Saturday, April 30, 2016

You've passed on your copies. Now you want to re-read it?

What do you do in this situation? I'm re-purchasing the books bit by bit. It's part of why I keep such a large library for myself. I know I'm a re-reader, and I take a risk every time I clear out a series. Most of the time it works out OK. However, once in a while the bug to re-read that series comes back with a vengeance.

Most recently with the S. M. Stirling Change series. Probably the itch for a re-read was inspired by my new Kobo Glo, as I have the first book (Dies the Fire) in the library there (now the first two books). Either way, I found myself really enjoying the read and then the second book (currently about two thirds of the way through The Protector's War). I've already found a copy of the third book: A Meeting At Corvallis, thanks to a local book sale. My one grumble on this re-read is book order. At least on the Kobo store, the second book is labeled as the first. Thankfully for these early books, that paper copy of A Meeting At Corvallis has the reading order listed.

The other series I've repurchased is Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. This time though, I didn't need to do a complete repurchase as I already had copies of all the books from The Fiery Cross onwards, although for some reason I simply couldn't find my original copy of it. Again, a local book sale came to my rescue. Trade paperback for $1.00? Even if the original copy shows up again, the cost was worth it. Just have to get around to doing the re-read now. Skipped around a bit on Dragonfly in Amber, but intending to properly re-read Voyageur. Then I'm going to have to find a copy of Drums of Autumn.

One key question for any readers. I'm testing out the newish Amazon Native Ads on this post. Personally, I'm not that sure of them, and find that I really miss the old carousel widget that I used to use. I'm going to leave the one new native ad in on this post, but would love to hear if those few readers I have would prefer I not use them in the future.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Kobo Glo HD

Kobo Glo HDThe Kobo Glo HD

After a few years of silence on the various Kobo e-readers, I'm piping up again with a rather rambling review of the Kobo Glo HD.

I got into the e-reader craze with the original Kobo - think back to the directional button for navigation and no wi-fi connection. Upgraded to the second generation - same navigation system, but added wi-fi capabilities (and came in some fairly nifty colors). Then I went over to the Vox. And after that, faded back to a strong preference for paper books. I've barely used an e-reader for at least three years.

However, I'd been talking about getting one of the Glo variants for a couple of years now. I finally broke down last month and did so. In general, I've found that I prefer the e-ink style e-readers, although, as the proud owner of an iPad as well, I've still got the option for anything that will do better with full colour (Judith Tarr's Writing Horses: The Fine Art Of Getting It Right for example).

There are several areas where the touchscreen e-ink e-reader outdoes the iPad and even the Vox versions.

First thing. Footnotes. This is something that the original Kobo Touch incorporated, but not any of the reading apps as far as I can tell. However, as someone who likes to read non-fiction as well as fiction, I really appreciate this - even though to date I only have one book which incorporates this feature. It makes the e-reader much more usable for non-fiction reading as well as novels. When I touch a footnote marker, it brings up the footnote right on screen over the page, allowing you to read it and go right back to reading the main text without disruption.

Given some of the articles I've read over the last year to two years on support for indexes in e-pub format ebooks, I'd be interested in seeing how the e-ink Kobo e-readers handle indexes as well. Any suggestions for particularly outstanding examples?

When it comes to the screen and the "Glo" or "ComfortLight" lighting, I have to say it's pretty good. Both definitely live up to their billing of being able to read in both bright, direct sunlight and in darkness. I've tested both. Right from the start with the original Kobo e-ink e-reader they've been great in the sun. I remember having mine with me the day after I got it and sitting out around Noon in full sunlight and having next to no problems. I think I might have upped the font size by one, but that was all.

Now, for night-time or other low-light reading situations, the ComfortLight is an improvement on the methods I had to use with my original e-readers: clip-on lights. Those lights never lasted more than a few hours - I'd kill one on the first couple of nights of a camping trip - before the batteries went.

The strength of the screen light can be easily adjusted. Personally, I rarely take it up above about 30%. Even 2-4% is enough for use in a fully dark room - and it's not as likely to disturb anyone else in the room, although courtesy dictates that the best way to read under those circumstances is to make sure the back of the Kobo is facing them to minimize the light disturbance.

The interface for adjusting the fonts, sizes, line spacing and margins remains more or less the same as it was with the Kobo Touch, as does the workings of the library and home screen as far as I can remember.

Battery life is another satisfactory area. I haven't actually tested how long it takes to end up draining the battery completely yet, but I've only had to charge the battery twice in the last three weeks of fairly heavy use - and probably could have gotten away with leaving it longer both times. I think once was at 60% and the last time the reader still had about 30% of the battery left.

The claim is that the battery will last for up to two months. I'm guessing that that's with either no use or very light use, and of course, using the light will drain the battery faster. Not what I've been giving it. Since I bought the Kobo, I've read the following books on it:
  1. Cythera, by Jo Graham
  2. Deeds of Honor by Elizabeth Moon
  3. Dies The Fire by S. M. Stirling
  4. Time Enough For Love by Robert A. Heinlein
  5. Trio of Sorcery by Mercedes Lackey
  6. Finding The Way by Mercedes Lackey 
  7. The Apocalypse Troll by David Weber
Also, about a quarter of Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, and some of Lara Adrian's first Midnight Breed novel, A Kiss of Midnight. Quite respectable for what would be more or less one battery charge I think.

The only negative comment I have is nothing to do with the physical Kobo. Instead, it is regarding the price of e-books. While some (such as many of those by Jo Graham) are still very low priced, others are the same price as the mass-market, or even trade paperback version of the book. I guess my mind is still stuck in the early days of e-books when they were marketed as a way of saving money on your book-buying. On seeing that, I generally opt to buy the paper versions these days. Still, there are times when I can't get to the bookstore, or they don't actually have the book there, so the "instant gratification" aspect of e-books comes into play.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fantasy and Science Fiction Characters Reading

Last week L.E. Modesitt wrote a post about the lack of characters reading/writing books in fantasy and science fiction novels particularly. I just read his post yesterday, so I may be late to the discussion, but I just wanted to add my own comments. I think he's got a point there, however, maybe there are more than he might guess (his guess is about 5% of fantasy and science fiction books).

Here's what I've come up with:
  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    It's alleged to be the Red Book of Westmarch, which was written by Bilbo and Frodo particularly, but also including selections from Merry's work, Herblore of the Shire (IIRC, my Tolkien books are downstairs).
  2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Bilbo's account of his adventures.
  3. The Diana Tregarde novels by Mercedes Lackey
    Not so much for books mentioned in the series, but if my memory isn't playing tricks, the main character is a romance writer.
  4. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
    The book opens with Talia reading a book, and later in the book discusses the size of her father's library in contrast to the palace library.
  5. Dies The Fire by S. M. Stirling
    Numerous Tolkien references, and also as I noted in my first review, some references to Mercedes Lackey's books and other classic fantasy and science fiction. I'm not sure though if I really should be including this one in the list as I can't recall if there's actually anyone ever reading the books in the story - as you can see, it's been a while since I've read it.
  6. Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
    There is one amusing scene in this book where one of the characters phones another one to ask her to do something, saying that she's sure said character is only reading the latest Kinley MacGregor novel - which she is. Where it gets amusing is that Kinley MacGregor is the other name that Sherrilyn Kenyon writes under.
  7. Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein
    Quite a few references to characters reading and even to specific books such as the Oz series.
  8. The Adept series by Katherine Kurtz
    I've forgotten just which book has the reference to The Temple And The Lodge - might be the third one, The Templar Treasure - but that's only one of several book references in the series.
  9. In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks
    There are a couple of scenes where Reza, the main character is discussing the benefits of reading - clearly he's a lover of books.
  10. Two Crowns For America by Katherine Kurtz
    If I'm not mistaken, there's a scene in this one where one of the characters falls asleep while reading.
  11. The Harry Potter series
    I've been reminded about the numerous references to books and reading in this series.
  12. The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
    Mercedes Lackey seems to write a lot of characters that love books, either reading or writing them. I wouldn't mind the library described in this book - but then you could say the same thing about Adam Sinclair's library in the Adept series by Katherine Kurtz.
  13. Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey
    One of the secondary characters in these two is the Herald-Chronicler Myste. While the chronicles are mentioned in some of the other books, this is the first time we see the one of the Heralds filling the position. There are a couple of reading scenes in these two books as well if my memory isn't playing tricks
  14. The Blood series by Tanya Huff
    Again, if my memory's not playing tricks, one of the main characters is an author.
  15. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
    It's been a while, but I seem to recall that the opening scenes of this book are set in a library. A series of books for kids, but overall a very good read and ties in well with her other two books in the same world: Book of Night With Moon and To Visit The Queen.
  16. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
    I'm not quite sure if the Outlander series counts as fantasy, however there is time travel in the series, as well as a ghost showing up in one scene. If it does count, you can add at least two more scenes where Jamie Fraiser is found reading - and that's just in the first two hundred or so pages of the book.
  17. Some of the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey
    Although the primary form of teaching and entertainment is through songs, there are still quite a few mentions of reading and writing - if not books, then at least music and song lyrics. Especially true of both Dragonsong and Dragonsinger IIRC - scoring music, copying lyrics and record-hides. The rediscovery of paper comes to mind as well. 
  18. The Bardic Voices books by Mercedes Lackey
    Tal Rufen in Four and Twenty Blackbirds is an avid reader, as are some of the other characters. Some of the characters in the other books are also literate, although their reading tastes seem to run more to sheet music.
  19. Books by Jordan Hawk*
  20. K. J. Charles' books*
  21. Books by Jordan Castillo Price - mentions of Stephen King's books*
  22. Barbara Hambly's books*
    The Magpie Mind books in particular, but also others.
  23. Anne Bishop's Others series*
  24. The Temeraire books by Naomi Novik*
    Dragons reading or being read to.
  25. The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey
    IIRC, there's a scene in there with Skandrannon, the title character, reading. I remember a comment about his being able to see the indentations of the pen strokes or something like that.
  26. The Soulwood series by Faith Hunter*
    Characters reading banned books.
  27. On Basilisk Station by David Weber*
    Honor Harrington can be found reading Horatio Hornblower. And other scenes where she has to interrupt her reading time.
  28. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
    Both Rand and Tam are readers - there's a shelf of books in their home, there's another shelf of books to be found in the Two Rivers inn, and there's also a brief mention of the scarcity of books.
  29. Exile's Song by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    There's a few references to explicitly lay out the fact that Darkover is mostly a pre-literate society, but about half-way through we find Margaret Alton in a small library (about 40 books), looking for something to read - as well as some space to collect her thoughts. Some musings on subject matter and reading tastes too.
Has anyone else got any titles they could add to this list?

Entries marked with an asterisk* have been contributed by others. In particular I've got to thank the Mercedes Lackey group on Facebook.


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