Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Wish This Book Were Electronic

I have an eReader, but that doesn't mean I don't still read old-style books. I went to my Public Library today and brought home three new titles. I decided which one to start reading, and when I opened it I thought, 'Wow, I wish this were on the eReader.' Two things that really struck me: 1) the traces of perfume wafting from the pages; 2) the print is very, very small. I know at the library they wipe down the books when they're returned, but that doesn't reduce the smells from someone else's house, and it's especially bad if the previous reader were a smoker. Once, I actually sprayed a book with a fabric freshener in order to get rid of the awful smell. 

In this book I started reading today, the font was nice, but it was very small.  Similar to this little print. The book is 303 pages long, and if a more usual font for print books had been used, the book would probably be closer to 400 pages.

So if I had this book on an eReader, there would have been no residual smells, and I could have enlarged the font to be more comfortable to read. As it is, I'm using a ruler to scroll down so I don't lose my place with this tiny print.

Recent studies have been done about people's preferences of old-style books to electronic books. Most often, I just want to read, and I don't take the format into consideration. But this is one time I would've preferred an electronic version. As I leaf through the pages, the perfume smell is dissipating. I will squint at the small type and slide my ruler down the text, because in the first 10 pages I found this very interesting. I'm pretty sure I will finish this book, and if I don't it won't be because of the limitations of the physical book.

Monday, January 20, 2014

ISP Overload

I'm a little behind on the posts, not just because I haven't written that much, but because I'm having a usage problem with my Internet service provider. It's my own fault, I just absolutely had to watch a Manchester United game a few weeks ago, and it wasn't on TV. So I went into NBC's Live Extra and watched it online. Wow! Those online minutes really ate up my usage. The new contract or whatever they call it didn't start until 19 January. I've been stingy with my online work until that time.

The aggravating thing is that I thought I had unlimited Internet usage. When I bought my first Internet modem connection, the contract had unlimited usage. When I upgraded that USB modem to a MIFI (I guess that tells you I'm with Verizon), I still had unlimited usage. This spring, when I upgraded again to the 4GLte Jet Pack unit, the consultant at the Verizon store said my usage wouldn't change. But obviously it has.

I need to go down there with the old Wi-Fi and the new Jet Pack and see if they can check about the usage I'm allowed. I don't like the thoughts of having to do this--don't do well in confrontations. Of course, this is only the second time I've had emails and text messages telling me I was running out of GB. The other time was this spring when I downloaded a trial of LightRoom. A huge file, as most Adobe products are. I used it several times and decided I didn't want it, but that didn't put gigabytes back into my system. Maybe I just need to be more frugal.

I think I'm trying to talk myself out of going to Verizon and asking them about it. That's pretty pathetic.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Other Tree - Review

The Other Tree
© 2013 D.K. Mok
ISBN13: 9781939392725
Spence City

The publisher sent me the download of this book through NetGalley.
D.K. Mok's The Other Tree is a quest novel that follows the predictable format of someone out to find something that seems to be impossible to find. The main protagonist Chris Arlin , is a cryptobotanist, which gives her an academic interest in finding "the other tree." What is this other tree? Well, most folks are familiar with the tree in the Garden of Eden that produce the apple that sent man into exile from paradise. But there is another tree; the tree of life that has fruit that can give immortality. This tree is thought to still be in Eden--if Eden can be found.

Chris has another interest in finding this other tree. It seems her father is dying of cancer, and she hopes that by finding this tree something can be produced that would help keep him and others like him alive. The mega-million dollar company SinaCorp is also looking for the tree. In fact, Chris's mother had been on the SinaCorp team Eden One, and had died during the quest. Chris blames SinaCorp for her death, and dislikes the materialistic posture SinaCorp presents. Although Chris is approached to join SinaCorp's Eden Two, she refuses.

So now we have the race between the evil SinaCorp, and the altruistic Chris. Chris solicits the help of Luke, a disgruntled priest (whose was named not for the biblical Luke, but for Luke Skywalker). In the manner of most quest stories, Chris and Luke travel to different continents, suffer through a variety of adverse environments, and must get out of perilous situations by ingenious methods. Chris's cryptobotanist background often helps them avoid calamity.

The many characters in The Other Tree include the highly-skilled and deadly SinaCorp people; their single-minded, heartless leader, Marrick; a group of militants who want to stop anyone from finding Eden; and a plethora of subsidiaries who keep the story moving. Most of them are very well drawn, with crisp dialogue. The action is nonstop.

There are a few tongue-in-cheek occurrences, such as Chris being asked for car keys at the end of the book, which she miraculously still has after being chased, nearly burned alive, and tossed around in various horrible manners; but she has the keys. The few attempts at philosophic contemplation are a bit sophomoric, but The Other Tree is well written and moves along briskly. A decent addition to this genre.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bad Glass - Review

Bad Glass
© 2012 Richard E. Gropp
isbn13: 9780345533937
Del Rey

I borrowed the eBook version from my Public Library's online Overdrive system.

I like this book. I didn't like the characters too much. But that isn't a criterion of mine in order to like a book. Bad Glass is well written, with dynamic characters that sustain throughout the story. The landscape is vivid and believable, even when events and circumstances are very unusual. I like speculative fiction that makes me think and wonder, and keeps me curious about what is going to happen. Gropp's Bad Glass certainly did this.

Dean Walker, the first-person narrator, is a young man who professes to be looking for a way to make his mark in the world. He is a photographer and he goes to Spokane with the hopes of getting exceptional photos that will stamp his name on the profession of photojournalism. Spokane has been off the maps for several months before the Dean gets there. Strange occurrences are going on in the city, and no one has been able to explain what or why. The military are there; they have cordoned off the entire area, not allowing anyone in or out. Dean must sneak into the city, and once there he observes very odd occurrences that he cannot explain. The city is in chaos--a sublime chaos, actually. Dean is robbed of his supplies but rescued by the lovely Taylor. Dean is intrigued with her and readily accepts her invitation to stay at a large house with her and several other people. Bolstered with booze, pot and eventually prescription drugs, Dean attempts to become closer with Taylor while he continues to take photographs he can smuggle out to Internet forums.

Spokane seems to be in an alternate reality. All of the subordinate characters are richly drawn and believable. I was curious about each of them, and wanted to know how they would fare under the odd circumstances. Dean's view of what is happening is not reliable because of the drugs he's been taking; even he admits this at several points. Nonetheless he has photographs which seem to substantiate the curious state of affairs in Spokane. The ending was intriguing, and even after reading the cryptic last chapter, I still had doubts about what had happened.

But this is what made me like the book. I'm still thinking about it, several days after finishing. And I know in a few months when I go back and see the title, I will remember the book quite vividly.

This title was a Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Superior Achievement in a First Novel (2012)