Read This Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Remember in elementary school, when there was D.E.A.R. time? As in, drop everything and read? I think it was created for books like this one.

I had been meaning to pick up this title for a while, ever since that book preview I stumbled into. This book was highly recommended, and was listed along with several other amazing upcoming titles on a handy-dandy little powerpoint slide printout.

I have since learned two things: 1. I must never again miss a book preview, because the books they recommend are pure gold; and 2. I must never again lose the powerpoint slide printouts they give out. Which I did. I have been ransacking my room for the past few days, looking for it desperately. Mainly because, if the rest of the books on that list are as good as The Night Circus and Ready Player One, I will have an outstanding year of reading.

Like The Night Circus, I read this book in about 3 days. No, I didn’t completely neglect my homework, but I did stay up a bit later and choose to read instead of watch TV (a very rare event). It’s that good.

Continue reading

Crazy About Kindle!

Here it is: the long-awaited Kindle review post! Before I start, you should know that I am in no way being endorsed or rewarded for the sentiments expressed here and I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way (except in the lusting-after-everything-they-carry way). This is just my true view on the product. Enjoy!

I love to read. Reading is my true love. So before we get into why I love the Kindle, I’d like to start by clearing up the following:

  1. I will never stop buying real books
  2. I will never get rid of my bookshelves of wonderful real books
  3. I too, am a sucker for turning musty-smelling pages made of paper

So… it’s not like I hate books or anything, it’s just that there are so many situations where the Kindle is so much more convenient. Examples?

  • You’re a journalism student, forced to read upwards of five newspapers a day. Rather than wrestle with the dastardly pages of print newspapers, you simply subscribe to them on your Kindle and they are delivered overnight via WiFi, at cheaper rates than print subscriptions.
  • You’re an english lit student, forced to read several million classic novels per semester. You get them all for free on the Kindle store (since they’re old and out-of-copywrite) and bring your 8.5 oz device around instead of lugging novels to the library.
  • You’re a business woman who loves reading, and who must go on several business trips per year. You simply browse the selection on the Kindle store, download on the go, and read!

Okay I have to stop. I feel like I’m writing a Kindle ad campaign. A cheesy one. An unsuccessful one. So let’s move on to the review portion of the post, shall we?

Features I Love..

  • I can read with one hand. This may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: no more do I have to worry about the book closing if I don’t hold down the pages. I can read all like “Look Ma, no hands!”. It’s way more fun than it sounds, I promise.
  • I can highlight whatever I want, and those highlights get collected for my later perusal. When I read A Fraction of the Whole, I underlined tons of enlightening paragraphs. But the only way I can find them now is by flipping through the book – frustrating. When I read Crazy Sexy Diet on my Kindle, I highlighted a whole bunch of tips on everything from veggies to exercise, so now I have the Sparknotes version on both my Kindle and my computer.
  • I can search for whatever I want. With any books, I am forever flipping back through the pages, in search of that one sentence that stuck with me or that one character introduction that didn’t seem important at the time (but now I can’t remember who they are!). On my Kindle, I can search for anything on any page, and it’s actually a surprisingly reliable function.
  • I can learn new words easily. Whenever I don’t know a word, I just move the cursor next to it and voila! A definition from the New Oxford dictionary.
  • There’s a web browser, so whenever I have WiFi, I can look at anything I want online! And websites render surprisingly well on the browser.
  • It has the capacity to Tweet or Facebook any highlights I make, if I choose. So get ready to geek out with me if I post my favourite passages from Alice in Wonderland!! Hehe.
  • It has a stellar battery life. Since getting it mid-January, I’ve only charged it once, and it’s still going strong. If you keep the WiFi off except when you’re using it, I’m told this prolongs the battery even more.
  • It’s really easy to buy content on the go – Amazon uses a one-click system which makes it simple to buy things without the hassle of typing in credit card numbers every time.

Wishes..

  • I wish that the Text-to-Speech function was a little more refined. As it stands, almost any ebook you download from the Kindle store has the capacity to be read aloud to you by a robotic voice. As much as I adore the idea behind this feature – hello, reading while doing chores!!! – it doesn’t work very well right now. I’ve tried it several times now, and the voices (your choice of male or female) tend to blur words together, making it very hard to understand. But it’s such an innovative feature, so hopefully updates will come out soon!
  • I wish the keyboard was a bit faster, it lags slightly. Not enough to really impair anything I do, but enough to be noticeable.

Content..

I’ve gotten most of the content on my Kindle online, for free. If you become the lucky recipient of a Kindle, the first place I would look would be Kindle’s own page on where to find free Kindle content. My favourite of these would be the Kindle Popular Classics page, or Project Gutenberg. Both websites specialize in free, out-of-copywrite classics – everything from Emma to Dracula.

I have a whole category of PDFs that I’ve gotten from various websites – Focus from zenhabits, A Brief Guide to World Domination from Chris Guillebeau, and various other personal documents (notes to self, lists, etc). Kindle supports most file formats (for a complete list, click here), and other formats are usually convertible to one that Kindle does support.

Newspaper and magazine subscriptions seem to be priced much lower on the Kindle than in paper, and most come with a free trial period, anywhere from 14 (Globe and Mail) to 60 (New York Times) days.

And the huge plethora of paid content is nothing to scoff at either! I mentioned that I read Crazy Sexy Diet, it was one of the first books I ever purchased on my Kindle. After seeing the price in the bookstore (about $30 Canadian), I decided to save myself some money, and bought the ebook version for $9.99! Sure, it won’t be an addition to my paper book collection, but I still got all the same information, and at a significant discount. It’s good for us students!

Your Thoughts?

Anyone out there have an eReader? If so, what do you use it for? What do you like or dislike about it? I’d love to hear any tips/tricks/hacks you have to share with a newbie owner!

And if you don’t have one, would you ever consider getting one? Why or why not? Let me know what you think about them in general.

As always, feel free to email me at effieboo.inlimbo@gmail.com or leave me a comment below!

xoxo,

Retail Therapy

If you have time to kill this weekend, as I do not, here are my recommendations for you. I love giving advice, as preachy as possible (!) but it is only because what I love, I love a LOT and feel the need to seriously share it with others. So listen, because all of these things will rock your socks off.

The Recipe: Bonnie Stern’s Recipe for Caramelized Onion And Gorgonzola Pizza which is probably the most seriously comforting comfort food in existance. The first time that I ate it, a cold rainy Friday night (which is the best time for comfort food anyways so maybe the context made it taste so miraculous) I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not joking. It’s simple and relatively quick, however seeing as how it’s shaping up to be a pretty warm evening, you might want to save it for a rainy day. Either way, it’s definitely worth a try. Here’s the recipe:

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 oz. frozen puffed pastry
4 oz. Brie, rind removed, diced*
4 oz. milk Gorgonzola or Cambozola, rind removed, diced*
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/4 tsp. dried

1. Heat oil in a large deep skillet on medium high heat. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until wilted and starting to brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
2. Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes, or until richly caramelized. Cool. You should have about 3/4 cup.
3. Roll pastry into a 10-in. square. Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick with a fork in about 12 places.
4. Spread onions over pastry. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with tarragon. Refrigerate if not baking immediately.
5. Bake in preheated oven 18 to 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crisp. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges or squares.
6. Serve pizza in wedges with a salad for a first course or cut into small squares for an appetizer.

*You can use those cheeses, but from personal experience, all soft cheeses work nicely. We typically use Boursin, which is basically garlic cream cheese, and also some goat cheese. Either way, delicious. 

The Music: 

For People Feeling Romantic: ‘Come On Get Higher’ – Matt Nathanson (cliché, but catchy)

For People Who Want To Feel Loved: ‘So Far Around the Bend’ – The National

For People Feeling Sad Over Love: ‘Train Song’ – Feist and Benjamin Gibbard

For People Who Want To Party: ‘Boom Boom Pow’ – The Black Eyed Peas

The Book:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith was my most recent read, and my verdict: HILARIOUS. At first, I thought it was sort of a joke, but as I read on I realized it isn’t scary, it isn’t overly funny, it isn’t overly anything. It really is just the original story, original writing, original lines and genius, teamed up with a theme that somehow just works in the time period, works well with the characters and even in some instances (sorry Jane!) makes the plot better. It begins to make more sense of some of the already present themes and just does an amazing job of working the zombies right into the story. I’d never been able to get into the original classic (despite having seen the movie 50+ times) yet I read this like it was candy. Definitely check it out. Also worth a read:

‘Direct Red’ – Gabriel Weston

‘The Tipping Point’ – Malcolm Gladwell

The Activity:

Get outside for Pete’s sake! I’m not even going to recommend a movie, since you should be outside sitting in the sun, listening to guitar or walking your dog or having a barbeque and ESPECIALLY not sitting here reading this or missing the weather. Get out!

Love, 

s.