Review: Dark Matter

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch crosses boundaries that I have never read before. I’ve read science fiction but nothing like this.
I struggled with the first 50 or so pages of this book, almost to the point of giving up but I am glad I stuck with it. It does start to pick up as we get further along. It must have done otherwise I wouldn’t have given it 5 stars.

View all my reviews


Why Amazon’s Free Books are Dangerous

As I have said in many other posts I have always read books. When the eBook phenomenon hit the world I was originally dead set against it, would rather have a physical book. I couldn’t ever see me actually reading an eBook.

Then one day, something happened and I bit the bullet. I bought myself a Kindle. At the time (somewhere around circa 2012) there wasn’t much choice available, in fact, if my memory serves me right, there was only the Kindle Keyboard 3G. So that was what I bought. Within the first few days, I went on a mission downloading FREE books. I was in heaven. Books for FREE. Who doesn’t want FREE books? That you get to keep. Not rentals like the library, but completely and utterly FREE to own. This was how my life went for months on end. Actually, make that years.

I reached a point where I had over ONE THOUSAND eBooks waiting to be read on my Kindle, I would go through the FREE bestseller lists and download everything with an interesting cover. I also signed up to two websites – Kind of Book and Daily Free Books. Both websites send daily emails with FREE and Bargain books. Well, that just added to my total soaring to somewhere near the TWO THOUSAND mark. (See the bottom of page for links to both sites).

Also, as I dislike using the cloud, I prefer to have all UnRead books already downloaded and only the ones I have read (or attempted to read) in the cloud. This, on more than occasion, has broken my Kindle, resulting in Amazon sending me a new one as it stopped downloading books. Read about my ordeal here.

I used to read, on average, 2-3 full length (300+ pages) novels in a month but was downloading easily over 50 each month. That’s when I realised I had a problem. I was downloading books that I would probably never get around to reading and as the majority of the FREE books were only downloaded based on the cover. I didn’t read the blurb or reviews so am going in completely blind. I have also noticed that some of them have had the cover changed by the author, and after looking at the revised cover I wouldn’t have downloaded it in the first place.

A few months ago, I made the decision that enough was enough. I vowed to only download FREE books if they were something that was on my wishlist. So now, when I come across a book I really want, rather than buying it I add it to my wishlist and wait until it has dropped in price or until I get to a point where I am running out of books. At the moment, my Amazon cloud stands at 1899 books and around 1600 of those are WAITING TO BE READ. I also made the decision that I will not worry if I don’t like a book or don’t want to finish one, purely because I have too much to read. I wrote about abandoning books here and am logging books I didn’t finish, here.

If you want to receive emails for FREE and Bargain books, check out both of these sites. The links are for the UK site but they can be changed to various different countries.




The Kindle Fire Saga – Random Wittering #2

I upgraded my Kindle Keyboard 3G (which had died a slow and painful death) in December 2015. Being a bit short of cash but really wanting (needing) a Kindle device, opted for the cheapest at the time which was the Kindle Fire 7. It only cost me £35, which was a lot cheaper than my original Kindle (R.I.P Sweet eReader 😦 ) and I was impressed with it for the most part. I made the decision to only use it as a kindle (apart from having Netflix installed for emergency TV binges) rather than its intended use as a tablet.

As many of you know, Amazon have this thing called the “Cloud”. For those who don’t know, it’s like your very own personal library where all your purchased and downloaded books are stored for you to read whenever you want. The KK (or Kindle Keyboard) didn’t have the cloud feature, all your books were downloaded to the device and when you had finished it you could remove it from the device and it would be stored on Amazon’s servers until such a time that you might want it again. This was my favourite feature, it made it simple to keep track of all the books that you hadn’t started and which ones you had read – if it wasn’t on the device, you had already read it. This is where my issue with the KF (or Kindle Fire) comes in. The KF has a live running version of the Cloud on the device. You can swap between a downloaded or cloud list, but the cloud is always there, so if you delete the book from your kindle then it still appears on the KF under the cloud. I understand that (amongst other reasons) this was done so that users didn’t have to go to Amazon to download their next read from the website, ease of use and all that, but I don’t like it. They (Amazon) support and promote the use of creating collections on your device to keep track and sort books into groups depending on your individual needs, so you could have a “Finished” group, a “To Be Read” group or even a “Strong Female Characters” group if that was what you wanted. However, whether its pure bad luck for me or karma for something I’ve done wrong, my (attempted) collections don’t update and sync properly. Amazon have investigated and said there is nothing wrong so I really do think its my fault.

Finding it difficult to keep track (without having to check an external website such as Goodreads) of what I have already read I decided (on 12th May 2017) to manually download ALL 1879 of my eBooks to my device then I could delete it once I’d finished it. I had purchased and installed a 64gb memory card to my KF and according to the information online this should easily accommodate my books. I set about the download. It went swimmingly for a while, I managed to download 1072 of the 1879 books. Then it stopped. It would download them, they would appear on the device as downloaded (with the “new” banner across the corner and the “tick” mark) but within a maximum of 5 minutes they would remove themselves from the device and have an “!” on them along with a “Unable to download book. Please try again or contact Amazon Customer Services” message. After re-trying the books for a while, I gave in and contacted Amazon.

I contacted them via the live chat on their website and spoke to V. It was very early and after a quick chat, they did something that seemed to kick start it. I left the chat to take the kids to school and left the KF downloading at home. Upon my return (around 3 hours later) I found the same issue had occurred, so again I set upon the live chat. This time I spoke to someone called S. They were extremely helpful and I/We were on the chat for around 2 hours 10 minutes. They tried various things but it was still doing the same thing. At the end of the conversation, they offered me a replacement KF (even though my warranty ran out in December 2016). I immediately went to facebook and sang Amazon’s praises about how helpful they were.

My new (refurbished) KF arrived the very next day (13th May). I contacted Amazon again via live chat and spoke to A. I asked them to manually force through ALL of my Amazon purchases, they told me that it couldn’t be done (I already knew it could from my conversation the day before with S). After a bit of to’ing and fro’ing, I went off to check my email for the name of the person I spoke to who had already said it could be done. When I returned to the chat it had been disconnected (through my own fault as I was on my phone browser and not the laptop). So, for the 4th time, I contacted them through the live chat and spoke to V (this could have been the same V from the first conversation but I couldn’t remember their name so I’m not entirely sure). I explained what I needed doing and V said they would do it. That was that. The books started coming through and I left the KF plugged into the mains, right next to the router to make sure it had the strongest wifi connection possible. A short while later I noticed it had stopped, upon checking, they’d only sent through the first 72 purchases from the cloud list. I was heartbroken but determined to see this through, so I set about manually downloading the remaining 1807 books. Again, it worked without a problem, but then I started noticing it was doing the same thing it had done before. I checked and had managed to successfully download 1030 books this time. I decided not to contact Amazon again purely because they must be fed up of me and I didn’t want them to think I had broken another KF (oops!).

Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s my memory card that’s the problem. It worked fine when I had it in my phone and even after the books start to display the error message, the ones already downloaded work fine. I’m really confused and seriously contemplating buying a Kindle Keyboard from eBay (but then my Graphic Novels won’t work correctly). Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit disheartened by the whole situation at the moment.