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Post Thumbnail of Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Have you ever read a Banned Book? I bet you have. You might have even read a banned book to your child! Because it’s not all about sex. Violence gets challenged. Speaking truth to power gets challenged. And so do historical truths that make people uncomfortable.

And yes, sex makes a lot of people very uncomfortable!

This week, September 30-October 6, is Banned Books Week in the U.S. It celebrates the Freedom to Read what we want, when we want, and, I think, however we want, whether that’s print, audiobook, or ebook. Something that’s going to become increasingly important in the future.

It’s fitting that one of the most frequently challenged books of all time is 1984 by George Orwell. Lest we forget, 1984 is the book that brought us the very concept of “Big Brother”.

It’s easy to talk about the books that get banned or challenged. And I …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant: How Much Does an Ebook Cost?

Bookish Rant: How Much Does an Ebook Cost?

When you go to your bookseller of choice and buy an ebook, it costs whatever the dealer says it costs. Anything from free to $14.99 or the equivalent per country.

The real caveat isn’t the different currency, the “trick” is in that three-letter-word “buy”. Because as we all know but conveniently forget, we don’t buy our ebooks, or any electronic media, including software. We license it from the supplier. Which means that they can set the terms of the license.

Back to the question of the cost of an ebook. The price to an individual, meaning you and me, is what the seller (Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, etc.) says it is. Because that’s the arrangement that those suppliers have made with the publishers. You remember the publishers, and that little anti-trust lawsuit problem they have with the U.S. Government about, you guessed it, the price of ebooks? (If not, see

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rants or Raves: The Big (Bookish) Dilemma

Bookish Rants or Raves: The Big (Bookish) Dilemma

It’s probably safe to assume that many, if not all, of our viewers are book lovers, just like us. As a book lover, I think we all approach our ‘collections’ in different manners. I spoke once with someone that worked in publishing who told me she rarely kept her review books as they just tended to clutter her shelves. I was shocked! How could anyone give away such a precious commodity, right?!

But here’s the thing now: I’m moving. I’m not moving far. In fact, I’m literally moving around the corner from my current place. Regardless of distance, I have to move ALL of my books. At last (estimated) count, there are somewhere between 800 and 1000 books in my small two bedroom apartment (are you all getting claustrophobic right about now?). I will have lots of room once I move but there’s that intermediate point where all of these …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant: A Feast for the Eyes...and Ears

Bookish Rant: A Feast for the Eyes…and Ears

Music affects on a visceral level. Sometimes, all it takes is a few notes of a song to be shaken to your emotional core, or struck by a long-lost memory. Of course, a reading book can have a profound effect, as well–albeit less immediately, perhaps. It may take several hours to read through a book, but that story can take a reader on an emotional roller coaster to rival many live-altering events. That’s why it’s rather natural to perceive a relationship between the two, whether or not it’s immediately obvious.

Some authors make the connection crystal clear for readers, supplying a list of songs that were playing whilst writing a certain story, or perhaps songs that inspired a later idea for a story. Some simply have to have music playing in the background when creating the threads of their characters and literary universes.

Such information, from authors, may make certain connections …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant: The Buying and Selling of Book Reviews

Bookish Rant: The Buying and Selling of Book Reviews

I wish I had a dollar for every person who sent me a link to the New York Times article about paying for book reviews. You know the one, “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy” from August 25. There’s a slight irony in the NYT publishing it, since no one really knows exactly how they compile their bestseller list, but I digress.

The things that keep circling in my mind about the whole “paying for reviews” thing go like this:
1.       It feels like there are more books out there than ever
2.       It is definitely harder to get people’s attention for anything than it used to be
3.       Most people pick the next book they are going to read because they’ve already read that author (96% based on the Goodreads May Newsletter) so how does a newbie author get on readers’ radar?
4.       Book Blogging is a labor of love, …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant: Stand By Me, or, An Ode to the Supporting Character

Bookish Rant: Stand By Me, or, An Ode to the Supporting Character

What’s Snow White without dwarves? Sherlock Holmes without Dr. Watson? Harold and Kumar without Neil Patrick Harris? I’ll tell you: they’re moderately enjoyable characters that are missing that extra ingredient to make their adventures a little more amusing, their observations more profound, their wacky jokes even more hilarious.

I’m a big fan of the supporting figure in many a medium, but it’s that role in genre fiction that really produces some winners. Perhaps it’s the relative freedom afforded to stories that are heavy on world building and long-term character development. But whether a supporting character is nearly a main character, a second-string figure, or a fleeting blip of a presence in a story, they have the power to leave some of the most lasting impressions upon readers.

What makes for a good supporting cast of characters? Tough to answer that subjectively. *I* think good supports are the right balance of caricature …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant: Apple, Amazon, Anti-Trust and the DOJ

Bookish Rant: Apple, Amazon, Anti-Trust and the DOJ

I was at Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend. For those either not in the U.S., or who aren’t familiar with Science Fiction Fandom, two explanations are in order. Labor Day weekend is the first weekend in September.

Dragon*Con is a huge regional science fiction convention in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. When I say huge, I mean attendance that numbers well over 30,000. Downtown Atlanta looks like it’s been overrun by aliens.

30,000 plus people talk about a LOT of stuff. Some of it frivolous, but a lot of it book-related. I listened to/met/shook hands with some of my favorite authors.

On Sunday morning, among about a dozen other panels, two lawyers and an author tackled the seriously bookish topic of the “Apple eBooks Lawsuit”. The room was packed to the rafters.

If you are looking for a basic but excellent primer on the entire price fixing lawsuit that the U.S. Department …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant: Reviewing the Review

Bookish Rant: Reviewing the Review

You take your coffee with cream and sugar. But how do you take your book reviews?

Judging from the proliferation of book blogs and book collection sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing, it seems like folks love a good book review. These resources are seemingly more earnest and “pure” in their origins and aims—after all, no one pays Goodreads users to record their random book thoughts. I assume that, because such (hobby/informal) book reviewers are in it for the love of reading, the reviews are meant to express honest thoughts about one’s reading experiences, free of clever lines deliberately included for just to be blurbs for book covers.

But when one chooses to share their book opinions in a public forum, I’d also think the opinions of the review readers matter.

SO that brings me back to the original question of what characteristics you most favor (or dislike) in your book reviews. As …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rant or Rave: Reading with an E

Bookish Rant or Rave: Reading with an E

Commuting on the subway every morning can be quite amusing, if one can take time to notice the little details. I recently had a moment of sudden awareness in which I looked up and down the train platform and noticed that the VAST majority of the countless people waiting for the train were reading from various electronic devices–tablets, phones, e-readers. Of course, there were still many reading the daily (free) newspaper supplement circulated locally, but it was hilarious looking around and seeing how ubiquitous the use of devices was. It really made momma proud.

These days, pointing out that electronic reading (e-reading) is the norm is a boring, unsurprising understatement. However, the fact that it feels like it’s happened in the relative blink of an eye is absolutely fascinating. Not even four years ago (when RIM’s Blackberry was all the rage) was there so much use of portable devices for …

Post Thumbnail of Bookish Rants or Raves: Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons

Bookish Rants or Raves: Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons

Warning: I devour any and all books, movies, or shows that feature dragons. I’ve exhaustively researched dragon mythology. I unintentionally convinced a guy to smuggle a short dragon sword out of the country for me. I make a living by arguing with awful people about the semantics of domestic violence.* I have opinions about dragons and writing. And I have ZERO tolerance for misuse of these magnificent creatures.

So, without further ado, I present…

The Five Dragon Books You Should NEVER read, or The Draconic UnMentionables.

Dear Authors, when you squander the brilliance of dragons, you earn my enmity until the end of time.

I am here today to warn my fellow readers. No one should suffer as I have suffered. No one should be pulled in with promises of draconic glory, only to see the glorious creatures debased and defiled.

Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory.

You expect me to believe a dragon …

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