Tag Archives: e-book

Censorship – Fifty Shades of Grey

I’ve always been against censorship.  Unless something is inciting hate or harm, I feel that it should be allowed to be viewed or read, and it isn’t anyone’s place to make judgements on someone else’s behalf.

I have run smack into my own principles with Fifty Shades of Grey, and the other two books in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James.  Erotic fiction evolved from Twilight fan-fiction (shudder) to an e-book/print-on-demand that was so overwhelmingly popular, the trilogy was picked up and published in hard copy, all three releasing over the last few weeks.

I have not read the book myself yet (I am borrowing it today to read).  What I know of it, from the book jacket, blurbs, and info from those who have already read it, is that it is erotica.  BDSM (bondage/domination/sadism/masochism) erotica, to be precise.   I don’t have any issues with erotica,  But erotic books are a strange, grey area.  They are not classified as pornography, so there is no requirement that purchasers be of a certain age. Fifty Shades of Grey has an emphasis on the domination side of things, from what I understand, and I am conflicted between my need to try to be non-judgemental and not censor books, and my need to not have teenagers buying books where people don’t take “no” for an answer, and the person saying “no” is okay with that.

The book being so popular also means that people (almost exclusively women) are coming in and buying it because they’ve heard the buzz, but have no idea about the contents.  Young teenage girls are coming in and looking for it because they’ve heard it’s connected to Twilight in some fashion. One girl came in to buy it, age perhaps seventeen or eighteen, accompanied by her dad.  Eep.  When her father was some distance away, I asked her if she was aware that the book was erotica, which led to her practically throwing the book to me, and fleeing the display.

I am currently limiting myself to asking if people purchasing it are aware that it is BDSM erotica, and stopping at that.  After they know what the book is, the decision is in their hands.  But what do I do if a twelve-year-old insists on buying it?  Arg.



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The Hunger Games: What’s all the fuss about?

Pretty much anyone not living under a rock, and probably some who are, have heard the phrase “The Hunger Games”  lately.   With the movie about to release, and the merchandise going crazy (check out the display at Chapters if you doubt me), it can be a little tough to tell whether the trilogy is really worth reading, or whether it’s just Hollywood sparkle.   As someone who has actually read The Hunger Games, and, in fact, read it when it originally came out, I think I can give you a review minus the hype.

The Hunger Games was published as a teen book, but I think that it’s a good enough story that adults can enjoy it too.  This is a classic adventure novel, full of action.  There are moral quandaries, questions of ethics, but they are fuel for the drama.  The setting is a classic dystopia, a post-apocalyptic world where all wealth is centred in The Capitol, and everyone else lives in one of twelve districts, where all food and resources for The Capitol come from.  The people in the districts are little more than slaves, and their lives are short and bleak.  The one event that can change that: The Hunger Games.  Teams of two, one male and one female, chosen from each district, compete to the death in an arena full of genetically altered animals and horrific booby traps.  At the end of the games, only one person will stand.    The whole thing is televised, and winning partly depends on capturing the attention of the audience, since audience participation is encouraged, and audience members can send food and medical supplies to favored competitors.

The story follows one of the competitors from district twelve, a girl named Katniss Everdeen, and how her life is changed dramatically when she volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the games.  The victor’s district will receive additional food supplies.  Imagine suddenly being the symbol of everyone’s hopes – especially as a teenager.

I’m not going to get into the description of the other two novels, since that will essentially act as a spoiler for the first one.

I do recommend these books.  The storyline is interesting, and offers some great visuals.  Once the story hooks you, it becomes one of those books that you drag everywhere with you, and don’t go to bed, because you  need to know what’s going to happen!  The other two books are excellent as well.   There are many debates about how the trilogy is ended, not everyone likes it, but that’s not unusual.  No one ever really wants a series they enjoyed to end, and in a story like this one, there are probably a lot of different ways people would have liked to see the story end.

Trust me, buy the trilogy, because odds are you’re not going to stop at one.   And from the number of adults snapping up mockingjay pins, I’m definitely not alone in enjoying the series.  It’s a fun read, is really what it comes down to.  Don’t read it for great literature, or thought provoking philosophy.  Read it for the book equivalent of an Indiana Jones movie, or Star Wars.  It’s a great adventure story, and well worth the purchase.  It is available on e-book, too, which is nice.


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Neil Gaiman on Copyright Piracy and the Web

An interesting perspective on pirated writing from one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman.  Surprisingly (at least compared to many writers) he’s for it.  Sort of.


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Everybody Loves Zombies

A lot of the conversations I’ve had lately have had the topic of zombies come up.   One recent discussion with coworkers involved debating what actions we would take, given the zombie apocalypse (My vote is to head for the Arctic, others thought staying on the move and raiding small towns… it got heated).

The Walking Dead tv series is possibly one source of zombies on the brain (either that or the Oscars, and thoughts of Joan Rivers).  The tv series is based on the graphic novels of the same name, which are definitely worth checking out, and have a depth of storyline to them that isn’t often found in zombie stories.

walking deadnulljoan rivers

In fact, there are a lot of books that can be classified as zombie lit, ranging from survival manuals to novels, and a few in between.  Here are a few I recommend, with some suggestions from fellow zombie-loving (in the story sense, no necrophilia here) friends.

Want to plan for the zombie apocalypse?  Here’s your go-to guide.

zombie survival

I have mentioned Pride & Prejudice & Zombies before… this book will create a whole lot of new Jane Austen fans.  Loved it.


World War “Z”  comes highly recommended by several of the staff at the bookstore – written as a nonfiction account of the history of the zombie war, the new perspective alone makes it worth checking out.  Apparently it is being made into a movie, too.


For those who like mixing reading about the undead with reading about kinky sex (and who doesn’t), the   Laurell K. Hamilton’s series is full of zombies, as well as vampires, werewolves, and assorted other creatures of the night.  These books are definitely not Twilight (and I’m not just talking about the sex).  The stories are pretty dark, and can be downright uncomfortable.  But they are almost never bland, at least.  This is the cover of the newest one, coming soon:

Anyways, enough from me… have a great zombie read to recommend?  Let me know!  Also, I’d love to hear what your zombie apocalypse strategy is.



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Lamb: Something for everyone.

Anyone who has ever read a Christopher Moore book knows he isn’t easy to categorize.  With titles like You Suck, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and The Stupidest Angel, it’s easy to categorize Moore as a writer of crude humor.  And he is.  But that isn’t all he is.

LambThe full title of the book I’m currently reading is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  For those who read with the intent of being offended, I’m sure they will manage just fine.  For those looking for crude humor, it is here.  Making fun of multiple major religions, check.  Also contains insight, satire, literary and social references, and a lot of sex. And yak shaving.

All in all, this is a fun book – I especially recommend it to anyone who loves Terry Pratchett, Kurt Vonnegut, or Neil Gaiman.  I also highly recommend the trilogy that starts with Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story.  I learned new and amazing ways to insult people that made me want to find someone to yell at.  And shaved cats.  What’s with the shaved animal theme, anyways?

If my bookstore manages to sell the most Christopher Moore books (in our chain), apparently Christopher Moore will do a signing, so don’t be too surprised if you hear stories of people being forced to buy his books by a crazed bookstore employee in Toronto.

I will finish with a quote from Carl Hiaasen about Moore: “A very sick man, in the very best sense of the word.”




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Good Omens

Good Omens Now, two of my favorite authors are Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, so when they wrote a book together, there was no way I wasn’t buying it.    Especially when the title was Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of  Agnes Nutter, Witch.

This book is dangerous.  It makes you laugh out loud on public transit.  You force friends and family members to read it.  You quote it.  I’m sure that somewhere, there’s not just a cult following of this book, but an actual cult.

Those who are familiar with Terry Pratchett know that his satire is endlessly on target, always hilarious, and full of truly bad puns (which I love).  Neil Gaiman is truly talented at turning the supernatural and fantastic into something you can easily imagine, characters you would recognize on the street.  Together, they have used their powers to neatly skewer the various apocalyptic scenarios that feature the progeny of Satan.

It’s really difficult to describe why this book is so amazing without giving too much away.   The four horsemen are in it.  There are Tibetan monks coming up in people’s gardens like groundhogs.   Atlantis rises.   There are prophecies.  There are angels and demons (neither of whom have much conviction about their jobs, but quite like humans).

I take no responsibility for anyone who becomes a Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman addict because of this book.  I will not be held liable by family members who have it quoted at them regularly.  I will, however, happily take full credit if you love it.

Read this book.  Now.

And if possible, get the American version, because it has extra content.


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Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

I read Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, and thoroughly enjoyed it in all its ridiculousness.   So when Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter came out, I immediately snatched it up, looking forward to something in the same vein.  The plot is great – a vampire tragedy in his youth turns young Abraham Lincoln into a fanatical vampire hunter, and almost every decision he made was motivated by his desire to exterminate the race (including the civil war, who knew?).

The book is written in the format of secret diaries, but I found the writing a little plodding, a slow read despite a plot that feels like it should be racing along.  I suppose  Grahame-Smith is writing it in a form that is supposed to have the feel of a journal from that time period, but I kept waiting for it to become the book it should have been.  There were great elements, for sure, but it just did not live up to his first work, in my eyes.

There is, however, a movie on the horizon, produced by Tim Burton, so I am looking forward to a format that will hopefully make the book’s story shine.   The movie looks like a lot of fun, and features a hand to hand battle between Lincoln and a vampire on top of a moving train – this I need to see.

Here’s a link to a review/trailer:  http://entertainment.time.com/2012/02/13/tim-burton-abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter-trailer-exclusive/

It might also be my own prejudices towards writing from that time period, which I find dense and generally annoying, so take this review with a grain of salt.   I will unequivocally recommend Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.

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Borrowing e-books… it can be done!

I have had several questions on how to take out e-books from the public library.  This article in Wired gives a fairly decent how-to, which is applicable both in the US and Canada.   For those of us who connect through our computers, you need your own (free) copy of Adobe Digital Editions.  Those who connect directly to the library will need a copy of Overdrive’s or Bibliocommons’ software for your device.  Most of the software can be downloaded directly from your public library.


Also, in terms of sharing e-books, so far, unless there is no DRM attached to the file, the only way to share is by sharing an account, for example authorizing another device to access your Adobe Digital Editions, or other user accounts.

Here are a few handy links:

Overdrive: http://www.overdrive.com/Software/omc/

Adobe Digital Editions:    http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

More info on DRM and sharing: http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/how-to-share-an-ebook-without-stripping-the-drm

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Amazon Publishing bookshop boycott grows | Books | guardian.co.uk

Barnes and Noble, Indigo, and independent booksellers have joined together against  Amazon’s Goliath.


Amazon Publishing bookshop boycott grows | Books | guardian.co.uk.


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A true Happily Ever After….

During the Christmas shopping season, an older lady and her middle-aged son came in to the bookstore I work at.  The lady wanted to know if an e-reader could be of help to her.  She showed me her hands, which were twisted with rheumatoid arthritis.  She loved to read, she said, but holding a book became very painful very quickly for her, both from the weight, and from the awkwardness of turning the pages.  Also, she told me she had lost an eye to cancer, and found that reading smaller print was very difficult for her.  I showed her the same e-reader I use, (Kobo Touch) which is very light, quite straightforward to learn since it is strictly an e-reader, and it’s a touch screen, so she didn’t need to manipulate buttons to use it.   Of course she could re-size the font, to make the print larger, as well.  She agreed to give it a trial run, and promised to let me know how it went.

A few weeks later, she and her son were back in the store.  She was very emotional as she told me that it was incredible – she could read again, easily, for the first time in years.  No eye strain, no pain, just sheer enjoyment.  I was practically in tears myself, and she told me how she was telling all her friends about these miraculous devices.

Maybe working in a bookstore, I won’t save the world – but I found out I made her world better, by bringing something she loved back in to her life, and you know what?  That’s good enough for me.


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