Thursday, 21 April 2011

BOOK NEWS: Kindle readers can now borrow ebooks from libraries in the US


Amazon has sanctioned the use of its e-reader – complete with note-taking facility – for ebook library loans in the US
Kindle
Kindle users in the US, like these Massachusetts book club members, can now borrow ebooks from public libraries. Photograph: Mary Knox Merrill/Getty
Scribbling in the margins of library books will soon be permitted, after Amazon.com announced yesterday that it would allow Kindle users to borrow ebooks from more than 11,000 American libraries.
The deal follows similar agreements from the Kindle's rivals, the Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble's Nook, and will enable Kindle users to check out and read ebooks from their local libraries. "We're doing a little something extra here," said Jay Marine, director of Amazon Kindle. "Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them."
The move was welcomed by American librarians. "Anyone who works with the public has encountered the discouragement people feel when you have to tell them that Amazon does not allow library ebooks on the Kindle," blogged librarian Bobbi L Newman, a manager at the Richland County Public Library in Columbia SC. "It's SO exciting to see that Kindle users will now have access to library ebooks (especially when we know that library books usage actually drives sales up). Plus that note-taking ability they mentioned is a big reason I bought my Kindle! Very excited to see it on library books."
Roberta A Stevens, the president of the American Library Association,told the New York Times that Amazon's move into library lending was "all but inevitable". "I can't say that I'm surprised," she said. "They were just shutting off a whole part of the marketplace. It's just logical that this would happen."
recent report from the American Library Association revealed research showing that 72% of public libraries offer ebooks and 5% of American adults own an ebook reader. The ALA said that ebooks account for only a small percentage of borrowed items from most libraries, but they are the fastest-growing segment: the Chicago Public Library, it said, doubled its circulation of ebooks from 17,000 in 2009 to more than 36,000 in 2010.
Librarians are currently grappling with an announcement last month from HarperCollins stating that the publisher will not allow any single copy of one of its ebooks to be checked out from a library more than 26 times. The ALA said that librarians fear other publishers could adopt a similar model. "When we purchase a print copy, we get to keep it for as long as we want," said Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. "It may eventually wear out or not circulate, but that's our choice."
The Kindle Library Lending programme launches later this year, but Amazon.com did not give a precise date.

Taken from guardian.co.uk

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Book Review: MR CHARTWELL BY REBECCA HUNT

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Published by:  Fig Tree (Penguin Books)  Oct 2010
Pages:  224  (Hardback)
My Rating:  6/10

About the Book:

It's July 1964.
In bed at home in Kent, Winston Churchill is waking up. There's a visitor in the room, someone he hasn't seen for a while, a dark, mute bulk, watching him with tortured concentration. It's Mr Chartwell.
In her terraced house in Battersea, Esther Hammerhans, young, vulnerable and alone, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress. It's Mr Chartwell.
Mr Chartwell is a huge, black dog.
He is charismatic and dangerously seductive - as their lives are slowly drawn together, can Esther and Winston Churchill withstand his strange, powerful charms and strong hold?
In this utterly original, moving, funny and exuberant novel, Rebecca Hunt explores how two unlikely lives collide as Mr Chartwell's motives are revealed to be far darker and deeper than they seem.

Esther Hammerhans is a wispy, slim library clerk who works at Westminster Palace ….. Sir Winston Churchill is just about to retire from politics after 60 years …. at first glance they seem to have absolutely nothing in common, until the day Mr Chartwell enters Esther’s life and they begin to share this huge black dog as he divides his time between them.

She had been lonely --

For a long time the weeks of her life had drifted past as ghosts.  There was the rare bump of pleasure, perhaps from a meal out our a visit to the cinema, but it was brittle and shattered under the lonely monotony of the ghost days.  But now the singular Mr Chartwell was here, ransacking her forlorn routine.  It was a tonic of acid vibrancy and nerves.

Of course, what we realise that what they both have in common is depression. Churchill had been plagued by his ‘black dog’ for years but Esther was new to it all, and while she cautiously welcomes this intrusion into her sad life, he hates Mr Chartwell and wants him to leave him alone.  But will he?

Rebecca Hunt has taken the serious subject of depression and shown how it can affect different people in different ways, whoever they are.  The writing is very lively and, sometimes, entertaining.  Although I didn’t warm to Esther (she was too indecisive), I did like her friend, Beth, who tried to help her through her distress with some witty lines.

I don’t think this was really my type of book, I found it quite uncomfortable and weird the thought of a speaking dog.  It just didn’t feel right to me, I just couldn't imagine this big black dog walking around and lying on the bed chatting away! I do applaud Rebecca Hunt for her originality and boldness in writing about this sad subject.

A very original and clever story told in a slight off-beat way. Maybe it was just too off-beat for me!

Read the first pages of Mr Chartwell by downloading the Penguin taster here

You can read an interview with Rebecca Hunt talking about Mr Chartwell here

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Book Review: SHADES OF GREEN BY RHONDA PARRISH

Genre: Fantasy/SF
Published by: Sam's Dot Bookstore
Pages: 58 on my eReader
My Rating: 8/10

About the book:

Z’thandra, the last swamp elf in Aphanasia, lives with the Reptar, a fierce race of lizard-people, most of whom resent her presence and want her gone from their village. When she discovers a human in the swamp and falls in love with him she must face the most difficult decision of her life. Will she pursue a life of happiness with the man she loves and in doing so condemn the Reptar to extinction, or will she chose to sacrifice her future to offer them hope? In the end the choice she makes will affect the Reptar for generations.


Every once in a while I come across a book that is an unexpected pleasure and this short novelette by Rhonda Parrish is just such a book.

From the first page, where we are introduced to Z’thandra, the only survivor from a village ravaged by fever, to the surprising ending I found it very engaging and enjoyable.

The writing was descriptive and flowing, I could picture it very clearly, the characters were believable and the plot was very original.  I read it over two nights, which is pretty good for me!

As it is such a short book we are not given the back stories to the characters, nor do we find out why Z’thandra was the only survivor, in fact there are quite a few questions unanswered at the end.  Maybe if it was turned into a longer book the author could expand on those details.

A nice quick and easy read for fantasy fans, if you’re looking for something short with a storyline that’s not too predictable please give this a try.

It is available from Sam’s Dot Bookstore.

To read more about the author Rhonda Parrish please click here.

I received this eBook from the author for review.


Monday, 11 April 2011

SOME NEW BOOKS COMING OUT SOON

I have picked out just a small selection of the new books to be published in the UK in May 2011


Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11) by Charlaine Harris
Published:  3 May 2011
With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot-which is much more complicated than she knows...
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King’s Gold (Medieval West Country Mystery, Book 30) by Michael Jecks
Published:  26 May 2011 - UK …... 1 Aug 2011 - USA

As the year 1326 draws to a close, London is in flames. King Edward II is a prisoner, and the forces of his vengeful queen, Isabella, and her lover Sir Roger Mortimer, are in the ascendant. The Bardi family, bankers who have funded the King, must look to their future with the Queen, steering a careful course between rival factions - if, that is, they can keep themselves alive. Others, too, find their loyalties torn. Guarding the deposed King on behalf of Mortimer, Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and bailiff Simon Puttock find themselves entangled in a tightening net of conspiracy, greed, betrayal and murder.

For more on Michael Jecks his website is here

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Carte Blanche (James Bond) by Jeffery Deaver
Published:  26 May 2011 - UK …..... 14 June 2011 - USA & Canada

It is the site of the world’s tallest skyscraper and has gained a reputation for being full of rich people who spend their time in shopping malls. But now Dubai is the setting for the 37th James Bond book, Carte Blanche, by top American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver.

To read more about this novel on Jeffery Deaver’s official website please click here

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Now You See Me by SJ Bolton
Published:  26 May 2011 - UK ….... 7 June 2011 - USA

Lacey Flint is a Detective Constable who, despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now...As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey's car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey's quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?
SJ Bolton's official website is here

I read SJ Bolton’s last book ….. Blood Harvest ….. my review of this excellent book is here

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The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
Published:  11 May 2011 - UK …..... 1 Oct 2011 - USA & Canada

When Eva's film star sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall, where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina's ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs. But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived - and died - long before she herself was born. Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards.

For more on Susanna Kearsley please see her official website here

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Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway
Published:  6 May 2011 - UK, USA & Canada

During a winter blizzard a small girl is found wandering half-naked at the edge of an ancient woodland. Her hands are covered in blood, but it is not her own. Unwilling or unable to speak, the only person she seems to trust is the young officer who rescued her, Detective Sergeant Lucy Vaughan. DS Vaughan is baffled to find herself suddenly transferred from a high-profile case involving the kidnapping of a prominent businessman's teenage daughter, to the newly formed Public Protection Unit. Meanwhile, she has her own problems: caring for her Alzheimer's-stricken father; and avoiding conflict with her surly Assistant Chief Constable - who also happens to be her mother. As she struggles to identify the unclaimed child, Lucy begins to realise that this case and the kidnapping may be linked - by events that occurred during the blackest days of the country's recent history, events that also defined her own girlhood. "Little Girl Lost" is a devastating page-turner about corruption, greed and vengeance, and a father's love for his daughter.


For more info on Brian McGilloway please click here

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The First Wife by Emily Barr
Published:  26 May 2011 - UK

What if the man you love isn't the man you think he is?
Lily, a young woman left alone in the world on the death of her grandparents, finds purpose when she befriends Harry Summers, a grieving widower, whose wife Sarah recently took her own life in Barcelona. The pair fall in love and Lily finally finds the security she has never had. But Lily's life takes a darker turn when she realises there may be more to Sarah's death than meets the eye. Anxious to find the truth before she marries her beloved Harry, Lily sets off to Barcelona in search of answers. What she discovers is more shocking than she could ever have imagined...

For more info on Emily Barr her official website is here



Which books are you looking forward to reading?

Have you read any of them? If so, please leave a comment and I'll link your review to the book

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Book Review: THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN'S BAG BY ALAN BRADLEY

Genre:  Historical Murder Mystery/Cosy Mystery
Published by:  Orion  (April 2010)
Pages:  342  (Hardback)
My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

The story opens with the immortal words 'I was lying dead in the churchyard' (spoken, astonishingly, by Flavia herself) and ends with a funeral watched by the De Luce family on a newly-installed television set.  Inbetween, Alan Bradley weaves a hauntingly nightmarish tale that involves Punch & Judy and a hitherto unexplored corner of Bishop's Lacey known as Gibbet's Wood.  The plot, beginning with the arrival in Bishop's Lacey of a travelling puppet show, features a grisly murder during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk in the village hall and reaches back to an earlier, even nastier crime centring on an ancient, rotting gibbet that has lain like a shadow over the village for years.

The second book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series set in a small village in 1950’s England is every bit as good as the first one!

Flavia’s two older sisters -- Orphelia, obsessed with her looks and Daphne, obsessed with her books -- are still being horrible to her, telling her that she was adopted and nobody wants her.  Her father is still obsessed with his stamp collection and just wants a quiet life, which leaves Flavia plenty of time to go wandering around the village and surrounding countryside trying to ascertain who murdered Rupert Porson while he was in the middle of a puppet show......and after all, who would suspect an eleven year old girl of doing a better job than the police!

This time we are also introduced to Aunt Felicity (Flavia’s father’s eccentric sister) who comes to stay at the crumbling Buckshaw House to try and sort out the family’s ailing finances.  As we see life through eleven year old Flavia’s eyes we don’t know the exact details  but the villagers are full of gossip about whether her father will have to sell the family home.

I enjoyed reading Alan Bradley’s descriptions of the area --

Above me, Gibbet Wood clung to the top of Gibbet Hill like a green skullcap.  As I approached, and then entered beneath the branches of this ancient forest, it was like stepping into a painting by Arthur Rackham.  Here, in the dim green gloom, the air was sharp with the smell of decay: of funguses and leaf mould, of black humus, of slithering muck, and of bark gnawed away to dust by beetles.  Bright cobwebs hung suspended like little portcullises of light between the rotted tree stumps.

You almost feel as if you’re right there walking beside Flavia.  I really like Flavia and I also love the fact that she is obsessed with chemistry and even has her own magnificent Victorian chemistry laboratory at the south-west corner of her house.

This is a lovely gentle mystery which takes you along at a nice and steady pace, not rushing or hurrying to get to the reveal but all the ends are tied neatly up and you get a wonderful feeling of satisfaction that all is right with the world.  

The third book in this series is out now and is called A Red Herring Without Mustard.
The first book is called The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and my review is here.

For more on Flavia de Luce the official website is here

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