The Sunday Salon – Self-Published Books

Over the years, I’ve read self-published books. If the author can tell me a good story, entertain me, enlightenment me, I’m along for the ride. Many bloggers don’t read or review self-published books and I understand why they have that rule. I’ve had bad experiences with self-published books too —formats don’t work, copious spelling and grammar mistakes, poor editing, and in some cases, obviously no editor at all. This post isn’t about the problems with self-published books though so I’ll stop with the examples.

Now, and this is an important point — I’m not asking to be sent self-published books. Please don’t do that! Also, I’ve stopped accepting all review copies for the time being. See my review policy here. Yes, I have rules too.

What I’m saying is, I have paid for self-published books and enjoyed them. I’ve found some through my Nook (my e-reader of choice), and some on websites and blogs of self-published authors.

Why mention this? Maybe I was feeling today should be a book blogger confession post. In fact, you’ll be seeing a review for a self-published book soon. It was a book I enjoyed and was happy to find out recently that a sequel is in the works.

I have no problem supporting authors with my reading, be it those published through traditional publishing houses and those that have taken the self-publishing route. Writing is not an easy job but I want to support the ones I find entertaining by purchasing their books and will continue to do so as long as I enjoy their writing.

I’m absolutely sure somewhere in the publishing industry an editor has screamed out loud and would hate me for saying any of this but I see no reason not to say it. I talk about books, all types of books, and read a vast array of books. I’m not going to not talk about some just because the books are self-published.

Do you read self-published books? Thoughts on self-published books — good, bad , no opinion?

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  The idea is to give everyone a look inside the book you’re reading.

Play along: Grab your current read; Open to a random page; Share two teaser sentences from that page; Share the title and author so that other participants know what you’re reading.

I started A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin a few days ago.  I haven’t had the chance to read much, but what little I’ve read, is fantastic.  Let me share…

“Bran pulled himself up, climbed over the gargoyle, crawled out onto the roof.  This was the easy way.  He moved across the roof to the next gargoyle, right above the window of the room where they were talking.” (86 of 787 on Nook)

Magic Bleeds

Magic Bleeds

By Ilona Andrews

Ace Books

eISBN: 978-1-101-18776-0

4.75 stars

Magic Bleeds is the fourth book in the Kate Daniels series.  And, let me tell you right here how much I love these books.  I put off buying this one when it came out this summer (Why I don’t know?  I think it had to do with a book buying ban or some other foolishness.) but I gave in when I knew I would be traveling for work.  I wanted something that would suck me in, entertainment, and leave me searching out places to read.  Andrews provided me that little respite with this book, and also, how happy was I to find out there are three more books to come after this one!  So, now the gush is over…the review.

Kate Daniels is making good on a bet she lost to Curran, the Beast Lord.  When he stands her up, she does her best not to make her way to the Keep and rip his head off knowing that as an employee of the Order of Merciful Aid which deals with all magical problems, it would make relations between the Pack and the Knights of the Order even more difficult.  Instead she goes about her days cleaning up magical messes trying not to think about Curran.  Without knowing it, she stumbles onto a strange phenomenon, magically poisoned individuals that emit plagues.  These infectious people start showing up all over magic-ridden Atlanta and all seem to become her problem.  While trying to deal with and contain a possible plague, Kate’s aunt, a god who loves to demolish worlds, appears and it’s not a happy family reunion.  In the midst of trying to figure out how to kill her aunt, she finds herself falling harder for Curran who seems intent on making her his mate.

As the fourth book in the series, I will say this — you can read this book on its own because much is explained and the story here is self-contained enough to make it easy to follow — but why would you do such a thing?  There’s too much fun to be had reading them all.  What I love about this series is the world itself.  The Atlanta in these books is subject to waves of magic that flood the city with craziness.  There are shapeshifters, vampires (But of a different type than most are used to so don’t let that turn you off.), mages, beasts, and everything else you can possibly think of.  Kate is crass, hardheaded, crazy, and funny.  She cracks jokes at the most inappropriate times and she makes the story fantastic.  It’s an odd mix I’ll grant you but you have to trust that somehow all of the ways in which magic makes things happen in these books will work and it does.  Andrews takes a number of fantasy elements and staples and tweaks each one so that it becomes gritty and dark.  For me, it’s like brain candy of the highest caliber.

The love story between Kate and Curran finally comes to some understanding in this book and I couldn’t wait for it to happen.  In fact, I had been waiting for three books for this one so without wanting to ruin this if you haven’t read it yet, I won’t say more.  While I’ll admit to not always being a huge fan of love sub-plots, this one worked for me.  Kate and Curran are two great characters and the reason I keep reading this series.

If you’re looking for different, dark fantasy, you might want to try these.  It’s not your standard fantasy telling but this is a world that will pull you in and you won’t want to put the book down.  The three previous books in this series are: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, and Magic Strikes.

Nook Review

I’ve had the opportunity to finish a book on my new Nook and thought it might be a good time for a review. In case you’re curious as to what it looks like, see photos below. It’s smaller than a hardcover book, weighs about the same as a book, and is comfortable to hold.

As I said, I have only read one book on the device but it was a pleasant experience. The eink (I don’t know what the technical term is here so just play along.) is extremely easy on the eyes and after reading over a 100 pages in one sitting, my eyes didn’t bother me at all. I was incredibly surprised and pleased by that. The screen is not back lit so you will need to use it in a well lit area but this is also true of a regular book.

When flipping pages, there is a slight delay as the next page loads, and when opening a new book, a formatting box appears asking you to wait while your book choice loads, but I didn’t find either of these things incredibly annoying. I read a few reviews where this was a major focus and for me it wasn’t. The 2.5 – 3 seconds I waited didn’t feel like an eternity to me but for others it might.

Downloading books is tremendously easy which can lead to purchases you didn’t plan on making. I have so far not allowed myself to wantonly download but one can see how it can easily happen. You can download/purchase books through the Barnes & Noble website or directly on the device. Using the website is much like purchasing a regular book and then you just download the books to the device. On the device itself, you can flip through a list of about 100,000+ pages of books (you’ll be there for days) or use the small and somewhat annoying search feature. The small box below the reading screen is the navigation and turns into a small touch keypad to search. It’s awkwardly sensitive and can be hard to type on but does the job just fine once you get the feel of it. (Make sure you spell the name of the book correctly as it does not auto-correct and will only pull exact matches.) The touch screen can also be used to flip pages and scroll through book covers for purchasing books. In addition to books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions can also be purchased. We have yet to use this feature.

You can download approximately 1,500 books to the Nook. If you would like to add more storage space for extra books, you can add an SD card.

I find this important to mention — before you can actually download anything you have to register your device with Barnes & Noble and setup an account. It’s not all that difficult but it is annoying and we had to do it twice because we did it out of order which meant creating then deleting an account and then creating another one. Annoying, very. Difficult, no.

One thing to note while searching for books to download — a few were in the wrong category. We noticed several very clearly noted history books in the fiction section and some fiction in the history section. I don’t see this as a major issue just something to note under bugs.

The settings do allow you to change the size of the font, type of font, and brightness of the screen. All very useful. It will work on a wi-fi signal and the 3G network. Keeping the wi-fi and 3G off will get you several days worth of power, with it on, slightly less. If you are just reading with the wi-fi turned off, which is what I mostly do, battery issues are minor.

While I was satisfied and really quite happy with the reading experience, I did find it a bit buggy. When you open a book, and begin to read, you can set a bookmark to hold your place. I did this and when I came back to the book the next day, found myself at an entirely new place. Hmm… Luckily, I remembered where I was and quickly skipped ahead to the chapter I wanted which you can easily do using the navigation system. Not a big problem, but it’s annoying if you’re reading more than one book and have to keep track of which chapter/page you left off on. Oddly, the book my husband is reading didn’t have the same bookmark issue. I was left wondering if it was just that particular book since I’ve not experienced this problem since.

You can download PDF files to be read on the Nook. I have an ebook and was easily able to drag and drop the book onto the device when it was plugged in to the laptop. I was extraordinarily happy with the ease here. I didn’t have to load any software, just plugged in the Nook with the USB cord, the laptop said, “I see you have new device. You have a Nook. You can use it now.” OK, so it didn’t really say that but it was really that easy. I didn’t have to do a thing which prompted my husband to say, “Good, they Amy proofed it.” Which means, plug and play. I don’t like to play around with technology. I want to plug it in and have it work. The Nook did that. I hope to borrow a few books from the library this way was well. If you have an older computer, I can’t speak to ease here so take caution with this note.

It will read audio books but I haven’t tried this out yet and since I don’t listen to many anyway, it may be a long while before I get to this feature.

I’m not a tech person. I still have a phone that doesn’t take pictures and that’s by choice. (Don’t make fun! :-)) When I buy a device, I like it to do what it promises. The Nook promises to be an ereader and that’s what it does best for me. I want to download a book and I want to read it. I can easily do that on the Nook. I found it simple to use. I didn’t feel I needed to call tech support to do anything on it. I like that. Yes, there are many little features and things that my husband (the tech person in the household) found and tried to to interest me in, but I just want to read on it. If you’re looking for something more, maybe another device would be better. If you just want to read, the Nook works. If you’re a tech person, maybe there are enough things here to keep you happy, but since I don’t play with them, and probably won’t, I can’t answer that for you.

One thing I do want to mention is the packaging. When the Nook arrived it was beautifully packaged in this clear and white plastic contraption. I spent several minutes contemplating how best to remove it then spent 20 minutes trying to pry it out of the plastic prison. Why do this? I don’t know and I was highly annoyed by the time I got it out. At that point I also found out I needed to charge it before I could play with it which meant more waiting. Between shipping problems, removing of packaging, and waiting for it to charge, I spent a lot of time, well, waiting.

All in all, I like the Nook. It works well for what I want and need and I hope in the end it will provide the tired and straining bookshelves with a little respite.

If you want to know something specific, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to answer.

NOTE: The Nook I’m reviewing here was bought as a birthday present for me by my husband. I have not been asked to do this review by anyone and I get nothing out of posting it here. I have not been compensated for my views stated above. It is solely my opinion.

My Nook Arrived!

Yeah, my birthday present has finally arrived! My birthday was in the beginning of December so I’ve been waiting a while and not always patiently. 🙂

After spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get the thing out of it’s packaging (Hi, Barnes & Noble, do you need to make it so difficult? You know that some of us just want to read right?) and letting it charge, I spent some good quality time with my little Nook. Until my husband, (who admitted that my birthday present was a bit of a ruse since it was him that really wanted one of these things, although to be fair, it didn’t take much to convince me) got home and completely took it over.

We got it registered (Again, Barnes & Noble, why so many steps?) and ordered two books — True Compass by Ted Kennedy for him and Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler for me. No, the compass theme was not planned, we did that separately. I didn’t add any additional books last night since I want to take a look at my list to see what I really want. When I finish a book on it, I plan to do a longer review to let you all know how I like it.