Tag Archives: ebooks

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

The PassageI was hesitant about reading The Passage, by Justin Cronin; I loved the premise of the book (a secret government project to create super warriors ends up unleashing a deadly vampiric virus onto an unsuspecting world – I ask you, how could I resist?), but I was uncertain because of the dystopian nature of the book (those of you who know my reading likes and dislikes fairly well probably aren’t surprised; I have several books on my list I’m hesitant about simply because they’re dystopian).

But one day, I was feeling a little bored, and fooling around with my iPhone (which happens to be one of the best little tools for alleviating boredom that I know of), and I ended up downloading the two free preview chapters of the book from one of my favorite ebook sites.

I started reading, and I was hooked. Stephen King had this to say about The Passage:

“Every so often a novel-reader’s novel comes along: an enthralling, entertaining story wedded to simple, supple prose, both informed by tremendous imagination. Summer is the perfect time for such books, and this year readers can enjoy the gift of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Read fifteen pages and you will find yourself captivated; read thirty and you will find yourself taken prisoner and reading late into the night. It has the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve. What else can I say? This: read this book and the ordinary world disappears.”

And let me say, he is so right. I literally read those first fifteen pages and I was captivated. After thirty pages, and I could not put the book (or rather, my iPhone) down.

It’s a hefty tome, weighing in at 784 pages, but I read it all on my iPhone, and when I finished the last paragraph, I did so reluctantly, not wanting to leave the world Cronin had weaved.

In a Q&A at Amazon, Cronin was asked, “You are a PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author of literary fiction. Does The Passage represent a departure for you?” His reply:

I think it’d be a little silly of me not to acknowledge that The Passage is, in a number of ways, overtly different from my other books. But rather than calling it a ‘departure,’ I’d prefer to describe it as a progression or evolution. First of all, the themes that engage me as a person and a writer are all still present. Love, sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, courage. The bonds between people, parents and children especially. The pull of history, and the power of place, of landscape, to shape experience. And I don’t think the writing itself is different at all. How could it be? You write how you write.

And I think this is exactly why the The Passage gripped me so tightly. Yes, it was a fabulous thriller of a book, about a vampire virus running rampant, a world pushed into destruction, and the power of the human race to continue living despite it all. The plot was breathtaking in its breadth and excitement, exactly the kind of thing I like in a book.

But at The Passage’s core are those themes that Cronin talks about – love, sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, courage. And this is what makes the book such a beautiful read.

It says a lot that today, about two weeks after I finished the book, I still remember all the main characters. They remain so very vivid to me. If book two begins with these same characters, I know they will come back to me immediately, as full of life as when I read the final pages; and if book two begins with different characters, I have the utmost faith that I will be drawn into the new story immediately.

And the dystopian aspect? I loved it. The dark, bleak hopelessness that I associate with dystopian fiction isn’t what dominates the book; it’s a dystopian world that, despite everything, is filled with so much human hope and potential.

When I first finished reading this book, and began thinking about writing this post, all I could think of saying was, “Wow. Wow. Wow.” And “OMG, you’ve GOT to read this.” I still want to say these things, and so I’ll end my post this way.

The Passage is an incredible, absolute wow of a read. Read it, and you’ll be captivated. If you’re at all uncertain, do what I did – download the free preview chapters from your favorite ebook site, and take the plunge.

And a PS: despite the vampire virus/destruction of the world theme, there is minimal blood and gore. Cronin’s writing is wonderful, and he’s quite able to provoke an emotional response from the reader without the need to be extreme.

Reading E-books: Sony Reader or iPhone?

My birthday’s coming up next month, and I’ve been trying to decide what I should ask for. I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like a Sony Reader (I can’t buy a Kindle because I’m in Canada and it’s been, what, four years since the first Kindle and well, we’re still waiting here in Canada … and waiting … and waiting …). I’ve already bought several eBooks through the Sony eBook store, and have enjoyed reading them on my netbook.

I do like the idea of being able to take tens (okay, make that 100s and 1000s) of books with me easily, though. While I love my netbook, and it’s light for a laptop, weighing in at around 3 pounds, it’s still on the hefty side for carrying around casually in a handbag.

ref_iphone3gs_front So, until recently, I’ve been thinking of asking for the Sony Reader for my birthday. But my husband got the latest iPhone recently, and I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with it when he’s not looking.

I’d read that Amazon offers a Kindle app for iPhone, but again, there’s that geographical restriction. I can’t access the app through my iTunes store because I’m in Canada.

Recently, though, I read about Barnes & Noble’s new iPhone app; intrigued, I got my husband to load it onto his iPhone so I could see what reading on the iPhone would be like. Even though you don’t get the “like-paper” feel you get with the Sony Reader or the Kindle, I found I enjoyed reading on the iPhone (the B&N app comes with a number of free books, including Pride & Prejudice, so it was easy to test without buying anything).

So I’m definitely leaning toward the iPhone right now – with one little gadget, I can have my phone, emails, texting, Twitter, ebooks and audiobooks in one hand. After reading Inkygirl’s review of B&N’s iPhone app, I’m probably going to give the other iPhone ereaders a try, though. And I still have to get out to the local Sony store and test drive the Reader before deciding. But so far, it looks like the iPhone will win out around here.

Which ebook reader, if any, do you use? If you have an iPhone, do you enjoy reading ebooks on it?

Vacation Reading List

I’ve finally pared down my vacation reading list – room is limited, unfortunately, so I had to be very selective. Here’s what I’ll be taking with me on holidays.

Print books:

Dead Until DarkStorm FrontLiving Dead in DallasYsabelL.A. CandyCrossed WiresExcuses BegoneThe StrainEncyclopedia of an Ordinary LifeThe Language of BeesGhost Huntress


Mad MouseWhack a MoleHell HoleMind ScramblerFinger Lickin' FifteenI'm a Stranger Here Myself


The Dragon Riders of PernThe Demon's LexiconDeath by LatteSecrets of My Hollywood Life

I’m probably not going to be able to read all of these books, but I figure I’ll have something for nearly every reading mood that strikes me.

What’s on your reading list this summer?

Netbook Equals Ebook Reader (Sort Of)

I am incredibly thrilled with my netbook right now – I’m sure if anyone took a look at me, all they’d see would be streams of bookish glee floating all around me.

The other day, I decided to see if I could easily set my netbook’s screen to portrait orientation. It had occurred to me that I might actually be able to see an entire page of an ebook on the screen, making it easily readable, if I could set the screen to portrait mode.

After surfing around for a bit, I discovered that my Asus netbook accomplishes this quite easily. I press CTRL + ALT + the right arrow key, and voila! the screen changes to portrait mode. Getting it back to normal is as easy as pressing CTRL + ALT + Up key.

Armed with Adobe Digital Editions (for PDFs) and Sony’s eBook Library Software (for ePub format), I now can easily read ebooks!

So, of course, the first thing I did was surf around for some free ones, just to give things a whirl. The Sony eBook Store has a bargain section, and Terry Brook’s wonderful Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold is on offer right now, so I created an account and downloaded the book. I switched to full-screen view and then set my screen to portrait mode – and it’s wonderful!

I took pictures, but it was challenging because the screen kept catching my flash, and if I don’t use the flash, you can’t see the keyboard portion of the netbook.

CIMG2012 The Keyboard is On the Right

CIMG2010 The Page is Nice and Clear

It’s not quite the same as having a Kindle or an eBook Reader – while my Asus netbook is small (the screen is just under 10 inches and it weighs just over 3 pounds), it’s still larger and heavier than a Kindle. On the other hand, holding it in portrait orientation sort of feels like holding a book, so it does feel very familiar. The battery is capable of lasting up to 9 hours in power-saving mode, which is more than long enough for a reading session.

I’m going to be asking for a Sony eReader for my birthday, I think. But in the meantime, my netbook plays its role of eBook reader well enough. Turning the pages is as easy as keeping my cursor in the right spot and then giving a little tap on the trackpad.

The bonus is that I’ll be able to load anything I buy from the Sony eBook Store onto my Sony eReader (when I get it)! I see lots of happy shopping ahead of me. And there just might be times when I want a backlit page, and for those times, my netbook is perfect!