We all know (or should) that I love me some Lani Diane Rich (@lanidianerich on Twitter). I read her book, Ex and the Single Girl, a couple of years ago, and mentioned how much I loved it in another A Glance At post. Personally, I admire her, I’d love to take one of her Storywonk classes, I listen to Storywonk podcasts on the way to work. Kinda. Love. Her.

But, whatever. It doesn’t negate the very awesomeness of this book. So, like the other glances (which,  you know, isn’t an in-depth look), I’m just going to go into what I loved about this book. But, first! The blurb:

 When Tucson Today segment producer Carly McKay visits the quirky artist’s community of Bilby, Arizona, to do a story on a psychic quiltmaker, she receives an odd reading… and her life falls apart in eerie harmony with what the quilt foretold. Her best friend professes his undying love; her show gets canceled; and the mother who disappeared seventeen years ago appears on their doorstep, getting instant forgiveness from the entire family… except Carly.

Carly rushes off to Bilby to return the cursed quilt, and then surprises herself; she stays. She rents a cabin, gets a job, and meets an artist who shows her new ways to look at life, and love. Can she run away and start a new life, or should she go back and stitch her old one back together?

And why is it so hard to get a straight answer from a psychic, anyway?

The best thing about this book (and this book has a lot going for it) are the characters. You’ve got a psychic quiltmaker. And her ex-husband, who is now the owner of the art supply shop in town. And a woman. An adorable beta artist as love interest. Sisters who are all so individual. A mom who disappeared 17 years ago and suddenly comes home. There is a big cast. And they all contribute. And they’re all real, complex, fully-formed. And yet, they don’t overpower the story.

And, at it’s core, it feels good. There are messages about accepting oneself and forgiveness that are very personal and moving (mostly because you come to care so much for these people. Um, characters.).

It’s one of those books you’re satisfied in a deep way when you put it down and yet a little sad to leave that world. And that, my friends, is kinda the point of storytelling.

Buy it: The Fortune Quilt

And I’m not going to review it. Because far better and more knowledgeable than me have already done so.  I will, however, share my condensed experience.

My Boss: Read this.  It’s good.

Me: Okay, cool.

Two days later,

Me: That first book is incredible. I can’t put it down.

My Boss: When you get to the end you’re going to be really annoyed.

Me, in my head, because he’s my boss: Then why did you tell me to read it?

Later the next day:

Me: You can have your books back.

My Boss: You didn’t like it?

Me: I bought them for my Kindle, because I know I’ll enjoy them more that way… I realize I’m a sick person.

Two days later, in the middle of Catching Fire:

Spoilers Below

Read More →

I grew up, and still live, in a small town.  Not small town like less than 5000.  Small town like… 265 people live in my town.  Not that it’s much of a town.  I have to drive 5-10 miles to the nearest 7-11.  Another 40 to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s. It’s 55 miles to the nearest book store–a chain.  An indie bookstore? That would be 91 miles away.  Sure, we have a library.  Only barbarians don’t have libraries.  But… if I had to guess, I’d say we might have 500-1000 books.  Total.

So, I think you feel me now.  Growing up and as an adult, I read whatever I could get my hands on.  I couldn’t afford to be picky.  Later, I discovered Amazon (I’m sorry indie stores!) and Booksfree and Paperback Swap.  Still, there was time and effort and hard-earned money involved in all of those ventures.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was worth it.  I wouldn’t trade the pleasure and escape I’ve gotten from reading for anything.

When I got my Kindle for Christmas–that all changed.  It was no longer a matter of driving an hour or more to buy a book (and you know, I didn’t just buy any book–I wanted my money’s worth).  I could browse whenever I wanted for a book, buy it, and be reading it in less than a minute.

Oh, sure, that’s awesome, you say.  But think about it for a minute.  Reading books was something I worked for.  I planned trips to the Book Exchange or the mall for days.  Called around to make sure they had the book I was looking for or saved up to buy several because it wasn’t a convenient trip to make.  Even with Amazon, I took my time, finding enough books to earn free shipping ($25) and, believe me, I got really good at getting the right books to total just over that amount.  And then there was packaging and shipping time.  I worked for the privilege of reading.

To suddenly be able to read anything I wanted any time I wanted, it was like being given the keys to Eden.  It was my happy place, that’s for sure.

For a while, I read lots of books I never would’ve tried before.  I’d send a sample and if I was hooked by the end, I bought it.  I combed through the free books trying to find one that might interest me.  Then I found sites like Kindle Obsessed, with reviews and recommended free titles, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Dear Author, who have high standards in their reviews.

It became so easy.  So, so easy.  I’d read the review, and if it sounded awesome, I’d download the free ones and sample the not-so-free ones.  Except now?  I have 42 books in my T0-Be-Read collection and 42 samples in my Fiction Samples collection.  84 books, at my fingertips, I feel confident I’ll really enjoy.  I’m overwhelmed by my stellar, easily accessible choices.

I know, I know.  It’s a poor-little-rich (in books)-girl whine.  Shameful, really.  I’m very fortunate to have access to so many books.  Even as hard as it was in the years pre-Kindle, when I had to work for my fictional fun, I was still luckier than many.

In recognition of that and to share what reading has meant to me, I’ve made a donation to The Lisa Libraries, which:

…donates new children’s books and small libraries to organizations that work with kids in poor and under-served areas.

I hope you’ll think about making a donation or sending new children’s/YA books their way as well.  And I hope everyone is cursed with so many ways and opportunities to read.

Yes, apparently, you can LOAN your Kindle ebooks.  At least, some of them.  I find this awesome because it allows you to say, “Hey, I think you’re going to love this author.  Give this book a try!”

My nephew and I are finding that our reading preferences cross in strange places.  So, we’re a little excited to recommend books to each other.  Our new deal?  I’ll read Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Side of the Moon if he reads Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Unfortunately, neither of us have these books on the Kindle, so we can’t use the loan feature this time.  (Of course, we have paper copies because they’re faves).  But, I’m just so excited to share books with friends.  Even friends who live far away.  I’ve talked at least two people into a Kindle since Christmas.

So, how does it work?

Go to www.amazon.com/myk.

You’ll see a list of books you’ve purchased (or sampled).  Click on the plus icon beside the book you want to loan.

Click the “Loan this book” button, beside the cover.

Here’s what comes up:

Fill out the fields and that’s it!  You’ve loaned your ebook!

The Fine Print

  • Not all publishers allow you to loan books.  Boo to them, I say.  Lending reaches more readers which means more purchases later!
  • The book must be downloaded within 7 days or it is no longer available to your lendee.
  • Your lendee can keep the book for 14 days.  Presumably, Amazon removes the book at that point–finished or not.
  • You can’t read your book for the 14 days it’s being loaned out.  Which makes sense.  If you loaned a real book, you couldn’t read it, either.
  • Most books I’ve explored can only be loaned once.  Not quite the same as a real book, but I see the need for limits (since this is so easy) and I can live with that.

P.S. I swear this is not becoming the pimpmykindle site.  It’s just… topical and interesting to me.  And, oddly, I like writing about those things.  Enjoy!

I use my Kindle everyday.  This is no secret.  I’ve facebooked, tweeted, and posted my love for the Kindle.

I consider myself tech-ish savvy.  I’m not a geek (a badge I’d wear with honor, mind you), but I know a few who point me in the right directions.  And, so, because I’m awesome, I’m going to point you to some very awesome Kindle sites that will make it even harder to pry the Kindle from your grip.

Instapaper

I use Google Reader a lot.  It’s how I get my tech fix and find all of these nifty things, it’s how I keep up with gossip from Jezebel (don’t judge me!), and how I know when a friend posts to their personal blog.

With Instapaper, I can use the spacebar to flip through all that content (and it becomes quite a bit–maybe I’ll share my favorite RSS feeds with you one day) and when I find something I think I’ll want to read, I just use the “Read Later” button that sits on my bookmark toolbar.  It saves and when Instapaper sends me my document, it’s all there.

Pros:

  • It sends to your free Kindle address (which only works if you  have a Kindle 3).  What this means is you will download it via your wi-fi, as opposed to Whispernet.  My Kindle does not make use of Whispernet, but I understand Amazon will begin (or has already) charging for those downloads.  I’m fine with waiting for my Instapaper document to download at home (or wherever I can get wi-fi) and then it’s there when I choose to read it.
  • It will send up to 20 articles and you can use your 5-way button to go to the next article if you decide it’s not something you want to read.

Cons:

  • It only sends 20.  I think (correct me if I’m wrong, peeps).  This is easily manageable by going to the Instapaper site and requesting it be sent right away (as opposed to it’s daily, or weekly, deliver time).  That said, after counting “Read Later” clicks in my head and heading there at 20 and hitting send, it could be better.  Say, if it just sent new content (as opposed to sometimes getting halfway through the document only to find stuff I’ve already read) and sent all the new content.
  • It does not pull feeds for you.  But that’s okay, because something else does.

Make It Work:

Get the Instapaper bookmarklet on the Extras page.

Go to Manage My Kindle, under the Account tab, to set up use with Kindle.  (There are several steps. Don’t be like me, read halfway through, then wonder why it isn’t working.)

Kindlefeeder

Once I started using Instapaper, I started seeing trends.  Some feeds, I sent every article to my Kindle.  I actually found the link for Kindlefeeder on the Instapaper site since they don’t pull feeds.

Pros:

  • Perfect if you’d rather read your favorite sites on your Kindle.
  • They come in one document and you can order them anyway you choose on the Kindlefeeder site.

Cons:

  • You only get 12 feeds free.  After that,  you need a premium service.  This has caused me to be really picky about who I let on my Kindlefeeder list.  It’s like that episode of Seinfeld, when they discontinue Elaine’s birth control of choice and she’s trying to decide not if a man is sex-worthy, but is he sponge-worthy.
  • I use the basic formatting and haven’t seen what it looks like otherwise, but you can’t use any buttons on your Kindle to move through sections, other than the one that turns the page.
  • It will not send to your free Kindle address.  It will, however, let you send the document to your email and you can forward it on to your free address.  Other choices include sending wirelessly to your Kindle (not free!) or emailing a downloadable file which you can transfer to your Kindle with the cable.

I’ve considered a premium account, because I really enjoy this application.  You can even trigger a feed pull and automatically send it to your Kindle from the Kindle with this option.  But, that would probably be delivered wirelessly which I’d have to pay for, they say.

Your feeds will be packaged and delivered wirelessly to your Kindle. Make sure to turn your Kindle’s WiFi switch on. Note that Amazon imposes a per delivery surchage on this wireless delivery option.

Make It Work:

Add feeds-Self explanatory, I think.

Manage my feeds-Delete or rearrange the order of your feeds.

Dashboard-Where the magic happens.

I just visit the site every day or two, click send forward, and wait for it to appear in my gmail.  When it does, I clear out the body (not making the document blank seemed to cause Kindle delivery to be hit or miss) and forward it to my Kindle free address.

Send to Kindle Chrome Extension

Want to hear something a little sad?  This extension is why I finally gave in and switched from Firefox to Chrome.  My Kindle owns me, people.

Anyway, get the extension here.

Pros:

  • Send almost* any article, blog post, I guess whatever your e-reading heart desires straight to your Kindle.
  • If you have the Kindle 3, you can use your free Kindle address.
  • They format nicely and include a link to the original at the end of the document.
  • Um, it’s awesome?

Cons:

  • If you are anything like me, and you’re licking up the links people tweet, you can end up with several documents to read.
  • *Sometimes the extension tells me it couldn’t send the content.  Sometimes, if I refresh, it does.  Sometimes, not.  Not sure what that’s about.

And that’s about it for bad things.  Lots to read and, on the rare occasion, it doesn’t work.

Make it Work:

I’m not even going to attempt to explain how to install a chrome extensions.  Others have done it far better already.

The extension itself is easy to setup and can be changed at anytime by right clicking on it (it’s an orange box with a K inside) and going to options.

And that’s it from me.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m heading to surgery to have my Kindle removed from my hand.

 

Yes, I write romance, and I’d never (until this past December) read a Jane Austen book. Any. At all.

Yes, I was ashamed of this deficit. When I was growing up, I didn’t get new books. I had trips to the library, occasionally, which I reserved for horror and mystery. I don’t know why. Well, I do, and this is the reason I never read Jane Austen.

*Ahem*, when I was a kid, I didn’t get new books. I read everyone else’s leftovers. I read them thankfully and voraciously and often multiple times. I read fast.

My mom loved horror, mostly Stephen King. Which I still read. It’s an unspoken agreement between my husband and me that started early on and has continued these last fifteen years… a new SK hardcover comes out, he buys it for me. Never mind that I’d rather have that Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips hardcover, would in fact, die of excitement. This is what we do, because that is what we did.

But, back to the kiddie days. My maternal grandmother, she was the intellectual, going back to college in her fifties, after picking up her GED. I read mythology books, psychology books, Christian fiction. The woman has a bookcase, several bookcases, full of amazing books. I’d spend the summer with her, my IQ would rise 15 points.

My paternal grandmother, who is gone now, went through romance novels–Harlequin and I can’t remember the name of the other publisher, but I’m pretty sure Harlequin bought them at some point so it probably doesn’t matter (I just remembered!  It was Silhouette!). She read them fast and she always had one handy.

When I turned sixteen, and could drive, I took her to the library every two weeks. She would take a box of fifty books and the nice librarian (I love librarians) would let her switch her fifty with another fifty from the donation pile. At that time, I’d pick up a Star Trek novel, or Dean Koontz, or that sequel to Gone With the Wind (I still can’t believe I read that. At 17, I was excited to see what would happen next; at 36, I’m aghast that someone would dare tamper with something so sacred as Rhett and Scarlett).

My dad read cowboy and spy novels–I stayed away from those. I think we were both too embarrassed to become mutually aware the other was reading about S-E-X. And an aunt, long exiled from the family by divorce, once gave me a big box of classics: The Outsiders, Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Most of that probably isn’t all that interesting to you, but it’s written and it’s my blog and I’m leaving it. The point is, I was never picky. I loved books, I loved them in all genres, and times, and sizes, and viewpoints, and plot points. Stories were my world, maybe my drug, and like any good junkie, I took whatever hit I could get.

As I got older, I found the things I enjoyed, I found new authors, and read through their booklists. At one time, when I was staying home with the kiddies and fighting through a bout of depression, I had a very active account with booksfree.com. I had the six books at a time plan, so I was never, ever without reading material. Then I had another baby, I started working outside the home, I started writing. My reading time became more precious and I became less willing to try new things. I have a drawer full of to-be-read books (that I may never get to, I love reading on my Kindle SO freaking much).

But, speaking of my Kindle, it’s all changed now. Reading is so convenient. Getting new books is so easy and quick and sample chapters are my best friend. I can try something new, buy it if I like, and find all new backlists to explore. I’m a loyal reader.

Another great thing about the Kindle? Free books. I feel like my grandmother, carrying in my box of fifty and picking through thousands of incredible stories.

And so, I found Ms. Austen. This blog post has become far too long already for me to go on and on about my newfound love for Pride and Prejudice (and naturally, all the other books she wrote). I’m not even sure what it’s about anymore, except:

Reading is a beautiful, empowering experience that I'm not sure I could've survived without. Click To Tweet

Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.

At least, it has for me. So convenient. Such a dream come true–any book I want to read is at my fingertips and delivered in less than a minute. I’ve probably read more books in the last month than I have in the year before that. And that’s a really satisfying thing. Anyway, you should totally have one.

So, I’m netflixing TV shows.  It’s research, honest.  I watch some good TV series, I get this mojo for good writing, it makes me want to write, etc.

Anyway, I just watched the first disc of True Blood which I knew very little about, except that most people raved about how awesome it is.  And, it occurs to me while I’m watching, wasn’t Sookie Stackhouse a character in some novels?  How could they just take that name–it’s pretty unique.  And then I realize, it’s a show based on the novels.  So, now I’m torn.  Great books, great TV, or both?  Will one ruin the other?  I’ve ordered the first book.  I’ll let you know.

Update 3/4/10: So the book is here and I’ve finished the first season.  And I’m kind of not looking forward to the book, because what if it’s just the same thing?  I kind of already know who the killer is.  I won’t spoil it, but… yeah.  But I’ll read it and let you know.

Also, the book may be better, but without the show, I’d never have “heard” Bill say Sookie in that old southern accent of his.  And it sort of defines the show for me.

Update again 3/8/10: I finished the second season.  Very, very good show.  Also: I have a serious crush on Vampire Eric. Serious.

I found Sex and the Single Vampire by Katie MacAlister at the Dollar Store for $1.25! Squee!

One’s To Be Read (TBR) pile can never be too large.  Especially when it’s a favorite author.

Update 03/14/2011–I think I bought this book for my Kindle because I never get in my TBR drawer anymore.  Those books are all heavy and awkward and stuff.

Update 08/26/2011–I gave this paperback to my daughter’s best friend’s because she loves vamps and I love Katie MacAlister.

On changes in the romance genre:

The relationships had also modernized: by the 1990s, it was rare to see a book which featured a man raping his future wife.

via Romance novel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Yeah, thank goodness those crazy men finally came to their senses.  In the NINETIES.  What the?

I get that this still happens in books.  Not books I read, but, it happens.  I get that some people enjoy this… forced intimacy.  But, damn it, who the hell marries someone who respects and loves them so little they just commit a crime against them?  Who else do they fall in love with?  Their stalkers?  Do they boil a bunny for Valentine’s Day?  How sweet.