Friday, April 7, 2017

The Heart of Hannen by Fawn Bonning

Discretion advised: This book may be unsuitable for anyone under the age of 18, due to mature themes, language and sexual content.
Series: The Atriian Trilogy
Publication Date: Mar 2014
Publisher: Self Published
Age Group: 18+
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 522
Format: ePub
Source: Review Copy
Buy the Book: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Christine, a troubled teen with a dark past, is miserable in her small town. Shadowed in shame, she feels destined to live her lonely life as an outcast. She has no idea that her true destiny lies in a different town, in a different world; a most brutal world called Atriia. There she learns the true meaning of misery, the true meaning of loneliness, the true meaning of shame. But she also learns that her bravery is boundless as she battles against a formidable foe, a dark shadow that tries to smother the land. And in the arms of a most unlikely candidate, she also learns the true meaning of love.
He is Hannen Fallier, the one they call the foul fraigen dropper, revered by men for his fearless feats, but looked upon by women with open disdain. With a face horribly mauled, he hides behind a mask of shame, deeming himself unworthy of love. That he would seek acceptance from Christine is irony in its purest form. That he would seek her love . . . the ultimate betrayal.

On many occasions, I've admitted that I definitely judge books by their covers. This one was no different, in fact, I almost turned down the review because of the cover. Sure, the cover matches the descriptions of two of the characters very well, but it's just not very well done.

I also believe that this book should have probably included a trigger warning for those who have been affected by rape. Although there are no rape scenes directly in the book, Christine, the main character does experience flash backs of almost being a victim, along with other volatile emotions related to the event.

The book is well written and most of the characters seem well-planned. There are a few characters who seem a bit contrived or that could have been cut- they appeared to serve a single purpose (though other more fleshed out characters could have filled those rolls) then were only mentioned in passing or simply disappeared.

There are so many twists and turns in this book, none of them the twist or turn you expected it to be. Many of them left me with more questions than answers. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out some of those questions. Many times, there are clues and hints dropped about what is going on, what happened before Christine arrived in Atriia, and what is going to happen later, but following those clues are almost guaranteed to intentionally lead you to the wrong conclusion.

One thing that was a little off-putting was the language of the Atriians. The author even points out that it's 95% English, though I think that was the problem I faced. Because of its similarities to English, reading Tolkien's Quenya (aka Elvish) or Lovecraft's R'lyehian is actually easier for me. But that might just be me, even with real languages, I more easily learn those that are far removed from English. So don't let the Atriian language stop you from reading this book, I didn't!

While this read won't find its way to my favorites shelf, I did enjoy reading it and look forward to reading the other two books of the trilogy.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Protecting Your Ebook Library

Bookplate created for Malcolm Ferguson by WWII German POW.
So, way back in October, I posted about DRM, what it is, what it does, and why it's a problem. So today, I want to give you some options to protect that precious library. Now, I have to be honest about a couple of things here: 1. There really aren't many options and 2. Doing this *can* fall into a legal gray area or may even be *illegal* depending on where you live.

Now, you could try to protect your library the Medieval way, by placing a curse on anyone who would dare take your precious books from you. But clearly, even back then, curses didn't quite work as is evidenced by the chained libraries of the times (some of these are still in existence today!)

The other option is to use technology to your advantage to create a non-DRMed copy of the book. As I've already stated, removing DRM (and even making a copy of the book file) falls into a very gray legal area in most countries and is outright illegal in many others. So, it is up to you to decide if it is legal where you are and if it is not, if you believe it is worth the risk.

There is, at this time, only one effective method to removing DRM. That is with the calibre Ebook Management software and a certain addon for that software that will remove the DRM (which addon depends on the DRM used on the original file.)

Calibre is a program created by Kovid Goyle. It is a free, open source application that allows users to manage e-book libaries, and even create and edit existing books.

There are numerous apps that will do almost everything calibre can do, it would require installing multiple apps to recreate the entire suite. And even then, you would be missing the most important element pertaining to what we're trying to accomplish here today. You'd be missing the ability to remove DRM. Without the ability to remove the DRM, none of the other steps in this post will work.

I must also note here that the only way to remove DRM from books purchased through Apple iBooks, is to purchase the TunesKit iBook DRM Removal Tool. While this app will set you back about $30, if you have a lot of iBooks, it is well worth it.
After installing the App, load all of your iBooks onto your Mac, then drag and drop them into the app screen and click "Convert." Done.

So let's get started!

  1.  Download calibre. (Yes, I am spelling that correctly. The name, calibre is NOT supposed to be capitalized, ask Mr. Goyle.)

    Go here, download the copy that matches your computer set up. As for the Windows versions, if you are not sure if you need the x64 version, just download the one that just says Windows.

  2. On the next page, click the link that says "Download calibre."

  3. Now, depending on your operating system, what happens from here on will be different. I do not have a Mac, so I cannot give instructions for installing calibre from this point or how to add the plugin you will need. You could try to follow along and modify with however things are installed on Mac... but your results may vary.

    I do have a computer with Linux, but if you're using Linux, you probably know what you're doing ;)

    Windows users, these instructions are for you.

  4. A window will pop up asking you to save or cancel. Click "save." The file will go to whatever directory you have set for downloads, likely called "Downloads."
  5. The file will download as  calibre-x.xx.x.msi (the x's are the version, it will be the most current.) Double click the file.

  6. Another window will pop up. Click "Run." This will activate the installer.

  7. Once the installer has loaded, the Terms of Use will appear, READ them, then click the checkbox stating "I accept the terms..." and click install.

  8. The installer will now begin installing calibre. Yes, it might take a while. If your computer asks if you want to allow the program to make changes to your computer, click "Yes."

  9. When it's done installing, click "Finish," and calibre will open.
If you prefer video instructions on how to install calibre, check out this guy's video. The first 2:30 show the installation process. He does NOT, however, show how to install the necessary plugins, so don't follow the rest of that tutorial for adding book files. You will be disappointed when you can't open them to read them!


Now, we move on to installing the necessary addons. These are not available in the calibre official addon repos. They are only available through their author, Apprentice Alf.

  1. Go to Apprentice Alf's Blog. Somewhere before the fold, you should see a link that will take you to the current version of the addon. Click that link.

  2. You will be redirected to the Github page for DeDRM tools. Under downloads, click on Be sure to select "save file" in the popup window and click "Ok." Unzip the top folder (do not unzip the files inside).

  3. Head to calibre and click on "Preferences" in the top menu.

  4. From there, click "Plugins" near the bottom of the window.

  5. Select "Load Plugins from File."

  6. Go to your downloads and navigate to DeDRM_calibre_plugin > DeDRM_calibre_plugin.

  7. Click "Yes" on the virus warning that pops up. *There is NO virus in Apprentice Alf's files!*

  8. Restart calibre. You should be good to go. Now you can import your books and remove that pesky DRM!

Welcome to the world of actually owning your ebooks!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wyshea Shadows by Geoffrey Saign

Series: Divided Draghons

Publication Date: Dec 2016
Publisher: Kiraku Press
Age Group:YA
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 285 pages
Format: epub
Source: Review Copy
Buy the Book: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

A hundred-year-war that won’t end…
Three young women sworn to kill each other…
Famere, the wyshea butcher, seeks vengeance with loyal mythic beasts called shadows,
Jennelle, commander of the Northerners, fights for her people’s survival using brilliant strategies, &Camette, a wild divided draghon, searches for her kidnapped lover…
Famere, Jennelle, and Camette must discover who is friend or enemy, who is responsible for the hundred-year dark sky and death mists, and if the men they adore will still love them.

There's really not much I can say about this one without ruining the story for other readers. I can say it was extremely well written, character development was well thought out, and story development was on par with some of the greatest Fantasy epics ever written. The only issue with the writing that I found was that because of the shifting character perspective, it was, at the beginning of some sections, difficult to determine which character's lens the story was being told through. Once past the first sentence or two in any given section this was no longer a problem though, so definitely not a deal-breaker.

Mr. Saign has done remarkably well in his endeavor into epic fantasy. I definitely look forward to reading the next book in the series whenever it is released!