My New Toy: the Kindle Voyage

When I realized I’d read more titles on my Kindle than on paper in 2015, I decided it really was time to upgrade from the keyboard Kindle I bought in March of 2011. In the world of electronics, that’s practically an antique (begging pardon of my beloved computer, which is even older). I’d been dithering about the splurge for a number of reasons: my old Kindle worked fine, most of the time; there didn’t seem to be any easy way to transfer the contents of one Kindle to another; and the Voyage is pretty expensive.

And I dithered between the Voyage and the Kindle Paperwhite, which has pretty much the same software and, in the newest generation, the same resolution (300 ppi, as compared to 167 ppi for my old Kindle). When my friend Jo Anne recently upgraded, she chose the Paperwhite, and it is a beautiful ereader.

I read all the reviews and comparisons, and four features of the Voyage called to me: the flat glass surface, the self-adjusting lighting, the multiple page-turning methods, and the “origami” case Amazon sells for it. So I splurged, ordered a Voyage and a leather case, and hoped it would be all I wanted.

It is. I love it. I’ve had the Voyage for about ten days now, and if I thought my first Kindle was magic five years ago, this one has it beat all over.

It has taken some getting used to. It took me a couple of days to learn to “tap” when turning pages or using the menus. You can also turn pages by swiping (one direction forward, the other back) or by pressing the bezel (as for the “haptic feedback” connected with the bezel-pressing method, I can’t feel it through the case; without the case there is a faint “clunk” somewhere in the back of the Kindle. Pointless, in my opinion, but I suppose some people like it). The menus are a bit different from those on my old Kindle, and I made good use of the User Guide. The Internet connection (WiFi or 3G) seems to be on by default—to turn it off (and save the battery) you must go into the menu system and turn on “airplane mode.”

VoyageThe Voyage in its case is much smaller and easier to hold than my old Kindle in its much larger lighted case. The Voyage is made of magnesium and glass, not plastic, and its case is magnetic. The folded easel configuration is exactly what I’d hoped for, allowing comfortable hands free reading. The Voyage turns on when you open the case and off when you close it.

The resolution and contrast make the text extremely sharp, and I read comfortably at a smaller type size (there are six fonts to choose from, the default being Bookerly, developed for the newer Kindles) than I could on my old one. The difference between the paper white Voyage and the grayish/greenish keyboard Kindle (what color is that, anyway?) is stunning. The screen is indeed flat—no annoying bezel edges to catch those tiny bits of hair when I read under the dryer when I have my hair cut.

The software allows several choices for display at the bottom of the screen. The percentage remains in the bottom right corner, but the Reading Progress menu allows you to choose Page Number (if available), Time left in Chapter, Time Left in Book, Location, or nothing at all to display in the bottom left corner. (I never did see much use for Location as a reader, although it is useful for reporting typos and such to friends who actually want that sort of feedback.) And there’s the Page Flip function, and About the Book, and several other goodies that don’t exist on my old Kindle. Probably some I haven’t even found yet.

As for the 350 or so items sitting in my Amazon cloud, I’m just leaving most of them there, at least for the time being. I’ve set up a few collections on my Voyage (the touch screen keypad is so much easier to use than the mechanical keyboard on my old Kindle), downloaded two or three books into each one to get started, and established the Voyage as my default device so new purchases will go to it. I can identify every title I’ve bought on the Kindle app on my computer and then find it in the cloud. Some I’ve read, some I downloaded, early on, because they were free and will never remember to read, and some I’ll just download when I’m ready for them.

And by the way, if you already have a Kindle wall charger (from when they came with the Kindle, as I think they should), you don’t need to put out twenty bucks for a new one. The old one will work just fine.

Happy New Year! And, Of Course, Books

Welcome to 2016. My resolutions are always pretty much the same. Write more. Publish something. Declutter the house. Lose a few pounds. Read more.

I actually did pretty well on that last one in 2015. I had read 48 books in 2014, and joined Goodreads. So when Goodreads put up the reading challenge, I aimed for 50 books in 2015. I actually finished 72.

Now, admittedly, some of those books were fairly short. Epublishing has opened the field for novellas and short novels; books no longer have to reach a certain length to be financially viable if they don’t have to live on paper. Even so, Goodreads tells me that I read 20,131 pages last year (up from 13,641 in 2014).

I depend on Goodreads for page totals, and who knows how accurate they are on ebooks? But I do keep my own list of the books I read, and I can report that in 2015 I read nineteen romances, twenty-six mysteries, seven science fiction/fantasy novels, five general fiction, and fifteen nonfiction books, eleven of those related to writing or DIY publishing. This year I read 38 books on my Kindle, slightly more than half, up from my previous average (since I bought my Kindle in 2011) of about one third ebooks. (Maybe that would justify replacing my near-antique keyboard Kindle with a nice new paperwhite model.)

I must have been lucky or cautious in my choice of reading material: Goodreads tells me that my average rating was 4.4 stars, and I do try to rate and review what I read. I also know what goes into writing a novel, so perhaps I’m inclined to be generous.

I have not done a lot of writing this year. WordPress tells me I only published 38 blogs, less than one a week, in 2015. I’ll try to do more of that in 2016, keeping up my essay writing skills. I still have quite a few of those 72 books to tell you about, so I’ll start on those next week.

I did finish writing the third novel in my Jinn series, Jinn on the Rocks, but now I need to do considerable editing on the three Jinn books before I can seriously approach publishing them—when I wrote the first one, Jinn & Tonic, I had no idea I was starting a series, and the world of Pandemonia has expnded quite a bit. I’ve been reading and researching the self-publishing process, and it does sound like such a lot of work. Marketing doesn’t appeal to me at all. So I’ve been dragging my feet.

I think this year I’ll aim for reading 60 books—five a month, I can do that. And I’ll start the decluttering with the old office. And stick with the exercise bike. And start a new manuscript.

Happy New Year, and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you hope to accomplish in 2016.

Books, Books and More Books

Cheryl Bolen’s Egyptian Affair

An Egyptian Affair is the fourth installment in Cheryl Bolen’s light-hearted Regent Mystery series, continuing the adventures of Captain Jack Dryden, former spy for the Duke of Wellington, and his wife and investigating partner, Lady Daphne.

An Egyptian AffairThe Prince Regent has turned over a substantial sum of money to a trusted Indian dealer in antiquities, Prince Edward Duleep Singh, for the purchase of a golden mask of the mummy of the pharaoh Amun-re. Now the dealer, the money, and the mask have all gone missing in Egypt, and the Regent wants Jack and Daphne to track them down.

Jack is more than ready for the job, but he thinks it may be too dangerous for Daphne (not to mention her propensity for sea-sickness). Daphne, however, is not about to be left at home, and the Regent agrees. Jack can hardly refuse when the Regent announces he will send ten of his own House Guards as security, and Stanton Maxwell, a young but renowned Orientologist, as guide and interpreter.

With Daphne’s youngest sister, Rosemary, along for the voyage, the party arrives in Egypt, where they are welcomed by Ralph Arbuthnot of the British Consulate in Cairo. Their trip down the Nile, complete with naked farm workers on shore, serves to convince the British travelers that they’re definitely not in London any more.

Cairo swarms with suspicious characters. Habeeb, the local dragoman hired for them by Arbuthnot, disappears from time to time. Gareth Williams, a deserter from Jack’s company at the Battle of Badajoz, pops up when least expected. What does the Turkish Pasha who rules the country know about the missing antiquities dealer? Is Ahmed Hassein, a rival antiquities dealer, not quite the “friendly competitor” he claims to be? And what about rival antiquities collector Sheik al Mustafa? Or Lord Beddington, the British explorer whose location is so hard to pin down?

Before long Jack and Daphne have discovered a murder, and things only become more complicated when Rosemary disappears from her tent during a visit to the pyramids.

Jack and Daphne take the reader on a tour of early nineteenth century Egypt while searching for answers to their many questions. An Egyptian Affair combines exotic locations, mysterious disappearances, and a bit of romance into a very entertaining story.

Catch up with the Regent Mystery series: With His Lady’s Assistance, A Most Discreet Inquiry, and The Theft Before Christmas, available separately or as a boxed set for your favorite e-reader.

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