Tag Archives: e books

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.


1 Comment

Filed under Books, E-Books, Review

Romance…Why the Shame?

I’ve noticed a weird phenomenon with women buying romance novels.  There are a lot of excuses. “I started reading them in high school, and I can’t stop.”  “They’re for my mom, really.”  “I don’t usually buy this sort of thing…”  “I just need a little break from Tolstoy.”  “I know they’re not exactly literature.”

It sounds more like teenage boys buying an issue of Playboy.  The wording of the excuses, obviously, differs (at least I hope it does), but the tone doesn’t.  In fact, people buying erotica aren’t as shamefaced as some of these ladies.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading romance.  Some of the authors are very talented as writers, if in no other way than the ability to deliver what the reader wants, time after time.  If it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, like indulging in Godiva truffles, that’s fine, but why act like they’ve been caught drinking vodka straight from the bottle?

To me, one of the reasons reading is wonderful is that it can create so many different experiences.  Not every book you read has to be “literature”, and you don’t have to like all the literature either.  I, for one, despise Joyce’s Ulysses .   Also, if you want a light read, a story with a happy ending, what basically amounts to an adult fairy tale, that’s romance.  They can be formulaic, sure – but most fairy tales, both romance and adventure, are.

The original definition of romantic meant knights, adventure, true love, duels, etc.  The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers are romance.  The Princess Bride is romance. Robin Hood, Canterbury Tales, stories of Arthur and Camelot, all classic romance.  Somehow, though, even though modern romance novels contain many of the same elements of heroes, villains, derring-do, true love, reconciliation, and happy ending, they are sneered at as being “fluff”.

Well, I like fluff.  I sometimes like a story where I know it’s going to work out ok.  Sometimes there is enough tragedy and politics and brutality in real life, and it’s nice to, for a while, live in a world where you know the hero or heroine will always save the day, the couple will always kiss and make up, and the bad guy will get what’s coming to him/her.   And the lovemaking never fails to be spectacular.  Every time.  Hey, it’s fantasy, right?

Romance and adventure novels (and many combine both elements) are, for me, the book equivalent of comfort food.  In fact, if I can read them while eating comfort food, that’s even better.   Ladies (and gentlemen, of whom I see even fewer buying romance), there is no shame in buying romance.

Reading Harlequin is not a crime.    It’s ok to have a bodice ripper next to Kafka.  Keep in mind that Shakespeare was the Michael Crichton of his time.   Or perhaps Steven Spielberg.

Bring your romance novels to the counter proudly, knowing that you’re going to have way more fun than the people in line who are only reading a book to impress their friends and colleagues.

Later, we can sit around, eating chips (from the bag), and drinking beer (from the bottle), and having a fabulous time.   Maybe we can convince those other guys to join us.



Filed under Books

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.


Leave a comment

Filed under Bookstore, E-Books, E-readers, Review

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.



Filed under Books, Bookstore, Review

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.”




Filed under Books, Bookstore, E-Books, Review

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.


1 Comment

Filed under Books, E-Books, Review

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Review

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, E-readers, Uncategorized

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.


Filed under Books, E-readers

An e-reader e-vangelist?

The bookstore I work at carries e-readers, and I spend a lot of time answering questions, helping people learn how to use them, etc.  That’s my specialty.  I didn’t think much about e-readers until I was given a Kobo Touch for my birthday last year.  I was skeptical as to why I would bother using it, cool as it was, when books were working just fine, thanks – but it was so handy, especially in terms of

a)not funding the public library entirely on my late fees!  I can take out e-books online from the public library, and they expire after three weeks.

b)Brand new hardcover – 1/3 of the price, and about 1/64th of the weight, much easier to tote to various waiting rooms, and on transit.

I will never, never give up the real thing, but my Kobo has won a place in my heart.

I have a couple of customer stories too, that I will share in future posts – they may convince even the most vehement of – erm, what’s a word for people who hate e-readers?    Anyways, they may be convinced that, for some people at least, e-readers are the best thing that could have happened.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, E-readers