**UPDATE**

The “Amanda” part of The Eclectic Bookworm is up to her eyeballs with personal issues right now.  She just moved into a new house, she’s working (a lot) and its about to be summer.  And her laptop crashed.  And she doesn’t want to investigate writing posts on her smartphone.  So here is a list of books currently in queue, and hopefully by the end of May, the reviews will be up.

In no particular order:

Honor and Innocence — Against the Tides of War by Glen Thomas Hierlmeier

Guildhall Guardian — Thamesian #1 by Aidan Ladsow

Kingdoms of the Dead Book One — Chemical Rot by Ian Woodhead

Follow the Joy: A memoir by Jason Scott Kurtz

The Experiment by Cristian Alejandro Solari

Backspin:  One Player’s Journey from the U.S. to Europe and Back Again by Pete Strobl

The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul

The Tip Jar by Carol Lynn George

State of Grace by Elizabeth Davies

The London Project by Mark J. Maxwell

The Holy Mark by Gregory Alexander

The Buck Pass by T.R. Whittier

The God Particle by Daniel Danser

Sating the Preta: A Memoir about Emotional Abuse and Recovery from Complex PTSD by Lily Scot

Afflicted Dawn by Gregory Napier

A Soul’s Kiss by Debra Chapoton

If I forgot you, please send me an email and remind me.  And I just sent out a ton of emails accepting books for review this morning.

Also, I read books by mood, meaning, once I’m done with a book, I’ll glance through the ones I have accepted and if something fits my mood, I start it.  I don’t go in order of books received because then it is more like a job to me than a hobby.  I really appreciate you sharing your work with me.

Hope you are enjoying the blog, thank you for being patient.

— Amanda

The Kindle HD

Back in October, I wrote a post about the Kindle vs. Paper.  Click here to read that post.

I received my 7″ Kindle Fire HD for Christmas, thank you Daddy.

I have had two months to play with it, read on it, download books for it, so I figured it’s time to review.

Kindle Free Time -- for my daughter

Kindle Free Time — for my daughter

The first day I had my Kindle Fire HD, I was able to pick and choose which books I wanted from my archived book list to go into the carousel.  That is the running list of programs, apps and books that you can flip through with a flick of the finger.

I quickly downloaded FB, Pinterest, my bank’s app, and Skype.  I was able to Skype with my brother and grandparents in Pittsburgh on Christmas night.  That just blew my mind.  We could have been on a laptop, but the Kindle allowed me to set it up for my six year old who was showing off her loot from Santa.  The looks on the faces of my grandparents was worth the cost alone.

I occasionally have issues with FB loading, but I think that is an inherit flaw to the FB app.  But I have been able to use the Kindle like a laptop with the exception of typing, and like my Android phone.  It also uses the same “swype” keyboard that I’m used to with my Android.

The biggest change I have noticed with the Kindle Fire HD is that my daughter loves it.  I subscribe to “Kindle Free Time” which is a service that allows my daughter to read books, play games, watch videos, etc.  Its only a couple bucks a month, and it is well worth the cash.  The thing I really like about this feature is that it creates a separate user profile for her in which I can control what she has access to and how long she is playing on it.

Because she is six, I did not give her permission to the web.  At all.  There also is a separate code that needs to be typed in when she attempts to buy things online.  That soon proved to be a problem with her downloading apps without permission on my Dad’s iPad.  I can also buy books for her on Amazon and add those books to her carousel only, and I don’t have to wade through a ton of kiddie books to find what I need.

She loves it.  I mean, really loves it.  It took her no time at all to figure out how to get to the stuff she likes.  She occasionally complains about the screen time settings.  I have a 2 hour per day time limit on it, along with settings on how much time can be used on apps, and how much time can be spent on videos, reading is unlimited.

She blew my mind the other day when she figured out how to get the books to read TO her.  The words light up as they are read.  Although I like to read her books, this is just another way for her to hear the words and see the proper spellings.

My Kindle carousel

My Kindle carousel

For me, the best thing has honestly been that I can read in different fonts, colors and styles.  I no longer need a light for my Kindle because when it is in the “black” setting, the words are white and the background is black.  Not a lot of light is generated, and my husband isn’t complaining about my little LED light that I used to read at night with my older Kindle.

In addition, I can change the font size , just like on an older Kindle, but I can also change the text font.  This is of tremendous value to someone who has severe eye problems.

I have watched videos and Netflix and I have had no problems at all with buffering or it starting and stopping the video over and over again.

I have shopped on it, even for more than books, and again, no problems.

The only complaint, is that I have to charge it everyday.  I could go a week or so on my old Kindle without recharging.  But I understand that to be in full, glorious color, and to run the apps that it runs, it uses up a ton of battery.

Another issue is the fact that I can’t categorize my books.  I frequently “book hunt” and buy several books at a time, mostly self published and usually free.  On my previous model, I had several categories of books, and I would assign the new books by category so I would have a clue later on as to what I purchased.

With the Kindle Fire HD, everything is listed on the bookshelf, and they can be chosen from the “cloud” and downloaded to the device one book at a time, usually in less than a minute.  All of the books downloaded can show up in the carousel, and sometimes I have to wade through books to find one that I downloaded awhile ago, and want to read now.  I can remove the book from the carousel when I am done reading it, but with my reading habits, this isn’t really ideal.

I have also been able to put books not bought on Amazon on to my Kindle Fire HD, but it is a bit more tricky than with the old USB to device route.  I had difficulty downloading the Windows inputs needed to get it from the laptop to the Kindle Fire HD.  But I started emailing the books to my Kindle address, and they pop up, most of them are without the cover art, a few minutes later.

Because I read from Smashwords in addition to authors sending me books for review, I was glad to finally be able to figure this one out.

My Kindle now goes with me everywhere.  And even though I don’t always have internet access when I leave the house, I’m kind of glad it is not like an iPad that is tied to a data plan.  Probably saves me more money in the long run and my daughter is “forced” to read books when we aren’t home.

Overall, immensely pleased with my Kindle HD, just like I knew I would be.

Book Review: Poseidon’s Children by Michael West

Awesome cover art!

This is the latest book I have reviewed for “I read a book once”. Enjoy!

The cover art alone should warrant a good review for this book. The illustrations throughout the book help as well. But ultimately it was the “about” blurb that reeled me in (pun intended):

Man no longer worships the old gods; forgotten and forsaken, they have become nothing more than myth and legend. But all that is about to change. After the ruins of a vast, ancient civilization are discovered on the ocean floor, Coast Guard officers find a series of derelict ships drifting in the current–high-priced yachts and leaking fishing boats, all ransacked, splattered in blood, their crews missing and presumed dead.

And that’s just the beginning.

Vacationing artist Larry Neuhaus has just witnessed a gruesome shark attack, a young couple torn apart right before his eyes … at least, he thinks it was a shark. And when one of these victims turns out to be the only son of Roger Hays, the most powerful man in the country, things go from bad to worse. Now, to stop the carnage, Larry and his new-found friends must work together to unravel a mystery as old as time, and face an enemy as dark as the ocean depths.

The concept of this book is insanely imaginative. Drawing on extensive knowledge of the deep, Mr. West creates truly horrifying creatures that literally leap out of the pages. The illustrations help, but if the reader has ever seen a Discovery Channel special on the deep blue sea, then it will come in handy.
It starts like Jaws. There is something in the water. But luckily someone happened to witness the attack, and that starts the ball rolling.

The following chapters seem to introduce more and more characters in a riveting way. Many seemingly unassociated characters (marine archeologists, Coast Guard members, the Mafia) are fleshed out. As soon as the reader starts to get tired of the seemingly endless character introductions, they all begin to tie in together.

And the character development is excellent. All of the “unrelated characters” are so strongly developed so the reader will have a sense of confidence to where the plot is going toward the end of the book. The reader can literally see how one character will react with a given situation without any major unnecessary surprises.

The plot is worked out very well. No insane twists and turns, and despite the subject matter, it is actually believable.

I particularly loved the author’s description of the “transformation” that some of the characters go through.

And it is very well written. No lazy author here! The words are dramatic without being cliché. You do not get the sense that the author opened the thesaurus and started randomly picking descriptors.
Although, at least in my version, there seemed to be a few words cut off at the end of some sentences, especially when turning the page. I tried changing the size and the font (I have a Kindle HD) and this did not remedy the situation. I was still able to piece together the general gist of the sentence, however.

Overall it is a good and captivating read. I will definitely think twice before heading into any ocean. And I will NEVER swim at night.

The Zombie Bible

I love my zombie stories. I have posted about this series before, but the last book was just so incredible, I had to make another post.  You can read about my past posts on this series here.

Stant Litore is an amazing writer. The way he constructs sentences and weaves them into paragraphs is a true art form. I always appreciate great writing, and these books are incredible.

Some background info: although I grew up Catholic, I know next to nothing about the Old Testement. I have no clue who these main characters in his books are, other than “oh, I might have heard that name before”. The books take the supposition that zombies have always existed. They are a fact of life from the beginning of time.

The protagonists in his books are usually some know Biblical figure. In the first one, its the prophet Jerimiah (although he uses the Hebrew spelling). In the second its Polycarp. And in the third, its Devorah (Deborah).

The characters literally leap off of the page. They are so real and so textured that you *KNOW* these characters. You understand their struggles, understand their emotions. The reader can also watch them evolve throughout the book, as they struggle against the walking dead.

I love the relationships discussed and expounded upon in the books. The relationship between Regina and Polycarp, between Devorah and Hurriya. Jerimiah and his wife. You can literally feel their emotions. Their love for each other.

I appreciate the strong female characters, what they have endured and who they are by the end of the book. How they accomplish the impossible. How they can still move on after witnessing such gore and having those close to them devoured.

And the reader is treated to a history lesson as well. The settings for these books are so real, you can almost feel the stones in the streets of Rome on your feet. You can feel the oppressive environment in which Jerimiah finds himself. You can literally feel the heft of Devorah’s sword.

And in each is a deeper meaning to hunger and the walking dead.

There are heart pounding elements of a thriller as well. Page turning passages that you cannot put down because you cannot bear the ignorance of not knowing. The passage with Regina being carried through the streets of Rome with zombies in pursuit is so well written, the reader can feel the terror that she experiences. Tachycardia inducing, hyperventilating, abject terror.

The zombies are of the variety of the common zombie. Due to some failure, they are doomed to walk the earth in search of flesh to feed their insatiable hunger. The zombie scourge sweeps through cities, villages and settlements, nearly decimating the population. It usually falls to the main characters, who occasionally have a special gift or talent, and who understands the zombie hoard, to rid the land of the walking dead.

I wholeheartedly recommend this series to any lover of novels. Even if you have a particular aversion to this genre, try these books because they are so well written, the stories so artfully told, they deserve a wide distribution.

I can credit these books with sparking an interest of ancient characters from the Bible. In the course of writing this post, I googled some of the characters. And I spent hours just reading about about the real people on whom the characters are loosely based. That spark alone is worth the extremely reasonable price of these books (right now I think the most expensive one is $3.99 for the kindle edition).

I know Stant Litore is writing more, because he occasionally posts passages from the emerging book on his facebook page (look up “The Zombie Bible”). I can’t wait to see further works in this series. However, if you are deeply religious, you may not like Biblical figures in battle with the walking dead. I think that Litore is planning on mentioning Jesus in an upcoming novel.

Give it a shot, see if you like it. I most definitely did.

Book Review: Adulation by Elisa Lorello

I love Elisa Lorello’s books.  I read some of the reviews on amazon and I think “they just didn’t get it”.  Her books tend to look into the deeper parts of women and relationships.  Their flaws, why they are who they are today.  And not all of her characters are lovable.  Most in fact are stubborn and stuck in some sort of rut.  With this in mind, I read Adulation knowing full well what I was in for.

The basics:  Sunny is turning forty.  She is still working in the storeroom of a bookstore, she is divorced, childless, and kind of in a rut.  Her friends help her devise a “40 for 40” list of things to do in her 40th year.  One of them is “sleep with Danny Masters”.  Mr. Masters happens to be Sunny’s celebrity crush, a screenwriter who just happens to be coming to town to premiere his latest movie.  And as a gift, Sunny and her friends will be there.

Danny Masters should be on top of the world.  His latest movie is getting Oscar buzz.  He has a wonderful daughter, a girlfriend who is a movie star and he has money and good looks.  He is also in a rut.

Danny and Sunny meet outside of the premiere and it is one of those perfect moments.  Then Danny insults the audience during the Q & A session after the movie and Sunny spits his insults right back at him in the autograph line.  But what about that perfect moment?

Both of these characters can’t get past something in their life that happened years ago.  Most of the world has moved on, but they have remained still.  Much of this book is about how they move on beyond their significant events.

There are also elements of forgiveness and profound friendship.  Throw in a little romance and “just knowing” who you are meant to be with.

I enjoyed how the chapters alternated from Sunny to Danny.  I liked the glimpse into celebrity life and how it is not always what it is cracked up to be.  With most Lorello novels, she gives insight on the writing process and with this one, a peek into self publishing.

If you are looking for a light-hearted romance, this isn’t what you will get.  This is deeper, more of a commentary on relationships, how people cope with significant events and how they chose to move on.

I am a fan of Elisa Lorello and will continue to be.  I plan on posting my reviews of her other works in the near future.  I read and reviewed them on amazon prior to me starting this site.

Giving Thanks

I am extremely thankful for the printed (or electronic) word.

I have been losing myself in books since I was 7 or 8 years old.  Good novels have taken me away to far away places, taught me about other people, other cultures, other time periods.  Because of books, I kill at Trivial Pursuit.

I am thankful for good authors, those who pour their dreams into print and  share them with the world.  They produce characters that stay with readers for a lifetime.  They spin intricate tales, paint vivid settings, they use the simple word to convey emotions and report on the human condition.  Regardless of genre, it isn’t easy to sit down and start writing something from nothing, and then to make it capture the imagination of readers.  I am truly thankful that they do.

I am thankful to the good people at amazon.com for inventing the kindle.  The e-reader has revolutionized the institution of publishing and writing and has enabled authors who might not have been able to have their voice heard in a traditional setting to share their work with the world.  Through the kindle, I can store hundreds of books in a slim device, which is paramount for someone with health issues and can no longer hold up huge, lumbering tomes.  I can access a library of works, many of them for free, without leaving my bed.

I am thankful for Dr. Seuss.  He started me on this journey, and I am eternally grateful.

I am thankful to the historical authors, Stephen Ambrose, James McPherson, David McCullough, who have found away to sift through tons of musty historical records and found a way to make history interesting.  They found a way to appeal to the masses and make battles and military campaigns read like movie scripts.  Because of them, and authors like them, Americans have more respect and reverence for their veterans.  They know what was sacrificed for their freedoms.

I am thankful for the voodoo culture and to George Romero, who have brought on the current zombie craze and have provided me with hours and hours of entertainment reading about the apocalypse and impending zombie uprising.

I am thankful for sites such as bookbloggers.net that allow me to read amazing books for free in exchange for a review.  I am extremely low on funds, can barely pay for my bills, yet I can keep up my reading habit by doing something I was probably going to do anyway.

I am thankful to those of you who read this blog.  I obviously love reading, and I love being able to share it with the world.  In a perfect existence, I would get paid to do this, but I haven’t found that perfection.  Yet.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!!

 

Books I avoid like the plague

I know I said “I read all”.  And that is mostly true.  But I have found some books that I just cannot read due to issues in my personal life.  I will occasionally violate “Da Rules” for books that have been highly recommended by friends, or after I have read a ton of reviews and can satisfy myself that the component I have issue with is minimized and absolutely crucial to the plot.

In time, maybe some of these rules will relax, and I can read some of these books, but right now this is where it stands:

  1. Avoid war books about Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  I know people who have fought in these engagements and had horrible PTSD as a result.  I have tried reading books on these wars, and I could not get the image of these people out of my mind, and how they dealt with the horrors that they witnessed.  Especially Vietnam.  My dad, on the other hand, has more of these books in his collection than I do WWII in mine.  I do have a grandfather who fought in WWII, but he did not see any action.  My grandfather who was in Korea and Vietnam was wounded and still had nightmares until his recent death.  He was a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient.  He never spoke of his time in Vietnam, and I’m not sure if I wanted to hear it.  I never want to think of what he had to endure or witness, so I avoid it.  Maybe after more time has elapsed.  Iraq/Afghanistan– close friends of mine were in the initial invasion, at Fallujah and came back different people.  Its my generation fighting this war of dubious necessity, and it pains me to think of an entire generation dealing with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
  2. Death of children and disappearance of children. This rule wasn’t entirely intact until after my child was born.  I have heard from others that they were the same way as well, and apparently it crosses over to movies/tv too. I guess reading or watching anything happening to children makes you think of it happening to your own.  So I try to avoid it.  See Books that haunt me.
  3. Violence against women/sexual assault.  I’m a survivor.  I try to avoid any books that have any of these elements as a central theme.  Too many issues for me.  I made an exception for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Lovely Bones” because I was hearing so many people talking about them.  “Fifty Shades of Grey” also bordered on this with the BDSM, but I was able to either page forward and skip the details or skim with the knowledge that the participants were two consenting adults participating of their own free will.  This does eliminate most murder mysteries and serial killer books.  But that is just how it is right now and it might change in the future.
  4. I don’t do vampires.  I have read the occasional short novel (The Vampire Club by Scott Nicholson), but I don’t like vampire movies, TV shows etc.  Something about using  looks and charm to lure someone into a trusting relationship and then sucking their blood just freaks me out.  So, no, I did not read Twilight or see the movies.  Nor do I plan on doing so.  And unless it seems really compelling or I receive an iron clad recommendation from a friend that knows me well, I don’t plan on taking this rule off of my list in the near future.

Romance novels used to be on this list, but since I read “Fifty” I have read many others.  I thought they were lacking literary value and actually kind of cheesy.  Granted, they won’t win a Pulitzer, but I enjoy reading about relationships and happy endings.  See my post on romance novels.

What’s up next?  My dad has been reading about WWI, and I would like to read some about that war.  I would like to read some more memoirs (I’ll be posting about the ones I have read shortly).  And zombies.  Lots of zombies.

I usually don’t even look at the best-sellers lists at all, because I usually don’t have a budget for books. The next two books I might actually pay for are “Mercury Rests” by Rob Kroese and “Strangers in the Land — The Zombie Bible” by Stant Litore.  I have been patiently waiting for these books, but they have been released at a time when I have absolutely zero funds in my book budget.

I have so many books stored in my Kindle for these dry spells, I know I can wait it out until I can get what I want.  I love the fact that I can do that.  Yay Kindle!!

 

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