Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 1 December 2014

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 08:02 PM PST

This morning’s reading list includes James Patterson’s latest brainstorm, music publishers suing Cox (an ISP) over piracy,  the sale of Thalia, a debate on the changes to the VAT rules in Europe, and more.

  • Digital Audiobook Lending Is Finding Its Groove (PW)
  • Germany’s Douglas mandates bank to sell book store chain Thalia – sources (Reuters)
  • Murakami’s The Strange Library shows the e-reading revolution is making books more beautiful (The Independent)
  • Music publishers finally pull the trigger, sue an ISP over piracy (Ars Technica)
  • 'Right To Be Forgotten' Guidelines Published By European Regulators (TechCrunch
  •  VAT rules to catch Amazon will incidentally crush small businesses (The Passive Voice)

The post The Morning Coffee – 1 December 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Narrative Science raises $10 million, Fires its robot reporters

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 08:03 PM PST

6917253693_285ae3b40a_m[1]I’m breaking out the champagne tonight; that dystopian future where I get replaced by an algorithm has drawn one step further away.

Narrative Science announced on Friday that they had raised another $10 million in a capital funding round as it shifted its focus from algorithmically generated news stories to private reports written for corporate customers. GigaOm reported on Friday that:

Narrative Science now courts organizations like financial-service providers who may have already invested in data-gathering services but have no idea what to do with all that information. Frankel claimed that Narrative Science can basically cut out a lot of busy work; a business can use the Quill platform instead of having someone on staff whose job is to sift through data, read from a dashboard, annotate the data and send off a report to the appropriate person.

"Rather than sticking a human in front the of the data, you actually have a machine [in place]," said Frankel.

A subsidiary of the The United Services Automobile Association drove the funding round with previous investors investors Sapphire Ventures, Jump Capital and Battery Ventures. Sapphire Ventures's managing director Jai Das will join the startup's board of directors.

This was Narrative Science’s third funding round, bringing their total capital investment to $32 million. Other investors this time around includded existing investors Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures), Jump Capital, and Battery Ventures. The startup had last raised capital in September 2013 ($11.5 million).


It’s not clear how much of the hype was deserved, but Narrative Science had been getting a lot of attention over the past few years for its AI-driven Quill platform, which can be used to create simple news stories based on collections of statistics like financial earnings projections (this is how Forbes used it).

But that was yesterday; now Narrative Sciences is turning its tech to serve corporate customers like financial service providers. I won’t speculate at length as to why but I will note that Narrative Science has numerous competitors in the robot reporter market.

As I reported in June:

The AP is partnering with a North Carolina company called Automated Insights. This firm, which just raised $5.5 million in a Series B funding round, has developed a patented natural language generation platform called Wordsmith. Like the many other bots working in journalism, Wordsmith spots patterns, correlations, and insights in large data sets and then describes them in plain English.

It's by no means the first bot to get a press card; perhaps the best known are the ones developed by the 4 year old startup Narrative Science, which says it counts many news organizations among its customers. There's also BookStats, which has been offering a similar sports-focused bot since at least 2010.

And in addition to the startups, a number of newspapers have been experimenting internally. The AP, for example, also reports that they "have been automating a good chunk of AP's sports agate report for several years". And the LA Times has been using a couple bots to generate seeds for stories, including one focused on police reports and another called Quakebot.

When I first read this story I thought that NS might be shifting industries because there was more money outside of the news industry, but now I wonder if perhaps NS is expanding into an industry where there is less competition for its services.

Either is a good possibility, I think.

images by CJ IsherwoodArthur40A

The post Narrative Science raises $10 million, Fires its robot reporters appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Where Yahoo went wrong when they decided to sell prints of CC-Licensed Flickr images

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 08:09 PM PST

378148264_9c53d85213_m[1]WSJ reported last week that Yahoo’s latest move to increase its revenues was pissing off Flickr users:

More than 300 million publicly shared Flickr images use Creative Commons licenses, making it the largest content partner. Yahoo last week said it would begin selling prints of 50 million Creative Commons-licensed images as well as an unspecified number of other photos handpicked from Flickr.

For the handpicked photos, the company will give 51% of sales to their creators. For the Creative Commons images, Yahoo will keep all of the revenue.

Just to be clear, Yahoo is only selling prints of works licensed under the CC clause which allows for commercial use, so they what they are doing is completely legal. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t ruffling feathers.

For some time now I’ve believed that the Creative Commons license needed more variations of the commercial use clause, and now it would appear that some creators feel the same way.  The WSJ found several creators (six out of 14 contacted) who apparently wouldn’t mind my using their images in a blog post, but are not happy that Yahoo is going to sell prints.

That includes Nelson Lourenço, a photographer based in Lisbon, who told the ESJ that “When I accepted the Creative Commons license, I understood that my images could be used for things like showing up in articles or other works where they could be showed to public”. He’s not so happy about Yahoo selling prints, adding that “selling my work and getting the full money out of it came as a surprise”.

And he’s not the only one who is viewing this move askance. Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield said that the move was “a little shortsighted”. He added, “It's hard to imagine the revenue from selling the prints will cover the cost of lost goodwill.”

He’s not wrong in calling this move shortsighted; by annoying users Yahoo is poisoning the well. At least some of those users will stop uploading photos which Yahoo can use, and even if they continue to use Flickr those users might simply switch to a non-commercial CC license. That would stick Flickr with all of the cost of hosting the images with no chance to generate revenue, something I would describe as the worst possible outcome (for Yahoo, at least).

I think this move was particularly boneheaded not just because of the loss of goodwill but also because I can see how it would not have been hard for Yahoo to turn this to their advantage. How?

By paying a royalty on each print sold. While Yahoo is going to pay a select group of photographers, most are going to be left out in the cold.

That royalty is not required under US law but it would still be a good idea.  It would mollify most of Yahoo’s critics, and what’s more it could potentially have been used to turn all those creators into salespersons. They could direct requests for prints to Yahoo, generating more revenues all around.

It’s a shame Yahoo didn’t think of that before stepping in this mess.

This isn’t the first time that Yahoo has tried to generate revenue from Flickr since acquiring it in 2005. The photo hosting service offers a Pro service level, and in researching this post I found hints that Flickr was somehow using the uploaded photos commercially as far back as 2007 (I can’t find any specifics on that, though).

image by Dave Ward Photography

The post Where Yahoo went wrong when they decided to sell prints of CC-Licensed Flickr images appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Today's Kindle Books

Today's Kindle Books

More Bargain and Free Books for 11-30-14

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 08:20 AM PST

Curl up with your Ereader this evening and enjoy this set of 3 bargain books and 2 free books.

You can read Kindle books wherever you are and on any device with the Free Kindle App – you don’t even have to own a Kindle to use the app!


Love Match
by Claire-Dee Lim
Rating: 4.9 Stars
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Price: $0.99 Save $3.00
Make sure price is still $0.99 before clicking "Buy".

“A breezy, highly entertaining read full of garrulous, witty and weird characters. A wonderful novel.” -Giantrats

Jessica Durrell has it all figured out. As San Francisco's most successful matchmaker and owner of Love Match, she's been helping the lovelorn go from "Single to Soul Mate in 30 Days."

Her longtime marriage to the man of her dreams is living proof that she practices what she preaches.

Then out of the blue, disaster strikes. Her world is thrown into chaos and the future of Love Match is now at stake.

As Jessica scrambles to save the business, she finds herself making a dicey deal with Hayden Korr—a former rock star on the comeback trail with his own agenda.

Just when it seems that Jessica's wacky scheme might succeed, her growing attraction to Hayden complicates matters.

Worse yet, her nemesis has crawled out of the woodwork to make sure Love Match goes down in flames.

Through outrageous obstacles and hilarious twists and turns, our Queen of Hearts is forced to reexamine her views on relationships, romance, and what it really takes to win in the game of love.


High Plains Holiday
by Simone Beaudelaire
Rating: 4.4 Stars
Genre: Romance
Price: $0.99 Save $2.00
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“Rarely does an author create characters that creep into your mind and hang out for days even after the book is over….Respectfully done and highly recommended.” -Jana L.

Garden City, Kansas, 1888.

A small Western town receives an early Christmas present; a new pastor for the church. He's young, handsome, and single.

But to church organist Kristina Heitschmidt, Reverend Cody Williams is nothing but trouble.

Especially as his first move is to attempt to take control of the music away from her. But Kristina is not about to give up her life's work.

With Christmas fast approaching, it appears the two are at a stalemate.

That is, until a sudden blizzard traps them together in the church overnight.

Forced at last to deal with each other, they realize that the explosive feelings between them are really symptoms of an overwhelming passion that just might, if they can finally be honest, lead to the love of a lifetime.


Playing God
by Kate Flora
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Thriller and Suspense
Price: $0.99 Save $4.00
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Playing God – Nook

“A triumph in the police procedural genre. Highly recommended.” -Library Journal Starred Review

Award-Winning Author

On an icy February night, the body of Steven Pleasant, a prominent Portland, Maine physician, grows cold in his parked Mercedes.

All signs point to a john killed by a disgruntled hooker: his pants are unzipped, wallet is gone, and the good doctor has a reputation for entertaining girls in his car.

But the deeper Detective Sergeant Joe Burgess digs, the muddier the case becomes.

While juggling hookers, wives, ex-wives, fathers, stepfathers, dealers and doctors, a nurse on Pleasant’s staff suggests another angle—disgruntled patients.

Now, ensconced in the darkness of a sleeping hospital, Burgess comes face-to-face with ghosts from his past and must decide what being a detective really means.



Please make sure the price says "Kindle Price $0.00″ before clicking “Buy”. If it says "Prime Members $0.00″ “read for free”, it is NO LONGER FREE. All books are free at the time they are posted but are subject to change back to full price at any time. If you are outside of the United States, these books may not be free.

Murder in the South of France
by Susan Kiernan-Lewis
Rating: 3.7 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Price: $0.00 Save $13.99
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

Murder in the South of France – Nook
Murder in the South of France – Kobo

Award-Winning Author

Maggie Newberry is sheltered, privileged but also a whip-smart advertising copywriter who's fast on her feet and a little stunned to realize that she's 34 years old and still hasn't found "the one."

When her long-missing sister ends up dead, Maggie flies to the south of France to find the little niece that no one in the family even knew existed.

Along the way, she finds handsome Laurent Dernier, a sexy if nefarious Frenchman who it's not clear is there to help or hinder Maggie's search for the girl.

Meanwhile, her sister's murderer sets his sights on the little girl—and Maggie.


Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic
by Meghan Ciana Doidge
Rating: 4.4 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $0.00 Save $10.99
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic – Nook
Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic – Apple iBooks
Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic – Kobo

If you'd asked me a week ago, I would have told you that the best cupcakes were dark chocolate with chocolate cream cheese icing, that dancing in a crowd of magic wielders — the Adept — was better than sex, and that my life was peaceful and uneventful.

Just the way I liked it.

That's what twenty-three years in the magical backwater of Vancouver will get you — a completely skewed sense of reality.

Because when the dead werewolves started showing up, it all unraveled … except for the cupcake part. That's a universal truth.


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More ENT Deals for 11-30-14

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 07:34 AM PST

Start another adventure by downloading a great new read from this set of 4 bargain books and 1 free book.

You can read Kindle books wherever you are and on any device with the Free Kindle App – you don’t even have to own a Kindle to use the app!


by Diane Winger
Rating: 4.9 Stars
Genre: Thriller and Suspense
Price: $1.99 Save $2.00
Make sure price is still $1.99 before clicking "Buy".

“Very hard book to put down (read in one day)…..I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes well written thrillers.” -James P.

All Curt wants is a simple, quiet life, and he relishes the solitude of his job as caretaker of a backcountry ski hut.

His peaceful world is shattered by the reappearance of his identical twin brother, fresh out of prison, desperate and more dangerous than ever.

Conrad has a plan and that plan may destroy Curt's future. Not only is Curt’s life at stake, but also the lives of a group of women enjoying a skiing getaway.

Jessie and friends from her Colorado Adventure Women group anticipate a fun-filled weekend of skiing and relaxing in a remote mountain hut.

They would never guess that a life-and-death situation is simmering just a few hundred yards away in the caretaker's cabin.

Helpless to act, Curt must try to convince his brother to find a different path. But the mistakes of a lifetime cannot be undone in a weekend.


Killing Times 6
by Joanne Clancy
Rating: 3.9 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Price: $0.99 Save $4.00
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“Great characterization with very suspenseful, excellent plots.” -Robin L., Amazon Top 500 Reviewer

Amazon Bestselling Author

The Books:
1. A Daughter’s Secret: Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.

2. Killer Friends: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

3. Killing Time: Everyone makes choices, but choices have consequences.

4. Shattered: Two screams ring out on the still morning air, shattering the middle class complacency.

5. The Offering: It was the beginning of everything, and also the end.

6. Watched: Darkness turned to light, as the full moon lost its potency.


Dark and Stormy
by Felicia Starr
Rating: 4.3 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Price: $0.99 Save $2.00
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“Felicia Starr swooped me in and kept me going until the last page.” -Felicity Nichols Reviews

The sisters of the Sacred Hearts Coven gather every month with one intention, to ignite a flame of passion into one lucky person's love life.

Regina's work is her driving force. She strives to be the top of her game, but there is a large thorn in her side—Reddick, her apparent nemesis.

His confident and somewhat arrogant persona makes her blood boil, but as the saying goes: there is a thin line between love and hate.

Will a touch of magic have Regina opening her heart to the unknown? Or will she run from this storm only to be crushed by her greatest fear?


by Kathryn Jane
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Price: $0.99 Save $2.00
Make sure price is still $0.99 before clicking "Buy".

She's desperate to stop a killer….

Rachel Meyers has been on the run long enough—hiding from more than just death. But now the murders happening around her are forcing her to take a stand and the only person she can trust to help is the man she ran away from. Her husband.

He's desperate to have his wife back….

Quinn Meyers has spent two years searching for Rachel. Now she's back, scared and asking for help. But Quinn wants answers. Helping her is a given, he won't say no, but he also won't let her go again. Not without a fight.

Desperate love…

Quinn's body still aches for Rachel, even though he's guarded his heart since the day she left.

Her continued secrecy is tearing apart any hope of saving their marriage. But more than love is at stake if Quinn and Rachel can't find the killer.



Please make sure the price says "Kindle Price $0.00″ before clicking “Buy”. If it says "Prime Members $0.00″ “read for free”, it is NO LONGER FREE. All books are free at the time they are posted but are subject to change back to full price at any time. If you are outside of the United States, these books may not be free.

Daughter of Time
by Sarah Woodbury
Rating: 4.2 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Price: $0.00 Save $14.99
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

Daughter of Time – Nook
Daughter of Time – Apple iBooks
Daughter of Time – Google Play
Daughter of Time – Kobo

A medieval man with an uncertain destiny, Llywelyn, the Prince of Wales, faces treachery and deceit at the hands of friends and foes alike…

A modern woman with a troubled past, Meg’s life is in tatters when she slips through time and into medieval Wales…

Only by working together can Meg and Llywelyn navigate the shifting allegiances that threaten the very existence of Wales–and create their own history that defies the laws of time.


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More Ereader Deals for 11-30-14

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

Need more reading material? Choose a new book or two from this collection of 4 bargain books and 2 free books.

You can read Kindle books wherever you are and on any device with the Free Kindle App – you don’t even have to own a Kindle to use the app!


Through Many Fires
by Kyle Pratt
Rating: 4.4 Stars
Genre: Action and Adventure
Price: $0.99 Save $3.00
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Through Many Fires – Nook
Through Many Fires – Kobo

“Excellent read! Well written, fast paced, realistic.” -Mick Hager consultant and author

Amazon Bestselling Author

Terrorists smuggle a nuclear bomb into Washington D.C. and detonate it during the State of the Union address.

Army veteran and congressional staffer, Caden Westmore in nearby Bethesda, watches as a mushroom cloud grows over the capital.

The next day as he drives away from the still burning city, he learns another city has been destroyed, and then another.

America is under siege. Panic ensues and society begins to unravel.


The Rooms Are Filled
by Jessica Null Vealitzek
Rating: 5.0 Stars
Genre: Literary Fiction
Price: $0.99 Save $8.96
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“Vealitzek writes from the heart. I read this tale of anguish, and of triumph, from cover to cover without stopping. You will too." —Stephen Wetta, author

In 1983, two outcasts are brought together by circumstance: nine-year-old Michael Nygaard, a Minnesota farm boy transplanted to suburban Chicago after his father dies, and Julia Parnell, a woman trying to begin again after a failed attempt to live openly.

Michael doesn't understand the new people around him: the wild girl across the street nurtures their friendship and then undermines it;

her alcoholic father rockets between affability and rage; the bullies at school taunt him; and he adores his teacher, Miss Parnell, but knows she's living a false life.

When Julia's secret is exposed, she faces a choice: accept herself for who she is or deny her true nature.

Meanwhile, Michael must also choose whether to simply endure his new situation or fight back.

Coming of age will take bravery from these two lost souls—and if they can't find the strength to change, neither will have the life they long for.


Death Knocks
by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel
Rating: 5.0 Stars
Genre: Young Adult
Price: $0.99 Save $2.00
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Death Knocks – Nook
Death Knocks – Apple iBooks
Death Knocks – Kobo

“…a super YA book, filled with excitement and terror…..I sincerely hope there are more coming from these great authors.” -rabidreader

Who knew a knock at the door could tear your world apart? They don't demand money or possessions…they want much more than that, they want your life.

Maverick is preparing for senior year: he's no longer stuck in the "friend-zone" with the girl of his dreams, he's looking forward to choosing the right college and being on his own, and he plans to have a blast along the way.

But a knock on the door changes all of that forever.

Maverick begins a mind-altering, life-changing journey to discover the truth—a truth that certain individuals will do anything to keep hidden.


Keep Her
by Faith Andrews
Rating: 4.7 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Price: $0.99 Save $2.00
Make sure price is still $0.99 before clicking "Buy".

Keep Her – Nook
Keep Her – Kobo

“I was pulled right into this story. The story flowed well and kept me interested.” -Renee E.

The Grayson siblings are at it again—guilty of keeping secrets from each other when it comes to who they fall in love with.

This time little brother's best friend is the object of Riley's affection and their intimate connection is impossible to resist.

Riley Grayson—snarky, successful, lonely.

She's looking for Mr. Right, especially now that her younger, reformed man-whore of a brother is living out his happily ever after with her best friend. If Marcus can find true love, why the hell can't she?

Enter Beck Matthews, Marcus's childhood best friend.

He's lovable, sexy, and oh, yeah—not single. But one night of drunken partying and wild sex with Riley and Beck may be rethinking his future. Has he been planning it with the wrong girl?

Although these two can't stay away from each other, it seems the ghosts of their pasts are holding them back from what they really want.

Can Riley and Beck overcome the threat of shocking coincidences and unexpected events that will test their trust in one another?

Find out if Beck's love is strong enough to Keep Her.



Please make sure the price says "Kindle Price $0.00″ before clicking “Buy”. If it says "Prime Members $0.00″ “read for free”, it is NO LONGER FREE. All books are free at the time they are posted but are subject to change back to full price at any time. If you are outside of the United States, these books may not be free.

Tales of the Demimonde
by Ash Krafton
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Paranormal
Price: $0.00 Save $0.99
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

Award-Winning Author

Tales of the Demimonde is a collection of short works based on the urban fantasy trilogy, The Books of The Demimonde.

Follow the saga of Sophie Galen, who is saving the world, one damned person at a time.

The advice columnist-turned-oracle must save her Demivampire lover from the fate that threatens each of his race: evolution and the destruction of his soul.


Infinite Sacrifice
by L.E. Waters
Rating: 4.2 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: $0.00 Save $10.95
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

Infinite Sacrifice – Nook
Infinite Sacrifice – Apple iBooks
Infinite Sacrifice – Google Play
Infinite Sacrifice – Kobo

Maya's shocked to discover it's not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment you die.

Zachariah, her faithful spirit guide, explains the rules of the dead: in order to regain complete awareness and reunite with loved ones all souls must review their previous lives.

Maya plunges warily into her turbulent pasts as a sociopathic High Priest in ancient Egypt;

an independent mother protecting a dangerous secret in glorious Sparta;

an Irish boy kidnapped and enslaved by Vikings; and a doctor's wife forced to make an ethical stand in plague-ridden England.

All the while, Maya yearns to be with those she cares about most and worries that she hasn't learned all of heaven's most vital lessons.

Will she be forced to leave the tranquility of heaven to survive yet another painful and tumultuous life? Or worse, accept the bitter reality of having to go back alone?


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Bargain and Free Books for 11-30-14

Posted: 30 Nov 2014 06:54 AM PST

Good morning readers! Here are 4 bargain books and 2 free books for your Sunday reading enjoyment.

You can read Kindle books wherever you are and on any device with the Free Kindle App – you don’t even have to own a Kindle to use the app!


by Jackie Collins
Rating: 4.6 Stars
Genre: Romance
Price: $2.99 Save $3.00
Make sure price is still $2.99 before clicking "Buy".

Lucky – Nook

“It was an absolute page turner!!! Highly recommend…Jackie Collins is amazing” -Colleen K.

New York Times Bestselling Author

She's a hot-blooded beauty in love with power, hungry for pleasure… wild, notorious, trouble… she's… LUCKY. The fabulous heroine of “Chances” returns.

With the sensual grace of a panther, Lucky Santangelo prowled her Las Vegas casino, restless, ready, eager for action.

That night began a dazzling odyssey, filled with dangerous passion and sun-drenched sex, sadistic vengeance and breathless suspense.

From the decadent luxury of California, to Paris, New York and a private Greek island, Lucky fought for her father's honor, for ruthless triumph, for the wild card of a fabulous love.

Her rivals; an ice-cold Hollywood wife…a much-married heiress strung out on cocaine…a jaded magnate hooked on power…a crazed hoodlum lusting for murder.

But Lucky was a gambIer and a lover, a woman who ruled her empire and pursued her man with the potent Santangelo strength … her way, on her terms, whatever the odds.


The Devil Made Me Do It
by Shawna Romkey
Rating: 4.9 Stars
Genre: Paranormal
Price: $0.99 Save $7.00
Make sure price is still $0.99 before clicking "Buy".

“….a compelling YA read that takes us to hell and back. Literally.” -Katie O’Sullivan, author of Son of a Mermaid and Unfolding the Shadows

Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality.

But all hell breaks loose when she's stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself.

Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together;

but Lucifer has other plans for her that don't include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.


The Fingerprint of Destiny
by Laura Schofer
Rating: 4.7 Stars
Genre: Womens Fiction
Price: $1.99 Save $1.00
Make sure price is still $1.99 before clicking "Buy".

The Fingerprint of Destiny – Nook
The Fingerprint of Destiny – Apple iBooks
The Fingerprint of Destiny – Google Play
The Fingerprint of Destiny – Kobo

“Well written with an interweaving of historical facts with suspense fiction.” -cindyp

In the small suburban community of Hope’s Point , Long Island something has gone horribly wrong.

A series of arsons in landmark homes, now run down and over run by Latino immigrants, is destroying the community. Ellie Sinclair, is the troubled publisher of a small town newspaper struggling to make ends meet.

The arsons are just another story until Ellie’s estranged mother, Hortensia Borgias Sinclair returns to town and dies in the latest fire.

Ellie wonders if it is destiny, as Hortensia always claimed, or something more insidious?

Now Ellie must find out who is behind the arsons and why. She must shine a light in the dark places of her town – the slums and factories, where Latino immigrants struggle to make a life in suburban America.

Then there is a larger mystery to be solved.

All the women in Ellie’s family are born with a small red birthmark on their left arm, a signature called the Fingerprint of Destiny.

In a series of flashbacks interspersed throughout the novel, we learn about the violent fate of the other women in Ellie’s family.

These stories are filled with adventure, magic, murder, retribution, love, war and an obsession that spans the centuries and takes the reader from the jungles and plains of Venezuela to suburban Long Island.

Can Ellie carve out a life for herself or will she succumb to the Fingerprint of Destiny?


Winter’s End
by Rebekah Lyn
Rating: 4.6 Stars
Genre: Christian Fiction
Price: $0.99 Save $4.00
Make sure price is still $0.99 before clicking "Buy".

Winter’s End – Kobo

“The refreshing references to faith in God without being overdone and the absense of offensive language make Rebekah Lyn’s books appropriate for every age group.” -G. Reindl

Musician Michelle Burton just had the best night of her life.

Her band Tangled Web opened for Wonderland in downtown Orlando and the crowd loved them. Too excited to sleep she makes a fateful decision to go to work early.

The best night of her life turns into the worst day of her life.

Nearby, at boutique Hotel Lago, Stephen Longbottom, acting concierge manager, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the board of directors for Silken Pleasures, a multimillion dollar company based in New York and specializing in high end cosmetics, fragrances and lingerie.

Their incessant demands before they even arrive are driving him to distraction. Meanwhile Lizzie Reynolds, his boss is on a romantic ski trip in Vermont leaving him to manage his first solo event.

Hope, forgiveness and love are an integral message throughout the book and like a fine tapestry the threads of God's master plan for the character's lives are woven into a fabric of great storytelling, conflict and humor.



Please make sure the price says "Kindle Price $0.00″ before clicking “Buy”. If it says "Prime Members $0.00″ “read for free”, it is NO LONGER FREE. All books are free at the time they are posted but are subject to change back to full price at any time. If you are outside of the United States, these books may not be free.

Dancing Bear
by Oren Sanderson
Rating: 4.2 Stars
Genre: Thriller and Suspense
Price: $0.00 Save $3.99
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

A desperate young woman is knocking on the door of the Israeli consulate in Boston, seeking asylum, claiming that she is the only survivor of an Israeli spy network.

The gate remains locked, but a security guard, who falls in love with her, is trying unsuccessfully to rescue her.

He embarks on a discovery trail, meeting tough American and Israeli government agents, cynical merchants and passionate dreamers.

By the end of the trail he discovers the woman and the truth that lies underneath her story and his own life.


Sullivan’s War
by Michael K. Rose
Rating: 4.4 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Price: $0.00 Save $9.99
Subject to change back to full price at any time.

On Earth, a powerful politician has been murdered. When he’s assigned to the case, Agent Frank Allen soon discovers that the man responsible, Rick Sullivan, is not yet finished killing.

But Allen will also discover that Rick Sullivan is not the man he appears to be, and the war he’s fighting, a war to rid his home planet of its oppressive government, is not his only battle.

As Allen pursues Sullivan across the known galaxy, he begins to question his own beliefs and loyalties.

Will Allen be able to stop Rick Sullivan before he kills again? Does he really want to?

As their lives become increasingly intertwined, both men realize they must face truths about themselves that neither of them are prepared for.

And some of those truths will have consequences that neither of them could have ever imagined.


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Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

UnSurprising News: Cheap Tablets aren’t just poorly made, they’re also insecure

Posted: 29 Nov 2014 08:22 PM PST

4661409838_919824b9fa_m[1]As Black Friday weekend draws to a close (followed by Cyber Monday, Tech Tuesday, Wearable Wednesday, and on Thursday, bankruptcy court) a new report is circulating which reminds us that cheap Android devices are about as secure as they are expensive.

Security researchers with Bluebox Labs raised the alarm earlier this week, according to an alarmist post over at Gizmodo:

A bunch of the tablets they tested had the malicious app protection — the setting that prevents you from installing apps from unknown sources — turned off by default. That makes it far more likely that the five-year-old you foist the tablet off to will download malware, and your credit card number will be gone before you can say ‘suspicious charges from a Siberian minicab firm’.

The worrying discoveries don’t stop there, either. A number of the tablets came rooted out of the box, making them more easily compromised by a lazy hacker; a couple were signed using a test signature for AOSP, a custom version of Android, which would make rolling out a malware-infected system upgrade easy; and Staples’ $39 tablet even had some security features painstakingly removed for no good reason.

Not that I want to come across as a know-it-all, but this isn’t surprising news (heck, it hardly qualifies as news) nor is it all that worrisome.

I’ve been using cheap tablets on and off for four years, and I have never had a serious security breach. What’s more, I’ve never heard of anyone having security problems – not from their mobile devices, that is. While those security researchers do have their facts straight they also have their priorities wrong. Yes, cheap tablets are insecure, but the real threat comes from other channels.

I worry less about my cheap Android tablet being hacked than I do about the services I use with that tablet. Those online services are a much more tempting target, and as Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities learned the hard way back in August, even Apple’s servers are vulnerable.

In order to increase my computer security, I am replacing my laptop with this beauty.
Okay, Android does have security issues, including botnets (a bunch of them, in fact), but the main security issue with Android devices is the user, not the device. All of the malicious Android hacking incidents I have heard of have involved the user making one of the usual mistakes: installing an Android app from an unsafe source (or, sometimes, Google Play), visiting an unsafe website, or opening a questionable email attachment.

In short, folks, I am worried less about an unsecure device than I am about doing something dumb and handing my Android device over to a hacker. But so long as we follow the usual basic steps to keep ourselves safe online, that should not be a serious issue either.

image by ajmexico*n3wjack’s world in pixels

The post UnSurprising News: Cheap Tablets aren’t just poorly made, they’re also insecure appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Review: Pocketbook InkPad

Posted: 29 Nov 2014 12:23 PM PST

pocketbook 840 inkpad handsonPocketbook’s new 8″ ereader has been delayed so often that it is a solid runner up for that title, but it has proven to be worth it.

I’ve had my InkPad for a couple weeks now, and it has proven to be far better device than the early reports from Russia led me to expect. The price tag and limited supply will likely keep it out of the hands of most readers, which is a shame.

The InkPad will never be a blockbuster but it does have its strengths.

Table of Contents

Review Date: 29 November 2014

I bought my review unit from Pocketbook France in early September 2014. They  never actually got around to shipping it, and then stopped responding to my emails, forcing me to complain to Pocketbook corporate in order to get the parent company to ship my order.

Pro & Con


  • Screen & build quality
  • PDF support
  • Reading experience


  • Epub support
  • Price
  • Availability & customer service


pocketbook inkpadThe InkPad runs Pocketbook’s proprietary OS on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM. It has 4GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, Wifi, and a headphone jack. It sports an 8″ Pearl E-ink screen with frontlight and touchscreen. The screen resolution is 1,600 x 1,200.

Based on the design of the Color Lux, the 8″ color E-ink ereader which Pocketbook released last year, the InkPad has an unbalanced design which makes it ideal for one handed use.  It has a brown plastic shell with page turn buttons to the right of the screen. There’s also a strip of rubber above and below the buttons to help you grip the InkPad, and a corresponding rubber pad on the back.

The only obvious detail on the front of the InkPad are the page turn buttons and that strip, but if you look closely you’ll find a sensor strip above the screen. That is the control for the frontlight, and it is one of the nicer features.  It takes 6 or 7 swipes to go from off to maximum brightness, offering finely grained control of the screen brightness.

You’ll find the headphone jack on the bottom right edge, and under a cap on the upper right edge are the microUSB port and the microSD card slot. The power button is next to that cap.

Of the five larger ereaders in my office at the moment*, the InkPad is easily the nicest to hold and use. Given its size you wouldn’t think this would be a one-handed ereader, but thanks to the lop-sided design it is the only one of the larger ereaders which I feel can be used that way (and since the text – but not the menus-  can be reversed, the InkPad is equally good for righties and lefties).

* (Kobo Aura HD, Bookeen Ocean, Onyx Boox T68 Lynx, Kindle DX, and the InkPad)

pocketbook inkpad 1 pocketbook inkpad 2 pocketbook inkpad 5 pocketbook inkpad 6

Screen & Frontlight

With an 8″ Pearl E-ink screen, the InkPad clearly won’t have as good of a screen as the latest premium ereaders, but the screen was still far better than I expected. In many ways the screen on my InkPad is nicer than the one on my T68 Lynx or my Paperwhite (2013).

In comparison to the KPW, the Inkpad’s frontlight much whiter and brighter.  When the frontlights are off, the InkPad’s screen is slightly grayer, but whether the light is on or off the KPW still has a noticeable brown tint. And whether the frontlight is on or off, the text is sharper and blacker; if I didn’t know better I would think the KPW had the sharper screen.

In comparison to the T 68 Lynx, the Inkpad’s frontlight is again whiter and brighter. It makes the T68 Lynx’s frontlight look fuzzy in comparison, and when the frontlight is off the InkPad’s screen is still slightly whiter than the the screen on the T68 Lynx.


This section will be abbreviated because  I’ve already covered the apps and ebook format support in some detail. (On a related note, I’ve recently updated the post on ebook formats with a new opinion on the usefulness of the limited support for Mobi and other formats.)

The InkPad runs Pocketbook’s software, which I found satisfactory – so long as I didn’t have to interact with it much.

While the home screen was good at getting me into whichever book I had open, the library screen was only good at wasting screen real estate. Rather than show a neat and orderly grid of icons for the ebooks on my InkPad, it insisted on showing the ebooks shelved in alphabetical order. If there was only a single ebook who’s title or author began with a given character, it would be shelved by itself – thus wasting the screen to the right

The only to get that neat and orderly grid was to sort the library chronologically – by the day an ebook was added to the InkPad or last opened. Neither suits me.

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Reading Experience

scr0025The InkPad supports a number of different ebook formats, including Epub and PDF as well as office doc formats. I’ve already covered how well the various file formats are supported (here), so in this section I’ll just focus on Epub and PDF.

Text PDF support is great, although I don’t read much in the way of text PDFs so that doesn’t matter much to me. I would like to use the InkPad for graphic novels, but each page was abysmally slow to load.

Epub wasn’t so well supported. The InkPad forced full justification, which was annoying, but I actually didn’t mind so much.  But the other bugs, including the tendency to freeze, the general inability to go a page back in the text, and the slow page turns, did detract from the reading experience.

But in spite of the problems I still liked reading on the InkPad. Given the issue with bugs, you’d think I would be as frustrated with it. Strangely, I’m not. Even though the InkPad was noticeably slower to turn a page than the Paperwhite, I didn’t mind to much.

Curiously, over the past 3 or 4 days before publishing this review I have been reading ebooks in Mobi format. In spite of the incomplete support for that format I am enjoying reading on the InkPad.

Comparison Reviews

(more to come)


I’m not one to shoot videos (I don’t like watching them much, either) but I have found several worth watching.


In spite of the hassles in buying an InkPad, I love this baby. It’s a lot bigger than I am used, but I like reading on it.

It’s solidly built with a decent quality frontlight and screen. It works great with text PDFs, and while it’s not so great with Epub I am still enjoying it. With its 8″ screen, the InkPad would best be described as the equivalent of reading from a hardback (in comparison to 6″ ereaders, which are like reading from a paperback.)

But it’s also hard to get, and with a $240 price tag it is very expensive. And as much as I like it, I’m not sure it justifies the price tag.

It’s good, yes, but is it $240 good?

That would really depend on  what you need it to do, and it would depend on what you compare the InkPad to. There are some really good but smaller ereaders on the market, but not much that is as big or bigger than the InkPad which compares well.

The InkPad can’t quite match the screen sharpness or the ebook format support of the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx (6.8″ screen, Android 4.0). It doesn’t have the super-high resolution screen of the Kindle Voyage, or the waterproof and high-quality screen of the Kobo Aura H2O (6.8″ Carta E-ink screen).

On the other end, the InkPad offers a sharper screen and a lower price than the Kindle DX or the Onyx Universe, and there isn’t that much else in the 8″ and above range.

The InkPad is good at PDFs, and one thing I do like about the InkPad is the page turn buttons. They’re rather anemic, but the InkPad does have more functional page turn buttons than any of the 3 ereaders mentioned above.

That makes one handed reading a lot easier, and when combined with the 8″ screen the InkPad offers the best reading experience of any of the 8″ or larger ereaders.

Where to Buy

The InkPad is available from a number of retailers in Europe and Russia, including Pocketbook’s official sites, Amazon, and smaller retailers. It’s also out of stock at the time I wrote this review, so I’m not sure you will be able to get one.

You will have even more trouble getting one outside of Europe. While it is possible to order an InkPad from Pocketbook France, I would not trust them to ship it.

I bought my unit from them at the beginning of September, and after numerous production delays they promised they would ship in the middle of October. And then they stopped responding to my emails, forcing me to complain to Pocketbook corporate.

While I did get one, Pocketbook France did not ship it and thus I cannot recommend them.


  • CPU: 1GHz
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Screen: 8″ Pearl E-ink display, 1,600 x 1,200 resolution
  • Frontlight, Touchscreen
  • Storage: 4GB internal, microSD card slot
  • Connectivity: Wifi
  • Battery: 2.5Ah, one month runtime
  • Audio: headphone jack (TTS, MP3 supported)
  • eBook Format Support (more details here): Epub, PDF, FB2, DJVu, Mobi, PRC, CHM
  • Office and Other File Format Support: Doc, Docx, RTF, txt, HTML
  • Weight: 350 grams
  • Dimensions: 195.5 x 162.8 x 7.3 mm


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