Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a fictional account of a 50 year old Harvard psychology professor with early onset Alzheimer’s.  It is available in both Kindle and paperback editions.  This book has won numerous awards and had a long run on the New York Times Bestseller List.

I discovered this book while searching through Goodreads recommendations.  Goodreads has introduced me to a lot of different authors and genres I would never have heard of otherwise.

It is simple, yet poignant.  The book is written from the perspective of the Alzheimer’s patient as opposed to the more common caretaker viewpoint.  So, the reader gets a first hand glimpse into the daily tasks and emotions from the patient herself.

Most people think of Alzheimer’s as affecting only the elderly.  In a majority of cases those people are beyond retirement age.  Before Alzheimer’s struck, Alice held a jam packed schedule full of lectures, research, and teaching.  The aggressive disease took all of that away from her.  It not only takes a toll on her life, but on her family and friends as well.

The writing itself is really direct, with no frills.  Sometimes there is a bit of disorganization in the flow of the plot, but in a sense, it represents Alice’s train of thoughts.

Still Alice has glowing reviews.  Many of the reviewers suggest that everyone affected by Alzheimer’s in some way should read it.  I also saw multiple reviews saying how accurate Genova’s depiction of the disease is. The fictional account has a loose connection to the author because she is a Harvard educated neuroscientist herself.

Vicki Evans

“Wow! This book is so realistic and, for me, a real tear-jerking read. I teach high school and I have always told my students that if a book can draw you in, make you live vicariously through a character, and somehow help you with life experiences, then it’s a good book. This book did that for me and so much more.”

Genova has another bestselling novel: Left Neglected out, and will release Love Anthony on September 25th.

Lower Kindle Book Prices are Inevitable

When the publishers jacked up the prices a couple years ago on bestsellers and other popular e-books for the Kindle, they suddenly lost some appeal.  $9.99 or less for New York Times bestsellers sounded like a deal.  $11.99-14.99?  Not so much.

However, the rising prices have opened up several other free and inexpensive alternatives.  There are a ton of low priced Kindle books out there.  There are also free Kindle book lists and Kindle Library lending.  If you have time to sort through the lists, you will find some good stories mixed in.

The high prices on the big names also gave self published authors a boost.  Kindle Direct Publishing allows anyone to publish a book.  Some very successful independent authors have rivaled the big name authors with numbers of books sold. I remember the days when getting published was a feat accomplished only by a select few who had what it takes to get the attention of the major publishing houses.

There are still a lot of people who weigh the ability to share print editions, and are more willing to pay a higher cost for them.  There’s something about being able to pass a book around between friends and family members that can’t be recreated with a Kindle.  Now that the Kindle is in the hands of mainstream consumers, there is a much bigger group to share books with via the Kindle lending program. So, I can definitely see a future of e-book sharing that can rival the print book sharing idea.

So, I think it is only a matter of time before we start seeing lower prices on even the huge bestsellers.  In the end, it really is a consumer’s market.  In this economy, consumers are looking for the best bargains.

They won’t be able to compete otherwise.  Will all of these independent authors who got the chance to shine lose their visibility if this occurs?  That will be an interesting trend to watch.

 

 

Twilight Series for Kindle: Featuring Breaking Dawn

At last, we reach the final installment of the Twilight series for the Kindle: Breaking Dawn.  Bella and Edward get married, and we hear a good bit of the story from Jacob’s point of view.  It appears that Breaking Dawn was written for a more mature audience considering the more graphic depictions of certain events in the novel.

The reviews for Breaking Dawn were all over the place.  Some say it is the worst book in the whole series, and others say it is awesome.  So, it really is just a matter of personal preference I guess.

CallanShea

“Book four of the series, Breaking Dawn was an interesting turn of events. I found myself being surprised in some occasions, and I felt like it was an overall good book. I know that it catches a lot of flak, but the book is good. It is interesting, well-written, and has a developed plot.”

Here is a review that pointed out an issue that was brought up multiple times in other posts, which is the fact that about half of Breaking Dawn was written from Jacob’s perspective instead of Bella’s.

Kelly3202

“I could not put the books down. I read all four in a month. The only thing that i don’t like is the wolf thing and how the fourth book focuses on Jacob. Given what it was about, i feel she should have had something in there from Edward’s point-of-view. Overall, love them!!!”

This reviewer brought up a good point.  This series is meant to be fiction, and often in life, things don’t turn out the way we want them to, but fiction gives us a means of escape.  It also fuels our imagination.

Fysher

“I was a little worried about the second part being told from Jacob’s perspective, but suprisingly it was very good. I know in life you don’t always get what you want, but that’s why this is fantasy/fiction. Bella got everything she wanted.”

So for those of you who have read Breaking Dawn, do you think it provided a good ending for the series?  If not, what would you change about the ending?

Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home is Released

New York Times Bestselling author Jodi Picoult released her latest novel, Sing You Home, on March 1st.  The cool part about the Kindle version of Sing You Home is that it includes a set of folk songs written by Picoult and sung by Ellen Wilber that apply to Zoe, the main character’s life.

True to form, Picoult hits a controversial issue head on, and this time it is gay rights.  She has written about high school shooting, the death penalty, sexual abuse, Asperger’s, and many others.  Zoe, a music therapist who desires a large family, finds love with another woman and tries to have a baby, but ends up in a legal battle over embryos with her ex husband.

It is fitting that she tackle’s the gay rights issue, especially with the recent recognition of legal unions in Hawaii and that it is a hot topic across the country with heavy debates on both sides.

Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.

Jodi Picoult has an uncanny ability to provide a series of plots and weave them together.  She also writes from different character’s “voices.”  In some of her novels, even the text is different to portray that particular character’s personality.  She is “real’ and really cares about her readers and the subject matters she uses, which is reflected in her writing.

I also wrote another post on Jodi Picoult’s recently published short story, Leaving Home, and about her earlier novels that you should check out if you are interested.

So, with that said, I think I’ll go grab my Kindle and get to reading.

Twilight Series for Kindle: Featuring Eclipse

eclipseThe Edward-Bella-Jacob triangle is in full force in the third installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Bella and Edward are applying for college and consider marriage. Bella’s interest in Jacob, the werewolf goes to a new level when she discovers she might be in love with him as well.

A major battle erupts in Seattle that leads to a great deal of fighting and bloodshed, and the army is made up of a bunch of newborn vampires. What an image. The battle is fueled by Victoria’s jealousy over Edward and Bella’s relationship. In efforts to avoid spoiling the plot for those of you who haven’t read the book, I will leave it at that. So, grab a copy of Eclipse for your Kindle and Kindle DX and tell us what you think.

One interesting conclusion from the reviews of Eclipse are how varied the reactions. Eclipse got reviews ranging from “major cheesy” and “disturbing” to “a great love story.”

kim h

“I was very hesitant of reading this series since i am not much into the vampire books but wow!! I was wrong on this one. I loved it and I coulnd’t put the book down. I have 2 kids and i was able to ready this series in a very short time and that is really good for me. I am usually a slow ready but this author really captivated you to want to read more and want more. I got lost in the this world of theirs and really wanted more. I wish she would continue to write more about it. The Characters are fun and it brought back memories of being a teenager and the whole love thing. WOW!! It’s a must read!!”

This review reminds me of my thoughts on Harry Potter.  I usually don’t read fantasy, but somehow those books really sucked me in after I finally sat down to read them.  It is probably because despite the supernatural element of Twilight and Harry Potter, both series contain issues that we deal with in real life.

From the Heart

“I had a great time with this book, mostly because it really twisted everything around in a way I never thought it would go. Edward became so overprotective with the kidnapping and everything, that really stuck with me and made him the villain of this book. I did not see that coming. And the relationship between Bella and Jacob became a great strong-point of the story as well. I loved seeing her stand up for herself.”

A review particularly catered to the Kindle version:

Becs

“Having just finished reading Eclipse on my kindle, and thoroughly enjoying it, I did not encounter any typos or formatting issues, save one minor point; there are no spaces between scene changes within chapters. The lack of spaces that indicate an end of scene did cause me some confusion when reading. I would occassionally come across a paragraph that did not flow as it was not in context with the previous paragraphs, I would then realise that a scene break had just occurred but had not been acknowledged in the spacing. In all other areas I was happy with the formatting of my kindle version of Eclipse.”

Twilight Series for Kindle: Featuring New Moon

new moonNew Moon is the second book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.  It is a really dark book, which makes it’s title, New Moon, very appropriate.  It is $8.99 on the Kindle and Kindle DX.

New Moon is a bit Romeo and Juliet-esque because it involves similar circumstances and depression.  Bella celebrates her 18th birthday with Edward and his family.  She ends up cutting herself to the point of bleeding and, as vampires, the Cullen family is overwhelmed with the desire to eat her.  When they realize how much of a danger they are to Bella, they decide to move away.

After Edward moves away, Bella suffers from a deep depression and seeks solace from Jacob Black.  He and his tribe are werewolves.  They protect Bella from various threats and revenge attacks.  A bit of miscommunication becomes a matter of life or death for Edward, but will Bella save him in time?

Sometimes I am shocked at the dark nature of young adult novels, but in a sense they do address major issues that teenagers today have to deal with.  That includes depression and struggles relating to romantic relationships.

New Moon didn’t get as good of reviews as it’s predecessor, Twilight, but here are a few I thought were interesting.  Many complain about what a sap and over the top Bella is, but in a sense this is what teenagers can relate to.

Night Wind

I’m glad that there is a popular Native American character and that he is a potential love interest for the main character instead of just in the background. I’m not glad that Jacob’s character is so devoted to someone who repeatedly hurts him (Bella even admits that she’s being selfish by wanting Jacob with her even though she doesn’t return his romantic feelings). This book isn’t for me, but I’m glad other people have enjoyed it. If you enjoy a good love triangle, then you’ll like this book. If you find such drama annoying, then you’ll hate it. Again, it just depends on what you’re looking for.”

From the Heart

“If Stephanie Meyer played on our sympathies by showing us a weak Bella in Twilight, I think she tried to compensate by breaking her out of that mold in New Moon. All of a sudden she starts acting out, being reckless with her motorcycle and cliff-diving. Likewise, we don’t see much of Edward but learn much more about Jacob. Makes me wonder if she felt bad for leaving us in the dark about him in the first book.”

Jamie Wasserman “jamie23”

“kay, so this is a lot of people’s least favorite in the series. The pacing in the book is dreadfully slow. Bella spends a lot of time wallowing and doing harmful things. But it resonates true and it makes the ending in Italy that much more exciting. Finally, Edward and Bella are together for all about 5 minutes. It’s a wonderful prelude to book 3.”

Twilight Series for Kindle: Featuring Twilight

Twilight SeriesI’m sure many of you are familiar with the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer that has been a huge book and movie box office success. You can get the whole Twilight saga on your Kindle or Kindle DX for $36.99. This is a great deal considering individual Kindle Bestsellers usually run about $9.99 or up each.

The first book in the Twilight series: Twilight, introduces Bella Swan, who moves from Arizona to Washington State. There, she falls in love with Edward Cullen, a vampire. After showing up out of nowhere to save Bella from getting hit by a bus, Bella and Edward form a deep bond. Jacob Black, a Native American who gains the powers to morph into a wolf, competes with Edward for Bella’s love. He only had a minor role in Twilight, but takes on a much larger one in the later books in the series.

Meyer on Jacob’s character:

“Jacob was my first experience with a character taking over—a minor character developing such roundness and life that I couldn’t keep him locked inside a tiny role….From the very beginning, even when Jacob only appeared in chapter six of Twilight, he was so alive. I liked him. More than I should for such a small part

The Twilight series has captured the attention of teenagers and adults alike, and has rivaled the success of Harry Potter. Vampires have been a really popular theme in recent years due to the success of the Twilight series. The romance element, particularly the love triangle going on between Bella, Edward and Jacob, adds another twist that readers of many ages can relate to.

A few helpful reviews about the series as a whole:

H.K. Sidhu “reading goddess”

“The story arc draws you in and captures you to the point where you can not put the books down wanting to know what is going to happen next and whether Bella and Edward make it together as a couple and to see how they get through all the hurtles that are thrown their way by the antagonists within the story (who by the way are so interesting on their own that you want to know more about them and the world of Stephanie Meyer’s vampires and their evolution). Suffice it to say, by the time I finished reading this series I felt bereft that there was no more books and that the series and come to its end…”

K. Foster “K. Foster, M. Msc” provides a good list of the themes in the series:

“Besides the obvious romantic theme in this series there are many other messages. Such as: acceptance of others, family relationships, getting over prejudices, spirituality, and following your dream.”

John

“The story of Edward and Bella is the story of true love. a story I can relate to… she writes of the love they have for one another in such a way that it grabs you by the hand as she takes you for a walk thru Forks, WA and the humor, jealously, anger, heartbreak, and extreme love of two young kids looking for what all people around the world are looking for…”

So, question: Are you Team Edward, or Team Jacob?

The Confession – Kindle Edition

I’ve read most of John Grisham’s novels.  His books lost their flavor for awhile, but it looks like he has made a come back with The Confession.  It is currently #1 on the Kindle and Kindle DX Top 100 list.

The Confession is a heart wrenching story of an innocent man put on death row for raping a high school cheerleader.  The real rapist watches the former football star take punishment without remorse.  This is, until he finds out he has a fatal brain tumor and decides to confess.  Either way he’s doomed to die so it no longer matters really if he dies at the hands of the legal system.  But the sad thing is, an innocent life was wasted away in prison because another person did not confess.  By writing in the perspective of the real rapist, it makes the situation even more poignant.

Reviews are good for the most part.  Grisham provides a good glimpse into the legal system and the death penalty.  Some reviewers say that this is one of his best.  Others say it is just a repeat of his other thrillers, and are tired of the same plot over and over.

Grisham’s novels all kind of run together after awhile, but there are a few that I remember quite well.  The Associate is the last one I’ve read, and that one had me holding my breath until the end.  It is about a young lawyer who is manipulated to the point of driving him insane.  Somehow he manages to escape, but barely.

Playing for Pizza is the story of a fallen football player named Rick Dockery.  He ends up in Italy playing for a football team called the Parma Panthers that has a miserable track record.  I didn’t know they had American football in Italy especially since soccer is such a huge sport in European countries. It is a story of victory for the underdog, as well as a glimpse into the Italian food and wine scene.

Skipping Christmas was a break from his usual legal thrillers and even had some funny parts.  It was about a family who decided not to celebrate Christmas.  That ended up being a much more difficult feat than they realized.  It is a cute, quick read.

Room – Kindle Edition

While browsing for good books on the NYT Bestseller list, I came across a unique book called Room.  You can purchase it for the Kindle 3 or Kindle DX for $11.99.  The Kindle version is the best deal available from the format selections.

Room, by Irish author Emma Donoghue, is a “riveting and suspenseful” story that will “absolutely take your breath away” according to reviewers.  One of the factors that makes this book so powerful is that it is from the perspective of a 5 year old who is confined to one room for years with his mother.

Jack’s perception of life outside of the Room is limited to what he watches on TV.  Televion often provides a skewed viewpoint of life.  He and his mother, “Ma” have daily rituals and games they play together, and they form a tight bond.  Old Nick provides them with food and other necessities from the outside.  His character is rather ominous because Jack must hide in the wardrobe when he comes to visit every night.

This book reflects on the idea of being content with situations that are the only ones you’ve known.  Jack is pretty happy living in the Room because he knows nothing about the outside.  Ma on the other hand, was kidnapped and has been trapped in the space for seven years.  She has experienced the freedom of the outside world, and being stuck in the Room has a profound mental effect on her.

When exposed to the world beyond the Room, Jack is overwhelmed by the noise and activity that goes on.  I think this is a really interesting perspective because it is from someone who has to jump head first into something that most of society has had the chance to naturally adapt to.

Room makes me also think of how socially isolated the world has become due to technology and connection via the internet.  We can build a social network and interact through chat, games and even virtual worlds all in the comfort of our own home.  So, I wonder if eventually the outside world will seem just as overwhelming as it did to Jack?

This book has amazing reviews and is definitely worth checking out.

Political Bestsellers for Kindle

In the spirit of the election season, there is a good variety of political bestsellers floating around on the Amazon Kindle and Kindle DX Top 100 List.  Objectively speaking, I just thought I’d bring some of them to your attention.

Obama’s Wars is an inside look at the Afghanistan War and Obama’s uphill battle to providing an exit strategy.  According to Amazon’s reviews, this book contains firsthand accounts and secret debates between top White House leaders including the President.  The reviews are mixed.  Some say Bob Woodward did a great job portraying the insider information.  Other reviewers say this author is past his prime.

For some rather intense takes on Obama’s administration and policy, check out David Limbaugh’s Crimes Against Liberty and Dinesh D’Souza’s The Roots Against Obama’s Rage.  They both have good reviews.

Robert B. Reich, the Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and the author of Supercapitalism, recently released a novel called Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.  The basic message of this novel is that the stimulus package has not led to greater economic recovery because it does not address income inequality.  One reviewer describes Aftershock as one of the best novels to read about the stimulus package because of its critical insight into the issue.  It also addresses the role of automation technology in the crisis.

On another note, Tony Blair wrote a novel about his prime ministership  called A Journey: My Political Life that has great reviews.  It appears to be a deeply revealing personal account.  One reviewer pointed out that Blair’s writing is genuine as opposed to the usual political pompousness that seems to be the norm in many political memoirs or autobiographies.  Blair also provides great insight into his relationships with important world leaders including Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama.

On November 9th, which I believe is Election Day, George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points will be released.  The novel takes an in depth look at the major decisions in his presidency.  These include 9/11, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Hurricane Katrina and the financial crisis.  So this should be an interesting and insightful read.