Cider Press Hill

Does This Happen Often?

Wednesday, 1:20 pm

By Kate





I happen to own the first book—it’s in my To Be Read pile. The second book was recommended because I have just finished reading a young adult book. I likely would not have known about it otherwise. The cover is distinctive and whenever I see it, it means Mavala Skikongo to me. Pretty strange to see it sporting another book title. Assuming that this isn’t a copyright issue that somehow fell through the cracks, how often are covers duplicated for different books, authors, and publishing houses? I don’t recall having run across it before. It doesn’t seem like good policy....

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

Publisher: Back Bay Books

Date: 16 May 2007

ISBN: 978-0316066334

Amazon store link:

Chanda’s Wars

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date: 11 March 2008

ISBN: 978-0060872625

Amazon Store link:



Friday, 2:25 pm

By Cyn




light rain

Truthfully, I would rather stay on the THE GAUNTLET discussion but I do have a question or two...........

Kindles--I think you, Kate, love to read even more than I do and of course, read things that are far better for your mind!!  I know you have a kindle so my question to you and to your loyal followers it a worthwhile investment?  Should I not feel guilty about using that instead of purchasing books?  Is it easy to use?  How expensive are e-books (keep in mind, I read popular fiction). 

When we went to Hawaii I took (as I do on every vacation) a stack of books for the beach, for the plane, for sitting in airports, etc.  Lots of books, lots of extra weight.  The good news is that I left everything I read there for my friends to read and they will, in turn, take them to their local library book sale. Bad news is I bought a stack more for the return trip. I noticed more and more people with Kindles and have really been considering it.  I also saw that the price has really dropped.

SO, after you post on Kate’s Gauntlet post, tell me your thoughts...........good and bad.  Any suggestions, comments, criticisms will be appreciated.  If I decide I want one, then it goes to the top of my Christmas or birthday list as both my sons like ‘lists’ and never know what to get me!!



For Book Lovers

Friday, 7:38 pm

By Kate





Since this is a long weekend (in the US, at least), maybe this will give a couple of you something to go with your later morning coffee…

Bookshelf Porn..... I might be embarrassed to tell you how long I spent gazing on all of the sumptuous photographs. There are many people out there in the whole wide world who love books. I love peeping into their homes and public spaces filled with books. Maybe you will, too.

While poking though the Bookshelf Porn photos, I found a few of a book shop in Paris, called Shakespeare and Co., that completely captured my imagination. I think that the shop has been around nearly as long as time. It seems to be a most magnificent and magical place. Here is an article in the U.K. Guardian from last March that is a feast of word pictures. For the more visually attuned, watch this You Tube video of the bookshop and interview with the manager.

Shakespeare and Co. is one place I’d really like to visit before shuffling off this mortal coil.

Enjoy the books.


I'm a Kindle-loving Nazi?

Saturday, 10:29 pm

By Kate




light snow

I do so love my Kindle. This afternoon I wirelessly downloaded 13 books for a total cost of $24.40. As follows:

1. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - $0.0

2. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott - $0.0

3. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens - $0.0

4. The Beautiful and the Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald - $0.0

5. This Side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald - $0.0

6. Sookie Stackhouse 8-book “boxed set" - Charlaine Harris - $24.40 (includes: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse)

I also get a subscription to The New Yorker and daily New York Times latest news articles (in depth and updated several times a day) for a total of $4.98 per Month.

And I get to carry all that reading material (plus about 300 other titles) around in a light-weight device the width and height of an average paperback novel. I really can’t imagine what’s not to like about that, but I know that some people are opposed to digital/e-books for various reasons. Perhaps the monks thought Gutenberg’s invention heralded the end of civilization, too. Change is hard for some folks.

And some folks seem to think that reading is an all or nothing proposition—either you read all paper books or you read all e-books and destroy the world. Never seems to penetrate their noggins that some of us buy dead tree books, borrow dead tree books from the library, and buy and read e-books as well. I’ve even heard it said that some people even—gasp!—listen to audio books. And you know what? It is entirely plausible that we can do all of the above without bringing civilization down around our ears.

Bearing that in mind, this HuffPo article is over the top, stupid, and really offensive. I mean, reaaaaaaally grossly offensive. The author equates the Kindle (and Google books) to Nazi book burnings and concentration camp culture. Slightly ironic that the article’s author has a book offered for $9.99 on Kindle. How much you want to wager he’s donating those evil Nazi royalty dollars to the charity of his choice? Yeah, me neither.


My Autumn 2009 Reading List

Thursday, 9:00 pm

By Kate





I have little bit of a library book logjam going on. I should not be doing anything but sticking my nose in a book when the opportunity presents itself. These are all mostly new books, so they are not renewable at this time. That means I have about 2000 pages to read in a week and a half. I have my doubts, but I’m going to do my best.

How does this happen? Well, I put in interlibrary requests for books and go on the waiting lists. I had assumed that my place in line was not an arbitrary number, but it appears that it is. If my hometown library gets in the book I want, then the next person on the list From My Town goes to the head of the list. Just so happens, I ended up jumping from something like 57 on a waiting list to number 1. A couple of times. Messed up my reading schedule something awful.

My autumn book list currently looks like this—I just didn’t anticipate having all of them in my possession at the same time.

This Quiet Dust: And Other Writings by William Styron

I’ve had this one for a little while now and have renewed it once. I can’t renew it again and it’s due on Monday, so this is at the top of my list. Interesting begins as a response to both black and white critics who beat Styron to a metaphorical bloody pulp over his book The Confessions of Nat Turner. Styron was born and raised in Virginia, but was a transplanted New Englander. Viewing the situation from both sides of the geographical fence, he was correct is judging the critics hysterical—and not in a funny way. Nat Turner was written at the height of the Civil Rights movement. You could possibly suppose that Styron was either a very brave writer or the book’s timing was most unfortunate. A fine book, in any event. The essays in this book are a worthy read so far as I’ve gone. Quite thought provoking.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

This book is number 7 in an ongoing series. Historical/paranormal romance and actually, pretty darned good writing. Gabaldon is in a class by herself. These are good reads with lots of reality, a little bit of magic, lots of history, action, and lots more history. (Well, quite a lot of tupping, too. At least in the early books.) The saga of Jamie and Claire continues.

This book is 814 pages long. I was number 118 on the library waiting list when I reserved it back on September 19. A week ago, I was number 57. Suddenly, the next day, it was waiting for me at the library. I gotta read it quickly because I don’t imagine anyone will be able to renew it until there is no longer a waiting list. That may take a few months. This book is due back at the library on November 17.

The End of Energy Obesity: Breaking Today’s Energy Addiction for a Prosperous and Secure Tomorrow by Peter Tertzakian. The author asks the question: How can the world reduce its energy appetite and change its diet of fuels for a prosperous and secure tomorrow? I am quite keen to know the answer to that question. I am skeptical that Tertzakian has the consummate answer(s), but I’ll betcha he has some good ideas. Tertzakian is Chief Energy Economist at ARC Financial Corporation and has a commendable track record in analyzing and forecasting energy trends. His is not always the consensus view. I was surprised to see this book promoted by my library and placed right in the front lobby where you’d almost have to trip over it to get in the door. Huh. Times must be changing. This one is due back on November 10.

Gabriel GarcÍa Márquez: A Life by Gerald Martin

I think Márquez is a remarkable writer and this book devotes 545 pages to telling us who he is, with 16 pages of photographs included. According to the dust jacket blurb, this is the first full and authorized biography of the 1982 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. This is a man’s life I want to know more about. What made him the writer he is?

This hardcover edition of the book is gorgeous with deckle edged paper. (I am quite tempted to run off to the bookstore.) I am sure that the written material is equally as gorgeous, too. With surprises. Can’t wait to dig in. I have until the 17th to start and finish it.

Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

This book started out as a library book, but I wanted to buy a copy for myself so I Kindled it. I’ve read about a quarter of this book of essays so far, but it’s on hold until the other library books are finished and returned. Now that I own a copy of it (and a paperback edition of High Tide in Tucson), I can read it at leisure, which is how Barbara Kingsolver ought to be read.

Apparently I’m still conflicted over which I prefer—Kindle books or paper books, even though it is easier reading on my Kindle.

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West by Wallace Stegner

A few weeks back I watched a PBS show about Wallace Stegner. This biographical work, along with others, was highlighted as relevant to his life as an environmentalist/conservationist. In the old fashioned sense of the word. It wasn’t fashion or fad with Stegner. He was plain-spoken in his belief that the masses of people who moved willy-nilly into the west like a plague of locusts were as bad as a plague of locusts.

This book is about John Wesley Powell who worked for the US Geological Survey (he and his team explored the Colorado River and its canyons) until he was booted out. Some things do not change with the passage of time. Powell relied on science for his projections and analysis for land and water use policy, the government relied on politics to formulate land and water use policy. This is a classic book about water rights and water use in the American West and probably one of the most important ever written on the subject. Many of the West’s environmental problems arising today were forecast by Powell (and Stegner). Purchased paperback.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

A novel for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. This will be the first work of fiction I’ve read by Stegner. I love his non-fiction and essays—I understand that this novel is as seamless and lovely as his non-fiction.

It is, not surprisingly, a story about the American West and a family that settled there in the latter half of the 19th century, researched and told by a 20th century, disabled history professor descendent.In reading the synopsis for this, bits of it sound a little familiar from Stegner’s book of autobiographical essays, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs. A Kindle book.

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce

As far as I know, this book was sort of catapulted to the top of the author’s To Do List after a curiosity visit to Kentucky’s Creation Museum. On the dust jacket I read:

It was the saddle on the dinosaur that did it. In a legendary journalism career, Charles P Pierce has interviewed vacuous movie stars, disingenuous politicians, cretinous sports heroes, and all manner of charlatans, demagogues, and fanatics. But it wasn’t until his visit to the Creation Museum in Hebron, Kentucky, that he realized just how far gone America is. At the center of this popular tourist spot are models of dinosaurs, one of which is wearing a saddle. “We are taking the dinosaurs back from the evolutionists!” cries the proprietor, who runs something called Answers in Genesis....

Naturally, I had to buy the book. Someone should probably put one in a time capsule somewhere, just in case. We obviously aren’t getting any smarter. Purchased Hardcover.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

I have to admit that the reason I discovered this book was because my book store had it on the shelf with the cover facing outward. It was pretty. I was intrigued and reached for the book. The rest, as they say, is history. I’d never heard of the book before, but within hours of buying it and bringing it home, I’d stumbled across three different references to the book. Accolades, even. A cynical little girl and an ugly, cranky, brilliant autodidact (art, philosophy, music, Japanese culture), both hiding their lights under a bushel basket for different reasons and both outed by a Japanese interloper who sees straight through them to the delightful people they are. How wonderful. I look forward to reading it.


Between times for Whacking Good Escapism....

James Rollins’ SIGMA Force Series. I’ve polished off the first two, so far.

And that’s it for my Autumn 2009 Reading List.

Autumn officially ends in 45 days. I’ve gotta read faster.


Kindle 2

Wednesday, 8:57 am

By Kate





It was halfway through the day on Monday before I learned that Amazon had announced their second generation Kindle in the AM. I missed all the fun of watching the webcasts live. Stephen King was even there with Jeff Bezos, holding a pepto-bismol pink Kindle. I’d have paid to see that. I believe the pink was to celebrate/promote his new story about a Kindle, which will be released on February 24th when the Kindle 2 begins shipping. Anyway....

When I first looked at the photos/videos of the new Kindle, I thought “how sleek” and I really wanted it. Naturally. And to make matters worse, Amazon said that 1st generation Kindle owners had until Tuesday night at midnight to place an order to be assured of getting one immediately—as opposed to waiting for weeks or, possibly, months. We know how that goes. My one-click finger was awfully itchy.

I’m glad to say that rationality prevailed and I’ve decided that I’ll wait until the 3rd or 4th or 5th generation. Mine works just fine and I’m happy with it. There are improvements yet to be made, but I can’t imagine being without it now. I love my Kindle.

The more I’ve looked at the Kindle 2, though, the more I’m unsure if I actually like it better. Compare the two photos below. First photo is the 1st generation Kindle. Second photo is the new one. I appreciate that the new Kindle is all sleek and slim and cool looking, but the 1st generation one grew on me. It has more personality. The new one, however, does address the side button issues. It took a while to learn how to hold mine without inadvertently pressing one of page turning bars. Even now, I still hit one accidentally on occasion. It’s not a big issue for me, though. The new design seems to eliminate that problem.

I might have been a great deal more tempted if Amazon had attended to one of the largest and most widely expressed wishes for the next generation Kindle. Folders. For those of us who have had our Kindles for several months, it became abundantly clear, after acquiring more than 100 books, that its organizational features fell far short. There is no way to divide books into categories. One can either choose to list them all by author, title, or in order of date acquired/most recently read. That’s it. Fortunately, the Kindle 1 has a slot for a card onto which we can place our books in some kind of order that suits us. Different cards for different categories and such. Also a good way to back-up copies of books and files downloaded from places other than Amazon, without needing to plug into a computer for back-up.

The new Kindle does not have a card slot. But it does have 1.4 Gigs of storage. They say it’ll hold in excess of 1500 books. I’m trying to imagine storing that many books on a Kindle with no folders. That would be somewhere in the vicinity of 125 pages of menu to wade through to find what you’re looking for...ordered by date, author or book title. I almost always sort my books by most recent first. That way the books I’m reading appear at the top of the menu’s first page. Otherwise, they’re scattered all over the place and it gets to be a nuisance hunting for them. Can’t sort them by genre or whatever else floats my little boat. You can search for what you’re looking for, but after a certain number books, you kind of forget what books you have unless you can organize them in some meaningful way.

And I know that the Kindle does have some folder capability. I subscribe to Newsweek and it is listed on my menu as a folder and inside the folder are all the issues I’ve received. Amazon just doesn’t allow us to create our own folders.

Maybe they will through a software update in the near future. Or not. I’ll wait until Amazon provides that option before I’ll even think about upgrading to a new model.

Now, if they ever decide to come out with colors...well, that’s a whole other irresistable universe. But for now, I’m a little disappointed in what the new Kindle offers or doesn’t offer. They also make you pay $30 extra to get a cover for it, while one was provided with the 1st generation Kindle. The new Kindle really is pretty and sleek, but Amazon left off a couple of important features. It’s odd that they removed the card slot and provided nothing else for organizing large numbers of books. I don’t get it.

The good news is that there are suddenly a raft of 1st generation Kindles up for re-sale for anyone not wanting to pay top dollar. Looks as if a number of Kindle 1 owners are trading up. 


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