Monthly Archives: May 2012

Shades of Grey (no fifty)

I’m hoping to divert readers from the disaster that is Fifty Shades of Grey (movie coming soon, ack!) to books with plot and character development.  Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde, sprang to mind as a sneaky way to divert readers into a genuinely great story, with lots of room for imagination on the part of the reader.

I just finished Fforde’s (it’s really hard to spell that correctly, my dictionary-like brain protests) first five novels in the Thursday Next series.   This series is a thing of joy for the bibliophile, and if you don’t go out and read it, you’ll be kicking yourself – or I can do it for you.   Literary references, terrible puns, time paradoxes, and dodos in sweaters.  And literary references.  A book-loving heroine who packs a gun.  And literary references.  Also explanations for bananas, platypuses (platypi?) and sea horses – finally.  And literary references.  As far as I’m concerned, these books are without flaw.    Be forewarned: the footnotes in the book are fairly essential, much like a Terry Pratchett novel, so this is best read as an actual book, not on e-reader.  E-readers’ achilles heel is the footnote.  The first book is The Eyre Affair.  Go get it now.  I’ll wait.

Alrighty, now that that’s done, let’s move on to Shades of Grey.  The setting for the book is a dystopian society where the social hierarchy is determined by your colour perception.   You are not allowed to marry people who are opposite you on the colour wheel, e.g. reds and greens… can’t you see the tragic Romeo & Juliet love story coming?    People who are colour blind are called “greys”, and are the untouchables of the story.  Doctors cure people by showing them colours, and some shades of green are used recreationally as drugs.

I loved the absurdity of the setting, but Fforde does a good job of keeping the story going, not just focusing on the details of his bizarre world.  You cheer on the young hero of the story, whilst simultaneously wondering why spoons are banned.  One of the things Fforde is great at is plonking down characters in a ridiculous environment, and yet still having them act like people would, albeit people living in a really, really strange land.

Fforde is a fantastic writer, and a book-lover himself – which means he writes for readers, not other writers, if you know what I mean.  So go get Shades of Grey.  And the other Thursday Next books.  Maybe if we all go buy good books, the people who buy books based on decor and popularity will actually start reading them.

Christie

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DC vs. BARNES & NOBLE SHOWDOWN

This isn’t new news, but I thought I would post this as a sort of prequel to the Amazon boycott.  Also, I only just heard about it.

DC made the decision to make one hundred digital comics available exclusively through Kindle, so no other digital book purveyor could sell them.  That includes not only Barnes & Noble, but also Kobo, Google, Apple, etc.  Also, it meant no other e-reader would be able to view them.  Since Kindle uses the MOBI format, and no one else does, no Kindle, no comics – or at least not DC ones.  Not the brightest move by DC, since they’re currently losing ground to Marvel in the comic book wars, especially since Marvel has been more successful with the movie adaptations of late.

Barnes & Noble, in response, removed all of the titles from their shelves.  An executive at Barnes & Noble stated:”To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime.”

It was said to be a four month deal, but I checked Kobo and B & N, and neither of them has a single DC title yet.  Here’s an article with some more details: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/technology/bookstores-drop-comics-after-amazon-deal-with-dc.html?pagewanted=all

Additional Amazon fact in that article which I didn’t find all that surprising:Last year, in a sort of foretaste of the present conflict, Amazon temporarily removed the “buy” buttons for the publisher Macmillan as part of a struggle over e-book pricing.

Sigh.

Christie

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Unonymous?

New York Senate bill seeks to end anonymous internet posting | Today in Tech – Yahoo! News.

Although not precisely book related, this news seems relevant, to me as a blogger and anyone else who has ever posted anything on the internet ever.  Can you imagine having to put your home address on everything you post online?  I’m sure cyberstalkers are celebrating everywhere, unlike the rest of us.  I truly hope that bill S6779 gets dumped, and quickly.  I’m in Canada, but what happens if a server I post on is hosted in New York, or the head office is in New York?  And if this passes,  how long before other states pass it too?

Perhaps this bill was created with the best of intentions, to stop anonymous bullying and harassment.  But the consequences could be damaging, and far-reaching.  Think of it like free speech – yes, it does mean  that bigots of all types have a right to say their piece.  But it also means that others have a right to disagree with them, even if those bigots are in power.

So why does anonymity matter?  Mostly, because it isn’t a perfect world.  Here in Canada, the government has been threatening to revoke the charitable status of any organization that speaks out against the proposed oil pipeline.  So some organizations might want to say something, but are too scared of the consequences.  Or an outspoken friend of mine who knows that business and politics don’t mix, so he confines his political rants to a pseudonym.

Website administrators can remove comments without knowing your e-mail address, home address, and home telephone number.  Most of the people who would post harmful messages will lie or refuse anyways.  So pretty much the only people who will comply would be people who aren’t doing anything wrong to begin with.

What do you think?  Am I missing something here?

Christie (address and phone number withheld)

 

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Superheroes Flying Out of the Closet

If you haven’t heard, apparently DC Comics is planning on having one of their heroes come out of the closet.

Marvel rushed Astonishing X-Men number 50 to stores a day early, so fans can read about Northstar, mainstream comics first openly gay character, proposing marriage to his partner.

As the Guardian said, apparently they’re battling over who has better “pink” credentials.

For some reason, the prevailing opinion (or is it hope?) is for Batman to be announced as homosexual.  I’m not sure why, although I have to admit that he was the first one who came to mind, possibly because of his series of male wards, the various “Robin” sidekicks.  Or maybe because his whole life outside of being Batman was a pretense.

But if it’s a character with a secret identity, which identity comes out?  It’s also entirely possible that the character who comes out won’t be one of the central characters, like Batman or Superman, but a secondary character.  Or hey, it could be Wonder Woman – think of the island she’s from that’s populated solely by women!  A little too cliché?  But that’s comic books, they’re mythic archetypes, and of necessity cliché.

I promise to keep you posted as events proceed – ridiculousness and all.

So who do you think it will be?

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Fifty Shades of Fear

As a mother of two daughters myself, I agree with a lot of this Huffington Post article.  The article talks about what it might mean to raise girls in a world that thinks Fifty Shades is the ultimate fantasy.  I would love to think that other moms out there felt the same – but that hope has been dashed.  A woman in the bookstore, explaining to her daughter the reason for the giant Fifty Shades display: “Because everyone should read it.  It’s the best book ever!”

Lady, it really, really isn’t.

Dani Klein Modisett: Fifty Shades of Fear.

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Let the Right One In

With themes ranging from serial killers and vampires to bullying and urban sprawl, Let the Right One In, (also published under “Let Me In”, in English, now re-released under the original Swedish title) by John Lindqvist, has something for everyone.

More creepy than scary, in this book no one is completely good, or completely evil… even the pedophile, who was desperately trying (unsuccessfully) not to act on his impulses.  What I found really interesting was that the everyday, banal evil was in its own way just as chilling as the vampire.  Alcoholic parents, school yard bullies – in some ways the pettiness almost made it worse.  The opposite was also true, though – the small acts of heroism in unlikely places were also more significant.

The vampire is stuck in the body of a twelve-year-old child, which creates all sorts of both touching and deeply disturbing moments.  And creepy.

The pace of the book is quite slow – if you have read Swedish authors before, such as Stieg Larsson, the writing’s rhythm will be familiar to you.  So don’t go looking for a flying through the pages action here.  There is a film, called “Let Me In” in the North American remake, which got very good reviews from the critics at various film festivals, but can’t possibly be as creepy as the book.  I’m saying creepy a lot.  This book makes you do that.

It is definitely worth a read. I recommend it when you’re in the kind of mood for something a little slow, a little snowy, and more than a bit crazy.  And creepy, creeeeeeepy.

Christie

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Dr. Seuss Too Political for School?

 

A school board in B.C. has declared “too far!”

For a teacher had a Dr. Seuss quote in her car.

They peered through the window and suddenly spied

the terrible saying they could not abide:

“I know at the top you are seeing great sights,

but down at the bottom we too should have rights.”

Yertle stood on the others to see from the crest,

ignoring the fact that they needed a rest.

Perhaps the government should take their cue

from Seuss lest they end up with mud-faces too.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/04/25/bc-seuss-book-yertle-tertle-teachers-dispute.html

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Bookstores To Drool Over

Here for your viewing pleasure, some gorgeous bookstores.  I don’t know how they manage to have outdoor bookstores, but I’d love to visit one.  

Sympatico.ca Lifestyle : Special Guides : Book Guidephoto_gallery_lifestyle_beautiful_bookstores : 8 of the world?s most beautiful bookstores.

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Time Magazine Controversy Over Breastfeeding Cover

Apparently Time Magazine was feeling left out.  With Fifty Shades of Grey getting banned left, right and centre (but mostly right), and even Archie Comics causing controversy, Time decided to hop on the  gasp-causing bandwagon with this week’s cover.   The photo, as you can see above, shows a woman who believes in attachment parenting breastfeeding her three-year old son.   Obviously, they were aiming for publicity and controversy – that’s what sells magazines.  But what the heck was the mother thinking?

Her decision about breastfeeding her son is her own.  But this pose and photo is designed to be provocative, and doesn’t strike me as the mother putting the child’s best interests first. Bring on the media storm – here’s hoping the boy weathers it.

Christie

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Maurice Sendak Passes Away

Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, has passed away. One of the best children’s books of all time, in my opinion, and the opinions of many others.

In personal news, I have been given a Versatile Blogger Award, nominated by the ever fascinating Lea Jurock, a fellow Canuck.  Also a fellow book lover, it’s well worth checking out her blog.   I will do my duty to the award in a post soon, honest!

In other, also exciting personal news, MSN news linked to my blog at one point in their coverage of the Fifty Shades of Grey controversy over the library bans.  Woot!  One predictable outcome of the bans is that even more people are now buying Fifty Shades of Grey at my bookstore, just to see what all the fuss is about.  One guy bought it as a mother’s day present.  Here’s hoping it’s for his wife, and not his mom.

Okay, I’d better settle down now.  Going to go read some more Orson Scott Card.  Hoping to make it through the whole series soon.

Happy reading.

Christie

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