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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Calibre and Kindle

I get a lot of the books I read via author newsletters. I sign up to these via freebie offers and then try a free book. If the author’s style appeals then I’m likely to buy more and I let the newsletters keep coming. Some of my favourite authors, particularly in the romance, fantasy and crime genres, reach me that way.

So far, so good.

The only strange thing is the way their publishers or distributors don’t seem to have caught up with the way a lot of people actually handle e-books – downloading, transfer to e-reader, etc.

They go into long, convoluted explanations of what they consider is the best way to get the book. This often seems to rely on my willingness to order the book by typing on the keyboard on my Kindle Fire.

I would only do that if there was absolutely no chance of getting the book any other way!!

Then they warn me that the mobi version they are sending me might not download straight to my Kindle. Duh!! Then there’s another long and equally convoluted explanation of what to do.

What I actually do is to get the mobi version downloaded to my hard drive. Or an epub version. Or almost anything, really. Then I load it to my Calibre. Calibre is free (though they do ask for donations and I have occasionally donated because they do such a superb job). I then make sure Calibre either has the mobi version or has converted whatever it was to mobi. This takes about three seconds and the information shows nicely in the sidebar. I connect my Kindle to the computer and tell Calibre to upload to the Kindle main drive. Hey presto!

There are lots of plus factors here. I have a copy on my hard drive and can even save it to disc. I am not totally tied to Amazon. I have the glory of my Calibre library which shows me the covers and metadata and is much more easily organised than the Kindle for PC library (though I use that for books I have bought directly from Amazon). I can then add notes, reviews, star ratings and even cover pictures for the books that start without one.

I also use Calibre to check that my own books look right in various versions. There are dire warnings (again) on all kinds of helpful sites and blogs, about how they might not look exactly right. Well, I check against the way they look on friends’ computers once they’re actually published, and there has never been a problem of any kind. I don’t use embedded graphics or even many odds and ends like italics or accents so maybe I just don’t need to worry? And whilst Smashwords and Amazon are at daggers drawn over the best way to insert an active table of contents, it isn’t really a big deal for a fiction book that starts at the beginning and moves smoothly through the middle to the end. For me, Calibre does a superb job.

I first found Calibre when I got my first Kindle. You might have gathered that as well as published books I read a lot of fanfiction. Nowadays, I get most of it ready converted to mobi by AO3 and then just upload it the same way I upload mobi versions of published books. But I used to access a lot of it via social media and had to rely on Calibre to convert it for me so that I could take it anywhere on my Kindle.

About the only glitch I have found with Calibre is that when you switch to a new laptop and transfer your information you must never ever ever alter the path to the file/folder by renaming things or putting them in umbrella folders or it all disappears. I have no idea where it goes but go it does. Fortunately, I have never been in the position of having a crashed laptop and no means of retrieving it. And I do have some IT experts in the family.

So – Calibre makes life easy and Kindle makes carting my ‘library’ around even easier. But publishers and distributors don’t seem to have understood yet!

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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in publishing

 

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June reviews

I know, I know, I’ve been absent again. Well, this time it was due to iffy internet in Portugal. The guy at the PhoneHouse where we pay for our service said it would have been better if we’d bought the 4G hub instead of the 3G one but as there was no 4G when we bought it…

Anyway, access was erratic and actually trying to load anything anywhere was a step too far. Sorry! Have some reviews, and I have other posts ready to load over the next week or two.

Films and TV

I intended to watch various things but ended up spending the evenings outdoors. Absolutely nothing to report this month except that the moon was beautiful!

Books

The five star ones first – all highly recommended:

Lessons in Power/Charlie Cochrane*****

Lessons in Temptation/Charlie Cochrane*****

I am still working my way through the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries and loving each one in turn. There is a wonderful mix of period detail, m/m romance and intriguing crime. The characters (including some of the minor ones like the College Master’s sister, and Jonty’s father) develop more with each story which adds to the pleasure of these books.

Pressure Head/JL Merrow*****

Relief Valve/JL Merrow*****

Heat Trap/JL Merrow*****

This is the Plumber’s Mate series, set in St. Albans (though I suspect from poring over a map that some of the other locations are fictitious). Tom, a gay plumber. is a psychic who can find things (including corpses and leaks). Think Rivers of London style mixed with m/m romance and lots of humour. I’m thoroughly enjoying the series and am sad that there is only one more to go, so far as I know.

Nor Iron Bars A Cage/Kaje Harper*****

Excellent fantasy romance. Good magic and well developed main characters. Tobin (ex soldier and now royal messenger) takes Lyon, a sorcerer with a nightmare past, to help stop an invasion. (A freebie from Goodreads but apparently the author has other books which I must investigate.)

My Highland Cowboy/Alexa Milne*****

Duncan has a ranch in the highlands and Drew is a fashion designer in London. They bond over Drew’s sister’s wedding and then have to see if there’s any future for them. Whilst I don’t often give five stars to romance that doesn’t have something else going for it (crime, history, fantasy…) I was really gripped by the central concerns of this book and found all the characters, including the minor ones, intriguing.

An Unnatural Vice/KJ Charles*****

This is the second volume in the Sins of the City series and it was good to see some of the characters from the first story again and find out what was happening about the inheritance that formed the plot (and the crime/mystery) of the first. Victorian London is really well depicted. Another series that has crime and historical interest added to the m/m romance.

 

Then the four star books that were good but won’t have me rushing to find the next in the series.

Lars:Witches of London/ Aleksandr Voinov****

A well written romance with a lot of angst about illness and healing. Too much pagan religion for my taste though the details were interesting.

Bodyguard to a Sex God/RJ Scott****

Fanfic writers blur fic and reality and turn stalker. Good, though I guessed whodunnit before the end.

Guarding Morgan (Sanctuary 1)/RJ Scott****

Nice bodyguard story – too short for my taste and I won’t buy the rest of the series but would read if they were free.

The Cowboy and the Pencil Pusher/S.C.Wynne****

A banker helps to save a ranch (and its owners). Nicely done.

Regeneration/Louise Lyons****

Competent space romance including artificially enhanced humans, alien planets, space ships, etc. Nice concept and good writing but I wasn’t personally hooked by the main characters.

Sollicito/Charlie Cochrane****

Weresloth shifter story. Amusing and unusual.

Diversion/Eden Winters****

Competent ‘cop buddy’ tale with two guys who are in effect foxes set to guard the henhouse re drug diversion by big pharmaceuticals, but I wasn’t hooked by either character and I was a bit disappointed because I like this author’s style.

A Twist and Two Balls/Clare London****

Pleasant story about a ‘resting’ actor and his lawyer/cabbie boyfriend plus their friends who run an ice cream shop.

 

Three star. Well enough written but I had to try very hard to remember what it was about.

Nothing Special/A.E.Via***

Competent cop buddy story that initially hooked me but had too much sex that did nothing to further plot or character. God and Day were nice enough characters. Apparently a series…

 

Two star. Less than stellar, though some people might enjoy it.

A Place to Call Their Own/Dean Frech**

Two veterans of the civil war set out to claim a homestead together. Despite the excitement of Indians, tornadoes and fires, the book is boring – reads like a how-to manual on setting up a farm.

 

And this month, four I abandoned because they simply didn’t interest me after the first few pages. Remember, this doesn’t mean they’re bad books, just that they don’t appeal to me. If I think a book is actually bad (and sometimes I do) I’ll say so!

Aqua Follies/Liv Rancourt

A lifeguard to a synchronised swimming troupe falls for a musician from another act at the festival.

Breathe and Release/Katherine Hayton

A woman with amnesia and another imprisoned without any idea or where or why. There didn’t seem to be anything actually happening and the characters were not particularly appealing.

Helping Hand/Jay Northcote

A college story about friends becoming lovers.

Promises Kept: The Story of Number Two/Giacomo Giammatteo

A cop story about a woman who has faked an identity to enter the police force.

 

Fanfiction

Just one highly recommended story this month. Most of the others I read were very short ficlets and drabbles.

Rivers of Ankh-Morpork/melannen ***** http://archiveofourown.org/bookmarks/167187597

Rivers of London/Discworld. Gen. (No romance of any kind.) 6,380 words.

A brilliant crossover story in which Peter, from Rivers of London, is accidentally (or maybe on purpose) catapulted into the Discworld and has to find his way home with help from Vimes and others.

 

And yes, I read quite a lot. That happens when the internet is less than accessible!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in reviews

 

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