The new Social Site for Kindle users

We all read a lot of book blogs, tweet with #FridayReads & #LitChat, post on GoodReads & LibraryThing, swap on BookMooch and download ARCS on NetGalley. And here comes another website to help us talk about books. The question is, is it worth it? Book lovers who take advantage of online social media are already spending a lot of time on the sites listed above and numerous others.

Well as an avid Kindle user, I can say that I will be visiting https://kindle.amazon.com/  for a while to check it out and play with new developments. So far, it is decently designed. It is a simple, straightforward site with enough options to keep you entertained, but not so many that you feel lost. I like Your Highlights where I can see all the quotes I’ve highlighted in my kindle books on one page. I can then cut and paste into my blog, tumblr or twitter as I wish. To me, that’s quite useful.

The Daily Review option threw me off at first because I thought it would be a daily book review. Instead, it is a ‘review’ in the sense of the word that it is reviewing a book you have in your library by posting “Flashcards” of significant highlights and quotes. I’d prefer for Amazon to change this option to actual book reviews about books that the user might like based upon their current kindle library.

Also on your kindle.amazon page is quotes from books in your library, highly followed people, book suggestions and twitter/facebook buttons if you want to add everyone you know onto your kindle page. I like the Want to Read feature on the right under Public Stats which pulls books from your wishlists to show you what you’ve coveted lately. You can also make certain features public or private, so you can control what your new amazon followers will be able to see.

The Most Highlighted of All Time shows the passages and the books that people are highlighting feverishly at home. In Passages: 

Mockingjay (no surprise) is currently #1 with: “It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.” – Highlighted by 5396 Kindle users

Pride and Prejudice is #2 : “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Highlighted by 5201 Kindle users

and Catching Fire is #3 : “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” – Highlighted by 4932 Kindle users

Overall, I’m enjoying my time at https://kindle.amazon.com/ and I am looking forward to watching how it grows and changes. Feel free to share your thoughts with me! I’d love to hear what other kindle users are thinking of this site so far.

Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce, in case you haven’t read her books, is a great young adult author. Her books are intelligent, fun and empowering. I read her books when I was in junior high and I often re-read them for fun when the mood strikes me. I still enjoy them as much as I did then, which says a lot.

Her main characters are usually strong independent young women who are trying to follow their own path, often a path that society has not yet allowed them to take. In the Alanna series a young girl disguises herself as a boy for years to become a knight. In the Beka Cooper series, a young lady becomes a type of policemen (they are called dogs) through hard work and sheer determination. In the Immortals series, a young lady runs from the town that tries to kill her for her magic and learns to use it to help others.

Pierce’s young ladies are always refreshing. They have minds, skills and they do their best to use them to reach their goals. Her heroines, when compared to those in a lot of current YA literature, are full of depth, independence and humor. They are someone young women could actually look up too. They don’t wait around for a man to save them or fix their lives. They damn well do it themselves and the men can catch up later.. IF they able too. Not that Pierce doesn’t write about men, there are lots of men, good and bad, in these stories. The men are also full well-rounded characters that add to the charm of her books. Its just always so delightful to read a young adult book where girls think and act for themselves. In the current trend of vampire teen angst romances, I believe Pierce’s young ladies would stake the damn vampire and then go to college to get their degree.

In Tortall and Other Lands, we revisit with old friends and discover new ones. One story is narrated by Daine’s dragonling, Kitten from The Immortal’s series. Kitten discovers a woman living on the edge of society, abused by those in town for her magic and tries to help her. In another story, we see the effects of when Numair is forced to turn a man into a tree. Across the world, a tree is turned into a man and must learn to live like one. In the Student of Ostriches, a young girl learns to fight by watching how animals defend themselves. She learns to kick like ostriches and head butt like giraffes. When her sister is threatened, she defends her and by doing so figures out what she wants to do with her own life, become a Shang warrior. These stories and more make up this first series of short stories by Pierce.

Although this book is not as engrossing as Pierce’s usual writing, it is still an enjoyable collection to read. If you’ve never read her books before I’d suggest starting with the Alanna series which has always been a favorite of mine (and if you look at reviews, the rest of the world agrees.)

This book of short stories is definitely a good introduction to Tortall and to Pierce herself, but it is also a nice stopover for dedicated fans to read while waiting for something more.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

It amazes me how easy it is for things to change, how easy it is to start off down the same road you always take and wind up somewhere new. Just one false step, one pause, one detour, and you end up with new friends or a bad reputation or a boyfriend or a breakup. It’s never occurred to me before; I’ve never been able to see it. And it makes me feel, weirdly, like maybe all of these different possibilities exist at the same time, like each moment we live has a thousand other moments layered underneath it that look different.”

To be honest, I didn’t actually think I’d like this book. The plot sounded too predictable (having to do one day over and over again until you get it right) and reading the first chapter made me hate the main character. Sam Kingston, popular, pretty, has the boyfriend everyone wants, wakes up on ‘Cupid Day’ a day when everyone in the school is sent roses and whoever gets the most roses is considered the most popular. She and her clique go through they day as usual, being horrible to those less popular than them, joking about Sam losing her virginity and then going to a party thrown by a Kent, a childhood friend that Sam used to be close with but now ignores. The first time Sam goes through this day she is selfish and mean, not realizing how her actions (and the actions of her best friends) affect those around her.

That night, she dies.

And then she wakes up to the same day, all over again. At first when she realizes this, she becomes even more reckless and heartless. But when she dies again and small things change because of her choices, she begins to change too. She starts to see that even the smallest, harmless seeming choices can have consequences.

Its a fast paced story, especially after the first chapter which felt a bit slow to me (mostly because I wanted to smack Sam and her friends for being such mindless jerks.) After that, the story captured me and kept me until the end. I did become emotionally invested in Sam’s life. I was rooting for her to turn her life around and change her ending.

What I liked most was that this book isn’t really about happy endings or her ending up with the guy she should have been with all along (although we all do like to see the nice guys get noticed.) Its about Sam, a typical teenager, learning to make better choices and learning to be brave enough to be kind.

‘Before I fall’ ends leaving you feeling that you just witnessed something sad, beautiful and not to be missed.