Tag Archives: Amazon

Impressed with Amazon’s customer service

You may not know this about me, but I generally distrust large corporations. I always assume that, with millions of customers, they’d not be bothered with the loss of one. Thus, there’s no real incentive to go out of their way to be helpful. And while this may be true, true even for Amazon (I’ve heard any number of horror stories), it wasn’t at all true of my most recent interaction with them.

About 1:00 Friday afternoon, I had a crisis. I picked my Kindle up off the table and noticed what I thought was a scratch on my screen. That opinion quickly changed, as I noticed it was instead a crack! I had (have) no idea how it came to be. As far as I know, it’s never been dropped or sat on. My Kindle and I spend hours together most days. I treat it accordingly. I gentle it.

The crack was small. I was vexed, but thought I could live with it. However, within half an hour of reading, it grew to two – two and a half inches and was starting to affect the functionality of the touch screen. I sadly accepted that it was done for.

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I set the poor thing aside and contacted Amazon customer services, via the chat option (noticing as I did that the crack was still growing). I was transferred to Charan Teja, who asked me once if the device had been jarred or submitted to any sort of pressure. When I said ‘no,’ they immediately offered to replace the Kindle, as there is no easy fix.

Now, I’ll grant that I order a lot from Amazon and I rarely return items. On the matrix of customers most likely to be trying to pull some sort of fast one, I’m probably pretty low. But I contacted Amazon fully prepared to be told that screens weren’t covered by the warranty or that I must somehow be responsible. I at least expected to be grilled on the subject. I expected to terminate contact angry and impotent feeling. The painlessness with which it all transpired instead was awe-inspiring to me.

I was emailed a return shipping label to send the broken Kindle back for free (in the box the new one arrives in) and told that my replacement Kindle would arrive Sunday the 17th. I actually laughed at this, assuming (perhaps rudely) that Charan must not be American and know that there is no Sunday post.

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Regardless, I expected my new Kindle by Monday and was perfectly satisfied with this. I’d have actually been happy with regular old snail mail and a week-long delivery time. It’s still better than a permanently broken e-reader. Either way, I figured I’d finally get some of the physical books that I’d been meaning to read cleared off the shelf while I waited.

But the unexpected happened. Here I sat at about 8:00 this Sunday morning—unwashed, my hair pulled messily back, still in my pajamas, sipping idly at a cup of decaf coffee (yes, I know, but I’ve temporarily given up caffeine)—when there was a knock at the door and a USPS van in my drive.

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Less than 48 (weekend) hours from contacting Amazon I have a new Kindle in hand!  Any way I slice that it’s impressive. (And have I lived under a rock that I didn’t know there were Sunday deliveries?)

Thank you Amazon and USPS!

Review of Betrayed By Desire (Kyron’s Worlde: Foretold #1), by E.S. Tilton

Betrayed by Desire: ForetoldI grabbed Betrayed By Desire, by E.S. Tilton from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
Llayentia’s outcast psychics foresee destruction at the finish of nearly all time streams. Grim with determination, The Seven plot to protect their world…at all cost.

Kyra Atar is one irresistible assassin. And she knows it. Wielding freni-kyn illusions, she slips into the persona of anyone she wants…with one exception…herself.

Recruited into a life he despises, illegal half-breed Tahrek Mitan shifts from assignment to assignment without hope of relief. His newest job is simple. Betray and execute a fellow assassin…Kyra.

While struggling for survival the two must defeat the deadliest stalker of all: forbidden desire.

Review:
This was an entertaining enough read. It has an interesting world, interesting species, and an interesting plot. After a disjointed and confusing start, I spent the first half of the book really enjoying myself. However, around the 65% mark the book started to drift and I started to lose interest.

The issue is that, while the book started out with assassins doing cool assassin things, it then hit a strange domestic plateau in which very little relevant to the preceding story happened—reconnecting with friends, learning about herbs, setting up trading routes, etc. Not only did this take up a lot of time in an already gangly and too long story, I was left thinking, ‘What happened to the book I was reading? This doesn’t seem to be the same one.’ And it never got back to the first one. The book has a very abrupt ending, leaving all the threads open (that’s right, nothing concludes) and the story at the end feels very different from the one that began.

You see, this book takes the long view of history, which seems to give it permission to diverge from its primary plot-line regularly. I wish it hadn’t, but that’s just me. To elaborate, the book has five prologues. (Don’t ask me why, I don’t know either, but I’d have been lost if I hadn’t read them.) Between prologues four and five, 253 years passed. Then, between the end of prologue 5 and beginning of chapter one, 2,658 years passed!

Considering the length of time covered in the first 10% of the book, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the remaining story couldn’t be contained within one volume. However, it seemed to me that it could have been condensed a bit. Long, LONG passages were dedicated to comparatively unimportant things, bonding ceremony preparations or dreams, for example, and most of these were contained within the not primary plot portions of the book.

My point is that in a story that already covered thousands of years and looks to take many more years to conclude, such forays into detailed mundanity need to either be curtailed or readers need to understand in advance that this is going to be a very long series, with each book containing only a fragment of the larger story but a lot of detail on the rest of the characters’ lives. Expect no closure here.

As an example, the seven children being bred in prologue one never appear anywhere in the book, or at least nowhere that the reader knows that they are one of the seven. This whole prologue seems to be a set up for something that will happen in some future book. There were a number of small things like this. The bit about a man killing women who remind him of Kyra, is another example. He was never mentioned after his brief 3-4 page blip into existence. (Though reading the blurb of book two, I bet he shows up there.) But scattered through the book were random, anchorless reveals that serve no apparent purpose.
Now, I must admit that I loved Tahrek. He’s broken, but extremely loyal and caring, not to mention badass. I melted a bit every-time he spoke. I liked Kyra, but I didn’t love her. She seemed inconsistent to me. One minute throwing herself at Tahrek sexually, the next accusing him of taking advantage of her. For half the book, she was a standoffish sort, the last half a giggling, hugging sort.

I think something else that contributed to the different feel of the first and second half of the book was that toward the end, once the Kyra and Tahrek were comfortable with one another, they started using names a lot. This often breaks the flow of dialogue and feels unnatural. I didn’t notice this pesky problem in the beginning, but I found myself gritting my teeth with it at the end.

With the exception of the too frequent names, I thought most of the actual writing was perfectly passable. The POVs jumped around a lot, but it wasn’t too disruptive. There were some random mysterious messages in a rough-paper-like graphic that felt really gimmicky and out of place. Plus, whomever the communications are between is never directly addressed, leaving the reader to wonder what they’re all about. (One more reveal for some future book maybe.)

So, in the end, I imagine this will be a really interesting SERIES, but as an individual book, I was disappointed. There is just so much set up for a really long and detailed story that I feel like someone handed me the first 300 pages of a 4,000 page epic. But if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to a lengthy series of reads, this one might be worth picking up.

Review of Harper Alexander’s Ace (The Queen, the Jack, and the Master, #1)

Ace

I downloaded Harper Alexander‘s Ace (The Queen, the Jack, and the Master, #1) from Amazon’s KDP list.

Description from Goodreads:
“There will be crime on your hands, and treachery on your heels. A cruel, cruel world on your shoulders, and no flowers on your grave. And the joke, well…unfortunately, bless your heart, the joke will be on you. Only you. For there is a presence of hostility whose fangs are sunk deep into your future. There are gnashing teeth on your heels and around every bend. There is a price on your destiny. The bounty hunters among the angels will be after you. There is no stealth, Lady Spade. There is only running. So I suggest you run.”

If she had been so lucky, Ace might have received just such a warning. But the entirety of the point, here, is that she’s not. She has been chronically hapless from the web of the womb. Cursed with relentless, ruthless misfortune. Her very own entourage of bad luck, its signature everywhere, its shadow widespread and swift. The only compensation for this forsaken fate, destiny’s sole remedy: the fact that she is gifted and lucky at cards. Grossly lucky.

But survival is far from sympathetic. And not all games are as easy as cards on a table.

Review:
I couldn’t log into Goodreads last night for some reason, which means I couldn’t see my TBR list [the horror]. I was forced to pick something from my kindle essentially at random. I chose Ace. It starts with an A so it was early in the list. I was too lazy to keep looking. Decision made, end of.

I started it largely without reading the description. I’m sure I did when I downloaded it, but who know when that might have been. I didn’t know what I was getting into and this isn’t one of those books that tells you the plot on page one. Once I figured out what was going on, however, I started to really enjoyed it. The writing is sharp and theres’s a certain snappiness to the narration that I liked a lot. I kept on enjoying it until…

If I used star ratings on this blog I would say that I was set on giving it a full five stars right up until the last page, when it just suddenly and unexpectedly ended. There was no tapering off, no conclusion of the plot, no closure with the characters, just a harsh, ragged ending. It was as if someone had ripped several pages out (except that i was reading the Kindle version). It’s 338 pages long, so it’s a complete book, not one of those teaser novellas that are all the rage right now. But there is NO ending. This is not a stand alone book. I hate that! It’s my current number one literary pet peeve. I would almost drop it all the way down to three stars out of simple irritation, but that really wouldn’t be fair. But really, who wants to finish a book and not know the ending?

Lack of satisfying conclusion aside, I liked almost everything else about this book. (Except for the fangs explicatives. It was a cute idea, but there were just so fanged many of them.) It did take a startling long time to figure out where the plot was going. I don’t just mean that it’s such a intriguing mystery I couldn’t figure it out. It felt a bit like it was drifting. Characters have to find their quest, or obstacle to over-come and it took a long time (most of the book actually) for Ace to find hers. If in fact she did. Given the lack of ending it’s hard to know if the final escapade was THE ONE or just another one. That’s part of what made the abrupt ending so harsh. It felt like she had JUST, finally gotten started. Be that as it may, I enjoyed her crazy, unpredictable, curse-ridden journey, even when I didn’t know what it was supposed to be accomplishing. (OK, I’m letting it go now.)

The whole thing had a strange Douglas Adams feel to it. It’s a completely different genre, of course, dragons instead of space ships, lack-luster primitives instead of depressed robots, but the random nature of events felt similar. So did the humour. Ace’s non-plus acceptance of her curse and the unexpected places it took her is very reminiscent of Arthur Dent’s hapless trek through the galaxy at the behest of good old Ford Prefect. I laughed aloud more than once.

Ace, herself, is a strong female lead. Very little makes her loose her cool…very little but one, Mr. Cheater. Cheater gets on her very last nerve on a regular basis and I loved him. He was calm and collected, mysterious and dangerous, witty and just a little sexy too. I want more of him. There were very few meaningful side characters in the book. Palo is the only one I can even think of. But Ace encountered quite a few that popped in and then out again. They may or may not be of any importance.

All-in-all, I generally enjoyed the book, but there is just so much unfinished business that I feel very unsettled about it. (OK, so I couldn’t quite let it go.) What about the pirates, the crazy gypsy lady, the old woman and her amazing mansion? I want to know. I’ve got the sequel, . I’m really hoping it clears things up because I genuinely want to go back to loving this story.

April 14, 2013: If you’re interested, I read and reviewed Ace of Hearts here. I had many of the same compliments for the second book as the first, but also many of the same complaints.