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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Fire App Recommendations: Utility Apps

Last time I did a round of recommendations for the Kindle Fire was really a focus on games.  This makes sense to me given how much fun I’m having with my own.  That said, there is a fair amount that we can get out of Amazon’s tablet besides just fooling around.  I think I’ve got a couple here that you might find interesting, especially in situations where the Kindle Fire is a household or family device rather than something for a single owner.  Let me know what you think.

The Emergency App (Kindle Fire Edition)

This is one of those interesting things that could easily pass under the radar.  It is intended, at face value, to keep you ready for any emergency.  To a certain extent, it seems like it would?

Features include:

Lights (both a basic night light and assorted signal lights)

Alarm Sounds

Emergency Phone Numbers

Emergency Contact List

Medical Information List

Guide/Lists for Emergency Situations

Links to external Emergency related web resources

Most of that doesn’t strike me as useful, especially the audio alarms and sirens given the Kindle Fire’s mediocre audio capabilities, but as a thing to have around the house I would consider this one great anyway.

Parents especially should give it a look, as the medical information list is perfect for anybody with children.  You can store any special instructions, allergy information, medication needs, etc. in a convenient place that won’t be getting lost.  It is a newer app, still in development, but at $1 it would be hard to argue against buying.

All In One Remote Pro

On the side of less tragedy-related utility, we have a neat little app that will help build your Kindle Fire into your home network in a productive way.  All in One Remote lets you hook up to a PC on the network and take control of various things as an interface device rather than remote desktop management.

Using this app, you can control pretty much anything.  It works as a remote touchpad, extra keyboard, game controller, and more with varying degrees of usefulness.  You are also able to stream music through it, which is nice.  My own experience has been that you get the most out of this app with HTPCs and presentations.  The Kindle Fire isn’t particularly well suited for use as a controller for games, but it handles general interface tasks from a couch quite well and makes it much simpler to manipulate PowerPoint presentations in any setting.

Badass Battery Monitor

Not a whole lot of description necessary here.  It is an app that will keep track of your Kindle Fire’s battery life, given you an estimate of time remaining, and let you know which apps are causing the most power drain during use.  If you are regularly finding yourself in situations where the Kindle’s battery is just barely enough between charges, this will be a useful tool.  Rather than just a percentage you can get actual time estimates, both in terms of time remaining to depletion and time remaining to reach full power while charging.  Strongly recommended.

Kindle Fire vs Kindle Touch: Deciding Which Meets Your Needs Better

Early on in the Kindle’s life, there was a lot of insistance than it couldn’t possibly succeed as a product when there was something as great as the iPad available.  As we know, these predictions of doom didn’t exactly pan out.  Dedicated eReader products were able to carve out their own market by bringing along capabilities that made them exceptional at what they did, even if that one task was somewhat narrow compared to potential competing types of products.

With the recent announcement of greater variety in the Kindle line, however, there is likely to be at least a small amount of confusion among prospective buyers.  After all, Amazon has made a great eReader line and many will want to force the Kindle Fire into that niche despite its better fit elsewhere.  While it makes sense for Amazon to want to capitalize on the popularity of the Kindle line by including the new tablet in it, it remains important for people to realize the things that the Kindle Touch will do better as a reading device.  In order to help simplify things, let’s look at some ideal uses are for each specific device.

Kindle Fire

Kindle Touch

Video Streaming Extended Reading
Internet Browsing Reading in Sunlight
Email Correspondence Audiobooks
Casual Games Textual Analysis (X-Ray)
Magazines & Comic Books Library Lending
Color Document Access

As you might expect, the actual eReader is a bit more focused on the book experience while the Kindle Fire is able to handle many tasks.  At first glance, this implies that the tablet is the more valuable tool.  For many people this may well be the case. Just as the iPad does more than the Kindle in terms of sheer feature quantity, the Fire will always come out on top in that way.  This should not be mistaken for an indication that the Kindle Touch is never the superior device, though.

No matter what advancements become possible with LCD technology, it is unlikely that these displays will be able to match the ease of use provided by the E INK Pearl.  While some will claim that they have no trouble with reading on a backlit screen, the vast majority have expressed a definite preference for something like the Kindle Touch during the long periods of reading likely to be taking place over the course of a novel.  These displays are also handle sunlight quite a bit better if that happens to be your preference while reading.

In addition to the screens, when you’re reading a book it is nice to be able to put it down and pick it up again a day or two later without worrying about charging.  The fact that Kindle eReaders last weeks to months between charges makes them feel more like read books.  The weight is also less than half that of the Kindle Fire, which while not necessarily a major issue at first will be noticeable over long periods of on-handed reading.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for the active reader will be the X-Ray feature.  Amazon promises that this will be a great aid for picking out important passages, accessing related material, and generally supplementing your reading experience.  While it is not something that we have been able to preview at this time, a system that works as well as Amazon claims X-Ray will would be an invaluable tool for many reasons.

If reading isn’t your main concern, of course, then the Kindle Fire still makes a lot of sense.  The 8 hour battery life is at the high end for similar products, the app store is one of the best, and the whole end to end experience is geared to make viewing, listening, browsing, and reading as comfortable as possible.  At $199, this is a game changing device that packs far more power and functionality than you would expect into a compact package.

To go along with the launch, Amazon has beefed up their Instant Video collection with tens of thousands of new titles including many available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers.  They have put a lot of work into making sure that streaming video runs smoothly on the new tablet, so it is safe to say the experience there will be as pleasant as possible on a 7″ screen.

I would not recommend the Kindle Fire for readers, due to screen type and battery life especially, but other than that it will be a valuable resource to just about anybody.  It’s portable, light, fairly powerful, and capable of opening just about any form of media you can think of.  While nobody is really expecting that the iPad is in any trouble from this corner at the moment, it’s hard to argue with something that does a comparable job at less than half the price with what may be an even better source of content to draw on.

Kindle 4 vs Kindle DX: Where To Find The Most Value

Ok, I’ll come right out and admit that I’m a big fan of the Kindle DX.  I know it is a bit expensive compared to the other Kindles, especially after the price drops that we have just experienced, but it does a specific task very well and shouldn’t be overlooked entirely by prospective purchasers.  Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have virtually abandoned the only good large form eReader on the market at the moment, at least as far as their advertising is concerned.

Since I do feel rather strongly that there are uses for this Kindle yet, and that many people would find it worth the money, let’s take a look at the factors that weigh your choices when looking into a new purchase.  Here are some of the more important specs that differentiate the Kindle DX against its newer siblings:

Kindle 4 Kindle Touch Kindle DX
Display 6″ E INK Pearl 6″ E INK Pearl Touchscreen 9.7″ E INK Pearl
Connectivity WiFi WiFi + Optional 3G 3G
Battery Life 1 Month 2 Months 3 Weeks
Weight 5.98 Ounces 7.5 – 7.8 Ounces 18.9 Ounces
Storage 2GB (1,400 Books) 4GB (3,000 Books) 4GB (3,500 Books)
Price $79 $99 – $149 $379

Kindle 4

Pros:

This new Kindle is the least expensive and most portable ever to hit the shelves.  It weighs less than most paperback books, for example, and will technically fit in your pocket.  Please note that for the safety of your Kindle it is not recommended that you carry your Kindle around in a pocket. The battery life, while not quite as impressive as the more expensive Kindle Touch, is still an impressive month of reading.  You can even change the language of the Kindle interface now, should you have a non-English preference.

Cons:

The Kindle 4′s inability to be purchased with 3G connectivity makes it a potentially poor choice for people without access to a reliable wireless network.  Storage is also substantially reduced, which might be an issue for people with large libraries.  This may not matter to many, however, because this Kindle also lacks the ability to play audiobooks, or indeed any form of audio.  If you like to listen to music while you read or have plans to make use of the Kindle line’s popular Text to Speech feature, this is not the right device.

Kindle Touch

Pros:

The first ever Kindle with a touchscreen, the Kindle Touch eliminates the uncomfortable keyboard that many people have often complained was simply wasted space on their eReader.  This manages to reduce the weight, allows for an easily usable localized interface, and generally speeds up navigation.  This particular Kindle also has access to the X-Ray feature, which will allow readers to highlight connected passages throughout a given book, find term repetitions, locate external references, and pull up detailed articles via Wikipedia.  So far, no other member of the product line has access to that.  You will also get the device with the highest battery life in this comparison as well as the opportunity to choose 3G coverage in addition to the included WiFi capabilities.  Unlike the Kindle 4, this eReader has audio capabilities and will be able to both play audio files or audiobooks and read texts aloud for you using the Text to Speech feature.

Cons:

While Amazon has made the Kindle Touch’s interface quite simple to use while reading, it is still completely lacking in physical page turn buttons.  This will make a small difference in how you hold the device and how often the screen needs to be cleaned.  It is also slightly more expensive than the Kindle 4, though still coming in just under the $100 mark if you make use of the cheapest options.  Aside from that, the only real downside is the highly restricted nature of the optional 3G coverage.  Unlike previous Kindles, this one will only allow users to browse the Kindle Store and Wikipedia via 3G.  Everything else is blocked off, rendering that option far less appealing.

Kindle DX

Pros:

The clearest advantage here is going to be screen size.  Having a 9.7″ screen to work with will come in very handy for just about any book.  This is especially important for people who prefer or require larger print sizes, or for the display of standard size PDF files that might be difficult to view on smaller devices.  The Kindle DX has slightly more available storage space than either of the other options, which is also useful for PDF viewing as those files tend to be far larger than Amazon’s proprietary format.  Also, this is the only device listed here that allows unrestricted 3G connectivity.  Of all products in the Kindle line, the DX is probably the best suited for internet browsing.

Cons:

The biggest downside here is weight.  The Kindle DX is clearly far too heavy for comfortable long-term reading if you prefer to hold your book in one hand.  It is better compared to a hardcover book, which has a bit more heft.  Perhaps owing to the assumption that people would not want to be reading with just one hand anyway, there are no left-side navigation controls.  This can make the device hard to use, especially for lefties.  The firmware for the DX is also lagging a bit behind and shows no signs of pending improvements, so what you have now is probably all you’re going to get.  Finally, obviously, is the price.  At nearly four times the cost of the Kindle Touch, the DX will only be worthwhile if its larger screen provides you with something you find truly valuable.

Recommendations

Kindle 4: Perfect as a paperback replacement for the regular reader.  The stripped down model provides a cheap enjoyable reading experience.

Kindle Touch: Great for active readers.  By far the best option if you like to highlight, annotate, and examine your reading material closely.

Kindle DX: The larger screen makes this desirable for people preferring large print, anybody carrying around loads of PDF files, students, and those with a strong preference for the hardcover feel of a book.

Kindle Book Recommendations: Classics

One of the biggest advantages of something like a Kindle is supposed to be the amazing savings that one can expect from owning such a device.  Books should be cheaper, according to the vision that many had of what eReading was going to be.  Obviously we have not quite realized that dream, with publishers keeping eBooks at prices similar to hardcover books, but all is not lost!  There are hundreds of authors releasing free or nearly free books every day through the Kindle Direct Publishing system.  So many, in fact, that it is all but impossible to even keep up with a list, let alone read them all. There are plenty of established successes to draw on even now, though, while I try to come up with a decent list of newer authors to pass along to you.  (I would welcome suggestions at m@blogkindle.com)

The often overlooked, or at least undervalued, source of cheap literature is older titles that have fallen out of copyright.  Sometimes they’ve fallen very far out of copyright.  For a while, it was pretty obnoxious to even try looking through these books in the Kindle Store since anybody who felt like going through the effort could post their own copy in hopes of making a few dollars.  In the past several months they have made a major effort to clean things up and remove duplicate copies.  It’s a mixed blessing since some of the approved ones remaining seem to be bad OCR copies rather than something a person has actually looked over, but suddenly it is a lot easier to find interesting things to read.

Now, a lot of people definitely seem to think that the so-called ‘classics’ are by definition dry and hard to get through.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend Bleak House to a Harlequin fan, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of perfectly approachable titles out there to take a look at.  Here’s a few that I hope you’ll find enjoyable.  Not all are free, mainly in cases where free copies were poorly formatted to the point of being hard to read, but all are under $3.

She by H. Rider Haggard

You’ve got an ancient family mystery dating back thousands of years, a secret society hidden in the heart of the unknown, supernatural powers, and near immortality.  This would be an amazing movie, if only the reaction to certain scenes involving the treatment of death wouldn’t be so extreme.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Everybody knows the broad outlines of the story, from movies if nothing else, but you miss a lot without reading the book.  Some of the most hilariously flawed ‘heroes’ that you are ever likely to read about.  You may be surprised by how off base your expectations are, if you’ve never read it before

Sherlock Holmes Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle

Another selection that a surprising number of people have never given a chance to.  This particular collection contains all four of the novels and 46 short stories, which I believe make up the whole out-of-copyright collection.  It’s been said that what fascinates people about Holmes is not the process he uses, but how much fun it is to watch him do it.  Give it a try for yourself.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

This book is a great suspense/mystery book with just a little bit of the fantastic thrown in.  It is really a fun time overall and has quite possibly the best villain ever(who was, coincidentally, modeled physically on the author himself according to many accounts!)  This one would be worth it for that character alone.

Kindle Book Recommendations: Fantasy

I haven’t had a chance to write down any interesting book recommendations for Kindle fans in a while now, but I figure that since I have a decent list piling up it might be time to share.  It’s been an enjoyable couple months of reading and I’ve got several more modern fantasy offerings that I hope you will enjoy.  I did.  They aren’t the cheapest books I could find, but they are definitely worth the asking price.

Kraken – China Miéville

This is really one of the best books I’ve read all year, even if it isn’t necessarily the best thing ever written by the author.  It is a decently complex fantasy mystery set in a London strangely reminiscent of that in Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  It’s a world of cults, secrecy, underworld politics, and strange powers.  On top of that, there is a magically missing giant squid which seems to be at the heart of a plot that could end the world forever.

I’m honestly a little confused about the mixed reception that Kraken has gotten so far.  It is averaging 3 Stars overall in the Kindle Store, but deserves more.  It worked in most ways, but some people may find it a bit off-putting from what I’m told.  While it might not be for everybody, if you think you would enjoy a complex story that forces you to understand the protagonist’s state of mind during unexpected culture shock then I’d say give it a go.

The Kindle Edition is $11.99

Something From the Nightside – Simon Green

This is the first in a fairly substantial series by Green.  It’s a quick, fun read that I can’t describe much better than Pulp Detective Fiction meets Moorcock’s Multiverse.  The main character is a professional detective with no actual detecting skill besides a “gift” that lets him find anything magically.  The fact that it manages to be a fun read is proof of the concept that it can be more interesting to watch a mystery being solved than to understand the process by which it is solved.

In a lot of ways, this reads like the author’s personal homage to all the things he loves in literature.  You’ll catch references, both overt and subtle, to the existence of things taken from dozens of different major genre works you might have read.  After something as dense and complex as Kraken, it makes a great fun diversion.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

This is sort of a harsh take on Harry Potter with a bunch of CS Lewis thrown in for good measure.  Basically, Magic is real and people learn to use it at secret schools where only the best of the best can get in and learn to manipulate the world to their liking.

Unlike many books with similar concepts, this isn’t an uplifting story of wish fulfillment and overcoming adversity.  The characters are undeniably human and manage to overcome the sort of “nerdy teenager gains superpowers” cliche that you might expect at first.  I found it to be a genuinely interesting, and occasionally troubling, look at what it really means to be offered everything you ever thought you wanted. The outline of the story is familiar, but the execution is beyond excellent.

The Kindle Edition is $12.99

Kindle Book Recommendations: Children’s Books

Oddly enough, one of the prerequisites for blogging about the Kindle isn’t a strong rapport with young people.  I’ll admit right off the bat that I don’t know much about kids.  They’re small and high pitched and seem to enjoy climbing on things?  The few I know also seem to really like dogs.  We have that in common!  Anyway, while my practical knowledge of children is lacking I have been encouraged recently, in light of the Harry Potter eBook possibility, to look into some of the children’s lit that is available for the Kindle.  It turns out there is a fair selection out there.

The Giver – Lois Lowry

Chances are good you’ll recognize this one.  The Giver is a classic, after all.  It’s a story about a seemingly “perfect” society where everything is carefully controlled.  Population is limited, careers are carefully selected well in advance for children, there is no crime, no drama, and neither old age nor imperfection have any real place in it.  Naturally this isn’t quite the paradise it seems at a glance.

It’s a simple but powerful book that many people definitely remember fondly with good reason.  Addresses social issues, quite well in an engrossing kind of way that surely fits the educational requirement many parents have for their kids’ reading.

The Kindle Edition is $6.64

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

I was actually rather shocked to find out that this book/series was for children, given all the adults I heard raving about it.  The premise is a cross between Death Race, Battle Royale, and the Survivor Reality TV show.  While it is a bit violent, I’d say it’s definitely less shocking than your average PG-13 movie, so I doubt there will be many parental concerns overall.

The response to this book, the first in a trilogy, has been overwhelmingly positive in pretty much every age group.  The characters are strong and believable.  The plot deals with interesting, if not entirely original social issues.  There’s really nothing at all that I could find to complain about.

The Kindle Edition is $5.00

The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan

This is the first book in the second series that Riordan has come up with so far.  The first, the Percy Jackson series, you’ve probably heard of because of the movie that came out of it if nothing else. This series is based on a similar concept, but focused on Egyptian mythology rather than Greek.  The story is presented through the eyes of a brother and sister in the frame of a transcript of the story.  It works to provide a fairly unique multi-view perspective as he switches between the siblings, and allows for some variation in the narrative voice that keeps it interesting.

There is a lot more information presented in this book than in the Percy Jackson series.  It is definitely bigger on educating the reader.  This could be because Riordan simply thought it was more interesting to talk about or because he assumed that there was a greater familiarity that you could assume when dealing with Greek mythology, but either way it fits.

The Kindle Edition is $9.39

Kindle Book Recommendations: Romance

The theme of the day is Romance books for the Kindle!  Specifically, romance books revolving around crazy supernatural types of things.  I understand that’s the big thing these days, after all, and I had to narrow it down somewhere.  Can you imagine trying to pick three unique Harlequin Romances to throw up?  Anyway, being fairly new to the genre I’ve gone with a couple of what I understand are fairly big names. This was a surprisingly fun list to go through, though, and I heartily recommend a browse even to people who aren’t normally wild about this particular theme in their reading.  I’m leaving out Hocking on purpose, since she seems to fit better into a niche for younger readers.

Halfway to the Grave – Jeaniene Frost

Catherine Crawfield has very simple ambitions in life: working hard in her grandparents’ cherry orchard, trying to keep her mother from diving into the bottle one more time, and trying to kill the undead monster that fathered her. This is the first book in a series that seems more than a little clichéd at first, but build up enough momentum as the plot and relationships develop to be worth sticking it out for.

While I can’t say anything about the later books in the series, you can tell that there’s potential and the writing is definitely good enough to make it tempting to keep on going with it.  If nothing else, this doesn’t seem like something that’s heading downhill.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

Shadow Game – Christine Feehan

When Dr. Whitney, the scientist in charge of the experiment he volunteered for, goes missing, Captain Ryland Miller finds himself in a high security mansion with Lily Whitney where he begins to think that maybe the psychic powers brought on by this experiment aren’t his only concern.

The plot is thin.  There’s no denying that.  The flamboyant characterizations serve as a decent way to offset that, though. The real redeeming aspect, for me at least, was the amazing sense that the author knows exactly how far-fetched the scenarios she has come up with really are and is choosing to go with it anyway.  There are some real stretches and no small number of amazingly overextended metaphors.  This was a blast for me, if perhaps not in the same way that I would imagine some fans would prefer for it to have been.  Not at all an intended insult to the author.  This was pure fun if you can avoid taking it too seriously.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K. Hamilton

It’s my understanding that there’s some controversy over this author.  Looking through the list of her works, it definitely seems she’s gone a bit downhill over the years.  That said, she apparently started out well.  This one is the first book in an ongoing series set in what is now an almost cliched world of human/supernatural coexistence.  Looking back, it seems to me that she got in on that early enough that it’s excusable.

The writing is strong, the plot is fairly compelling, and the characters are believable if not necessarily deep.  What surprised me here was the lack of emphasis on graphic scenes, given what I’d heard about the series.  Overall, definitely something I would recommend even to those who aren’t romance fans.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

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With this one, I’ve come to the end of my easily categorizable list of recommendations from readers.  Feel free to send along some more to spread the word to fellow Kindle book lovers by emailing me!

Kindle Book Recommendations: Health

While presenting these recommendations, I’ve gotten a lot of responses about non-literary Kindle books.  Admittedly, I’ve questioned throwing anything like that up here, but I figure that since people are sending me links it’s likely that at least some of you would be interested!  Today, we have some self-help style books that claim to offer advise on just generally feeling better through basic, cheap methods.  Now, unless we’re talking about a bear who just looooves picnic baskets, my experiences with things like yogis are limited at best.  In order to bring the best input possible, I consulted somebody who knows a bit more.  Here’s what we came up with.

How To Meditate: A Step-by Step Guide to the Art and Science of Meditation

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you can’t really go wrong with an informative title that costs as little as this.  The attraction of this particular title stems from the treatment.  It is informative without preaching or attempting to do much in the way of selling readers on a personal philosophy.  It’s also quite focused, which seems unusual for such a book.  Novak presents easily understood instructions on body positioning, breathing patterns, and all that fun stuff, all with accompanying illustration for those who might need it (though these illustrations don’t look quite as good on the Kindle as on paper). Even if you don’t buy into the underlying philosophy, I think it’s probably useful as a general relaxation technique, and who couldn’t use something like that these days?

The Kindle Edition is $4.00

Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing

There is no shortage when it comes to yoga books.  Most of them toss out a variety of poses, name them, and leave it at that.  Probably useful for some people, but a more instructive approach is nice.  This one instructs and accounts for a variety of different fitness levels.  Great for anybody who doesn’t know what they’re doing so far.  The author also spends a lot of time on, as the title implies, medical applications of yoga.  While some of the claims seem a little stretched to me personally, I’m don’t feel that my background is sufficient to judge medical matters.  If that’s your thing, check it out and maybe learn something.  Even if you don’t, it’s easy to take this as a low-impact fitness guide that just about anybody can handle in comfort. The portability of the Kindle is a plus compared to the often-bulky yoga books that many people will be used to as well.

The Kindle Edition is $15.99

the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time

It’s no secret that overeating is a big deal for a lot of people.  It’s a lot easier to get into bad habits than it is to break them.  This book seems to have a somewhat different approach than the usual Diet + Willpower equation that fails people so regularly.  The author promotes awareness of the situations that cause you to eat, thinking about what brings on cravings, and knowing how to avoid things like habitual or depressed eating.  Admittedly, some of the advice is a bit intuitive and seems weird to have to be elaborated, but bringing this sort of thing out into the open might help you out if you’ve had to deal with failed diets a time or two in the past or just want to improve on some bad habits.

The Kindle Edition is $9.99

Kindle Book Recommendations: Fantasy

Today I’ve got some fantasy novels for you that you may or may not have heard of.  I figure that at this point it would be a little silly to be throwing out the Lord of the Rings Trilogy or something like that, so I was aiming for Kindle Edition authors that caught me by surprise.  As always, you may be more in touch with the current state of this particular genre than I am and therefore see these as old news!  In that case, feel free to let me know what else to look into for next time.

I suppose if you wanted to, you could call the focus here non-Tolkienesque Fantasy.  There’re so many varieties these days, after all, and the elves and dwarves sometimes get a little overdone.  Also, random thought, but has anybody else noticed that these books tend to come in threes?

The Way of Shadows – Brent Weeks

This is the first book in a trilogy focusing on the not-uncommon theme of a down and out kid with nothing special about him to begin with growing into the role of a hero.  Pretty much, at least.  What makes this stand out above that almost cliched theme is the amazingly accessible writing and compelling characters.  While the world building is somewhat forced at times, leaving you to wish that Weeks had dialed it back and concentrate on his main characters, in general it’s hard not to sympathize with the situations of the protagonist as he moves deeper into the physically and morally demanding life that he has chosen for himself.

While this first book touches on issues of a vague “talent” that goes beyond human abilities, future books in the trilogy elaborate on the concept  of magic significantly and bring it to the front of the conflicts.  For some this will be a good thing, for others a deal-breaker.  Just putting it out there.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

Mistborn – Brian Sanderson

Picture a world in the aftermath of a typical epic fantasy struggle, except this time the bad guys won. While Sanderson has gotten loads of press for being chosen as the one to pick up the pieces of Robert Jordan’s epic following the author’s passing, before that he had already created his own amazing trilogy.

While many will note that the characterizations are a little flat, with the main characters basically being defined almost solely by their specific magical “attribute”, the work as a whole is compelling.  The world itself becomes a character of sorts, and Sanderson actually manages to make the evil emperor menacing after giving him the ridiculous name of “Lord Ruler”!  The exposition is a little heavy, but this is a real page turner with nothing I can think of to say against it that would weigh against the fun you’ll have reading it and it only gets better as you move further into the trilogy.

The Kindle Edition is $7.99

His Majesty’s Dragon – Naomi Novik

The first book in what I understand was originally intended to be a trilogy about an alternate history of the world wherein dragons are a reality of everyday life.  Novik demonstrates an impressive sense of the Napoleonic Wars and provides readers with characters that are both completely believable within their specific niches and able to demonstrate a certain larger than life character.

The basics that you should know going into things are that dragons are real, fairly intelligent, and domesticated enough to make aerial warfare a possibility earlier than it really could have been.  The main character captures a rare egg and is forced to give up a life in the navy to care for it, whether he’s happy about it or not. This was actually one of the first books I grabbed when I switched over to the Kindle and I have gone back to it more than once.

The Kindle Edition is $6.99

Kindle Book Recommendations: Science Fiction Staples

This shouldn’t come across as much of a surprise to anybody, given my admitted love of high tech reading and the tools associated with it, but I’m a fan of the SF genre.  Yeah, I know, I’m playing to a stereotype by implying you can make the assumption there, but I don’t care. Now, having made that declaration, on to the Kindle-related stuff.  That’s what we’re here for, right?  Here are a few things I’ve picked up recently on my Kindle that I can honestly suggest you also grab when you get a chance.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

This one won’t come as a surprise for many people.  From what I know, it’s one of the most popular Science Fiction titles ever written.  I finally picked it up, with high hopes after having loved Cryptonomicon for years, and I was not disappointed.

Without giving too much away, it’s an adventure in a dystopic America in the near future after the collapse of the dollar, and the government with it.  You’ve got sword fights, social commentary, impressively nuts religious leaders, an intriguing early view of the potential embodied by the internet as a stage for social interaction, and much more.  Most of all, it’s one of those books that you have so much fun reading that you lose track of time.  To me, that’s the best mark of a great title.  Did I mention that it’s got a main character named “Hiro Protagonist”?

The Kindle Edition is $8.10

Dune – Frank Herbert

You’ve heard of Dune.  Ok, I can’t be 100% sure of that, but let’s face it…you’re heard of Dune.  Between the movie of the same name, the mini-series, and the countless sequels (both those made by the original Herbert and the many horrible new ones his son keeps coming up with), it would be more than a little surprising for somebody to have never at least heard the name.

How many people have read it recently, though, if they ever have at all?  This is a genuinely great SF novel that has held up perfectly.  Besides the story being genuinely interesting in its own right, it’s good food for thought.  On the one hand, I can’t really think of much I could say that isn’t right on the Amazon page without giving away details.  On the other hand, I couldn’t describe it in ten times as much space as I have to work with.  Really, if you like good serious SF reads, grab it.  Heck, even if you’ve read it before, I’ll bet it’s been a while!  Give it another go.

The Kindle Edition is $15.99

You know, I have more that I want to recommend here that I don’t have anything I can usefully say beyond “Here, check these out!”  For the most part they’re so enmeshed in the genre that there’s nothing I could add productively to the discussion anyway.

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card Kindle Edition: $5.99

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams Kindle Edition: $9.99

Hyperion – Dan Simmons Kindle Edition: $6.39

Really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course.  I hope you all enjoy as much as I do and have.  As always, feel free to send me suggestions for future recommendations.  That’s where this idea came from and it’s always a good time.  It’s times like these, going through what I consider some of the basic components of my library that I most love having made the move to the Kindle.  Never have to worry about finding that paperback you put down ten years ago and haven’t seen since!

Kindle Book Recommendations: Biography

One of the more interesting types of literature for many people is, in my experience, the biography.  Fortunately the Kindle library has plenty of ways to accommodate this interest.  While my taste tends more toward literary figures and such, one of the most popular areas to look at in today’s politically charged social environment is to look back through the historical political biography.  There’s also obviously always a bit of an urge to understand what drove the people who inspire us.  Here’s a few that I hope you might find interesting.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

Theodore Roosevelt is a figure of fairly mythic proportions in American History.  He was a larger than life figure, practically a legend in his own lifetime, who struggled with problems that we can recognize today with no great amount of difficulty. He worked to combat corporate greed, terrorism, and environmental irresponsibility while making huge progress toward human rights reform and economic expansion. He’s also the guy we have to think for the national park system, if I remember correctly.

I’ll cop to not having read through this one all the way yet, though I did pick up a copy based on great reviews and a good reputation.  If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Teddy Roosevelt, this seems a good bet.  I’d say it’s well worth it.  It’s insane that anybody actually managed to live a life like his.

The Kindle Edition is $9.90

Last Words – George Carlin & Tony Hendra

This is the autobiography(or sort-a-biography) of George Carlin.  I’m going to make the assumption that you know who that is, because it would make me sad if you didn’t. I can’t even begin to say how much of an influence Carlin was on me, and I know I’m not alone in that, so it’s really amazing to get some insight into what made him the man he was.  This isn’t a humor book like his other writings, though there are laughs to be had, but I simply can’t recommend it enough.

It’s rare that anybody can be such a public figure, with so many admitted faults, and still have such amazing personal integrity.  He made it through family trouble, drug addiction, and a number of other problems without descending into the hypocrisy he loathed.  Maybe you wouldn’t like it if you weren’t a fan, I’m not sure, but it is at least worth a look.

The Kindle Edition is $9.99

The Autobiography of Mark Twain: Vol 1 – Mark Twain

Everybody knows who Mark Twain was.  The funny thing is that he knew they would for a long time to come well before he died.  This is the first volume of three, the next of which won’t be released for another 25 years.  It’s a fun read, if a little bit self-serving at times.  This is one place where the Kindle edition really stands out for making a heavily annotated edition easier to read.  All the footnotes, author’s notes, original dictation transcription, etc are hyperlinked to the relevant section of the main text.  Normally, Kindle books make flipping back and forth to reference things a pain, but this time it’s done right.  If you’ve ever been curious about the author we all grew up reading and hearing about, this book provides a lot of answers.

The Kindle Edition is $9.79

Let The Book Seer Choose Your Next Book

bookseer

Have you already gone through everything on your Kindle?  Don’t know how to fill up that 2 gigabytes (or the whopping 4 on DX)?  Let The Book Seer come to the rescue!

The Book Seer is really just a combination of several recommendation engines, including Amazon’s.  Sure, you could just let Amazon give you their recommendations, but you would lose out on the dramatic presentation and woodcut graphics.  Plus, the Book Seer gives you a lot more results than just Amazon’s suggestions alone.  It’s also kind of interesting to see how Amazon’s recommendation algorithm compares to the others.

At the very least, The Book Seer will provide you with a time waster for a couple minutes.