Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Ask Nook HD what it can do for you!

Barnes & Noble announcing two new products last week - the 7-inch, $199 Nook HD and the 9-inch, $269 Nook HD+ - made me very happy.

Why?  Because what could be better to esperience on an HD Nook than an enhanced ebook designed specifically to be both read and viewed?

And what could look better on your brand new HD screen than professional figure skating footage combined with text to create the Figure Skating Mystery series?

Originally published as paperbacks by Berkley Prime Crime, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, and Death Drop by Alina Adams have been reissued as enhanced ebooks where you get all the text of the first release, plus video to compliment it.

Not precisely sure how that would work?

Check out the excerpt below from the first title in the series, Murder on Ice:

Of all the people Bex worked with at 24/7, she supposed, if pressed, she would have to say she knew Francis and Diana Howarth the best. Not that they were friends or anything. Bex couldn't imagine Francis and Diana, who lived on New York's Upper East Side in a duplex over Central Park, and talked about sitting on committees to support the symphony/ballet/museums and eradicate diseases from ALS to Zoster (which was actually a fancy word for chicken pox; Bex looked it up because she was weird that way) could ever consider someone like her a friend. After all, most of the time, the Howarths weren't even sure Bex wasn't their personal assistant. Why else would they send her for coffee, and to make photocopies, and to, "Do me a favor, Bex, Francis forgot his tuxedo shirt back at the hotel. Would you be a dear, scurry over and fetch it?"

"But... uh ... Diana, the broadcast is about to start."

"You'd best hurry then, hadn't you?"

However, friends or not, Francis, Diana, and Bex did spend a lot of time together. As soon as America's sweethearts arrived at their latest location (usually days after the grunt crew, Bex included, decamped), they called her up, expressing dismay that she should already sound so tired when the competition hadn't even begun yet, and then off all three of them would go to the rink to watch the practices. Because it wasn't only judges who came to the practices to get an idea of who was doing what with which consistency, and how they might mark them accordingly. Announcers came, too: to stock up on their pithy, extemporaneous comments.

For three to five days, depending on the length and importance of the competition, Bex, Francis, and Diana sat shivering in the stands, Bex huddled in her 24/7 (one size fits all as long as you're a pro football player) down jacket, Diana elegantly sipping hot toddies from a thermos color-coordinated daily to her outfit, and Francis wearing a furry, mink Russian hat with earflaps he'd purchased from a street vendor in Moscow back when entrepreneur was still a Soviet dirty word. They sat, and they watched practice group after practice group, skater after skater, ranging from jumping beans to artists to technicians to people who obviously won their country's national championship by virtue of being the only citizens to own ice skates. They watched athletic talent so breathtaking it made you doubt you even belonged to the same species as them, and they watched the painful results of paying for your partner and your lessons and your costumes and, thus, your spot in a world championship.

As every skater stepped onto center ice to perform a run-through of their program with music, Bex would pull out her bio and jump sheet, urging Francis and Diana to do the same, and they would click through each element as it was done, note whether or not it was completed (so that, during the broadcast, in case of a fall, Diana could exclaim, "I don't know what happened! He/She/They were nailing them in practice all week!"). At the end, they'd have a brief meeting about what they wanted to say about this particular skater when they got on air, how to introduce them, which element to tell viewers at home to look out for, and which aspect of their personal story to highlight. If any of them made a particularly pithy comment, Diana would diligently write it down and, later, she and Francis would divvy up the cleverness.

Of course, based on how both behaved the night of the ladies' long program, most of the time Bex felt like she was just talking to herself. The only time Francis or Diana ever actually followed the narrative course she'd charted for them was when the other seemed determined to do the opposite. Still all three of them diligently went through the charade of preparation.

And, in the middle of the charade, while the ice was being cleaned, or while the skaters were warming up, or while one boy whom Francis called "as exciting as watching paint dry," was on the ice, the Howarths and Bex just chatted. One day Francis and Diana might regale her with tales from their amateur days, when everyone competed outside, and a stiff wind could be either your biggest friend or greatest enemy. They talked about being the first Westerners to travel to some Iron Curtain towns and of getting a private tour of India's Taj Mahal. On other days, they might decide to talk about their first tour, and how they put it together on a wing and a prayer, not realizing how much work and extra expense was involved in physically transporting not only the other teams they’d hired to perform with them (which they budgeted for), but also multiple costumes and sets (which they hadn't) and how as a result, despite playing to packed houses all over the world, their debut season was a huge financial failure.  The next year, Francis and Diana pared down the costumes (pretty much limiting themselves to one set of outfits accessorized with dime-store masks) and got rid of the sets entirely, deciding to let the skating, variations on a formal court-dance, speak for itself.

And sometimes, Francis and Diana merely kicked back and gossiped about everyone they knew. Who was sleeping with whom, who was cheating on whom, who was about to dump their coach, and whose partner was secretly trying out with others. They were witty, they were knowledgeable, and, in their own way, they were quite charming.

Which was why Bex was having a hard time picturing the Howarths as killers.

Read more at:

And don't worry, the Figure Skating Mystery series can also be experienced right now on the Nook Color or, even easier, by simply downloading the FREE Nook app to your computer, laptop, phone or iPad!

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