The E-Book Debate

How do you prefer your books? Actually paper and spine? Ebook? Audiobook? Does it matter?

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I utilize all all of these types, and they all have their pros and cons. But, if I’m totally honest, I really prefer paper. I actually find them easier to hold than e-books. And e-books on a tablet/phone device are a 100% no go.
But I do love the ease of e-readers when traveling. You can prop that shit up on the tray table on the plane and read hands free.
And, when you finish your book, you’ve got a whole library to choose from. I’ve had days when my purse was to heavy to carry because it’s got two books in it – the one I’m almost done and the one to start when that happens. I can’t ride the bus without something to clearly indicate that I want to talk to no one! My e-reader solved this problem.
However, I never sit at home reading an e-book. It just doesn’t happen.

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Today, I had to sit down with my mom and show her how to use her reader because “it’s broken and never works properly”. I don’t know what your mom is like, but mine is awful with technology. I recently showed her how to text with her new smartphone. Everything. Now. Reads. Like. This. It’s. Robot. Voice. Mom. I love my mom, but sometimes I want to take her electronics away.
Now, she wasn’t entirely wrong about the reader. It was super slow. My sister had loaded her up with a bunch of books a couple weeks ago and the 1100 books had loaded three times. And 60% of them were sci-fi, which the mom hates. So, after hours of cleaning up mom’s e-reader, I’m currently having a hate on for all books electronic.
Give me paper! Please!

Guilty Pleasure, Shmilty Pleasure

In the book IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas, Chuck Klosterman addresses the concept of the ‘guilty pleasure’. We’ve all got them. You know that thing you hate to admit you love because it might make you look exceptionally uncool? Yeah, I’ve got them. You’ve got them. They’re evidence that we live up to that onion metaphor. But Klosterman suggests something entirely different– You should never feel guilty about something that gives you pleasure (you know, in that lighthearted, doesn’t involve crazy law breaking or hurting other people, etc, etc, etc kind of happy).
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Should I feel bad that I’m a grown ass woman and I still regularly watch Degrassi? Hell no. I am proud of my love of all things Degrassi.
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My love of KD? Nope, no guilt.
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My driving need to collect all the V.C. Andrews books published between 1979 – 1996? Maybe, just maybe. I should feel guilty about that one.
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These are not good books. They are the Twilight of their time. Horrible relationships. Forbidden love. Barely veiled abuse. And yet, I still love them. Dawn (from The Cutler Series) is the first book I remember staying up all night to read. Wrapped up in my blankets, reading through the sleep until I’d gotten that second, third, fourth wind. Scandalizing content! There was sex, guys. Sex. With a main character that was my age. My junior high self could barely stand it.

As I’ve aged, I’ve maintained a little place in my heart for Andrews’ stuff (not the newer stuff, it’s just not the same – yes, I know she died a long time ago, but there came a point that they just weren’t ‘good’ anymore). I even love the original movie version of Flowers in the Attic. It’s awsful (honestly, the more I think about it the more this explains why I actually found a cheesy love of the Twilight crapstravaganza). So, when Lifetime announced the revamp of Flowers in the Attic, I was stoked. I haven’t actually watched it yet, but I’ve heard exactly the right kind of feedback.

Then yesterday, I stumbled across this announcement. They’re doing movies for the rest of the Dollanganger Series? That’s pretty rad. They’re doing My Sweet Audrina! Amazing! This is the news that made my March. I mean it. That was my favourite of the books. It’s the only stand-alone under the Andrews’ umbrella, and it benefits from that. I read it dozens of times. It’s one of the few I’m missing, and I haven’t been able to locate it in my scouring of used book stores. Is there a better indicator that people love a book than that it remains in a collection? I think not.

I was recently complaining that Hollywood is actively trying to ruin my childhood (yes, I’m talking to you Jem Movie announcement), but this announcement gives me hope. As long as they’re as trashy and fluffy as the original books, they will be perfect. While wandering around the internet, looking for pictures for this post, I found the ‘Read the Good Trash Movement’.
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It’s a few years old now, but I love this idea. I might just decide to take this up next year. Would you participate? I think you should.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan (@ryansara)

There’s a hole in popular young adult fiction, specifically romance. I’m so tired of the typical boy girl-boy love story that is so pervasive in YA lit.
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Where are the teen lgbt stories? Not the one where the hetero girl has the flamboyant, all-knowing, gay, male friend that helps her through her romantic crisis, but the one where the protagonist is experiencing their own crisis, with someone of the same sex. I’m not saying that these stories don’t exist (Will Grayson, Will Grayson / Blue is the Warmest Colour/etc), there just aren’t enough of them. A good coming of age story is a good story, regardless of the central characters. Empress of the World looked like it was worth a read.

The teens in the book are realistic enough: they are insecure, confused and scattered, but man, are tey shallow. And I don’t mean in a self-centred way, but in a they-have-no-depth way. The writing is so one dimentional. There is almost no character development for the two girls in question. The relationship between Battle and Nic should be overflowing with new discovery and exploration. But it falls flat. It just doesn’t feel realistic. So much of the relationship is told through Nic’s journal entries. It should be candid and genuine. You don’t lie in your journal.
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You’d only be lying to yourself. Journal entries are personal; this is where people pour out their emotions. We should feel like we’re in the centre of their relationship. But instead, the reader is left hanging at every moment of togetherness. The moments we are allowed to intrude on are brief and descriptionless. “We kissed” “She kissed me” That is the portrayal we get. It’s not enough. I’m not saying I want all the graphic details, but I want something to get invested in. How can I care about the relationship if I’m only given the Ikea instructions version of the set up?
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I felt more connected to the Isaac and Kat relationship because they struggled. They were both equally involved in what was happening and their drama became real. Nic and Battle never reach this level of believability. Battle’s guarded persona feels real because of her troubling relationship with her family, but she still lacks any real character development.

I’ve read lgbt literature before, not extensively but enough to recognize the use of vocabulary to embody power; however; I was not a fan of the way the word dyke is thrown around this story. It’s so frequent but totally lacking casual ease or intent of purpose. It felt like a shock tactic without providing any substance to be shocked by.

The book reads like it was slashed and burned by an editor in order to fit a certain length, and the areas that suffered were all the juicy parts. After doing some research into the publishing company (for totally selfish reasons), this might actually be the case. Their rules are so strict that I don’t know how an author could ever really express their own voice. There’s such a wave of publishing options available right now that I feel like authors are settling. I’m a writer. I want to be published – desperately. But, I don’t want to do it at the expense of the story. There’s always work that needs to be done. That’s why editors exist, but sometimes, it’s not the right work. And the tsunami of unedited self-published books flooding the market… well that’s a post all on its own. I’m not saying they’re all bad. I’m just not saying they’re all good.
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This could have been a great story, but ended up being nothing more than mediocre.
I want to add that I’ve heard great things about Ryan as a graphic novelist. I don’t generally read these, so that could be where she shines. As a novelist, she’s not for me.