Archive for : August, 2014

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Although many bookworms will tell you that there’s no substitute for the printed page (myself included) it’s undeniable that e-books are growing in popularity. And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s easy to see why! It’s just convenient to be able to read on your cell phone: it’s more portable, you can carry more “books” than you’ll ever be able to read on one trip, and in many cases, e-books are much cheaper. While I’ll always argue that you can never replace the moment when you crack a new book’s spine and that the smell of old books should be part of everyone’s lives, I do think e-books have a role to play in our modern world. It’d be stupid to argue otherwise!

Eager to find out what my e-options were, I shopped around a number of sites, eventually finding one called, which did things a little differently from the competitors. In addition to e-books access, a Playster subscription gives you access to four other media types, too: movies, games, apps, and music. It’s a catch-all media package that your whole family can enjoy, whether they’re readers, movie-watchers, gamers, music lovers, or the more likely option: a combination of all those things. Seeing that this one offered easily the most “value” of all the services I’d looked at, I decided to give it a shot, and write this review to let you know how things went.

Playster has a lot of really popular books, from celebrity biographies, to an incredible range of romance novels by famous Harlequin writers like Liz Carlyle and Donna Fletcher, and a good deal of detective fiction, too (I’m looking forward to getting back to Poirot after finishing this blog post!)

There’s a great balance of fiction and non-fiction titles. There are a bunch of “Dummies” style guides that are useful if you need to brush up on important life skills like money management. For the spiritually-inclined, there are books on various religions including Christianity and Buddhism and more. You’ll find everything from vegan recipe guides to car repair manuals: the amount of content is pretty staggering, to the point that it sometimes can feel a little overwhelming. They’ve even got some comics!

The book reading interface was smooth and functional, and it even has a built in magnifying glass for those of us with poor eyesight, or for people who really want to zoom in on the detailed panels of comic books. You can search for titles by genre, and add titles to a “collections” tab so you can keep a record of the best things you’ve found in the catalogue. Since the catalogue is so big, this feature definitely helps.

If I’m going to sign up for any books service, it’ll be this one, simply because I get to enjoy the convenience of e-books while also having access to a lot of other content that I maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. I’d prefer not to pay for an online service that gave me e-books alone: I’d feel like a traitor to all the books lining my shelves! However, all the other content this site offers makes me feel a little better. It’s also just great to have so much content available in one household for such a reasonable price, especially if you have a family. I haven’t checked out much of the site yet, but my kids are certainly enjoying playing games on their phones (typical).

Well, that’s it for my Playster review. I didn’t really try much of their content outside of books yet, but as I said, my children are enjoying playing Candy Crush or whatever it is on their cell phones. Maybe with Playster, I might be able to get them to finally pick up a book…or at least a tablet!


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The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe – A Review

Jonathan Coe is a writer with a great ability: that of being humane and extremely detail-oriented at the same time. You will love his funny way of putting things and his juicy, quirky characters that will be extremely well built from the very sentence they are introduced in. And even more than that, you will love the plot, the story and the general “fragrance” of his book. As a matter of fact, it is quite likely that you will be so much hooked on his writing that you will actually feel there, in the book, with the characters.

The House of Sleep has been praised by critics for many things, one of them being related to the fact that it has a wonderfully well-built structure. The odd numbered chapters are all set in between the years 1983 and 1984, while the even numbered ones are set in 1996. Even more, the last sentence of a chapter ends in a sentence that is left hanging and is continued in the following chapter that takes place more than one decade ago. Again, don’t be surprised if you see details of this kind sprinkled all throughout the book because this is one of Jonathan Coe’s fortes and he loves playing with these things.

This novel’s action takes place in a small town on the British coast, in a Victorian manor symbolically named Ashdown. There are 3 main characters: Terry, Sarah and Robert. They all live at Ashdown, which is at the beginning of the book a student house. Also, Sarah’s boyfriend, Dudden, briefly joins them. In fact, he is one of the most mysterious characters in the entire novel and, as his obsession with Sarah’s narcolepsy grows, you will be left in wonder at who he really is.

In the parts of the book that take place in 1996, Ashdown has become a hospital for those with severe sleeping issues and Dudden is the main doctor here. Terry hasn’t slept in years and she is hospitalized here and Sarah will soon reunite with her former boyfriend as her narcolepsy episodes become more and more difficult to handle (at times, she is unable to tell the difference between what happens in her sleep and what happens in reality). As for Robert, his unrequited love for Dudden’s girlfriend has completely transformed him.

Overall, this is a very nice read. It may appear that it will be a difficult one if you simply read about its plot and its synopsis, but Coe manages to make this a great read for a lot of types of readers, despite the novel’s heavy themes: creativity, sexuality, love, sleep disorders and medical research. On top of everything, Coe somehow manages to create very vivid and delicate female characters and he manages to approach the issue of feminism in a way that is truly loyal to the era in which the action takes place.

Like most of those who read this book, you will probably love it too. You will love the plot twist, the oddity, the themes that haunt the book and the great structuring idea. Even more than that, you will love the characters and you will be left fascinated by Dudden and by his fascination with sleep patterns. A book in which sleep plays an important part will feel itself like a dream that alternates between reality and fantasy and between the past and the present at the same time. Great and original read for anyone looking for a witty and clever novel!