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).
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