My 2 Favorite Things in the World – Music and Books!

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I am a huge fan of music. In a country where Indian movies and Hindhi songs used to take the lead when I was growing up, I opted to listen to English songs, maybe because of my love for a language as beautiful as the English language proves to be. Though scholars of the language may cringe and roll over in their graves at the content of some of the songs that I listen to, nevertheless they provide an escape without which I don’t think my life would be complete.

That being said, as you all know very well, books or rather books of the romance genre come hand in hand with my method of escapism from the real world. All those who stumble across my review site would know that I tend to read all sorts of romances if it delivers a hotter than sin alpha hero & a story worth my while which would stay with me for a long time.

And so it happens that my favorite two things converge a lot as in I happen to listen to music a lot as I read. Sometimes the music that I listen to whilst reading tends to make a huge impact on the way that I feel about a book.

For instance whilst I was reading Sing My Name by Ellen O’Connell, her latest American-Western historical romance, Ijust was listening to Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars and for me the song just perfectly described how the hero Matthew Slade feels about the heroine Sarah Hammond. Even now as I listen to the song on and off, I am reminded of the novel and the impact Matthew Slade made on my senses. *Sigh*

Moving on, I come to Breaking Benjamin, my utmost favorite rock band in the world. Benjamin Burnley’s voice coupled with their awesome music and lyrics that make a deep impact on the listener goes a long way in making Breaking Benjamin my favorite music to listen to whenever I feel in the mood for rock or whenever I need an uplifting from some funk I find myself in at that moment. That being said, I was listening to Dear Agony their latest album when I raced through the Ice series by Anne Stuart with her ruthless heroes who ALWAYS manage to make my heart go thud-thud at the merest thought of them. Into the Nothing featured in this album is a song I relate a lot with Black Ice, the first novel in the series. It somehow manages to capture the reluctant hero that the story makes out of Bastien and my love for him an everlasting one! It was only much later that I found out that Anne Stuart herself listened to a lot of Japanese rock music & whatnot when she was writing the series and I guess I hit it spot on when I was reading this great series.

Last but not the least comes my eternal love for Crispin Phillip Arthur Russel III (Bones) from the Night Huntress series and anything to do with him. As it happens, this is also one series that I holed myself up in my room to race through as I practically gobbled book 1 – 4 in the series because simply put, I just couldn’t get enough of Bones! Now there’s something we all didn’t know huh? Anyhow I for the world of me don’t even know why, but this crazy tune Good Life by Leslie Millis featured in the movie What a Girl Wants was a song that I was practically hooked on when I was reading the Night Huntress series. And even now when I listen to that tune I can practically envision Bones striding towards Cat with all his lethal charm focused on me, errrm I meant to say Cat, with the sides of his leather jacket flapping in the wind, with his collar pulled up to graze his fantabulous cheekbones, mmmm.. shall I go on? So its practically a given that I am dying for the 22nd of this month to get here to get my hands on This Side of the Grave, the 5th book in the series!

I don’t think that it’s only I as a reader that feels the same way about books and music. I for one know of authors who have their own play-lists while writing their novels. For instance Pamela Clare very recently published on her blog the track list which she was listening to whilst writing the latest book in the I-Team series; Breaking Point which is to come out this May. I got some cool tracks off of her list and would definitely be listening to them whilst I read the book when it comes out.

So here’s to good music that works as a soothing balm on your soul or lets you pound out your anger and frustrations in life in a more productive manner and to great books that offer you a world to get lost into – as far away from reality as possible!

The Ground-Zero Syndrome

lolJust thought I would share this with you, something I posted a long while back on an old blog of mine. I suffer from this syndrome from time to time – the aftereffects of reading too much romance I guess? 😉  Not that I would have it any other way!

Target Group: Girls who are addicted to romance novels

Pre Reqs: Brooding, cynical and tortured heroes, exuding raw sexuality with a tad bit of possessiveness for the “right” woman.. extremely reluctant to fall in “LOVE”

The MUST happen factor: the hero feels extremely threatened by what he feels.. makes the woman suffer throughout with verbal attacks etc… has a major case of the LUST factor which propels HIM towards HER.. In the end fall in LOVE that much harder…. goes after  HEROINE whom HE rejected.. LIVE happily EVER AFTER

Symptoms: Major sighing session whilst reading, a lost, faraway and longing look in the eyes once the story is over with… and a silky tear or two if the hero is THAT good..

Cure: DOSAGE OF REALITY

Authors, Publishers, E-books and Piracy

ebook-piracy-300x411Living in a corner of the world where reading is not everyone’s favorite past time, also hindered by the fact that little variety is available to voracious readers like us who tend to read a lot and that also costing an arm or a leg to acquire a book you covet, needless to say, reading can become quite an expensive habit out here in the Maldives. And reading through a discussion thread on a forum the other night, I found that we Maldivians are not alone in this. There are other countries out there who do not have many book sellers willing to furnish their stores with an abundance of paperbacks or hardcovers, maybe because of the fact that a very small percentage of the population actively take an interest in reading and continue with it long after they finish school and start working.

When I first discovered the concept of e-books and that they existed back in 2006 (yes, we are kind of slow on the uptake over here) needless to say I was ecstatic. I first stumbled upon a collection of e-books whilst googling out of boredom at work on a slow day. It was as if I had struck gold, and to this day I can still feel the buzz of excitement I felt upon the discovery. Back then I didn’t give much thought as to whether people sharing e-books over the Internet was right or wrong, I was just a happy book lover, ecstatic over the endless supply of books to read.

But as the buzz started to fade off, I realized that actually very few books are freely available on the market, and that as technology progressed, e-book readers that worked on the computer such as Microsoft Reader and Mobipocket Reader protected the content that was purchased by making it available only for the owner of the e-book. As with any sort of restriction that is laid out in terms of technology or otherwise, workaround solutions that enabled users to strip the protective features and share their e-books with whomever they pleased cropped up as well – a nightmare for authors and publishers likewise. What struck me as the most ironic thing when it comes to the sale of e-books is the fact that certain e-book sellers restrict the sale of e-books region wise. Somehow, I always managed to find another seller who is not so picky and managed to obtain the book I wanted, but it was cumbersome as hell to always look for an e-seller who wouldn’t discriminate based on the region where I was purchasing my books from.

Then came the reign of e-book readers, handheld devices on which books published in the e-format could be read. When Amazon released its Kindle, I was practically drooling over here on the other side of the world. But as usual, like as with most good things in life, Amazon preferred to sell its Kindle to American users alone. And when Amazon announced that it was releasing Kindle’s International version, I was almost about to jump up and down with joy; until I found out that Maldives wasn’t international enough for Amazon.

Somehow, knowing that all I needed was a USB cable and a computer even if we didn’t have Whispernet over here, I managed to purchase a Kindle from a seller on Ebay who wasn’t so picky with the region stuff. After much nail biting and worrying over the late delivery, I finally received my Kindle and I don’t think you would have found a happier person on Earth at that very moment!

With the large content of e-books on Amazon, I was happy and content with the fact that I was set for life with my Kindle. Never would I have to worry that such and such book was not available for me to buy and download and sink into. But then, as all good things do tend to end, this particular euphoria abandoned me with a feeling of futile hopelessness in its wake, when Amazon refused to sell me their e-books, because once again I was attempting to purchase their content from Maldives – God forbid!

I was quite pissed off to say the least because compared to other e-book sellers, Amazon tended to sell at the lowest prices imaginable. I made a note of complain and received the following reply from their customer service.Since publishers give us eBook rights on a country by country basis, availability and pricing of titles from the Kindle Store can vary by your home country or region. We are actively working with publishers to get the rights to all titles for every country and adding selection every day.” This was back in June and to this day, I haven’t managed to purchase any content from Amazon for my Kindle.

When publishers open up their mouths and complain or talk about the legal ramifications of piracy and its effect on their income and that of the authors, I believe this is one critical point that they ought to ponder upon as well. I am all for paying up and actively owning what I read, but if I meet these kinds of restrictions from every e-book seller website that I come across, I wouldn’t want that to stop me from reading what I want now would it? Any techno savvy person would needlessly search for other avenues, and maybe even come up with ways on their own to share whatever content that they have with other fellow readers. Maybe its the wrong way to think but discriminating e-book buyers by region – yes, I would call it discrimination, is not actively helping curb piracy and its aftereffects. I for one hope that this discrimination stops here and now, and that we readers in regions unknown (it’s not like we come from another planet or something!) would also be able to access and buy content at equal prices as those who are lucky enough in this instance to live in the US, UK or other developed countries.

Loving my new Kindle!

At last, the Amazon Kindle that I have been coveting ever since Amazon.com introduced the Kindle 2.0 is in my hands. I could barely contain my glee when Amazon announced that they were releasing the International version of Kindle. However to my mortification, I later found out  that even the International version of Kindle wasn’t shipped to Maldives. Not surprising considering the fact that a special wireless internet connection labelled Whispernet is used to communicate between Kindle and Amazon.com in order to purchase and deliver books, which is not available in the Maldives.

Since I read a lot of eBooks, I still found myself looking at avenues through which I could obtain a Kindle for my use. I hit jackpot when one of the sellers on Ebay with a good seller reputation advertised that they shipped Kindle to countries other than US. The waiting period for the Kindle to arrive was an agonizing but it was well worth the wait.

The first thing one needs to do when the Kindle is received is to register the device. Since Whispernet network is not available in the Maldives, this could be done by visiting the “Manage your kindle” page on Amazon.com. After registering, once I purchase a Kindle version of the book, I would be able to download the book onto my computer and then transfer the file onto my Kindle for reading. Apart from the Amazon’s proprietary DRM-restricted format (AZW) format, Kindle also supports unprotected .prc files and HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion. As long as Kindle supports the .prc versions I don’t think I am going to have any problems using Kindle.

To get me started on using Kindle, this website also provided some cool tips. I guess I will know more about this much coveted device of mine once I actually get to do some reading on it. After picking it up from the Post Office this afternoon and getting to know the device, I haven’t had much time to do any solid reading yet. And the ability to listen to music on Kindle whilst reading, now ain’t that just cool! 😉

So till my next review!

Coveting Amazon’s Kindle

Ever since Kindle was released by Amazon in U.S. on November 19, 2007, I have wanted one. It’s not surprising since IKindle_Front read tons of e-books, given that it’s pretty tough to get a good selection of books in Male’. So imagine my happiness when I saw that Amazon is releasing the international version of Kindle on the 19th of October, next Monday. It is available for pre-order now and costs US$ 279.00.

It is said to be light weight, just 10.2 oz., and quite slim in fact 1/3 of an inch which is as slim as most of the magazines available. And since this device supports 3G network, there is no need for one to go about connecting the device to the nearest pc available in order to download books onto the device, which seems to be the deal with Sony’s e-book reader. The Kindle device has an internal memory of 2 GB which could hold up to 1,500 books.

And for me, the coolest feature would have to be the fact that all New York Times bestsellers would be available for just under US$ 10.00 i.e. US$ 9.99. I mean how cool is that. For instance, Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, the hard cover release which is available for around US$ 29.95, you get it on Kindle for just US$ 9.99 and save around US$ 20.00 while you are at it!

Some of its other cool features include its anti-glare display, adjustable text sizes, built-in dictionary with instant look-up, compatibility for audio books, and its experimental read-to-me feature. It also supports MP3 format so that you could listen to music while reading.

Although its going to land me with around US$300 deficit in my bank account, I’m thinking that it’s gonna be worth it, when I hold a Kindle in my hands, and start reading all those books, which for now, I barely prevent myself from purchasing because of the hideous amounts of money that I have to pay for shipping.

If I do land myself with a Kindle, I will let you all know how I rate this much coveted device of mine!

Until my next review comes up, happy reading everyone! xoxoxo

Those tacky Harlequin Titles!

Being one of the most avid reader of romance books, I am guilty as hell of reading Harlequin romance books. Back in the 90’s, they were my favorite source of books of romance and I wouldn’t have it any other way I suppose. I even have favorite authors from the series as well. Lynne Graham, Sandra Marton, Sharon Kendrick and Sarah Mayberry are some of my very favorite authors of this line.

But somehow, these line of books, except for a selective few, have lost their luster. Maybe it has got something to do with those oh so tacky titles, and the never ending theme of these books. I know that these books are supposed to be a light read, a book that you can just read without thinking too much about the storyline. However, I need something more than that when I start to read a book. I need characters that I can relate to, (not that I don’t love the handsome as sin, rich as they come heroes in most of the books) and a storyline that doesn’t bore me to death with some simpering female character who is oh so pure that it makes me grit my teeth.

What turns me off, the most of all are the tacky titles, which I cringe from embarrassment whenever I see them on bookshelves.

Below I will name some of these titles that I have come across of late.

  1. Proud Revenge, Passionate Wedlock by Janette Kenny
  2. Italian Boss, Proud Miss Prim by Susan Stephens
  3. Playboy Boss, Live-in Mistress by Kelly Hunter
  4. Argentinian Playboy, Unexpected Love-child by Chantelle Shaw
  5. The Playboy Sheikh’s Virgin Stable-Girl by Sharon Kendrick

And I could go on and on, but inevitably I would just end up cringing myself with embarrassment to DEATH!

Its high time that authors of this line of romance try to come up with more innovative titles and story lines, rather than blabbering on about innocent virgins who beckon  the wild and wicked playboy hero like a siren, and ends up getting pregnant, which forces the hero to offer for her hand in marriage, which by then the heroine would be simperingly in love with the hero and oh, the story goes on!

Until my next review, happy reading everyone! xoxoxo

Sad day indeed!

Last night found me and my sister shopping for a birthday present for our dad. Since our dad too is an avid reader like us, it is always a gift option to purchase a book or two as a birthday present. So we trudged on our way through the muddy and congested streets of Male’ towards Asters on Majeedhee Magu, where everyone was driving/walking in all directions possible to get the last minute shopping done for Ramazan.

To my utter delight, I found that Asters had renewed their stock recently. It is always a disappointing factor with Asters that even if you keep going back there for like even four months in a row, you would always find the same books lining the shelves. So imagine me drooling all over the new titles to be found, and then the mother of all shockers, the price tags on the books had been taped over with new prices and believe me books aren’t cheap to come by in Maldives as it is.

I found myself so disappointed because a book that had recently cost Mrf 120/- was now priced at Mrf 140/-. I asked the salesgirl whether the prices had been upped and her reply was yes they had been. I asked for a reason, fully knowing one would never come forth and found myself muttering about the damn recession and its implications. I know, I know, it doesn’t even come close to signifying the full effects that a recession such as the one we are going through could really impact the way of life of Maldivians. But as an adamant book lover who always manages to over spend when it comes to books, I can’t help but feel sad about the price hike.

And to make things worse, I found a response to my order from Barnes & Noble that they had cancelled the order for whatever reasons, that at the moment God and only the respective Barnes & Noble personnel know of. This was a real blow because I had been salivating the last couple of days on getting my hands on those titles and that stoic email just helped to worsen things along!

But on the bright side, I did manage  to place the same order on Amazon, and am keeping my fingers crossed for the moment. And about the price hike, I plan on hitting the Asrafee book shelves soon, to see whether they have got any new titles in AND whether they too have wreaked havoc on the price of the titles!

So till my next review which should be up pretty soon, happy reading everyone! xoxoxo