September 2011

An Incredible Voyage Indeed

Jump on board with the infamous Ernest Shackleton on one of his most exciting exploration adventures.

Endurance,” written by Alfred Lansing, has long been heralded as a must-read for all adventure seekers. I read this book as a teenager and quickly learned it is the best book to get young male readers interested in reading and history. The story is eloquently written with the right amount of facts to keep the book interesting yet not turn the reader away with a headache.

The story covers adventurer and explorer from Ireland, Ernest Shackleton, on his yearlong escapade in the Antarctic seas. The story is filled with difficulties and tragedy as the Shackleton and his men are locked into ice with no way to escape. Lansing researched the book by interviewing men from Shackleton’s’ team who were still alive as well as reading diaries of some of the men on board. This tale of survival will leave you on the edge of your seat, if even if you know how the story ends.

What I particularly love about this book is how Lansing is able to portray all the men in such a way I feel as though I can understand why they would choose to go on such a dangerous mission. The teamwork, loyalty and camaraderie of the crew are something which I just don’t usually hear about today. “Endurance” takes you back in time when the world is still a mystery, ready to be explored. After reading “Endurance” I find myself contemplating all we have learned from brave people like Shackleton and his team and it just makes me want to get outdoors to appreciate nature for myself.

Stephen King Announces "Shining" Sequel

In a move that caused sickly groans among fans and detractors worldwide, Stephen King has confirmed that he is working on a sequel to The Shining. Frankly, I don't see anyone winning from this but King.
My first question was, "Has anyone been stumping for a sequel to The Shining?" Writing a sequel to what must be his most well-respected and popular book seems like answering a question that no one asked. Is there any demand for this to happen?
My second question was, "Is he kidding?" Because the sequel involves - I kid you not - vampire pirates. Yes. Vampire pirates. Danny is an adult, and working at a mental institution, and there are vampire pirates.
What is this I don't even.

Book Cover Theft

Robin Romm, who recently wrote a heartbreaking memoir called The Mercy Papers about her mother's death, has a great article in Slate about what happened to that book's cover. Her publisher initially showed her some pretty cheesy options, but Romm held firm. And luckily a new designer came on staff, who gave her book the amazing cover that it deserves (seen here).
But look what happened then! Things that, shall we say, strongly resembled her book cover's layout and color scheme started appearing. Is it a coincidence that the same "pale blue on a curve" background showed up in two other settings, with brightly colored popsicles in the foreground? Maybe, maybe not. I think at the very least you will agree that it's certainly an uncanny resemblance.

PDFs On The Kindle

Once you learn your way around the Kindle, you start finding a lot of other things it can do. I was recently set a promotional PDF version of a book, and I immediately wondered if there was a way I could read it on my Kindle.
In fact there are two ways you can work with PDFs on your Kindle. You can move it straight over with USB, or you can email it to your Kindle and have it sent wirelessly by WhisperNet. And if you choose the latter, you have the option to convert the PDF into a Kindle format!
Transferring PDFs To Kindle With USB
This is a simple process. Plug your Kindle into your computer with the USB cord. Then drag and drop the PDF into the "Documents" folder on your Kindle. Presto, the PDF will appear on your Kindle's menu, ready to read.

Amazon Announces Netflix-Style e-Book Plan

The Wall Street Journal has announced that Amazon is floating a trial balloon regarding a "Netflix for eBooks" service. My first reaction: If only there were a place you could go, where they would let you borrow the books for free, as long as you brought them back within a few weeks! Maybe one that was publicly funded by your tax dollars, thus providing a critical community service! One which in fact in many cases is, or is planning to, allow the lending of Kindle books!

Coming Soon: Great Gatsby In 3D By Baz Luhrman

No, that's not a joke. I thought it was when I skimmed the headlines. I assumed at first that it was an article by The Onion. Then I noticed that it was from CNN, and it isn't April 1st, so I assumed it had to be true.
Baz Luhrman is an amazing director, don't get me wrong. His visual style and sensory overload is beyond incredible. We're lucky to have such a talent working today. But when I think Baz Luhrman I think big showy musicals like his previous hits, Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom.
And now, The Great Gatsby? In 3D? Really?

The E-Reader Conflict, An Inside View

The Millions has a great editorial on the future of books versus e-books by Mark O'Connell. In fact, I can't help but feel that this is the article that the e-book debate has been waiting for: written by someone who is both a hoarder and lover of books, and a proud Kindle owner. Too much of the e-book debate is being shaped by entrenched e-book haters, who end up coming off like a nation of Andy Rooneys. But O'Connell's article tackles the many thorny issues involved in the rise of e-books from a knowledgeable (and somewhat regretful) position.

Getting Your eBooks Signed With Kindlegraph

I was nerdishly thrilled this week when I bought a Kindle eBook from an author (Rachael Herron) who has signed up with Kindlegraph. I have been wanting to give Kindlegraph a whirl for several weeks now, and was just itching for the opportunity to come along.
You sign into Kindlegraph with your Twitter account. It doesn't seem to send tweets on your behalf, so I was a little bit puzzled about that part. No matter: once you find your author and click to request a signature, you get a pop-up telling you the configuration changes you need to make. As a technical writer, I was pleased to note that these instructions are clear, concise, and well-written.

Song Of Ice And Flame Wars

Sady Doyle, one of the Internet's most contentious figures (and a personal hero) has read all of George R. R. Martin's books, and offers her opinions thusly. And predictably, the Internet - which is largely filled with nerds - myself included - goes completely insane with rage.
There are a lot of productive comments that you can make about Doyle's piece on Martin's use - nay, overuse - of rape, pedophilia, and sexual assault of all kinds. The only halfway-decent rebuttal I have read so far is by Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress. Most of the rebuttals can be summed up as "ARRRRRRR RAWWWWRRRRR" combined with the gnashing of teeth.