Grey Warden

Review: Tevinter Nights by Bioware


Ancient horrors. Marauding invaders. Powerful mages. And a world that refuses to stay fixed.


Welcome to Thedas.


From the stoic Grey Wardens to the otherworldly Mortalitasi necromancers, from the proud Dalish elves to the underhanded Antivan Crow assassins, Dragon Age is filled with monsters, magic, and memorable characters making their way through dangerous world whose only constant is change.


Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights brings you fifteen tales of adventure, featuring faces new and old, including:


"Three Trees to Midnight" by Patrick Weekes
"Down Among the Dead Men" by Sylvia Feketekuty
"The Horror of Hormak" by John Epler
"Callback" by Lukas Kristjanson
"Luck in the Gardens" by Sylvia Feketekuty
"Hunger" by Brianne Battye
"Murder by Death Mages" by Caitlin Sullivan Kelly
"The Streets of Minrathous" by Brianne Battye
"The Wigmaker" by Courtney Woods
"Genitivi Dies in the End" by Lukas Kristjanson
"Herold Had the Plan" by Ryan Cormier
"An Old Crow's Old Tricks" by Arone Le Bray
"Eight Little Talons" by Courtney Woods
"Half Up Front" by John Epler
"Dread Wolf Take You" by Patrick Weekes


Like all anthologies, it’s hit or miss.  The main appeal of the book comes from not just being a return to Thedas, but the range of adventures and information it gives.  Set after the events of Inquisition, we get a glimpse of what the Venatori have been up to, insights into how the Mortalitasi function in Nevarra, a little Grey Warden-ing, some Crows in action and a few cameos from some favorites like Dorian Pavus and Cassandra Pentaghast. 


It’s a mixed bag, but it adds to the lore & mythology of Dragon Age as well as a few teases into what might be coming next.  Good stuff.



New Year, Same Shite

Ten years.


Been going to the BEA for ten years now, and acquired a lot of books.  If this sounds like an episode of Hoarders, you'd be right.  Thankfully, with ebooks I'm not quite as hopeless as I would've been.


During Christmas week I spent the better part of three days sorting through the TBR mountain range in my apartment- anything I had in epub or simply wasn't gonna read had to go.




So after sending some off to a few local bookstores, I still had a shitload to deal with, and no more boxes to pack them in.  Fortunately, I had a bunch of Trader Joe's shopping bags.



This proved a mixed blessing as it made things too easy.   Someone came along and took about six bags in his shopping cart- left the big box alone.  By the weekend about half the box was left and Sanitation claimed it on Monday.  Good thing is I'm no longer in danger of going missing for a week and being found under a pile of old ARCs.  Bad news is I have plenty of room for more this summer.


Review: Avatar, the Last Airbender- the Rise of Kyoshi


F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar. 

-read more-

Review: Sophia, Princess of Beasts by Emily Raymond


A princess who has lost her mother and father finds herself in a terrifying world that urgently needs a queen.

Sophia is smart, beautiful, and accomplished, a beloved princess devoted to the people and to reading books. The kingdom is hers, until she is plunged into a nightmarish realm populated by the awful beasts she read about as a child.

The beasts are real. And so is the great army marching on her castle. The people look to Sophia for protection. They will all perish unless she can unlock an ancient secret as profound as life and death itself.

-read more-

Reading Progress- pg 80/203 of The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull



An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super-advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.



This one's a slow burn so far.  We meet the protagonists in the few years before the

arrival of the Ynaa and immediately delve into the consequences after.  Lots of introspection and tension amongst the island community, and yeah- the aliens have more going on than meets the eye, problem is we don't get to see any of the impact that aliens arriving would have.  


The story is so insular, it's like reading about an ant farm from the perspective of the ants.  There's no hint of any of the actual reprecussions aliens appearing on Earth would have: no sign of a military presence- or any explanation why it's lacking, not a whiff of any international interest from other nations, nothing.  Oh, aliens have landed, they share their superior technology and all they want is to be left alone and hang out in the Virgin Islands while waiting to teach Humanity some sort of lesson.




While the affect alien arrival would have on the locals is always an interesting subject, the lack of anything else going on is what's dragging this one down.  We'll see.

eReader Apps Review Series: Prestigio Premium



Next up on the queue...


eReader Prestigio: Book Reader is a multi lingual, multi format text and audio books reading app. Intuitive interface in over 25 languages and an in app store library with over 50,000 text (for children and adults) books and Text-To-Speech (read along) functionality.


☆ Prestigio ebooks reader is cool – book and text reading never been simpler – you can read text files in multiple formats including epub, html, fb2,, txt, pdf, mobi, epub3, djvu and multiple other text and audio book formats.


☆ Tired of reading? Switch on Text-To-Speech and let the application read the text book file for you! Kids books read along – let us read the best bed time stories for you.


☆ Personalize your reading:

✔ Material Design and simple navigation – its cool

✔ Multiple Shelf Themes and in book backgrounds (add your own)

✔ Scan library for specific file and text book formats ✔ Inbuilt dictionary with Color Dict

✔ Text-To-Speech for reading books aloud in multiple languages

✔ In-App Store best books in epub & fb2 formats

✔ Home screen, Recent books, In book Menu, Android Home Widget ✔ Multiple fonts, sizes and styles for best and cool reading

✔ Night mode

✔ Books Collection – create, edit and store your books, organized by desired criteria (genre, author, added time or series) and view them in covers or list views

✔ File Manager – easily find your ebook or text file and set of enjoying reading your stories

✔ Synchronize your books and text files from cloud services such as Google Drive, One Drive & Dropbox directly into books collections


☆ Create ebooks My Prestigio account to

✔ Synchronize books between devices library (only synchronize text files where you left off, not full library)

✔ Download free books (adult and children) and texts from In-App ereader book store

✔ Buy new books from in-app ereader book store

✔ Keep downloaded books in the Prestigio Cloud

✔ Create wish lists

✔ Book Purchase Vouchers


☆ Smart ebooks search function on your device ✔ Scan your library to quickly find text files and books


☆ Multiple book formats support ereader supports the following ebooks formats:

✔ Text files: epub, djvu, html, fb2,, txt, pdf, mobi, epub3

✔ Audio books stories & video files in books ☆ Multi lingual User Interface Support 25 Interface languages supported and growing: English, Russian, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Greek, Finnish, Czech, Polish, Croatian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Belorussian, Serbian, Ukrainian and Kazakh ☆ Online epub book store

✔ Over 50,000 books – start reading and enjoying your stories

✔ Just two click book purchase with ereader vouchers

✔ Discover best and cool book releases, but also best free children & adult books and texts

-read more-

eReader App Review: Bookari Premium by Mantano

Bookari is a feature rich eReader app that has a lot to offer but is still lacking in key areas. This review covers the Premium version.




- Synchronized bookshelves: Switch between your phone and tablet and always find your books, reading positions, collections, tags, ratings, bookmarks, in their most recent state.

- Supports Adobe and Sony DRM, allowing you to read ebooks protected against hacking

- Customizable Stores section with integrated OPDS browser, and options to add links to your preferred bookstores

- Supports the most common ebook formats (EPUB2, PDF) as well as interactive multi-media books (EPUB3)



- Bookmark pages, highlight or underline text, add notes to a page or to a selected text

- Pin the navigation panel to display your notes next to the text

- Enjoy your PDFs even on smartphones thanks to the advanced PDF support, with lightning-fast vertical and horizontal scroll, Pan & Zoom Advantages of the Premium version - Listen to your books with the vocal synthesis

- Customize the display of EPUB books by creating your own themes, adjusting font, line height, colors, etc.

- Find quickly all occurrences of a word in a book with the advanced search function

- Create your own personalized table of contents by naming your bookmarks

- Create your own tailored lexicon progressively, filled with the words you searched in the dictionary



- Edit your book details in a very simple way: Title, author, language, publisher

- Organize them in collections, manage their tags and find them instantly with quick access filters (tags, authors, rating...) or with the search function

- Thanks to the synchronization functions, you will retrieve your organization on all your synced devices and even in the website interface of the Cloud



- Browse the preconfigured bookstores or the OPDS catalogs and websites you have added in the “My Stores” section.

- Scan all new books present on your device with the Automatic search

- Connect to your Dropbox account or navigate to a particular file with the Explorer



- Retrieve the saved definitions and the notes taken in all your books in the notebook, organize them as in the bookshelves




Importing books is pretty easy and fast, even from an SD card.  Just select the directory you want to use and you're rolling.






But before you go any further, in these Data Mining times we live in I suggest first going into the Settings and unchecking this box.




The first issue I encountered was with the layout.  While it's pretty, it's not practical. Books are sorted by title in either ascending or descending order- not by folder, author or anything else.





The only workaround is to go directly to the folder you want and directly load the book into the app.  This makes no sense whatsoever.  It also doesn't read mobi, cbr, cbz, azw or doc files.  So it's just an epub & pdf reader.


When you open a book and tap the arrow at the bottom right corner, a quick list of available features is displayed.





At the bottom of the next screen you can see some of the other features available, including a bare bones audio feature.  Barely adequate for the epub, it's like English spoken by Martians for pdfs.  


The Display feature offers four different effects for the screen for your reading enjoyment.









The Highlight feature is standard.  Comes in different colors and annotations, and also works with the Audio Reader- you can hightlight the text you want and start listening from there... if you can tolerate it.





One handy feature is being able to check your reading progress on recently viewed books and refer to any notes you've made in them. 




Bookari has a lot of good stuff that's offset by what it lacks.  If you're a strictly epub/pdf person, or don't need much customization for your files this'll do ok.  If not, shop around for something else.




BEA 2019, Pt 4- BookCon

And now, the last.


BookCon first popped up in 2014 when the creative minds behind BEA decided to cash in on the supernova that was the YA market and separate the bulk of it from the main show. They sectioned off the wing where the Autographing tables were and pushed every small/indie YA booth over there with them.  Wheras BEA is pretty much an industry- related event, BookCon was wide open to the public.  


This was most likely where the term "shitshow" first started.


While BEA attendees could travel back & forth, BookCon patrons were kept corralled on their side.  Which meant you couldn't move, you couldn't talk to any vendors and there was no point in going over there since every nook & cranny was filled with people who had nowhere else to go.  All lines for all drop/events/autographs were filled hours beforehand mainly because there wasn't anything else for them to do.


As I'd explained in my first post, since my application for BEA had been rejected I signed up for BookCon.  Since it was a separate event happening after the Expo, I hadn't given it any thought and they had to have improved things since then... right?


Well... the price was cheap.  It was only about $60 for the weekend as opposed to $300 for the 2 1/2 days of BEA, but you also get what you pay for.  Like any big event, the devil lies in the details.  Unlike BEA where only the high profile events and celebrity appearances require pre-registration, for BookCon you need to sign up (and pay) ahead of time for EVERYTHING- lectures, seminars, even the Autographing Tables!  A big reason I attended was to try to get some things I'd missed at BEA- and turned out I still didn't.  All the stuff that's free upon admission at BEA is treated like DLC at BookCon. Heck, where BEA is for promoting the main reason for BookCon is to sell.  It's more like a flea market than anything.  


Floor Map


First thing I noticed was that the showfloor's been halved.  For the BEA the entire floor was available; for BookCon they cut off the side where all the indie & smaller publishers were located.  


Instead of letting us all queue up on the atrium floor as we do for the BEA, were we shuffled off to the side wing- again where the Autographing Tables were usually located and behind the UnBound vendor area.  Which meant you were gonna have 4x the attendees in literally half the space.  


[gallery ids="314,315" type="rectangular"]


To top that off, everyone who'd attended those panels & lectures that you had to preregister for got early access to the showfloor.  So they were already in line for drops & events that were listed to happen at right 10am when the floor opened up, which blew my morning since now I couldn't do any of the stuff I wanted to.  Real smooth.

Did manage to pick up a couple of titles I'd missed out on at BEA.  Only thing was because of the crowd the line took over TWO HOURS to move and yeah- I missed out on two other signings because of it.  *sigh*



I did manage to snag a copy of an exclusive ARC by Melissa de la Cruz, so there's that.


Melissa de la Cruz


Finally, there was a particular ARC I'd wanted from Harper Collins- the Tiger Queen- that was listed to drop that afternoon, right before the close of business. Come to find out they'd given out all their copies the day before and didn't have any left for the advertised drop that afternoon... 


For me, BookCon was basically mop-up duty for the BEA.  I met some folks, had a few good conversations and managed a few things but overall... it's literally just for people who don't attend BEA, publishers to sell their catalog & a cash cow for the promoters.


There was only one thing left for me to do after all the bullshit:




Here's the BEA haul and the good stuff from BookCon.


BEA Haul







BEA 2019, Pt 2- This & That

A few things about some of the actual author events and stuff.


Banner- Sulwe


Actress Lupita N’yongo has a children’s book coming out in October.  Both she & the illustrator, Vashti Harrison, did an autograph session- no interactions, no photos (they made you put your phone away before you got up to the booth even though anyone just passing by, or deliberately hanging around, took plenty of their own pictures)… and the publisher neglected to mention they weren’t giving out the book- they just signed a promo sketch for it.  Waited almost 45 minutes in line for that crap.  Pfft!  I knew some of the security people posted around the booth and immediately handed mine off to one of them.


Before all the madness happened, the bold, strong sister Karine Jean-Pierre made an appearance signing her new memoir.  So close to greatness!


Karine 1


I managed to acquire a Chuck Wendig ARC!


Me Holding Chuck Wendig Book

These two lovely ladies were on hand signing their new book as well!


Author- Maika &amp; Maritza Moulite


Got to meet & talk with former Obama cabinet member & political commentator Richard Stengel about his new book.  We agreed more than we disagreed.


Author- Richard Stengel


BEA 2019, Pt 3- The Loot

Got some good stuff at this year's BEA.  My summer is fully booked. 


A Heart so Fierce & Broken 
American Dirt
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine...
How to be an AntiRacist
Imaginary Friend
Information Wars
Lalani of the Distant Sea
Little Weirds
Me & White Supremacy
Motherhood so White
Moving Forward
Oblivion or Glory
Princess of the Hither Isles
Secret Service
Serpent & Dove
Sophia, Princess among Beasts
The Dreaming Tree
The Flight Girls
The Nanny
The Passengers
The Science of Game of Thrones
The Storm Crow
The Water Dancer
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
A ASWanderers

BEA 2019, Pt 1- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the BEA...



Atrium 1

What a week…


The past few years applying to BEA was like trying to get refugee status or something. They wanted everything except my grandmother’s phone number.  I understood the point: lots of people were stocking up on ARCs and selling them- even advertising them prior to actually getting them.   Couple of years ago there was a woman who brought her kids to a trade show just to help her snag extra copies to sell.  Heck, a woman was just caught trying to sell Leigh Bardugo’s ARC on eBay for $200 the same day it was given out!!!  So, yeah- I get it…


…so you can imagine my surprise when my application was rejected.


That took a moment to process.  I’d been attending since 2010, and had even been a VIP Attendee; the only one I missed was that one time they went to Chicago.  And now I wouldn’t be attending this year’s either.


When I contacted them via the handy link they provided to inquire what the issue might be- had I possibly neglected to provide some info, etc- I got the stock response: “…it’s our event… we reserve the right to refuse anyone… all decisions are final… blahblahblah.” Not what I asked, but whatever, yo.  And hey- they still invited me to register for BookCon!


*sigh* Aiight… I haven’t been to BookCon since they initially rolled it out- and lemme tell you, that first one was probably how the term “shitshow” got coined.  It’s been a few years, so how bad could it possibly be now?  (More on that in another blog) And it was relatively cheap, so- what the hell?  I’d still have the week off beforehand.


By Wednesday I’d remembered something: when I first started attending BEA in 2010 they also had onsite registration at the Javitz Center.  Then a friend of mine also advised me to try it, so I trekked out to the Javitz and wouldn’t ya know- I got right in with no problem!!!  Yep- after giving me a bunch of bullshit online they let me sign up on the spot anyways.  Only difference was the $50 I would’ve saved via Online Early Registration.



Atrium 2
Atrium 3
Atrium 4
Atrium 5
Atrium 7
Atrium 8
Atrium 9


A few of the usual YA publishers were set up in the atrium looking to snag your attention before you got caught up in all the madness.


Banner- Fierce Reads
Banner- Sulwe
Banner- Tomi Adeyemi Children of Virtue


I’m not the only one who’ll tell you the quality of BEA has declined the last few years.   This one was stark in its degradation: fewer small/indie/self publishers, less swag, even fewer author booths & signing sessions from the big guys.  I didn’t bother with any of the panels, sessions or lectures- there really wasn’t any new information to pick up from them.  A big problem was the layout of the floor.  What used to be a strict, linear structure was jumbled and cross-combined: 1200 & 1300 numbered booth in the 1400 rows, etc.


It didn’t help that an entire wing of was taken up by something called UnBound: vendors selling all the knickknacks & chotchke you see in bookstores- mugs, pens, candles, etc.


Atrium 6
Unbound 1
Unbound 2


Most of the usual suspects were present- Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Shuster, Macmillian, Shadow Mountain, Sourcebooks, Black Stone- but I was surprised to see this spot by Granity Studios, Kobe Bryant’s indie.  The books looked really interesting.


Booth- Granity Studios
Kobe Bryant Wizenard Series
Kobe Bryant Legacy & the Queen


Some of the smaller vendors like Vesuvian were off on the side, but never seemed to be around.  Went by their booth three times to check them out- and no one was there!  Not a good look, fellas.


Best moment came when I was trying to find the line to stand in for an ARC drop only to discover George Takei was signing previews of his memoir graphic novel about his time in American Concentration Camps during WWII.  Got to shake his hand (twice) and chat with him for about a minute & a half! (apologies for that to everyone in line)


George Takei 1


Second best moment came at the end of a long, kinda disappointing day.  Hachette reissued a book from just a few years ago- think I still have the ARC- complete with the same campaign: free beer! Granted- they were Coronas, but at that point you take what you can get!  In fact, a few spots were doing it: mimosas, fruit & veggie snacks and whatnot.


Booth- Hatchette Coronas
Me with a Corona
Booth- Archway Fruit & Veggie Stand


All in all, it was memorable only for what it lacked in comparison to previous years.


eReader App Review: AI Reader

Next up is AI Reader, created by a Ukrainian developer & available via Google Play, but easy enough to find elsewhere if you search for it.  This app was last updated literally a year ago- which tells you something.



- Book reader compatible with Android 1.6+
- read formats: fb2, fb3, fbz, txt, epub (no DRM), html, doc, docx, odt, rtf, mobi (no DRM), prc (PalmDoc), tcr. Supported ZIP and GZ archives.
- It is possible to specify an encoding of reading file (include 932, 936, 949, 950 code page).
- Support Text-To-Speech (TTS) (permission to the calls need to stop tts while calling)
- Support network libraries (OPDS)
- Local library. The selection of authors, series, title, publication year, genre.
- Supported interface languages: russian, english, german, greek, ukrainian, belarusian, polish, chineze, bulgarian, turkish.
- Supported external dictionaries.
- Fb2 and TXT file editing. If a file is in an archive, edited file is unpacked to the same directory as the original one.
- It is possible to select code page for file names in zip.
- Correct hyphenation for 20 languages.
- Four profiles with independent font, color, brightness, gamma correction and indent of text.
- One- and two-page mode with automatic switch to the two-page mode in landscape.
- Configuring of display styles (headings, citations, abstracts, etc.). Each style includes font, color, text style, text size, shadow, indent, spacing and so on.
- Search.
- Autoscroll "wave" and "slide".
- 3D paging animation.
- Initial letter to one or two lines of text at the beginning of each chapter or paragraph.
- Independent setting of all items in the status bar and footer for windowed and full-screen mode.
- Support for display of footnotes on the page for fb2- and (most) epub-files.
- The horizontal and vertical alignment of text on the screen.
- Hanging punctuation.
- "Sections from a new page" option.
- Navigation in the text: by percents, by pages, to the beginning/end of the text, 10 pages forward/backward, to the next/previous chapter.
- Table of contents in fb2-, doc- and epub-files.
- 9 tap-zones for short and long taps, gestures, gestures with two fingers, resize text by "pinch", to assign the actions for buttons.
- Support E-Ink screens. Adaptation of appearance for the E-Ink screens, support of "fast" refresh for many EINK devices.
- Fixation of screen rotation.
- Support 9.png skins with automatic selection of one- or two-page mode.
- Upon selection of embedded texture, background color is taken into account, i.e. mix of textures and colors.
- Clock behind the text.
- Quotes, bookmarks, text labeling, sending the selected text to third-party programs.
- Creating shortcuts for books on the home screen.
- Save / restore program settings / styles / current profile (+fonts, +skins) / text styles.
- Ability to hold screen backlight (up to 20 minutes of inactivity).
- Fine-tuning of various indentations, adjusting software shading of the screen (if minimal hardware brightness level is too high for comfortable use).
- The program collects anonymous statistics of open books for creating the top -100 authors and books. This top -100 is available in program.


That's a lotta features.  Too bad you don't need 90% of them, and the app still doesn't do what it should be doing.


After scrolling through the features/FAQ, it's time to upload books.  True enough, it took almost no time to scan the folder and upload the files, although you get a limited choice of the layout you want to see them in.






Biggest problem here is you can't scan & upload a folder from an SD card- only from the internal drive.  Any books on an SD card have to be uploaded individually... provided you can first figure out how to access the card through the app.  You'd have to scroll back through the directory via the tablet- NOT the app itself- otherwise it'll just take you back to the app menu and you'll be left wondering why you can't find your books.


Page layouts aren't bad, but get jumbled sometimes.  Transitions are smooth via either page turning animation with a simple swipe left or just scrolling down.




Even though the font size on Word documents is easily adjustable, the docs sometimes have no formatting and end up as one giant, unending mass of words.  *sigh*  Also, you're unable to close the files when you're done.  They'll just sit there until you open another one to displace it.


This is another wannabe that could've been good if it had been designed to perform even basic functions properly.  Skip it.


1/5 stars.

eReader App Review: 4Shared

I don't know about y'all, but as much as I love the tablets I've had I basically use them as dummy devices.  I don't sync them to any of my other devices for what should be obvious reasons.  I barely use them for social media, definitely not as a phone (you fucking kidding me?!?), check my emails, play some simple games, videos & music. And no, I don't use Google/Play unless it's completely unavoidable; that's shit's disabled unless there's no other way around it, and immediately disabled again once I'm done with whatever crap I'm forced to use it for.  My tablet's main function for me is reading ebooks.  Phones are too small for this and eat up way too much RAM, storage space & battery life in the process.  End of mini rant.


eReader apps are a prime investment for me- I have almost 40gb of ebooks in multiple formats, plus digital comics, documents, pdfs and such- so naturally I'd like them to be as well rounded and feature rich as possible. So with that in mind, here's my series on which ones are up to the job or not.


First up is 4Shared Reader by New IT Solutions, available via Google Play.


4shared Reader is a free easy-to-use app for reading documents and books on Android devices.


- Easy access to books & docs on the go
- Turning pages, fast zoom & scroll - via touch screen
- Backup of text files at 4shared for cross-platform viewing
- Downloading files on device for offline reading
- Powerful search & sharing options

The app supports PDF, EPUB, TXT, FB2, CBZ, DJVU, HTML and MS Office (".doc",".docx",".pps",".ppt",".pptx",".rtf",".xls",".xlsx") formats and is 100% free.


It's easy to use because it doesn't do a whole helluva lot.  And it's free because, well...




Like all Google Play apps, it wants you to join their site through one of your social media accounts so it can access to all your data in order to "function properly". @#$%&




Even after doing so via a dummy email, there's not a lot there.  It takes forever to load the covers of the books in your library and Search features are practically non-existent. You get two options: Date or Name, that's it.  To find a specific title you'd have to scroll through your entire directory to find it- not even a Folder search is available.  So if you're like me and have folders with book series in them and the numbered the books in sequence, every book on your device that's been designated as "1" will be listed alphabetically in this app, regardless of where it's stored.  See for yourself.





And then there's this nonsense.





The lack of features when you try to actually do something simple, like search through the book, is appalling.  While Chapters are listed and the current chapter you're reading is highlighted, you can't access or skip directly to them for some reason.  You also can't bookmark pages or even highlight text.  This is mind-boggling.


4Shared eReader is the digital equivalent of what we used to call a "dead fuck"- it simply lies there and makes you do all the work.  Don't bother with it.


1/5 stars.


Review: Swords, Sorcery & Self-Rescuing Damsels

Twenty bestselling and award-winning authors offer enchanting tales of women and girls forging paths through darkness and peril. Cleverness, curiosity, and determinations make worthy heroines in fantastical new worlds.
This line from Editor Lee French's notes says it all: that the term "damsels in distress" reduces women to poorly-dimensioned plot points "useful as nothing more than a prize for defeating the enemy." "This depiction sucks," Lee adds.   Yeah, it does.  Like all those sci-fi movies we used to watch as kids when the group is being chased by monsters the woman would always trip & fall over something, slowing everyone down.  Hell, even in the first Mortal Kombat movie they reduced Sonya Blade- Special Forces Team Leader who just killed Kano- to eye candy & fluff.
15159570676_8c33abc48b_b She was saving this outfit for just such an occasion...
Like all anthologies, it's hit and miss with the stories.  Some are pretty good, others seem to end just when you're getting caught up in them and some you don't know what the heck's even supposed to be happening.  Makes for an intriguing yet uneven mix.  The central theme, of course, is women of all stripes and ages taking their destinies into their own hands.  Not always exactly a HEA, but they're seizing control of their fates. Some of my favorites here were Ashna's Heart, She Remembered, Princess Last Picked, Falconer's Apprentice, Alive, Thorn Girl, Calamity, Hope beyond Death & Balancing the Scales.
Only real complaint here is it seems like some stories were edited down to the point that choppiness & uneveness were the end result.  But other than that, a good solid read about women & girls who get the job done.
3.5/5 stars  



Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon



A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

-read more-

Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller


How do you kill a god? As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

Lot of hit & miss here. First the premise is intriguing but kinda heavy-handed... and ridiculous.  A bunch of local villages have little to no contact with each other yet have so much in common: customs, language, traditions & their subjugation to the will of a powerful being.  It's explained Peruxolo just showed up one day, brought everyone to their knees with his powers & it's been downhill ever since.  They still venerate the goddess they've always prayed to- who never intervened in any of this- but this one's here, now & wants stuff.


The idea of a girl leading a village is unthinkable, yet Rasmira's father finds himself in just that situation what with having no sons in all of his brood.  His wife even feels the brunt of his disappointment for her role in all this and responds by both shunning her precocious child and seeking what she considers redemption in a very un-motherly way. Fortunately, Rasmira's sister is a master healer who's created a poultice that heals wounds almost immediately- based on properties of some of the local monsters- and packs a whole bunch of them for her before leaving.  Oddly enough, these come in pretty handy later on.  Whew- glad we dodged that bullet.


During her exile, Rasmira meets an unlikely pair of likewise exiled boys- Iric & Soren- who've been surviving in the wild for about a year now, via their partnership.   After the usual getting to know you/can we trust you process, Rasmira convinces the boys that by working together on their mattgurs, they can all go home- especially if they complete theirs first.  Luckily, Iric happens to be a master at smithcraft to make their weapons & armor and Soren's a pretty darn good hunter himself with a heart as big as the world, the kind of heart a girl could learn to appreciate in a guy.  Wow- what are the odds of all that happening?


Being a YA novel, the three teens with skills & reasoning far beyond those of the adults bond together and manage to do what the adults failed to even attempt in hundreds of years- including bonding together just to survive in the first place.  Go figure.


The concept of the mattgurs is almost incomprehensible.  You failed your Rite of Passage- now go away and die.  We'll assign you a challenge to make it look like you've got a chance to come home but, seriously- fuck off.  Why?  With almost no contact between villages, monsters all over the place and a god who demands so much tribute you need every able-bodied person on hand to meet quotas you're having trouble meeting... why would you do that? Finding, trapping & killing the monsters to complete their quests took some work, but it's nothing anyone else couldn't have done if they'd ever so much as TRIED!  Granted, solving the mystery of Peruxolo takes some effort & daring, but that's the worst part of the book: making everyone else dumb so the main characters seem smart by comparison.  It's made clear that no one's ever even attempted to before just so these three can save the day.


It's also LGBT-friendly, as Iric's open homosexuality isn't even an issue & his primary motivation is to get back to his village to reunite with the boy he loves.  The social commentary subtext feels forced seeing how same-sex relationships are normal yet women can't be warriors or leaders.


There's plenty of stuff to like here- the mystery of Peruxolo never really is one, but unearthing the details will hold your interest.  And there's some character moments & insights that are clever and the world itself is interesting.  It just all feels like set pieces that never really fit together.


3.5/5 stars.