Kindle Fire

Books a Million: My Reading List, Part X

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A few months ago, my first-generation Kindle went kaput. I hastily purchased the Kindle Paperwhite hours later, and it arrived the following day before my trip to St. Kitts. I’ve been loving it so far—until I received a Kindle Fire HD and realized there are even better options out there.

First off, as someone who has used our (full-sized) iPad maybe five times in the three years we’ve had it, I didn’t think I would be wild about the Fire. And yet I am. I like the size—it’s just a wee bit bigger than my PW and a lot less clunky than the iPad—and the color screen is a nice change, a pleasing aesthetic. SVV has been using it to read while we’ve been on the ship and loves how he can hold it in one hand while sitting poolside, which he could never do with the iPad (what he’s used to read books for the past few years).

Kindle Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire

I thought the screen might be a problem for reading outside, as any e-reader with glass is, but so far, so good. The brightness function allows you to adjust accordingly. Also, the Wi-Fi works much better on the Fire than on my Paperwhite. In fact, I haven’t been able to log onto Internet anywhere from Europe on my PW, which is a little frustrating as I’m tearing through books and want to download more (having no Wi-Fi means no accessing the store). The only way to download books has been to buy them via Amazon on my computer, download to my laptop then transfer via USB, and while that might not sound like a huge undertaking, the majority of time we’ve been abroad, I have had no Internet access via my computer. But on the Fire, Wi-Fi has been easy to come by, and I can download new reads in a jiffy, in Greece or Montenegro or Slovenia.


Another plus for the Fire is that everything was already integrated into my tablet the first time I turned it on: my email, all the music I’ve purchased on Amazon, TV shows we’ve bought through Prime, everything. That was a nice feature the PW doesn’t have.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like my PW a whole heck of a lot—that backlight is genius—but I definitely see why people are so wild about the Fire (even my dad, who knows nothing about technology but will not part with his first-gen Fire for anything). In theory, the Fire could be an all-in-one for those of you who are looking to travel light: It can serve as your phone (games! apps! camera!), your computer (email! Internet!) and your e-reader. For those looking to consolidate electronics, it’s the perfect choice.

Are you a Fire user, a Paperwhite user or other? What do you like most about your tablet?


Now, onto what I’ve read in the past three months….

The Dog Who Knew Too Much and A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn

The next two installments of the Chet & Bernie mystery series, narrated by flunked-out police dog Chet. The Dog Who Knew Too Much follows the PI team deep into the woods to track down a missing child. Fistful follows Chet and Bernie onto the set of a Hollywood film as they’re hired to do security for the lead actor. I’ve hailed this series in past book posts, so do me a favor and start with the first one and read the following five. You won’t regret it!

My rating: 4 out of 5

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Any lover of 21st century TV dramedies can no doubt appreciate Lauren Graham’s genius, and I was happy to discover that her quick humor on display in Gilmore Girls and Parenthood translates quite seamlessly to the page. While technically a young adult read—and as such, I’ll rate it accordingly—I thoroughly enjoyed following aspiring thespian Franny Banks through 1990s New York City as she tried to make a career out of stage acting in a competitive industry. And while it’s not as if the story itself is a novel contest, you could tell Graham likely infused many of the anecdotes with her own mishaps early on in her own career. Not to mention, as someone who also moved to NYC just days after graduating college, I found much of what Franny endured pretty telling of being a broke twentysomething in the big city (very unlike the show Girls, which I can’t stomach for how unrealistic it actually is).

My rating: 4 out of 5

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

I loved An American Wife. I adored Prep. So I was excited to devour the latest by Sittenfeld. And it was entertaining and never boring. A pair of twin sisters were born with psychic abilities; one sweeps them under the rug and leads a life of lies, while the other is a bit more, eh, out there and openly airs her predictions. Much of the book centers upon Vi’s prediction that St. Louis is going to experience one of the worst earthquakes to date, the weeks leading up to “D-Day,” and the aftermath following the earthquake that may or may not have happened.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The first few pages of this book, I didn’t think I’d make it a third of the way through, let alone finish within a day. But stick out the inaugural chapters of Asperger’s technical prose, and you’ll get used to it and not put it down till you stop. The socially inept genetics professor Don Tillman sets out on a mission to find a wife; instead, he meets a psych student who needs help tracking down her biological father. That’s all I can really say without spoiling the ending, but it’s absolutely everything you want out of a good book: funny, poignant, at times heartbreaking. And I just read that a sequel, The Rosie Effect, will debut in December!

My rating: 5 out of 5

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This book was so clever, so brilliantly written, so fast-paced and witty, that I’ve had trouble reading a book since finishing it, as all others pale in comparison. Bernadette, former-architectural-genius-turned-disillusioned-housewife, is mother to Bee, child prodigy who has decided she wants to spend the family Christmas in Antarctica. That’s how the book starts out, but don’t expect things to unfold as you might expect. The whole book is written as an epistolary novel, with various emails sent from Bernadette, her dreadful neighbor Audrey, and various ancillary characters, and I loved every moment of the wild ride, from start to finish. Without a doubt, the best book I’ve read all year.

My rating: 5 out of 5

The One & Only by Emily Giffin

I’ve never read an Emily Giffin book I loved, so I’m not sure then why I’m always compelled to buy her latest novel. Perhaps it’s because people rave about them on social media, and each time I think it will be different. But her writing style, which is just mediocre, irks me, and her characters often lack depth. What I did appreciate about her latest book is that it focuses on a small town football scene, not unlike Friday Night Lights and not unlike where I grew up. But Coach Carr is no Coach Taylor, and the protagonist Shea was hardly likable, so I’m giving this book a “just OK.” I was looking for easy beach reads for Europe, and I did polish this one off in a day, despite not being wild about it.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Tempting Fate by Jane Green

At one time, likely toward the end of my high school era, I was a huge Jane Green fan. The British author has a sharp tongue and a way of telling hilarious stories unlike most chick lit authors I’ve read. I hadn’t read a Green book in ages and just happened to notice on Amazon that she’s released several in the past couple years that I’d never read, so I purchased them. This one was…well…depressing. Ever since Green moved to Connecticut, her heroines became stay-at-home Connecticut moms, and Tempting Fate was no different. Gabby and Elliott have been married for 18 years when a night out with the girls changes all that. Gabby meets a Mark Zuckerberg (but cute and nice) type, and her happy marriage quickly unravels. It was meh. If you’ve never read Green, I’d suggest starting out with her earlier books like Jemima J or Mr. Maybe instead.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Another chick lit book gone wrong. While Jennifer Weiner is leagues above Giffin, this tale of a mommyblogger who just couldn’t handle everything on her plate—blogging five days a week (Heaven forbid), a five-year-old daughter (oh the horrors) and a dad in the early stages of Alzheimer’s (that part is sad)—so she turns to pills just didn’t sit well with me. For one, I found the main character Allison super annoying. I found her child even more so, and if ever I didn’t want kids (uh, every day), I really don’t want them after she made motherhood appear so miserable. Oh, and also, the concept of drug addiction has terrified me ever since middle school D.A.R.E. classes when they used to make us watch these movies about what could happen to you if you did drugs and I spent the subsequent years waking up in cold sweats after having a recurring nightmare that I’d get to high school and a gang of bullies would pin me down in some deserted bathroom and shoot heroin into my veins against my will.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5

Currently, I’m reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and also have The Goldfinch and Girls in White Dresses in the queue.

What’s on your reading list this summer?

  • July 3, 2014

    I’ve got the Rosie Project cued up and ready to go next on my kindle and I’m on the wait list for Where Did You Go Bernadette and the library. I just finished the Goldfinch which I liked up until the last chapter or so. I did like Girls in White Dresses as well!

    I absolutely love my paperwhite. It’s great for staying up late reading after Mike has fallen asleep (which is exactly why he bought it for me).

    • July 3, 2014

      They are both SO good! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

      And good point: being able to read the PW while Scott sleeps beside me is the best part about it.

  • July 3, 2014

    I haven’t used a PW or Fire before, but I’m glad to know that the Fire is small and light. I have so many books on my list for this month I’m in Brazil and am excited to have some time to relax and actually read whole books. My addiction lately has been watching series on Netflix when I have time to myself, but not being able to use Netflix here means lots more time to read.

    • July 3, 2014

      Yeah, it’s WAY lighter than the iPad, which was always my biggest complaint. Our iPad isn’t much lighter than my MacBook, and it’s extremely hard to hold it up while reading in a beach chair by the pool (#firstworldproblems). Not so with the PW or Fire.

  • July 3, 2014

    I am still rocking my original Kindle Keyboard – hoping it never gives out on me! I looooved “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” … definitely one of my favorite reads of 2014. I just put “Someday Someday Maybe” on my list, thanks!

    • July 3, 2014

      Someday, Someday, Maybe is in no way in Bernadette’s league; HOWEVER, it’s cute and quirky and very Lauren Graham. If you like YA or Devil Wears Prada-like reads, you’ll enjoy it.

  • July 3, 2014
    Nelson's Mama

    I still love hardbacks 🙂

    I thought “The Goldfinch” would never end. I’m reading “All the Light We Cannot See”, it’s a great book! I loved “The Painter” by Peter Heller and was very intrigued by “The Most Dangerous Animal of All” by Gary Stewart.

    • July 3, 2014

      I don’t blame you—but hardbacks might be a little nonsensical for the amount of time I spend in a plane and the number of books I read on each trip 😉

      I’m sort of nervous about The Goldfinch and have been putting it off for months for that very reason….

  • July 3, 2014

    Okay. I can’t see myself ever reading a book by a dog (I don’t even like dogs) but you CONTINUE to nail the books I love, while not liking books I thought were lame. Bernadette? Easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. EVER. Emily Griffin? I do NOT get it, but I continue to read. Ugh. I’m already on the library list for Rosie and Sisterland, so I finally decided to head to Goodreads and just take a tiny peek at the dog books, just to see. No intentions. And lo and behold, Stephen King himself raves about these books. And since he can do NO WRONG, and you loved Bernadette so much…here we go. Getting on the library list. And if I’m honest…I’m a little excited. Don’t tell anyone.

    • July 3, 2014

      I would also put Bernadette on my “top 10 of all-time” list! And I assumed (wrongfully, based on the cover and perhaps the title) that it would be chick lit; I’m so glad it wasn’t. Currently making my sister, mom and Scott read it on our vacation.

      Let me know what you think about Chet & Bernie…my mom, dad, Scott and I—all of whom have quite different reading tastes—each LOVED them, but then again, we’re all dog owners. I’ll be interested to hear if they also appease the non-canine lovers…though it’s pretty cleverly written so I’m hoping at least the writing style will entertain you 😉

      And now, since we’re clearly kindred reading spirits, what awesome books would you recommend for me? I’m always looking for more.

      P.S. Why, why, WHY do people like Giffin so much? I swear I’ve read everything she’s written and never even halfway enjoyed a single one of them. And yet, each time I convince myself it will be different…

  • July 3, 2014

    I was racing through Bernadette yet didn’t want it to end! Whip-smart and hilarious yet at the same time truly poignant and a reflection of our society. Truly fantastic book! The only book that has recently been comparable for me in how much I loved it has been Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – have you read this one yet? I finished in two days!!

    • July 3, 2014

      Same! I can’t enjoy another book after Bernadette as it was THAT GOOD.

      But now I want to read Me Before You–adding it to the list. Thanks, Annie!

  • July 3, 2014

    I have a Google Nexus 7 that I use to access Kindle and I love it. It’s the perfect size – not too big, not too small. So far, no problems. It’s an Android device though, so you never know when it’ll go “kaput” as you say. Right now, I’m reading The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and I’m still waiting to find out what the secret is! I keep falling asleep while reading, but I’m trying to get through this one for my book club.

    • July 9, 2014

      Let me know if you recommend it once you’re done!

  • July 3, 2014

    Loved The Rosie Project as well! You’re the 234234th person to recommend Where’d You Go, Bernadette? So it looks like that will be the next book on my list!

  • July 4, 2014

    Thanks for posting nice views…

  • July 4, 2014

    I started reading the Rosie Project and while I got through the first few chapters, it just didn’t interest me enough to continue. Now that you mentioned it though, maybe I should have stuck with it and see it through! That Bernadette book looks SO interesting though! AH! Time to go back to the library…

    P.s. I’m pretty sure it’s Professor *Don who embarked on the Wife Project. Gene is his sidekick/adviser, no?

    • July 7, 2014

      Give Rosie another go. It is REALLY good. You are right—it’s Don. Thanks for catching that!

  • July 6, 2014

    Looking forward to hearing what you think of The Goldfinch as it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read. Ever.

    Loved Sisterland and Bernadette… I always read Emily Griffin waiting for it to get good. My author discover of 2014 is Greg Isles – he does the southern lawyer thing better than Grisham.

  • July 7, 2014

    I just finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – considering I didn’t like Gone Girl, I was surprised by how much I liked this. Her writing started off good and then went downhill I guess. I’m starting One and Only now, but you’re making me think maybe I shouldn’t!

    • July 9, 2014

      So funny, I just purchased that for my trip, too (but have been hesitant to start it because, well, not exactly a beach read!). I used to work with Gillian at EW and actually LOVED GG and also Sharp Objects (have you picked up that one yet? seriously screwed up). I hear Dark Places is the darkest of the three so have been putting it off, but since the movie is coming out soon, I wanted to go ahead and cross it off the list.

      So re: Giffin, One & Only was not the worst book she’s written. I liked the fact that it was about football, but honestly, her dialogue is so poorly written and I feel like she’s only an OK writer (not great, like Gillian), so every books she writes starts to irk me at some point.

  • July 7, 2014
    Briel K.

    I just finished reading the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laine Taylor. Really enjoyed it. I’ll probably be reading The Rosie Project next. I bought a ton of books on my Kindle Fire to read on my vacation and only ended up reading 2.5. 🙂

    • July 9, 2014

      I have that on my library list, too! We always seem to read the same things, which means you’re clearly going to LOVE Rosie 😉

      • July 10, 2014
        Briel K.

        I did love The Rosie Project! I read it in a day. I hope the second book lives up to the first!

  • July 16, 2014

    I have a horribly long commute now so I listen to audio books in the car. I use your list to help find my next books!

    I “read” (listened to) The Rose Project and really enjoyed it. Don reminded me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

    Best book I’ve read (or listened to) in long time was Me Before You. It’s one of those books that will stick with you.

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