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e-maginings: Read A Banned Book

September 16, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

Putting on my librarian hat to remind everyone that Banned Books Week is coming soon: September 25-October 2, 2010

Sponsored by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week is “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment”. Over the years, many books have been banned or challenged, i.e. attempts have been made to pull the book from a school or public library. The reasons for banning or challenging a book vary, but most of the time it comes down to sexual content or bad language. The Satanic Verses was banned throughout the Muslim world for religious blasphemy. Many books that deal with homosexuality have been challenged.

The list of banned or challenged books is quite eclectic, ranging from classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (politically incorrect language) to The Catcher in the Rye (obscenity) to the Harry Potter series (magic and witchcraft – horrors!) to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (satanic). That last one has me scratching my head.

Anyway, at the time of year, I often try to read a banned book. Because I’m currently judging two writing contests, my time is limited so I picked up a couple of challenged children’s books at the local library:

And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illus. by Henry Cole
NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c. 2005

At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.

Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale
by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, illus. by Audrey Colman
Dutton Children’s Books, c. 2004

Summary: After being sold at the family’s yard sale, Walter is put to use blowing up balloons for a clown who is bent on robbing banks, but he escapes and becomes a hero.

I was hoping to find the original Walter the Farting Dog but it was checked out so I figured the sequel will do. Apparently it was challenged for, I don’t know, farting?

Have you read a banned book lately?

Linda McLaughlin
w/a Lyndi Lamont

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e-maginings: Choosing an e-reader

August 16, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , ,

At the OCC meeting on Saturday, a friend asked me for advice on which e-readers to request from Santa. I jokingly said, “If Santa’s rich, ask for iPad. But if Santa isn’t, any of the e-ink readers should do nicely.”

Apple’s iPad, of course, is much more than a dedicated e-reader, and it’s quite a bit more costly. I’d sure love to have one, but I’ll wait. More companies are coming out with table computers and I’m figuring they’ll be cheaper than the iPad. (Sheesh, I had just published this post when I read an email about the Pandigital Novel, a “7-inch Color Multimedia eReader” which looks like an inexpensive iPad. It’s connected to B&N’s e-book store.) Apparently Bed, Bath and Beyond is carrying them, so I know where I’m going this week.)

At the moment, three companies dominate the dedicated e-book reader market: Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Noble. All make good devices, so how to decide which one is right for you? First, go look at them. I didn’t have that option when I bought my Kindle in December 2007. At the time, the only choice was the Kindle or the Sony reader and I chose the Kindle because I wanted the wireless delivery.

You can see and sample the nook at any Barnes & Noble bookstore. Last time I was in, I asked one of the sales clerks to show me and my husband how they work. He wanted to try out the internet browser function of the nook, but not being used to e-ink, he found it sluggish. That didn’t bother me, since I’ve been using a first-generation Kindle since 2007 and I know it takes a while for the little e-ink pixels to reorganize themselves into a new page. I have a couple of friends who have recently bought nooks and love it. If you want a reader that can also substitute as an internet browser, this is your best choice.

The Amzaon Kindle can be viewed at Target though the demos will be Kindle 2. The Kindle 3 has just been announced and Amazon is taking orders now for delivery in mid-September. The new Kindle offers a choice of wi-fi or wi-fi + 3G. If you buy a lot from Amazon anyway and don’t object to their proprietary format, this is a good choice. I have an Amazon Rewards card, so I can apply rewards certificates to e-books. The Kindle will also read unsecure Mobipocket, so I can buy directly from my publisher and other e-book houses. The later Kindles also have PDF readers, which my old one does not.

The Sony Readers can be seen at Target, Best Buy and Borders bookstores. If you can get into a Borders, you’ll get a better feel for the device as theirs seem to be fully functional, unlike the ones at Best Buy that flip between two advertising pages. I like the Sony Touch, with its touch screen and the ability to rotate the screen from portrait to landscape. I found it to have a more user-friendly interface than the nook, and this is currently my top contender for a new reading device. In addition to the company’s proprietary format BBeB, the Sony devices support PDF, ePub, MS Word and other text formats.

So how to choose one reader over the others? It depends somewhat on your reason for buying an e-reader and what you intend to do with it. One friend chose the Sony Touch over the Kindle because she wanted to be able to buy from the eHarlequin store instead of Amazon. She made a very wise choice for her.

Also think about whether or not you want a wi-fi or 3G (cell phone) connection. If not, you can probably save Santa a few bucks. But I warn you, once you’re tried a reader with the 3G connection, you’ll be hooked. I love that feature on my Kindle and I’ve updated my blogs and even bought books while riding in the car. But if you don’t mind transferring files the old-fashioned way, via USB cable, then look at the Sony models.

There are other e-book readers on the market: COOL-ER, the JetBook, and the Aluratek Libre eBook Reader, sold at Micro-Center. I don’t have any hand-on experience with these devices, so I won’t make any recommendations.

Which e-book reader do you recommend?

Linda McLaughlin
w/a Lyndi Lamont

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e-maginings: Will Kobo Kill the Kindle?

May 16, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , , ,

The Kobo eReader is now available in Canada and coming to a Borders near you next. At $149.99 US, it’s $110 less than the Amazon Kindle and BN’s nook and $50 less than the Pocket Edition of the Sony Reader. The lower price should appeal to readers looking for an affordable device. Kobo also has a Bluetooth connection, so users with certain smartphones can update their selections on the go. There are also mobile apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch as well as Palm Pre, Blackberry and Android.

Kobo uses the same e-ink display as the other readers and appears to be about the same size. It has 1 GB of memory, and unlike the Kindle 2, it has a slot for an SD reader card, expanding storage capabilities even further. It comes with 100 free e-books (all classics) so is ideal for a high school or college student. In fact, I think any e-reader makes a great graduation present, though the Kobo may arrive too late for this year. It’s due in Borders stores around Father’s Day.

Kobo provides an e-reader comparison page on their website. The file formats it supports are ePub, unsecured PDF and Adobe DRM.

I’ve been reading e-books for over ten years now, so it’s exciting to me to see so many different readers now available. Prices of e-ink readers have come down substantially since Dec. 2007 when I bought my first Kindle. This is getting really interesting.

What do you think? Will Kobo kill the Kindle? Or will it perhaps force Amazon and BN to lower their prices again? I suspect the latter, at least for the short term.

Linda McLaughlin

Click here to enter my annual Erotica Stay-at-Home Conference Bag giveaway:

Links to e-book readers mentioned in this post:

Kobo eReader

Amazon Kindle

BN’s nook

Sony Reader

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e-maginings: Aries New Moon

April 16, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

Before I started writing, back in the Dark Ages (before the Internet), I used to study astrology and I still find it interesting. Wednesday April 14 was the Aries New Moon, the first one of the astrological year. (Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac and starts with the Vernal Equinox. It’s also my Sun Sign.)

A New Moon occurs when the Sun and Moon line up astronomically so that the moon is between the Earth and the Sun, and thsu not visible anywhere on earth. In astrological terms, Moon and Sun are in conjunction. A new moon occurs at least once a month, and sometimes twice, known as a Blue Moon.

According to a recent email I received from Astrology.com, the Aries new moon is:

…the most vibrant and inspirational of all new Moons of the year… a time when it is vital to get your head (Sun) and your heart (Moon) — together. This is the only way you can get wholeheartedly behind whatever emotional changes or projects take root at this time.

New Moons are only slivers of light in the sky, so this will not be a spectacular even by any chance. But this is the time to sow the seeds, nurture them carefully and watch them grow. You need a vision — which is the idea; you need a plan — which is the realistic way of moving towards your cherished goal. Then you need patience — which isn’t the same as doing nothing — it is all about helping along what wants to happen…

Since this particular Aries New Moon is in easy aspect to Neptune, being creative or being spiritual will be all the more important. Listen to that inner voice, and you will know which dream is being awakened from its slumbers. And remember the old saying: ‘The dreamers of the day act with their eyes open and make it happen.’

Sounds good to me. I’ve been in a dry spell, writing-wise, but maybe this will be a good time to start a new project, something I’ve been taking baby steps toward doing. Now if I can just get some words on the page…

Wish me luck!

Linda McLaughlin
w/a Lyndi Lamont

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e-maginings: Plantation Trip Report

March 17, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

Last month I promised a report on my trip to New Orleans for EPICon2010. What I didn’t intend was to come home sick as the proverbial dog.

Janet Quinn Cornelow was my traveling partner, and our trip started well. We got to New Orleans on time after a quick change of planes in Nashville. The next morning we had a little time to shop and explore the French Quarter before being picked up for our Plantation Tour. We first visited magnificent Oak Alley, one of the most photographed plantations in the country, noted for the column of 300-year-old oak trees leading down to the river road. We had a very nice tour of the house which has been lovingly restored with furniture of the period. I can just imagine the grand house parties that took place here, but unfortunately bankrupted the owners. This is a photo taken from the rear of the house. Check out the Oak Alley website to see the oak trees.

Our second stop was at Laura Plantation, a Creole plantation. The tour here was different and very interesting. Apparently the Creoles had a different attitude toward inheritance. Instead of leaving the estate to the oldest son, they put the smartest child in charge, even if she happened to be a girl. As a result, Laura Plantation was run by women through several generations, the last being Laura Locoul Gore. The tour was fascinating, and I bought the book of Laura’s memoirs entitled Memories Of The Old Plantation Home & A Creole Family Album by Laura Locoul with commentary by Norman & Sand Marmillion. Laura’s life was long and interesting, but too involved to detail here. I was really glad we picked this particular tour. Here’s my photo of Laura’s plantation home.

Laura is less grand than Oak Alley, as it was more a working plantation than a showplace.

That’s all for now.

Linda / Lyndi

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