ATOPIA: An Update from Matthew Mather

An email from Mr. Mather this morning:

Many apologies, but after talking with a few people it seems there was a technical issue with the augmented reality target in “Atopia 1 – Blue Skies” yesterday that made it difficult for some people to view the augmented reality image.

I have corrected the issue with an updated version. If you had any problems seeing the augmented reality image yesterday (it should work very easily!) you can upload a new augmented reality image by downloading “Atopia 2 – Timedrops” (the 2nd part of the series) right now (it is $0.99 cents, sorry but I couldn’t get the promotion manager to make it zero for today)…

…or you can download a new copy of “Atopia 1 – Blue Skies” tomorrow (Saturday) by following the instructions below (I should have a corrected version loaded into Atopia 1 by this afternoon…sorry for delay, just frustrating slow refresh rates with Kindle system)…

To load a new copy of Atopia 1 you would need to erase your current version by following these steps

1) Type “my kindle” into search bar in
2) Cllick “manage my kindle” from list of options that appear
3) On list item “Atopia 1” that appears in your list of Kindle items, click “actions” and then choose option “delete”
4) Type “Atopia” in search bar and reload Atopia 1

Many apologies for any wasted time or frustrations…it is a very cool effect and I will make sure to test for thoroughly in the future…!

Augmented Reading?

Earlier today, I received an email that reads, in part:

Atopia novels first to use Kindle as augmented reality platform

The new Atopia series of novellas are the first to use the Kindle to view 3D augmented reality images of objects in the stories

NEW YORK, March 15th, 2012 – Today author Matthew Mather announced the release of the Atopia series of novellas, the first to use the Amazon Kindle or other reading device as an augmented reality viewing platform. Using augmented reality markers embedded in the stories, readers are able to view fully 3D images of the world of Atopia “floating” above their Kindle. Everything to experience this effect is available for free right now, including a free limited time offer (March 15th -18th) of the first Atopia story. To try it out for yourself, just click here to go to Amazon to download for free today, or type “Atopia” into your Kindle (or Kindle app on PC or iPad), download “Atopia 1 – Blue Skies” and then follow the instructions at the end of the story.

The book is available free through the weekend, so I downloaded it, but I won’t have time to read it til Saturday or Sunday. If you also download it, let me know: what kind of Kindle you have (Kindle3? New key-less Kindle? Kindle Fire? Kindle app on an iDevice?) and tell me what you think.

Review: Megan’s Way, by Melissa Foster

Megan's Way by Melissa Foster

Megan’s Way
Melissa Foster

Description (from

What would you give up for the people you love?

When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she’ll be faced with the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make. She’ll endure an emotional journey, questioning her own moral and ethical values, and the decisions she’d made long ago. The love she has for her daughter, Olivia, and her closest friends, will be stretched and frayed.

Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Olivia’s world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there’s nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot even begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, her life will hang in the balance.

Megan’s closest friends are caught in a tangled web of deceit. Each must figure out how, and if, they can expose their secrets, or forever be haunted by their pasts.

I was introduced to Megan’s Way when it was included in a daily mailing of free kindle books. Some of those free offerings are fabulous, some not so much, but this one is definitely in the first category. It’s warm, human, and really well constructed. The characters sing. Their environments feel three-dimensional. Had I actually paid full price for this, I would be equally happy with the purchase.

At the heart of this book is a mother-daughter relationship, between the title character Megan and her teenaged daughter Olivia that hits all the right notes to feel real, even though a sense of magical realism is overlaid upon the entire story. This woman and this girl are completely believable – Megan, the free-spirited artist who embodies the concept of “spiritual, but not particularly religious” and Olivia, the girl who hasn’t quite come out of her shell, and who is as much a friend as she is a daughter to Megan. Their relationship reminded me very much of my own relationship with MY mother, who remains my closest confidante even now.

But vignettes of mother-daughter moments do not a novel make. Foster has crafted a lovely story of friendship, intrigue, love, and truth in Megan’s Way. Megan’s best friend Holly, who gave birth to a baby we’re told didn’t make it, at the same time that Olivia was being born, finds herself unable to have children at the same time that Megan’s cancer returns, and it is their intertwining stories that balance the sweetness of the mother-daughter scenes.

The men in this novel aren’t given as much page-time, but their presence is felt, even so. This book won an award for being a beach book, and I can’t help but notice that Holly’s husband Jack (a long-time friend of both women) and their other friend Peter both live on the page in ways that the men in Elin Hilderbrand’s (probably the queen of beach reading) books never do. These are real men, with distinct emotions and opinions.

Yes, there is a fair amount of drama, yes there is emotional intrigue lacing the book, but there’s nothing soap-opera about the story. Instead, Foster has painted a picture of a plausible family-by-choice, made more vivid by hidden truths, human imperfections, everyday magic, and tons of love.

Goes well with: a strong cup of tea, and New England clam chowder, with oyster crackers.

Megan’s Way
Melissa Foster
304 pages, Outskirts Press, July, 2009
Buy this book at

The Sunday Salon: Free Kindle-ing

The Sunday

It was roughly a year ago that I received my Kindle e-reader as a birthday present from my aunt. I fell in love with it almost immediately, although I confess that the ability to have a new book in just a few seconds means that I spend far more on ebooks than I ever did on physical ones, especially since I still buy paperbacks to read in the bath!

Soon after I received my Kindle, I was introduced to, a website that compiles new releases, price changes, and even free books for ereaders, and helpfully shoots you a daily email message with links to them.

Now, some of the free books are obviously free because they’re self-published (which that doesn’t mean they’re BAD, though it often means they’re either explicit sexual or explicitly Christian), but others are the first books in established series that are free to garner new audiences, or free because they’re backlisted, or free because they’re previews…

Blue, Lou Aronica

The thing is I’ve discovered some amazing work that people are literally giving away for free. The week before my nephew died, I downloaded a free book called Blue, by Lou Aronica, which was about a divorced father trying to maintain a relationship with his teenaged daughter, while she struggled with a relapse of cancer. It sounds really sad, and I guess parts of it are, but it was also a lovely fantasy, a brilliant father-daughter piece, and actually, I found it to be full of healing and hope.

I didn’t review it, because – well, I didn’t review anything, or maintain any of my blogs, really, between April and August. But I thought it was a great read, and I heartily recommend it.

Then, last week, as part of my self-indulgent birthday week of reading as much as possible, I downloaded a free copy of Megan Foster’s award-reading novel Megan’s Way. I finished it on Thursday or Friday, and tweeted about it, and ended up in a brief chat with the author. It, too, was a lovely book with a really beautiful parent-child relationship at its heart – this time with the title character – Megan – and her teen daughter Olivia.

Megan's Way, Melissa Foster

More magical realism than true fantasy, this was exactly the book I needed to read at the time that I downloaded it, and I loved it so much that I’m eager to read more of Foster’s work. Look for the review of Megan’s Way here on this blog in the next day or so (I meant to get it done over the weekend but life conspired against me).

These are just two examples of books I’ve read for free (or very little money) via my Kindle. Do I still love cracking open a paperback, or going to a reading and buying a signed copy? Of course! But I love being able to have a portable library as well.

My only dislike of my Kindle – and the technology in general – is that not EVERY book is lendable. After all, every hardcover and paperback is.

But Can You Use It in the Bathtub?

Generally speaking, I do try to do as much green shopping as possible. I refuse plastic grocery bags, instead using my own cloth bags, I try to find things in the least amount of packaging, and when I’m forced to use veggie bags, I always reuse them. Even though I still haven’t broken my addiction to water bottles, those that we buy are used multiple times (first for water, then for filling the dogs’ dishes, then for dog toys) before they’re finally sent to the recycling bin.

But I still haven’t made the leap to e-books.

Oh, I have a few on my iPhone, and one or two on my computer, but since a good portion of my reading is done on the toilet or in the tub, I still buy actual books. A lot. And most of them are NOT from used bookstores, because I think they smell funny.

But now Amazon has a Kindle on sale for only $139, a price I’m willing to pay. I mean, I’ve paid more for other devices I barely use, and the reality is that if I had something bigger than the iPhone screen and lighter to hold than a computer, I probably WOULD use such an e-reader.

And of course, my birthday’s in a few weeks.

So, I’m actually considering asking Fuzzy for a Kindle.

Yeah, I know…Scary.