Monthly Archives: May 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey and Between Shades of Gray: Not the Same Thing

Fifty Shades of Grey  is not the only “grey” in town. But avid readers think it is and are consistently confusing it with the other one: Between Shades of Gray.

According to Entertainment Weekly, people are stopping in bookstore,s where there are readings for Between Shades of Gray confusing it for the sexy Grey. But what they’re learning is that they’re liking this other story — this completely unsexy story, as Stephen Lee explains.

Many of the E L James fans who wander into her readings — most of them men, she notes — stick around and end up learning something.

Between Shades of Gray is a young adult novel that tells the story of a girl struggling through the Baltic genocide. (See? CLEARLY not sexy.) However, the book is getting great praise on its own accord. And while the author, Ruta Sepetys, could find the confusion between the two hits frustrating, she appreciates it. After all, it’s bringing new readers to her book.

“The subject has come up at every high school and every bookstore I’ve been to,” Sepetys says with a laugh. However, she counts the title confusion as a positive.

Between Shades of Gray is resonating with people in a much different way than Fifty Shades, and despite its unsexiness, it definitely sounds as though it’s worth a read. Find out more about the novel from EW’s interview with Sepetys.

Or pick up a copy of Between Shades of Gray for $8.99 on your Kindle or in paperback.

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Movie vs. Book: One Day

A sexless one-night-stand turns into a 20 year relationship of rocky romance in this decent novel and worse movie. One Day tells the epic, serendipitous love story of Em and Dex, who meet in college on July 15th, 1988. The story takes us through their decades-long relationship of love, fights, vacations, affairs, career struggles, and drug abuse.

The novel is told in a creative way — each chapter marking July 15th from 1988, 1989, 1990, and so forth. This device moves the story along, and gives insight into how much two adults and their friendship can change from year to year. The book does a decent job of building the relationship. Albeit frustrating — after all, it takes years for Dex and Em to finally get together, the book portrays the epic-ness of Em and Dex. Twenty years, after all, is a long time, and in the book, it feels that way.

But the movie is an entirely different story. The movie cuts a few things — namely the affair Em has with a professor — but otherwise it stays close to the story. The real problem is that the movie moves at a rapid speed. Fitting 20 years into a 2-hour movie is difficult, but the story moves so quickly, the characters are never fully developed. Not to mention Anne Hathaway (Em) and Jim Sturgess (Dex) have little to no onscreen chemistry. The importance of the date, July 15th, is also not made clear. The date pops up on the screen at the beginning of each new scene from a new year, but unless you read the book, I don’t think you would have picked up on that.

What was most upsetting is that I felt the exact opposite way about the book as I did about the movie. In the book, I loved the beginning, struggled through the middle, hated the end, but appreciated the last chapter. In the movie, I hated pretty much all of it until the end. The end is the first time real emotion comes across onscreen. It’s the first time throughout the two hours that I actually felt some sort of connection. It was somewhat redeeming, but let’s be honest. To feel no emotional connection until the end of the movie is not a good sign.

Though the book had its issues, I would still recommend it. But the movie can easily be left behind.

Get One Day on your Kindle for just $9.99.

Or get it in paperback with movie tie-in for $10.17.

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Get Toni Morrison’s New Book, Home, in Hardcover for $14.40, Kindle $11.99

Anytime Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison writes something, it’s sure to be a hit. And her newest novel, Home, is already getting great literary praise. Home tells the story of a Korean War vet who has returned home to a racist America. Amidst an America he doesn’t remember or like, he’s then forced to rescue his medically abused sister and take her to their childhood Georgia home he’s always hated. I definitely plan on reading it, and based on what I’ve read about it, you should too.

You can now buy Morrison’s Home for your Kindle for $11.99.

Or get it in hardcover for $14.40.

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Libraries Removing Fifty Shades of Grey from Shelves

Libraries and bookstores across the country are having a tough time keep E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy on the shelves. More and more women –and now men– are flocking to pick up the erotica bestseller that’s taking the nation by storm. But some library shelves are missing the books by choice.

Because of the explicitly sexy content of the books, a number of libraries have removed the books from stock. According to The New York Times, the public library in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin didn’t order the books because of a “no-erotica” police. Meanwhile, officials at the Brevard County Public Library in east Florida decided the content was inappropriate and pulled the books, as Julie Bosman explains.

“We view this as pornographic material,” Don Walker, a spokesman for the Brevard County government, said in an interview on Friday. “I have not read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ but I’ve read reviews of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ From what I understand, it’s a lot about male dominance and female submissiveness.”

He’s right about the storyline. The books tell the story of a virginal college student who enters into a dominant-submissive relationship with an attractive millionaire businessman. The Brevard County Public Library carries other erotica novels, but Walker says it’s because they’re part of the “societal mainstream.”

I have a few bones to pick with Mr. Walker. First of all, despite his awareness of the story’s content, it’s not the same as reading the book. What right does he have to pull the books because of their unsuitable content when he hasn’t even read the content himself? I also wonder what constitutes a book becoming part of the “societal mainstream.” With the widespread popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, I think it’s safe to say the books are now part of the “societal mainstream,” no?

What do you guys think?

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Jeremy Linsanity Books Published Too Late?

The overnight sensation that is — or rather, was — Jeremy Lin is undeniable, and when something or someone becomes such a hot topic so quickly, authors jump at the chance to write about it.

Since New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin created “Linsanity” nationwide, more than 80 titles about him have already hit bookstores and digital shelves. But according to Huffington Post, his knee injury could be as damaging to publishers as it is to him.

Now that he’s been benched, Linsanity isn’t quite as Linsane anymore. Fans have lost interest, and therefore, so have readers. It’s nearly impossible now to market the books, which just a few months ago could have been instant bestsellers, as Ron Dicker explains.

An estimated dozen more titles are scheduled for release before the end of the year, and none of the print entries so far has sold more than a few thousand copies, according to Jim Milliot, the editorial director of Publishers Weekly…The full-court press of Linsanity quickie books illustrates the gamble that publishers take in pouncing on trends. Trends peter out. Since the pixie dust appears to have stopped falling on Lin’s fairy tale, it’s hard to generate any kind of book buzz, Milliot explained.

While the books may become marketable again when Lin returns to the court, there’s no guarantee that he’ll even be playing with the Knicks or playing well. Will people still care? Or will the story change entirely into one not about an overnight sensation but a comeback kid? It’s interesting how much of an effect a star basketball player’s knee injury would affect publishers across the country. Kind of nutty, no?


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Microsoft Invests $300M in New Nook Subsidiary

Could the Barnes and Noble Nook  soon be getting a massive upgrade? That’s still up for debate, but it sure has gotten a huge financial boost, thanks to Microsoft.

According to the L.A. Times, Microsoft, which has stayed out of the e-reader business until now, is now giving Barnes and Noble $300 million for its new Nook-led subsidiary. As previously reported, the new branch of Barnes and Noble is something the company’s been considering for the past few months.

The subsidiary, which would act as an entirely separate Nook-led branch under B&N’s umbrella, has the temporary name Newco. Microsoft will get a 17.6 shares in the spinoff. As Carolyn Kellogg points out, however, it’s odd that Barnes and Noble chose Microsoft — of all companies — to help them out.

Microsoft’s investment was, at least by most in publishing, unexpected. Last we heard, Microsoft was suing Barnes & Noble over alleged patent infringements related to the Nook, which could have blocked importation to the U.S. after its offshore manufacture. As part of the new Nook deal, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced settlement of the patent suit.

Now that the two companies have kissed and made up, some are wondering what advancements could be made to the second-place e-reader — behind Amazon’s Kindle — with all that extra money.

So I ask you, fellow Nook users, what kind of improvements would you like to see? How do you think Microsoft could change the future of Barnes and Noble, if at all?

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Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Recap: A bestselling erotica novel that’s taking the female population by storm, Fifty Shades of Grey is, in fact, all it’s cracked up to be. The first book in the adult trilogy tells the story of Anastasia Steele, a naive, inexperienced college student who falls for a multi-millionaire, uber sexual businessman, Christian Grey. They meet when Ana interviews him for her school paper, as a favor to her roommate. But their unlikely chemistry leads to a dominant-submissive sexual relationship that has the two lusting for each other more and more.

For Ana, the kinky and aggressive sex is both frightening, but exciting. And with nothing else to compare it to, she considers his offer to sign a contract to be his Submissive, or Sub. While part of her feels like a sex slave, another part of her just can’t get enough of Christian Grey, who claims and proves to be fifty shades of [messed] up.

Analysis: When people talk about the book — which is the first in a trilogy about Miss Steele and Mr. Grey — the discussion centers on the kinky sex. The book is flying off the shelves, encouraging middle-aged women and housewives everywhere are starting to get their grooves back. But there’s more depth to the story than just sex.

Like any girl would, Ana falls for Grey. The story becomes less about sex and more about her attempt to “change” Christian and get him to open up. It’s what any girl who’s ever dated or liked a “bad boy” hopes to do. So women are reading this book not just to get in the mood, but to see if Ana is the one to finally turn a bad boy into someone good. Can she do it? If she does, there’s hope for us yet! She’s living every woman’s dream — having crazy sex with an older, gorgeous, playful but mysterious man who also happens to be rich.

The author E.L. James is British and began writing the series as Twilight fan fiction, and the Twilight similarities are evident — the controlling boyfriend, the innocent girlfriend, Ana’s nervousness and tendency to bite her lip like Bella. But just because it began as Twilight fan fiction doesn’t mean it should be a turnoff if you’re not a Twilight fan. If anything, the oddball writing is the book’s biggest flaw. James uses dumb phrases repeatedly, “Oh my!” and dictionary words, like bemusing. (Just say confused!) Also, Ana is a college student and doesn’t own her own laptop. Come on, E.L. James. What college student doesn’t have a computer or an email address?

But the sex, love, and lust are more than enough of a reason to look past the silly writing and get in the mood with this book.

MVP: Christian Grey. So complicated, so mysterious, so desirable. He’s every girl’s dream man, and yet, he’s the absolute worst boyfriend. As much as I hate him, I love him — again, a feeling that every woman has felt at one point or another.

Get Fifty Shades of Grey in paperback for $9.57.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

You can also get the whole Fifty Shades trilogy on your Kindle for just $29.99.


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