Archive for : August, 2015

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Playster.com Review: A Second Look at the Books

Almost a year ago today I published what I thought was a decent little review of an online books service I found called Playster (you can see that review HERE). However, your comments said otherwise! Looking back at the review, it’s almost be a year, so I thought it might be fun to revisit this service and see what’s new. And yes, Ohmster….I will certainly be getting into the nitty-gritty details you requested. ;)

As I mentioned before, Playster.com is an online, subscription-based media service that gives you access to movies, music, games, and a whole wack of books. Playster has a 30 day free trial that, once it expires, will auto-convert to a paying membership. To access the full package, you need to pay $22.50 per month. But if you’re like me and you’re only really interested in books, you can opt into one of the singular entertainment packages, which cost $8.95 a month. I’d say if you have any passing interest in the other media types, I say go for it, but since I am mainly a reader, I just went for Playster’s books package, as it’s quite a bit cheaper.

It’s been a while since I was last subscribed, but the quality of the books collection here is quite good. Their site says they’ve secured major deals with big-shot publishers like Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster. There are a lot of recognizable books here, from Chris Kyle’s American Sniper (now a major motion picture!) to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. They’ve still got a great selection of romance novels, and their young adult sections seems to have expanded a lot. Last time I subscribed I tried to get my kids into Playster, but they weren’t that into the selection of books on offer, so I’m glad to see a more robust selection of YA books on display (The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower and RL Stine’s Goosebumps series being examples).

As far as how well the site works, I noticed it could be a little slow at times, but this wasn’t a consistent problem. It’s fairly easy to search for things, but I would like to see a better recommendations system… I don’t see, for example, why I would want to read a book about Rush Limbaugh after reading The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

For now, I will be keeping my subscription to Playster books. I’m looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer. Sorry, Ohmster, but I didn’t end up subscribing to music/games/movies, so I can’t really comment on those sections. As a reader, I’d definitely recommend Playster, especially if you think you can convince your family to get in on it, too.

Thanks for reading my second Playster.com review. Let me know if you’d like me to answer any other questions in the comments!

 

 

 

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Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus – A Review

Leaving the Sea is a collection of stories by Ben Marcus. This is his fourth book, and most of the stories are fantastic. The collection doesn’t fail, however, to show Marcus’ literary talent, and his gift for evoking emotions through his storytelling.

The first story in this collection, “What have you Done?” is about a man named Paul. He has a wife, a baby, a good job, and a good life at home. But when he goes to his parents’ home in Cleveland, he becomes the insecure, sad sack that his parents and everyone else in his family expect him to be. They don’t believe that he has a wife and family (they think he has lied too many times in the past), and, though we are never told why, everyone treats him like a pariah. No matter what he does, he can’t escape the past in his family’s eyes, and he can’t escape feeling like that is who he is as well. Like so many of us when we visit home, Paul is reduced to a child- like point of view, bemoaning the fact that his parents have turned “his room” into something else.

Another story, “Rollingwood,” is the story of a distraught divorcee, Mather, who struggles to take care of his sick boy. The child is hooked up to medical equipment that seems more like a torture chamber. The boy’s mother abandons him for weeks at a time, leaving him in Mather’s sole care.

The protagonist in another story, “I Can Say Many Nice Things,” is faced with a more mundane situation, although to him of course it is all there is. He is trying to decide the question of fidelity, as he proceeds to teach creative writing on a cruise ship. A struggling writer, he notes with irony that more people have probably read the cruise ship welcome packet than have read any of his works.

The final story, though not really a story as much as it is a stream of consciousness, is 40 pages long. “The Moors,” is worth the read but difficult to explain. It’s about the thoughts in the head of Thomas, a curious sort of character who approaches a co-worker at work.

The fifteen stories are as different as any one writer can produce, which at times can be jarring. Taken alone, they each have merit, and most of them move easily from one to the next even with the differences. Some come out of left field, however, badly placed given what we have read in the previous works.