Friday Reads: Red Pole of Macau

Click to go to and purchase the book.

iconI swore I’d never read another Ian Hamilton book, but I lied. Half way in, I can tell you that there has only been one mention of Starbuck’s instant coffee and there is far less product placement than in earlier books.

The truth of the matter is that Ian Hamilton tells a good story in The Red Pole of Macau.He has also managed to hint that Ava Lee may be a person with feelings, something we did not see in the first two books and we began to wonder about in book three, when she picked up a bit of a home life and  a girlfriend.

As always, Hamilton, in choosing Macau as the location for all the action (side trips into China notwithstanding),  immerses the reader in a culture most of us will see as exotic. If there is a Macau Chamber of Commerce, it is unlikely to give Hamilton an award for increasing tourism. Once again, there is an odd mix of highly descriptive food writing and graphic violence throughout the book. It makes me wonder what dinner times were like in the Hamilton house when Ian was a lad.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the story is Ava’s feelings about May Ling Wong, a character introduced in book 3, The Wild Beasts of Wuhan,  who made a truly evil decision to kill people she viewed as loose ends, just because she could. Ava has the same choice to make in this book, and whether she chooses to go there, and risk becoming another May Ling Wong is part of the mystery.

Note: the links in this review and the book cover image will take you to If you buy a book using these links, I make a little money.


Reading for a Change October Book


iconI am looking forward to the October 2  Reading for a Change Book Club meeting. So many of my friends have said that Olive Kitterridge is a great read. Per Wikipedia: “It is a collection of inter-related short stories about a woman named Olive and her immediate family and friends in the town of Crosby in coastal Maine. It is also known as On the Coast of Maine. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award.”

The Club meets the first Tuesday of the month at the downtown branch of the Red Deer Public Library, from 6:30-8:00 PM. normally we meet in the Kiwanis-Waskasoo Room on the third floor, but since there is a construction project going on, we may be in the Snell Auditorium instead.

You can borrow the book from the Red Deer Public Library. If they do not have a copy available, they will be happy to get it for you through interlibrary loan.


The end of summer in noodleville

So, I spent most of the summer reading it seems. I didn’t do any writing about books I have read, but that is part of what makes it into a summer break for me. I’ve also been busy beta testing for the Kobo Touch.

The news today that Kobo has new readers coming makes me want to open my wallet and go shopping. I think  I will get both the Glo and the Mini, but probably not the new Arc tablet. There is a new affiliate program too, so you may notice some odd links for a bit.

I am passing on the Arc because I bought a Nexus 7 over the summer. I love it, but the improved Kobo app that for now is unique to the Arc is very  tempting. I love my N7, however the reader apps for Android just can’t compare to the reading experience on the Touch. The Arc looks like a game changer, in that regard.

And if you are wondering what I am reading now, well, I’ve written quite enough for this one post, so that will wait for a bit.

I buy books, don’t piss me off

I read a lot of books. I buy a lot of books. I am a bit of a techie and I know how to get almost all of the books I buy for free. It doesn’t take much to figure that out.

Like many eBook aficionados, I have been following the DOJ vs Big Publishers and Apple  lawsuit in the states. Although I’m in Canada, I know that what happens in the US in this matter will have implications here. I’d like to say I know who is right and who is wrong, or what decision will benefit readers the most, but I don’t.

I have no reason to believe anyone is listening to me, but I’ll have a few minutes of feeling less impotent if I type out my perspective. As you read this, keep in mind that I am a 60 year old woman living in a place that many folks would see as a backwater. I’m a life-long reader and have had a monthly book budget for all of my adult life.

I want authors to get paid for the work they do. I want publishers, both big and small, to keep on publishing books I want to read. I know publishers have to make money to do that. I want strong on-line book sellers that are making their coin with enough left over to improve the on-line experience buying books. I would like all of this to  happen in an environment that doesn’t stifle innovation or further erode the opportunity for indie stores, both on–line and bricks and mortar, to stay in business.

I want my local library to offer a good selection of eBooks to me. Back when I was reading pBooks, I didn’t expect the local library to have everything I wanted to read, and I knew I would have to wait if I wanted a popular book. I am fine with that as part of the eBook borrowing scheme.  In most communities library budgets aren’t great, so no matter what publishers decide to make available, or what form factor they do that in, there will always be people buying books that their library does not own or for which there are big waiting lists.

Before eBooks came on the scene, I often bought books because I did not want to wait for the library to come through for me, so I am fine with the eBook experience being similarly limiting. Publishers, you have my permission to hold back (AKA Window)  to libraries as long as the book is made available within six months or so. If I want it sooner, I will buy it. I believe that the library is a community’s purveyor of culture and a great equalizer. It is important that people who are poor, housebound, or unable to deal with the print size or weight in pBooks have an electronic alternative.

There are things that absolutely matter to me and influence my decision to buy books. Publishers need to pay attention to this kind of thing. I am not the only person out there that wants to do what’s right and buy books from you.

  • I don’t want to pay more for an eBook than its paperbook price. If this is happening because you have rotten deals in place for “regular” books, then fix that. I should not be made to pay for your inefficiency and bad business decisions.
  • Pay attention to eBook conversion. There is no excuse for selling me a book that is full of errors because no one actually proof read the electronic version.
  • Make sure I get a cover. Negotiate those rights with the artists that produce them or create a cover that isn’t just another green rectangle with the name of the book pasted onto it.
  • I  should be able to use whatever I buy on any device I own. This means coming up with an alternative to DRM as we currently know it. Pottermore uses watermarks, but there might be other alternatives. Figure it out.

Keep me happy. I buy books.