I am just about to place an order for the REAL LightWedge as a Christmas gift for our son. Actually, I will probably give him mine and I will probably take the new one. : )

The wonderful thing is that I am still able to use it with my ereader. I just hold it in front of it or even near it, just as I would with a regular book. I do not think I would like the larger version and have no need for more light than the paperback version provides.

If you do not have a booklight that you really like I urge you to try one!

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen 4*

I read this book because it is being made into a movie and the son of an acquaintance of mine is acting in it, as the character Garrett. Now that I've read the book I can let myself see the film!

Flipped is the story of the relationship between Bryce and Juli. The story is uniquely told from both of their points of view, in alternating chapters. It is really interesting to see an example of the same event being told from two difffering points of view. We all see things uniquely and we all retell them in our own unique style too.

But it isn't only the tale of two young teens. The story actually looks at all kinds of relationships. There is a sub-plot about a marriage relationship, and also about the relationship between Bryce and his grandfather whom he barely knows even though Gramps has been living with them for a year and a half. Of course there are also several teenage frindships that are quietly observed. The story doesn't preach, it just allows the reader to view the interactions and make their own judgment about what happens. I like that.

Bryce is bombarded by Juli's bubbly, in-your-face friendship from the moment his family moves into their home. Juli is a determined and self-confident young woman. Bryce is a somewhat typical young man who thinks that friendship with a girl is not something he is interested in. Of course as he ages and as their characters develop all of that starts to change.

Bryce's grandpa ends up befriending Juli before he befriends Bryce. That finally spurs Bryce and Grandpa into talking...and that brings them to a point of beginning to really know each other. Funny how we can essentially ignore people even when we live with them...

The setting of the book was changed a bit. The book is set in California, the movie is Michigan. The book was done in a current timeframe, the film is set in the fifties I think. I like that they changed the timeframe for the film.

I found an interesting blog post by the author of the book:


Edited to add:

I came back to add some of my favorite quotes from the book.

"In the end, Shelly went home early with a bad case of mussed-up hair, while I told my side of things to the principal. Mrs. Shultz is a sturdy lady who probably secretly appreciates the value of a swift kick well placed, and although she told me that it would be better if I let other people work out their own dilemmas, she definitely understood about Shelly Stalls and her hair and told me she was glad I'd had the self-control to do nothing more than restrain her." pg 16

"I felt sorry for my father. I felt sorry for my mother. But most of all I felt lucky for me that they were mine." pg 78

and my favorite:
"There's nothing like a head-strong woman to make you happy to be alive." pg 82

The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert 4*

This book didn't really end up being exactly what I expected. I decided to read it because I had seen a lot of good reviews and I dreadfully miss England. Right now, rieading is as close as I can get to being there!

The book is a fictionalized telling of Beatrix Potter's life, with a bit of mystery thrown in. In the beginning I found the mystery intriguing but by the end of the book, and given the way the mystery was unfolded, I was not as happy with it. I hate it when a mystery is so involved that I feel lost, but this one was, rather, a bit too simple really.

Still, the story is sweet and the setting idyllic. The Lake District in England is simply beautiful and relaxing. We spent one night there and most of a day, when we visited in the fall of 2008. We did not visit Hill Top Farm or Castle Cottage but we did visit Beatrix Potter World and were all pleasantly surprised by its sweetness.

As I said, the story is simple, filled with simple characters. There are, however, quite a few characters. The list in the front of the book was, indeed, helpful for remembering who everyone was. I referred to it a few times. The writing is such that you can envision the places and people.

The author did begin to lose my interest when she mentions some of the animals as wearing clothing. I could accept the fact that the animals shared dialogue with one another but not with people. Accepting the communication of animals for the sake of the story was fine...accepting rats in waistcoats was a bit too much for me though.

It is a charming book and pretty easy to follow. It would certainly work well as a read-aloud to young children who run out of titles written by Miss Potter, herself.

27 September 2010

Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse by Phyllis Diller

Pyllis Diller's autobiography is a straightforward look at her life. She pulls no punches and tells it the way she feels about it. She begins at the very beginning. Her parents were older when her mother was told she had an abdominal tumor that needed to be removed. Her mother was 35 years old and her father was 55 years old. When the doctor opened her mother for surgery he found that she was pregnant and went to Mr. Diller to determine how to proceed. His reply was "leave it in." And that was her beginning.

Phyllis had two failed marriages. I felt her straigtforwardness seemed somewhat balanced until she labeled both her first and second husbands as being mentally ill. And, yet, perhaps they were. It just seems a bit unlikely. Her second husband, however, ended up being gay, so she really doesn't seem to have been the best at finding a husband. She refers to her third husband as the love of her life.

She had 6 children by her first husband though I am not certain she mentionedthe third child in her book; he only lived for two weeks, born a "blue baby". Her second child, a daughter, suffers from schizophrenia.

Diller relates that she first had plastic surgery at the age of 55. She was outspoken about it and didn't hide it from anyone. She woudl receive offers from surgeons who would operate on her for free because they felt that the image she presented about the benefits of plastic surgery would be beneficial to them. Playboy approached her to do a photo shoot. They wanted to do a contrast piece, contrasting a very thin subject with one they thought was a bit plumper. (She has always hidden her figure in the clothing she chose to wear for her standp-up performances.) They found her to be really gorgeous and that the shoot didn't suit its intended purpose and so Playboy never published the photo in their magazine. I found the photo to be stunning; "stunning" as in beautiful, not as in "shocking":


She is an accomplished pianist and even did a tour but gave it up when she came to the conclusion that she would never really be good enough. She is also a painter and sells her artwork. http://www.artcelebs.com/diller_pg2.htm

17 September 2010

The Wakefield Dynasty by Gilbert Morris

The Sword of Truth (Wakefield Dynasty #1)I've been trying to think of a book or series that I could post about here that would be something new to many people. I think I thought of just the series.

I found the Wakefield Dynasty series at the perfect moment in time in 1995. My husband and I were about to embark on our first trip to Europe; to England to be exact. In truth, I had never read historical ficition but this series drew me in; the genre is now one of my favourites.

The Wakefield Dynasty weaves a fictional tale into historical fact. During the fascinating reign of Henry VII Myles Morgan, the lead character, is a young vassal being raised by his mother. Upon the death of his mother event lead to the revelation that he is the heir to the "Wakefield Dynasty".

Miles is friends with Hannah Kemp whose personal tutor is William Tynedale. Tynedale, fascinating historical icon, was the first to ranslate many portions of the Bible into English; the first English translator of the Bible to to refer directly to the Hebrew and Greek texts. His placment in time allowed for his translations to be produced by printing press. This also placed him in greater danger from those who didn't want the common man to have access to the Bible. Remember that this was a time when owning a personal copy of the Bible could lead to punishment...by death.

This series entertwines fact and fiction, romance and hatred, good and evil, indlugence and deprivation. It held me mesmerized; and this was at a time in my life when I was not an avid reader.

The name Wakefield is found in history. It is the name of a tower at The Tower of London. The name of the tower is said to be derived from either the imprisonment of descendants of the line of York following the Battle of Wakefiled during the War of the Roses, or from William de Wakefield, the Kings Clerk, in 1334.

Even if you do not typically read Christian fiction, if you have an interest in English history, you will still find this series greatly intriguing. If you are interested in Christian history you will be riveted.

(I have read books one through four of this series.)

Book 1 The sword of truth

Book 2 The winds of God

Book 3 The shield of honor

Book 4 The fields of glory

Book 5 The ramparts of heaven

Book 6 The song of princes

Book 7 A gathering of eagles

31 August 2010

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly

I read this in September of 2008 while living in the UK.

Another Brit "chick" book for me. I am enjoying this genre very much although previous to living in the UK I am sure I wouldn't have to the same degree.

This book strikes home because the woman's husband yearns to live in the countryside. He moves her far from her beloved London, to the norther-most parts of England. I, too, will eventually be moved away from here.

At first I was really afraid the book would just be a bunch of moaning and husband-bashing. I was surprised and happy to find that she always unfailingly supported her husband even when he caused her trouble (he had promised to always fill her car with petrol when he wasn't in London on business (often away on business) but she ran out of gas FIVE TIMES!) I read the whole book before realizing it was a true story. I love a true story! This one was a real winner for me. Hated to finish it!

Random Acts of Kindness by Danny Wallace

This is a small book that may be placed on a table so that people will hopefully pick it up and be given ideas of nice things they can do for others.

Danny Wallace is an author and tv/film personality from the UK. I am working my way through all of his projects.

Some things in this book are simply silliness. I really think he should have preserved the sense of giving with each suggestion; the suggestions that are based on kindness are still, at times, humourous. He lost me when he included suggestions that were simply silliness. I would have rated the book MUCH higher if he had stuck to his original intention of inspiring others to be a simple but real help to others, even with a bit of humor sometimes included.

Some are just offensive, as:

Compliment a lesbian couple on their haircuts.
Really? And what if they don't have nice haircuts? Do you think they won't know you're being a 'smart arse'?

Here, however, are some of my favourite ideas from the book:

Take your leftovers from a meal in a restaurant and hand them to someone who appears to need them more than you. (This would be easy to do in England as there are street people within easy access. They tend not to be very scary. London is not so cold a place that they are forced to take shelter which would put them out of site more likely. To a truly hungry person een someone else's leftovers might be welcome.)

Similar ideas are to hand out lollies (lollipops) to strangers. I think this could be easily done and probably appreciated on a train into or out from London. British people tend to keep to themselves, especially on trains, but a kindness is always acknowledged and can start up a pleasant conversation.
Play 'knock down ginger' (what we would call doorbell ditching, but is known by many names throughout the world -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knock,_Knock,_Ginger ) but leave a gift for the person who answers the door.

Buy a copy of The Big Issue and then give it back to the seller.
Somehow I always thought The Big Issue was probably Muslim propaganda. I was wrong. It is street newspaper sold in eight countries. Only homeless or vulnerably housed people may sell it. The news/mag is written by professionals. The publishers assist the sellers by putting them in touch with services which can help them move forward in life. I often saw a young woman selling The Big Issue outside of Budgens in Virginia Water. Even though I didn't think the magazine was something I would support or be interested in I often thought of speaking to her...but I neer did. I did, however, always smile at her and she always smiled back. I wish I'd supported her sales.

This is probably my favorite suggestion in the book!
Visit http://www.goodgifts.org/ for many selfless ways to be a big help to others.

Send a postcard to one of the most remote lighthouses in the world!
Lighthouse Keeper
South Solitary Lighthouse
near Coffs Harbour

My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

Now, why did I read this book? The best answer is that I enjoyed the way he played the character in the movie 'Bedtime Stories.'

This story explores, in depth, his addiction to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Don't even pick it up if you think you might find it offensice because you will. He explores his early life and then explores the situations that took him to a drug addiction center and then to a sexual addiction center.

Russell mentions toward the very end of the book that the addiction center which helped him with his sex addiction expects their clients to make amends rather than apologizing for them. Throughout the book Russell occasionally mentions how awful it was that he treated some women certain ways. However, I don't believe I ever read anything that seemed apologetic in his writings, or which mentioned apologizing to any of them or how he may have made amends. And so I wonder if he is sorry or not. There were a couple of places where he appeared to regret his actions but he never fully formed such an idea to that extent.

Do I have hope for him? Yeah, I guess so, there is always hope. The book was only written in 2007 and he isn't dead yet or back in an addiction center. I just found that he is engaged to Katy Perry; interesting.

The writing of this book shows that he is in fact an intelligent person. He expresses that the time he spent in schools offering private education must have gotten something into his head. His references to great works proves it, but then, I think that even though British's free schools are often bashed, in general their culture seems to aspire more to literature, even in the lower classes. He just doesn't make good judgments about what is acceptable risque behaviour and what is unacceptable risque behaviour. That was and is his downfall. I am glad that I didn't put money directly into his pocket by purchasing this book; I read it via our library's free ebook service.

22 August 2010

Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure by Dave Gorman

"I bet you can't get ten Googlewhhacks in a row before your 32nd birthday."

From Wikipedia: A Googlewhack is a kind of a contest for finding a Google search query consisting of exactly two words without quotation marks, that return exactly one hit. A Googlewhack must consist of two actual words found in a dictionary. A Googlewhack is considered legitimate if both of the searched-for words appear as live links in Answers.com in the blue bar above the Google results.

Googlewhacks are shortlived because once someone publishes them to the internet as being a Googlewhack the new number of hits for the seaarch will become at least two, one to the original hit found, and one to the site that published it as being a Googlewhack.

The term and quest was invented by Gary Stock and published at UnBlinking on 8 January 2002. I gave the quests a few attempts myself. I came across this:

"Participants at Googlewhack.com discovered the sporadic "cleaner girl" bug in Google's search algorithm where "results 1-1 of thousands" were returned for two relatively common words.[3]

Googlewhack went offline in November of 2009 after Google stopped providing definition links. Gary Stock stated on the game's web page soon afterward that he was pursuing solutions for Googlewhack to remain viable. However, the game has not come back into play, and there is no word of when or if that will happen."

I wondered why it didn't seem that the searches appeared the same way the book described.
Anyway, I found a few word combinations with five or fewer hits...but if the game is not longer supported properly I won't bother further. (My best was a combo of only one hit - - nouthetic courgette/s.) The closest I came was "beatitudine icebox" with about 44 results. Besides, I think the internet is growing at such a rapid rate that it would be exponentially harder now to find a googlewhack. Right?

Gorman's adveentures took him away from home for most of two months, all over the world, to visit:
a man who collects photos of women and dogs
a man who took him on a trip into Mexico to buy Coke and pharmaceuticals
China twice
several writers of fan fiction

At the end of the adventure he had traveled through the UK, France, The US, Mexico (briefly,) Australia and China, over 71,000 miles, spending 183 hours in flight.

Okay, okay, I can't stop reading books written by Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace. I found their books and videos while living in England and am still working my way through their collections. I love the crazy stuff they get themselves into. Danny is briefly mentioned in this book but isn't an active participant in it.

There continues, for me, though, a great difference between the two men. Danny Wallace has an impish, boy-like quality about him and his adventures. (In fact I'd love to meet him!) (I've actually asked Dave Gorman a question via Facebook before and he replied to me.) Dave has fun ideas and follows them wherever they may lead but as soon as he hits a roadblocks he crumbles like a little girl. He becomes a whiney, slobbery lump of patheticness . At this point I read his books and try to imagine how long it will take for the whining to start. In all fairness, however, I still manage to enjoy them...but I enjoy Danny's more.

18 August 2010

Ereader review - the NOOK

I bought a NOOK! Okay, so it was about five weeks ago. What that means, though, is that I am finally ready to give my first review of it!

Are you familiar with ereaders? I was very familiar with them. We moved from the greater Chicago area to England in August 2007 (we are now repatriated, back to the greater Chicago area.) Moving to England meant that I had to determine a new source for my reading material. Eventually I began purchasing most of my books from amazon.co.uk. My family members also brought me books they were finished with, when they visited us. Amazon's first hardware device, the Kindle First Generation, was released only in the United States on November 19, 2007. That was the beginning of my fascination with ereaders.

Kindle, however, wasn't internationally compatible; it has to do with the type of cell hpone service provided in different countries. I found myself wondering, often, about the possibility of purchasing a Kindle and having a family member in the states load it up with purchases for me and then bringing it to me. I wasn't sure that was the way to go. I waited.

At some point I became aware of Sony's ereader. There was a Sony store near us where we often shopped. I visited the store several times. I held the Sony. I tried to imagine using the Sony. I was so close to just purchasing it. But I chose patience; ever a virtue. And I am glad I did. Many people told me that Sony is known for having good software but for not getting the hardware spot on. To this day when I see the Sony ereader I am still underwhelmed in comparison to the Kindle and the NOOK. My brother, Duffy, owns a Kindle. He visited us several times while we were living in England. When he visited I would borrow his Kindle to see how I liked it.

Just as we repatriated to the states, the international version of the Kindle 2 became available in 19 October 2009. That was just as we were officially preparing for our move. We landed in the US 12 December 2009. Again, I waited. I was hoping to receive the Kindle for Christmas.

Summer 2010 found me still without a Kindle, or any other ereader for that matter. 20 October 2009 saw the release of Barnes & Noble's ereader, the NOOK. What finally pushed me over the edge to make me purchase? My brother, Duffy, told me "Buy it. If you end up liking my Kindle better, I'm sure I'll trade you." Well, you can't beat insurance like that, can you? So I did it. I bought a NOOK!

Once I heard about the NOOK I began rigorously comparing it to the Kindle. I really thought I wanted the Kindle. I was hearing really great reviews of NOOK, however. When my brother came to visit in July 2010 we went shopping and I purchased it. We duly came home and fully charged it. After dinner we played with it and began learning how to use it. Which brings me to the point of my review of it.

Let's see. The main feature for which I was looking was the ability to highlight text and make notes about it. Both Kindle and nook have that ability.

Kindle has the little keyboard at the bottom. I thought that would be the best for me but then when my brother visited again and I used it I realized that the keys are positioned sort of oddly. With my current phone the keys are very close together and I can type with my thumbs. Seeing the Kindle keyboard configuration made me think it would be clumsy unless redesigned more similarly to today's texting phones.

Nook has a touchscreen. I wasn't any kind of fan of touchscreens until we were given a GPS. Our Garmin Nuvi touchscreen works brilliantly. I can touch it with my fingernail tips and it works perfectly. The Nook doesn't work that way. It is heat triggered. So one must touch it with skin. And I have long nails. After I bought it I was still afraid it might be a long-term issue for me. It only took me about 24 hours, though, to get used to it. I see the potentional that for someone with very big hands, (men in particular) having such tiny keys on the touchscreen could really be an issue. My brother thinks they should make an after-market accessory that is a heated stylus!! I think that would work really well and would probably lead to faster typing by users. Now that I am five weeks out I feel that I have mastered the keyboard as much as I am going to. And it still isn't perfect, but I can manage. Given an updated version my interest will be piqued enough for me to go to the store and try it out.

I continue to use my usual book light with my nook. My book light is a LightWedge, paperback size. I use it the same way that I use it with traditional books. Often my batteries provide me with so much light from my LightWedge that I don't even have to hold the LW against the book/NOOK. I often just keep it nearby to illuminate my reading. I have found that the NOOK works even better with the LW as there is no bother with turning actual pages. Brilliant! No fuss.

Overall I had expected the Kindle's hardware configuration to please me more than the Nook. I have been pleasantly surprised so far! Overwhelmingly I feel that the Nook has a much more streamlined appearance; slicker. Important? Not if you already own a Kindle and aren't going to be replacing it anytime soon. Trust me, it's a big purchase and I wouldn't replace it just for that. But I have found that the Nook's design is pleasant and attractive. The toggle-button on the Kindle (for lack of a better term) now seems a bit obtrusive to me. It just looks as if it is in the way. I like the smooth sides of the Nook and the page-turn buttons are easy to push when you mean to but are not easily pushed by accident (something that could be quite annoying.)

As a true Bibliovore I am still embarrassingly and hopelessly drawn to the pretty cover photos on the Nook's lighted touchscreen. Yes, they are just images of the covers in color. But they're attractive. And sometimes it really is okay to judge a book by its cover. In this day and age, with technology being what it is, I feel that if a publisher isn't dedicated enough to design a cover that will attract the attention of potential readers then they are going to be taking a risk. The book has to have a cover...why not make it appealing! As a matter of fact I just chose a book in May2010 based first upon the cover. The reason I stopped to look at it was because the cover caught my eye! And then I noticed the author's name. I read the blurb. I bought the book. If the cover hadn't drawn my attention from the others hundreds of books I wouldn't have bought it. Case justified.

The lend/borrow feature, currently only on the NOOK, has me intrigued right now! There exists a Facebook group through which one may lend or borrow NOOK ebooks from complete strangers with ease. I haven't had the opportunity to use it yet, or to otherwise loan any of my NOOK ebooks. I have researched it and believe that a book may be lent to any owner of a NOOK ereader once. Only once. I believe you may not then lend the book out to anyone else in the future. With this appearing to be the case I have not agressively pursued loaning my NOOK books. If my brother or another family member ends up owning a NOOK I would prefer to loan to them. If there are multiple owners of NOOKs living in the same household they may all use the same account so that they are able to all share purchases. I think Kindle operates in the same manner. It's a great and, I believe, necessary feature.

Okay a big MISTAKE on the part of the designers of Nook, in my opinion, is with regard to the highlights and notes which one may add. The ability to highlight text and make notes was the second feature that appealed to me in ebooks. I added highlights and notes in the first book I read on my NOOK. I didn't know I would not be able to go to them with ease after finishing the book. You have to go through each and every page to find if you highlighted anything. I found a simpler way to locate my highlights and notes though. You must use the bookmark feature first to mark every page on which you are going to place a highlight or note, then you may use the bookmark feature to easily return to them. Going forward I will be placing an electronic bookmark and THEN highlighting and adding each note. Users are able to find all bookmarks after they are placed. I bet highlighting and notes are more direct and functional with the Kindle. I hope so. This really should be an easy update for B&N I would think. I eagerly await a software update that will delete the bookmark step from this process. I hope I am not disappointed.

I have now read eight books on my NOOK. So far I have had one error occur with regard to the device. Fortunately it was not a serious one since my education or career are not yet relying on the device although I see that as a true possibility. All the highlights and notes in one of the ebooks I was reading were lost. I called B&N to discuss this. They made a note of it but confirmed that there was no way for them to retrieve them. It would be great if there were a way to do a master-save of such things, at least occasionally. Even if it involved plugging into the computer to do it I would find it worthwhile. That was so disappointing.

B&N has an in-store feature which allows anyone visiting the store with their NOOK to read ebooks for up to an hour a day for free. I have visited the store and tried this. My first disapointment was with ATT who provides the internet service which allows for the functionality (or not) of this feature. The store's internet was down. I returned another day and it was either still down or down again. Frustrating. It could actually make some customers pretty upset as I know some people have bought the NOOK because of that feature. I have to say that I was disappointed also to find that my first few choices of titles were ones that were not available for this feature. I had not been made aware that some books allow this feature and some don't. I found that disappointing. I did eventually find a book that allowed for the free reading and after visiting with some new acquaintances I had met at the library recently I did sit and read for a bit. I even returned later that week and was able to use the feature from the parking lot, in my vehicle.

Battery life. The Kindle can be returned to Amazon for the battery to be changed. The NOOK's battery is replaceable by the owner. And the batteries are quite affordable. The Kindle battery last longer with each charge but that has been due to the fact that earlier versions of the Kindle did not operate with the ability to use the internet, as the NOOK does. Use of the internet really decreases the available charge very quickly. While enjoying use of the internet I am not in love with it via my NOOK. I am glad it has the ability but really don't care for it as the functionality of it is just difficult in my opinion. If I need the internet and have a hot-spot then I can use it. If I don't really need the internet I'll be waiting to go online at home.

The purchase of ebooks with a NOOK is so simple it's scary. Add a credit card to your online account with B&N and that's really all there is to it. You can search B&N online using your computer or via your NOOK. Once you've found the book you want you may choose to download only a sample. Often the sample is 20 pages but recently I've come across a few that are a shockingly brief seven pages! If you wish you may purchase it without downloading a sample. If you download a sample you are given a chance to purchase it at any time you wish. The process of actually receiving the book after selecting it is amazingly quick. I think it could take up to one or two minutes but at times it has been only a matter of a very few seconds and the ebook is in my NOOK, ready for my enjoyment!

When there is any risk of it getting wet I place it inside a gallon-size zip baggy. Doesn't bother me a bit. Kindle makes a cover that they only claim is water resistant but not waterproof. I hear that it is not attractive and seems expensive since it appears to be just a fancy baggy. For now I'll stick with my baggy. I did purchase a two-year warranty for something like $69. We do not generally purchase warranties as we don't often feel they are worth the cost. Since I purchased my NOOK for its portability there was no way a warranty wasn't going to be worth saving me the fear of something happening to it.

I stumbled upon an additional feature without realizing it existed. While reading, occasionally I would move or reach for something and my hand would glance across the touchscreen and my page would change. Hmmm...I was determined to get to the bottom of that. It didn't appear to be a glitch; it seemed too intuitive. I even visited our local B&N. There I was told that it is a feature but not one that is touted. Why? Maybe they just don't have the settings perfected yet. The manager of the B&N could not get the feature to work. I was determined to figure it out. A few more hours of attention as I read and I nailed it! The secret is to only glance the touchscreen with your thumb or finger and not to linger. Too firm a touch or too long, and it won't work. Even though the touch has to be just right I love the feature. Sure it is easy enough to push the page-turn but this just feels so much more natural to me. If I touch the screen too firmly and "wake" it I just use the push button to turn that page. I use the touchscreen to turn my page now about 95% of the time I guess.

Yes, I have linked the Amazon Kindle here in case anyone wants to purchase it even though my review leans toward the NOOK. We all have different preferences and that is good.

The Nook can store about 1500 ebooks with the 2 GB storage. Up to a 16 GB memory card may be added to it as well, so it can hold a lot of books. It can also hold music if you want to use it for that. It will also hold photos. I have put a few photos on mine as screensavers/wallpaper just because it is going to take a long time for me to get enough ebooks on it to start chewing up the available memory. I figured I may as well use the memory I have available.
For now, even with the issues I have explored above, I am very pleased with my nook. Actually, I am sold on ereaders as a whole. I am as much a book-lover as the next person is...but the convenience of carrying around ONE item and of that one item being able to become nearly ANY book I want it to be is PRICELESS. I take it everywhere with me. I will look at future releases of ereaders. When such an advance is made to ereader technology that I can't do without it I will be looking to purchase a new one. I love mine that much.


Edited to add:

I just found out that B&N has placed their business up for sale. Seems their financial numbers were down due to fewer people visiting actual bookstores, along with the cost of creating a new ereader and marketing it.


This could end up working for them eventually as the loss could be recovered through sales of the NOOK. If, however, people are scared of B&N folding and no longer supporting the NOOK, then things could become ugly for them as well as for we owners of NOOK.

Long-term my prediction would be that even if a decision is made to sell the store sites, someone should be able to come along and make the ereader/ebook business portion profitable; perhaps very profitable. Of course it is my hope that B&N will be purchased and some things will be changed up so that both parts of the business can again return a profit. We are in a time of change though. I do feel that B&N was on to something when they developed their ereader with the ability to read in-store for free, loan books, etc.

However, I was dissappointed by their actual coffee shop, the place where a lot of this could occur. Living in England, the coffee and tea shops there are places people flock to for such activities. Here in the US and in England I have seen even McDonald's restaurants with more of that sort of character than my local B&N store possesses. It wouldn't even be a difficult revamp in my opinion. Make it cozier. Change up the boring and pricey menut. Make the readers of NOOK want to visit your store, buy a muffin and a drink, and possibly chat with some other well-read people.
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