Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Star Product Review: Pandigital, A “Novel” eReader

     With the Holiday season upon us, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce a new segment of my blog in which I intend to review products, services and other items related to reading and writing. I’ve finally joined the World of Reading in 2010 and bought an eReader! What I hope will be the first of many is my opinion of one of the many models offered to us readers and techie consumers.

     Welcome to the Pandigital Novel. This techie device came out in June 2010 but with “many” quirks and bumps in the road, it was recalled. After it underwent a vastly improving makeover, it has been back on the shelves across the country, from stores like Kohl’s, Walgreens and JCPenney to bigger brand tech giants like BestBuy.

Photo: Courtesy of Sears.com
     First off, I can’t take all the credit. My lovely fiancĂ©e bought me my ereader as an early Christmas/Black Friday gift. After much consideration and countless reviews (Thank you Google!), we decided that the Pandigital would be the perfect fit for a book-obsessed girl like me. Don’t believe EVERYTHING you read! I feel I must qualify my choice first by saying that this nifty ereader/tablet pc is fantastic for all the things I want to use it for. 2. It is NOT the iPad. 3. The price is MORE than right! Regularly, the Novel goes for around $200.00 but we only paid $149.99 at Radio SHack over the Black Friday holiday plus we recieved a $20.00 gift card which I then used to buy the expandable SD memory card. (Note: When you go to www.pandigital.net to register you’re product, you will find that it comes with a FREE 1-Year warranty (so don’t buy the stores warranty plan, no matter how cheap they try to push it on you for (in my case, $17.99)! Some sales persons can be unbelievable when it comes to this.) So after all the sales, deals and freebies, it’s like I got it for $112.00 (or something like that anyways. I guess that’s my justification.)

Wait there’s more!

Read, Read, Read: Next to the Nook, this is the only other device that allows access to the Barnes & Noble bookstore direct from your device. B&N is the biggest ebook store next to Amazon's Kindle (from what I've read anyways). Unique to B&N is the "Lending" feature which allows you to "borrow" and "lend" out certain books to other B&N ebook buyers. Think of all the savings! Another unique feature of the Pandigital Novel is that you do NOT have to read ebooks exclusively from B&N! The Novel has another ereader application, Adobe eBooks, which allows you to read epub, pdf and Adobe Digital Edition (ADE) books. My local e-library has thousands of free, downloadable e-books in the ADE format that previous to owning the Pandigital, I never had access to beyond my home PC. I am so excited to start borrowing!

Blank Slate: After reading all the reviews, cautions and things to consider, I decided to check out the various upgrades available for the operating system on the Pandigital (strictly through their website (because in general, I am very wary about downloading anything from a third party). I experimented with the Android Open Market Kit (which Pandigital warns you that this makes the warranty null and void and erases the B&N Application as well as the Adobe eReader. Ultimately, because I was really ecstatic about the Pandigital’s compatibility with Adobe Digital Editions in its original format (No, really, I almost passed out while sitting in the car I was so excited over this, but that’s just me) and was pleased with the overall look, feel, ease to the Pandigital’s original hardware, I kept it “as is” with the only addition being the installation of the latest Android version 2.0. However, this is not to say that in the future (near or far) that I may not choose to try out the Open Market Platform Kit. I actually really love the idea that my Pandigital can be well….whatever I want it to be!! With the OMPK, I can download apps, make my own home screen, and customize the tablet in any other fashion I see most useful to my needs and entertainment. I am no techie-guru myself, but luckily in 2010 we have Google and the creation of forums, so I can just pretend to be super-smaht!

Forums: I don’t know if it’s because of all the quirks, bugs and issues that first were noticed when the Pandigital originally came out or what but it seems that within six months of its release, there has been so much discussion on the ereader/tablet that it has its very own forum/discussion community at www.slatedroid.com dedicated to all things Pandigital. When I was trying to figure out how everything worked, it seemed I was constantly being referred to this slatedroid discussion site. When I was testing out the Open Platform, I came across several posts on this site that had saved every single file that was ever offered, uploaded or downloaded for the Pandigital Novel. With these files also came step-by-step directions so that even the novice techie like me couldn’t screw it up! My search has barely yet to begin too so I can only imagine what else these and other reviews, discussions and forums have in store for quick tips, expert downloads and savvy ideas. (www.slatedroid.com/pandigital-novel-android-tablet-discussion/)

Dream Unique: Order a custom designed case or bag for your ereader at www.etsy.com. They have the cutest designs for a wide range of prices. Email the designer direct to make sure it will fit your ereader product.

DIY: Don’t want to shell out more money after a wallet-crunching year or Christmas (or hey, even after finally shelling out the money to buy the ereader and all its other accessories)?? Make your own cover or case! These instructions look relatively easy and maybe even a little fun: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hardback-Nook-Case/


Photo courtesy of amazon.com

 [Update: Today I bought myself the Purple Silicone Pandigital cover on sears.com, a set of lcd screen protectors and a cute, pink and polka dot neoprene universal digital ereader case by Ex Point on amazon.com. I am ready to Read!!]  

     So far I’ve loaded many books, audio books, music, photos and a few other personal items but there is so much more to be learned and used. There are applications for Facebook for all you networking bookinistas out there, watch your Stocks rise (and hopefully not fall), program an alarm to create your own Word Sprints to engage your writing and mark your next draft due date on the calendar. This is only the beginning.

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

Please note: I am not affiliated with any of the products mentioned in this review. This is my sole opinion of the product. I do not receive anything for this review; simply the pleasure of sharing my experience with others. If you have any suggestions for future products you would like to see reviewed, please email me at cgraceh at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fairytale of New York: Download Your Happily Ever After

     If you follow my blog, you might know that I’m a sucker for a good happy ending. And for me, what comes to mind first when I think of those happily ever after moments? Fairy tales. What a wonderful surprise I came across today, then, when I opened up my Twitter page to find that Miranda Dickinson’s debut novel, Fairytale of New York is now available for FREE (no catch!) on select e-book websites.

     My personal favorite ebook site where I’ve found it and it's easy to read the books on my desktop or upload to my iPod Touch is Kobo Books.

     Read more about Miranda Dickinson on her web page at www.miranda-dickinson.com, follow her on her blog at http://www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.com/. Finally,catch the reviews on this and Miranda Dickinson's other novels a two more of my personal favorite web sites:


The Chick Lit Club:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Wickedly Wicked Life of Women: From Classic Lit to Chick Lit

     While I’ve been working on a novel for NaNoWriMO, I’ve found myself doing research on evil mothers and evil women, in general in literature. What is it about fairy tales, fiction and chick lit that readers love a good female villain? Some people call them strong, diabolical or jealous and probably, most recently, “bitch” captures all these words into one modern meaning of the femme fatale. Just for fun, I thought I’d compile a liset of all the Evil Women who we love to hate (and some we’ve even grown to love) from Grimm’s Fairy Tales to contemporary Chick Lit:

Wicked Witch of the West - The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

The Stepmother – Hansel & Gretel; Cinderella; Snow White all by Brothers Grimm

Maleficient – Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin

Lady MacBeth – MacBeth by William Shakespeare

Goneril & Regan – King Lear by William Shakespeare

Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Corinne Dollanganger – Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Cruella de Vil ¬– 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Queen of Hearts – Alice in Wonderland ¬by Lewis Carroll

Miss Trunchbull – Matilda by Roald Dahl

Miranda Priestley – The Devil Wears of Prada by Lauren Weisberger*

Vivian Grant – Because She Can by Bridie Clark*

Mrs. X –The Nanny Diaries & The Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus*

Sidra DeSimon – How to Sleep with a Movie Star by Kristin Harmel*

*Chick Lit “Evil at Work” characters adapted from the Chick Lit Club, Retrieved at http://chicklitclub.com/top10evilatwork.html on November 19, 2010

     Fascinated by the concept of the evil female villain, myself, I am working on adding my own femme fatale to the growing list of chick lit antagonists. Taking key components from many varieties of the story of Cinderella and modern elements of chick lit and contemporary fiction, I hope one day Ms. Marguerite of The Cinderella Complex will one day make it on one of the lists. She is an evil woman, not unlike the evil stepmothers of preceding literature who antagonizes my leading heroine at every step of her journey to independence.

Who did I forget? Let me know. I’d love to hear it! Post your favorite evil women from chick lit or anywhere in the media.

Monday, November 15, 2010

See Jane Write: 30 Days of Plotting, Typing, Writing and NaNoWriMo-ing?

I'm taking a little break (I'm sure you may have noticed) from writing in my blog. Be sure to check out any of the past book reviews, links, blog posts or any of the great sister sites I love to read and follow on the right.

Wish me luck....This is my very first year attempting to NaNoWriMo. That's 30 Days and Nights of Writing and writing and writing...and, you get it. Hence, the break from my blog. I'm trying to write a rough (very rough) draft of a chick lit manuscript by November 30. It's a race against the clock as I up my word count. Goal: 50,000 and a completed (NOT finished) novel in the chick lit fiction genre.

Here I am at Day 15, halfway there and I miss blogging so I just thought I'd check in.  I might not be blogging but I'm still reading, writing, listening to, dreaming and breathing chick lit (Okay that might be going a little too far!) So check back December 1st (okay, maybe December 2nd to give my little typing fingers a rest!) for more Chick Lit Reviews and Blog Posts, Ideas and Thoughts on Writing, Fun Links for all the Chick Lit you wanna know.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a great offer I found on Twitter today. If any of you have dreams of writing, check out this great link from Women on Writing to get three FREE ebook copies of these helpful books on writing: http://womensmemoirs.com/free-ebooks/:

“Writing in Five: Prompts to Get You Moving”
“Journaling Essentials: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Keep a Journal”
 “Top 10 Reasons to Write Your Memoir” (Bonus: Extra Writing Prompts)

Don't Forget MAY 2011 is CHICK LIT INTERNATIONAL MONTH joining the United States' Chick Lit is Not Dead, Australia's Chick Lit Club and Britain's Novelicious....."Because Every Woman Deserves Her Happy Ending"...