Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Kobo Aura from an Avid Reader

       

General Overview
The Kobo Aura is the newest eink, dedicated reader that Kobo has released. As an avid reader who likes to read outside and inside, night or day, I really enjoy eink. The Kobo Aura has the glo feature which really adds to the reader. Personally, I leave the light on all the time because it gives the screen a black on white feel that I really enjoy. Previously, I was using the Kobo Glo which I loved and didn’t think I would see a big difference between the readers but I really did. The light has improved and most importantly the device has as well. It responds much faster, and memory storage is much larger with 4G of on-board memory.

The Screen
The Aura has a nice crisp screen, for those who are looking for a bigger screen the Kobo Aura HD is also available. Kobo offers a variety of options to increase your text size, font and margins. There is also an option to change the darkness and weight of your text which is something that I really like. The only issue that I have with the Aura is ghosting.  Compared to my Kobo Glo, the Aura has ghosting of the book cover when I initially wake it up from sleep mode. I reset the page refresh and after a few pages turned- the cover disappears. This is the only thing I would like to see improved.

Housing
The housing of the Aura really impressed me. First, the screen and bezel have no gaps. It has the feel of a tablet- one continuous screen. If you’re like me, and you are constantly wiping your screen to get rid of dirt and fingerprints, this is great!  I no longer have cracks to try and get debris out of. Also, the material used for the housing feels really nice, and doesn’t have a plastic feel. The back of the Aura has a non-slip feel with slight edges which helps to hold the reader.

Battery
My experience with the battery has been great.  Kobo states that the battery can last over 2 months based on 30 minutes of reading with the comfort light turned on or off and Wi-Fi turned off. I never turn my Wi-Fi off, the light remains on and I read for several hours at a time. I usually end up charging it once a week. I also don’t like to see the batter depleted too much, because I’m worried that I won’t have it during my commute to work. The battery has impressed me so far. I have no complaints.

Kobo Reading Life
Kobo Reading Life is designed to give readers an enriched reading experience, keeping track of your stats and rewards. I love the stats feature within Kobo and I’ve used it for years. My one complaint is that I’ve gathered all the rewards I can, and it’s been a LONG time since I won a new award. It doesn’t really change the reading experience but I really loved the awards popping up on my screen from time to time.

PDF’s
As a blogger who has access to galleys, I come across many pdf’s. Viewing a pdf is easy. Side-loading the books are easy, but I still prefer not to read PDF’s on eink screens. I find the text too small, and the font too light. Kobo allows you to zoom in but I find this hinders the reading experience because I would constantly be adjusting the pages.

Kobo and Independent Book Stores

Kobo has partnered with independent book stores and many readers have seen this as a huge selling point. They love buying from their local indie and supporting independent book stores.



Kobo has a new line up of  tablets to be released soon, and I can't wait to take a look at them. Kobo has really come a long way. Remember when I use to complain, and complain about my Kobo Vox? They've been able to regain my trust and confidence in their products. 



Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford


Publisher: Ballantine Books
Released: 2009
Pages: 306
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Henry Lee, a Chinese-American has recently lost his wife to cancer. He is dealing with the heartache of being a widow and trying to spend time with his son Marty. Henry and his son have a strained relationship that Henry would like to rectify. He doesn’t want to make the same mistakes his father did, he wants to keep the lines of communication open, and he knows that his wife was the one who buffered their relationship. Without her, Henry will need to figure out how to be the father he wants to be. Henry grew up with traditional Chinese parents, a mother who obeyed her husband and a father who remained loyal to China. He despised the Japanese and never fully embraces American life. Henry disobeyed his father by befriending a Japanese girl at school, and his life is forever changed when his parents find out. The Panama Hotel has been boarded up for decades, and renovations have uncovered belongings that were once hidden by Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans who were rounded up and sent to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  When Henry hears about these belongings he immediate thinks of his Japanese friend Keiko and her family.  

Review:

Henry grew up wearing an “I Am Chinese” button, going to a private school on scholarship and being the only minority. When Keiko shows up to school, Henry is standoffish knowing his father’s hatred for the Japanese. When their friendship begins to blossom, being the only two non-white kids in school, Henry has no choice but to keep her a secret. Henry stands in the middle of his father being ecstatic with the rounding up of the Japanese people, and being scared for Keiko and her family. Henry is forced to grow up quickly, and make his own conclusions about the Japanese.  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet explores Henry’s past and present relationships and how his past shapes his future.


Jamie Ford switches between two narratives, present 1986 and past 1940’s. Readers are taken on a remarkable journey filled with love, hatred, confusion and heartbreak. I highly recommend this one; it would certainly appeal to those who love historical fiction and those who just love a good well-rounded story. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet surpassed my expectations, and I will certainly read Jamie Ford’s newest novel Songs of the Willow Frost. This book is truly captivating and will open your eyes. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: The Vow by Jessica Martinez


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 432
Released: October 2013
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Mo and Annie have been best friends for years, but no one seems to understand that they are just friends. When Mo first moved to town, Annie saved him from ridicule and feeling like an outsider. Mo has always been there for her, and doesn’t tip-toe around the fact that her sister was murdered. Everyone else seems to pity her or chose their words rather carefully when speaking to her. When Mo’s father losses his job and by extension his work visa, the family is forced to move back to Jordan. Annie is distraught and refuses to allow Mo to move back. They marry, for love but a different kind of love. Annie is not ready to give up their friendship; she can’t lose another person in her life. When they learn that they will have to live together as a married couple, and lie to everyone, Annie is worried about how they will keep the secret and not be charged for fraud. This is further tested when Annie meets a college-boy named Reed who seems to tell her all the right things.

Review:

I really enjoyed The Vow, and thought it was a great read. Mo and Annie are genuine friends who will do anything for one another. Their struggle is real and they are forced to realize that life choices are not always easy. Annie realizes that marrying Mo and dating is out of the question, her unsupportive parents are also a problem. Since the death of her sister, her parents haven’t really engaged in her life. They’ve also been overly protective and Annie knows moving out will hurt them tremendously. Mo has to deal with the guilt to having Annie give up so much, and missing his family.


I thought The Vow was original and realistic. Their obstacles are real and their friendship is tested. The book is told from both Annie and Mo’s perspective which really adds to the story. The character development really held my attention and pulled me into the story. I haven’t read any of Jessica Martinez’s previous books, but I’m thoroughly impressed with her as an author. I will definitely be placing Virtuosity and The Space Between Us on my wish list.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: The Night Film by Marisha Pessl


Publisher: Bond Street Books
Pages: 624
Released: 2013
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Stanislas Cordova is a well-known horror, film director. He allows very little to be known about him, and many rumors have evolved. His family are very secretive and they stay away from mainstream life. When his daughter Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse, investigators believe she committed suicide. Investigative journalist, Scott McGrath spent far too much energy investigating Stainlas, he lost everything but with Ashley’s death, he can feel that something isn’t quite right. Scott teams up with two strangers to help uncover Ashley’s secrets, and find out what really happened in that warehouse.

Review:

Everyone raved about this one, and I couldn’t wait to read it. Pessl’s literary thriller had everyone talking, and I quickly realized she’s a fantastic writer. Unfortunately, about half-way through I felt like the book began to feel drawn out. I enjoyed the story, but at times didn’t feel like picking it back up. I didn’t find myself getting lost in the story. I think all the hype left me disappointed. Night Film includes articles, and other mixed media which adds to the story, but also left me wanting to skip some of it.  I think if you’re able to devote a good chunk of time reading the novel, it wouldn’t drag on as much. I was on vacation, and found myself having to put it down and pick it back up many times. I think this led to me not fully being able to get absorbed in the novel.


This book was clearly a hit with many bloggers and reviewers. Her debut book was as well. I've had it on my shelves for years, and still haven't read it. The Night Film is definitely worth the time and effort to read it, but just don’t expect too much. I expected too much, and with this being a hefty book, I didn’t enjoy it as much. If you’re curious about this one- try it out, and let me know what you think. I actually felt guilty not liking this one as much as everyone else. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield


Publisher: Atria
Released: (Upcoming) November 5th, 2013.
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

William Bellman’s life has been like a roller-coaster ride, his success has steadily increased but life’s obstacles always remind him that he’s not in control of the bigger picture. As a boy, Bellman commits one small, cruel act, and he wonders if this has left him with life-long consequences.  He’s built a name for himself, and he’s become quite successful, but his success can’t save his wife and children when they all suddenly fall sick. The whole town is suffering from this illness, and Bellman can’t do anything but standby. During the many funerals he’s attended during his life, Bellman always notices a man in black, he’s always lurking, always watching, and no one seems to know who Bellman is talking about. When his youngest daughter lies on her death bed, and Bellman is contemplating suicide, he makes a deal with the man in black.

Review:

Bellman and Black is Diane Setterfield’s second novel, her first The Thirteenth Tale was a huge success. I loved The Thirteenth Tale and couldn't wait to read this one as well. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. Bellman is a great character, and readers will be drawn to him. There’s not a lot of action that takes place through the novel, at times it does feel a little slow but I was steadily engaged. Setterfield's writing is eloquent, and very atmospheric.


Bellman and Black is a difficult book to review. I think it’s going to be a book reader's will either love or hate. It really shouldn't be compared to The Thirteenth Tale, because I felt that her debut novel was much more captivating and memorable. I think readers will need to step away from The Thirteenth Tale and give Bellman and Black a chance. Often times, hype or an author’s previous success  leads to too many expectations, and readers feel disappointed. I think this could easily happen with Bellman and Black.