Priscilla Reviews Three Banned Books

All three of today’s ebooks were banned by Kindle. I thought I’d give them some love here, and in the process maybe figure out why they were banned.

While the Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton

This is an historical biography of Elsie Hancy Eaton’s childhood in the 1940s in Suffolk County, England, quite literally while the (German) bombs fell. The book is aimed at younger readers, I’d say upper middle grade or younger YA, but as an adult, I quite enjoyed it.

While the Bombs Fell is narrated in a series of vignettes rather than a traditional story structure. I found each chapter sweet or frightening or humorous (or sad!), but always interesting. I learned a lot about England during the early 1940s.

Because of the War and rationing, Elsie didn’t have a carefree childhood, but Elsie and her siblings still had carefree activities like playing in the mud, swimming in the river, patriotic singing, visiting the cows, and plucking fruit from apple trees. Cheadle and Eaton include several lullabies, folk songs, and children’s rhymes which add to the atmosphere of the story.

This book has the same vibe as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: a young girl in tough times thrives nonetheless.

A fantastic read, kudos to Cheadle and Eaton.

I asked Cheadle about Kindle removing the book, and she wasn’t sure why it happened, but that maybe it had to do with advertising. (If she’s reading this, maybe she has more information now.) It must have been incredibly frustrating not to know exactly why Amazon kicked the book off Kindle.

I bought While the Bombs Fell through the Lulu online bookstore.

Neil by Simon McHardy and Sean Hawker

This extreme horror novel is not for everyone. Heed the content warnings!

The story starts out with teenager Lindsay and her neglectful, abusive father. Then, about 25 percent into the story, we meet Neil, Lindsay’s coworker at an elder-care facility, and the story turns to weird, creepy, cultish supernatural stuff.

And then there’s some bizarre stuff in a women’s spa.

McHardy and Hawker tie together the different elements (Lindsay’s past abuse, Neil’s supernatural things, and the bizarre women’s stuff), and the terror escalates. Lots and lots of violence and bodily fluids.

Halfway through the book there’s a clever meta-moment when Neil is at the movies, and he’s complaining about two women who are aghast at the horror film. He thinks they’re idiots for expecting anything other than an extreme film when there are warnings about it being extreme. He thinks they’ll probably “complain and leave a one-star review.”

(Side note: Neil has a warning in bold letters clearly visible on its Amazon home page. And that’s another thing. If Neil is so extreme that it was banned by Kindle, why can you still buy it in its paperback form from Amazon?)

Overall, I’d say this is a book that explores the far edges of extreme horror rather than a book that’s interested in the characters’ story or the art of wordsmithing. So it’s hard to say I “enjoyed” this book, but it was entertaining.

I felt particularly bad for the publisher who said Amazon didn’t allow for recourse or rectification.

(Rectification is an ugly word, but banning books is an ugly subject, so yeah.)

I bought the ebook directly from the publisher, Potter’s Grove Press.

Left for Dead”/“Fall from Grace” by Kelli Owen

This is a book with a short story followed by a related novelette. Both stories are domestic-themed horror.

In “Left for Dead” the reader doesn’t know who the victim is and why the protagonist is dragging the unconscious victim into the woods. I was a bit turned off by the prose in the first couple of pages because Owen details even the unimportant details. However, the plot progresses, and Owen’s prose relaxes, and the story turns out to be rather satisfying.

In “Fall from Grace,” sixteen-year-old Grace has had a rough life. She lashes out, she’s rude, she’s violent. Owen takes us deep inside Grace’s mind. It’s a depressing story but compelling, too.

“Left for Dead” is brutal and graphic, and “Fall from Grace” has a particularly disturbing scene. But I’ve read more brutal, graphic stories that are still on Kindle, so I don’t get it. I do understand a private company setting content rules, but why not enforce them equally?

I bought “Left for Dead”/”Fall from Grace” from Payhip.

Why is today’s feature image a picture of Alice in Wonderland? Because Alice in Wonderland is banned in China.

Today’s feature image by Annie Spratt on unsplash.

93 thoughts on “Priscilla Reviews Three Banned Books

  1. Bravo for reading banned books, Priscilla. The first book sounds like one I would really enjoy. If you do find out why these are banned, please share it with us. I understand that many countries do not ban books as the US does. Obviously totalitarian or theocratic countries are more likely to do this than others. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Hi Priscilla, I still have no idea why this book was removed by Amazon. It is available as a paperback from Amazon so it is not to do with content. My publisher is still investigating but in the meantime, the ebook is available from Lulu.com. Amazon is the subject of an ebook price-fixing lawsuit and this seems to have something to do with it. You can read about the lawsuit here: https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/09/amazon-and-big-five-publishers-move-to-dismiss-ebook-price-fixing-lawsuit/

        Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve read While the Bombs Fell. I can’t think of any possible reason why it would be banned. It’s about as innocuous as you can get. As creative nonfiction, it would be very appropriate suppemental reading for middle graders doing a unit on World War II.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Now that Robbie’s chimed in, it sounds like her book being kicked off Kindle had nothing to do with the subject or writing but (probably) a lawsuit that is totally out of Robbie’s control. Aggravating! Thanks for stopping by, Liz!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a great idea, thank you for shining a light on these books. I’m sure there are many more. As to why Amazon does anything it does, it’s a mystery. Whenever I *try* to post a review there, it’s a 50 50 chance of having it accepted. I’m laughing about the Kindle version of Neil being banned but not the paperback. Maybe it has to do with digital rights or something?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m really surprised about Robbie’s book being banned, but it’s hard to figure out Amazon and why they do things. This is a great share, Priscilla. The last two books aren’t for me, but given content warnings I don’t get why they would be banned. I appreciate when authors DO add content warnings. Amazon should, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m thinking maybe a reader bought Neil or “Left for Dead”/”Fall from Grace” and complained about it. But especially with Neil, the content warning is right up top. Perhaps they were banned for some other reason, who knows? Thanks for stopping by, Mae.:-)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m so sorry this has happened to you, Robbie. It makes no sense.

        I just took a look at my copy of the book and I notice a number of song lyrics included. Might that have triggered the Amazon bots to pull the book?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Those songs are all over 100 years old so no longer under copywrite. My publisher checks that sort of thing very carefully. The paperback is still available on Amazon so it is definitely an ebook issue. The ebook of Through the Nethergate and a number of my Sir Choc books are also not available on Amazon, but all the paperbacks are. I have wondered if it is because they are also stocked by Lulu, but I don’t know. I’ve decided not to worry about it, onwards and upwards is my motto.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. I wondered if it was just in the US these books were banned, but no – paperbacks only for the first two and nothing at all for the third here in the UK. Seems odd they still sell the paperbacks but not for Kindle. ON a previous point about Amazon in the UK, they have now decided to continue with allowing Visa credit card purchases for the time being.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well done you for shining a light on these books.

    With regard to the ban I can only think it could have something to do with the buying process – you can buy a kindle book with one click but it requires a bit of thought to buy a actual book (you have to confirm your address and that) so you could ‘accidentally’ get a book that would scare you.

    Who knows why Amazon do things though. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Geez. Robbie’s book must have been for some infringement of Amazon rules because the book is not only wonderful, but it is the opposite of offensive. I’m not a reader of extreme horror, Priscilla, which is why I don’t buy it. I’m the one who decides, not Amazon. Thanks for the reviews, but I find this book-banning disturbing – real-life horror.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree about Robbie’s book, delightful. Neil’s ban is particularly confusing to me because I’ve read even bloodier, more outrageous books, and they are still on Amazon. In the case of Neil and other out-there books, at least there is a site that embraces outrageous books called godless. godless champions Children of the Night which is a nonprofit that fights child sex trafficking. (And that’s actually where godless got its name. I should do a post about the bookseller, I really should.) Thank you for commenting, Diana!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. HI Diana, the only information I’ve had about the ebook banning is that Amazon is involved in an ebook price-fixing lawsuit. I don’t know how my book became embroiled in that, but you can’t fight with Amazon. It is available from Amazon as a paperback.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. HI Jacqui, I haven’t written a post about it. The ebooks of Through the Nethergate and a few of my Sir Choc books are also not available on Amazon. It is not a content thing as Sir Choc is for children. It must be a policy thing. I can’t resolve it so I don’t worry about it. I am glad they are listing A Ghost and His Gold as an ebook. Strangely, that book has a rape scene in it and is the most controversial from a content point of view of my books. Weird!

          Liked by 2 people

          1. That is very odd. I had a burgeoning business with my education books on Amazon and then, Amazon proceeded to destroy it with a series of policy changes (I couldn’t get the cover or content changed with updates, for instance). It dropped my sales to about 10% of what they had been. But, what’s a girl to do?

            Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure it’s not for any nefarious reason on Amazon’s part. Maybe an algorithm thing or a customer complaint that didn’t really need to be addressed so severely. I do think Amazon has grown so big they can’t respond adequately, and that’s SO frustrating. Thanks for commenting, Audrey!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazon banned my book FALLOUT from being advertised or promoted in any way. Their algorithm completely ignores it. All because it dares to mention ‘virus’ and ‘apocalyptic’. Crazy.

    Great book reviews, Priscilla. Good on you for making a point of reading and these. Have a lovely week 💕🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Harmony, I remember reading about Amazon banning your book from advertisements because of those words. I can’t imagine the issue with While the Bombs Fell but my publisher said it was to do with the ebook price fixing lawsuit that Amazon is involved with. Maybe it was a timing thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah, things are getting clearer now. I haven’t seen any news over here about the price fixing lawsuit. I’d like to think it was just poor timing, too, and not anything worse than bad luck. It’s got to be frustrating, though! Thanks for commenting, Robbie!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. HI Priscilla, thank you for purchasing While the Bombs Fell from Lulu and reviewing it here. Not having the ebook available on Amazon certainly makes marketing the book harder and it’s hard enough already. I have had no job in getting an answer from Amazon about why they removed this ebook.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi Priscilla, I don’t have any answers for anyone. The ebooks of Through the Nethergate and some of my Sir Choc books were removed at the same time. It is so odd because some Sir Choc books are still there but some are gone. It is so random. It seems to be the ones that were published within a certain timeframe which is why I think the price fixing might be the root of it all. I don’t worry about it anymore. Life is full of adversity and you just can’t let it pull you down or you never get anywhere.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, this was really interesting. Especially the ones about the bombs in England. We obviously have to learn a lot about the effects of the war at home over here, I never read anything like that as a child and I think it would have been very beneficial.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I read and really enjoyed Robbie’s book. I’m sorry to learn of the eBook being removed from Amazon. I don’t understand their polices and how they are applied with that or the other books. My theory is if you don’t want to read something, don’t. No one needs to do that thinking for me or anyone else. Luckily there are other places to still get the books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was glad that I was able to buy the ebooks through other channels. When I found out the two horror books were kicked off Amazon, it made me want to read them even more. The forbidden fruit phenomenon.:-) Thanks for stopping by, Denise!

      Like

  11. I had no idea Robbie’s book was banned by Amazon, and even more frustrating is not knowing why. I’m a horror fan, but I don’t think the extreme horror is for me. Bravo for reading and reviewing the banned books, Priscilla!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Animal Farm, too. And Twitter, FB, Pinterest, IG, YT, and Snapchat as well as discussion about the Tiananmen Square Massacre and Winnie the Pooh cartoons. It’s a country full of beautiful people that have quite the controlling government. Thanks for commenting, Rami!

      Like

    1. I have read some pretty bad books I bought from Amazon, but I guess these three broke Amazon’s rules. It’s just hard for the authors/publishers to know what specific rule was broken in each case. Sweeping, form-letter answers don’t help. Thanks for stopping by, Matt!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It is so weird, especially what happened with Robbie’s books. It is difficult to know why they do what they do, but you are all right. It would be polite to at least inform people of why they remove their books. On the other hand, one of my novellas was banned from other stores but not from Amazon (that was a content issue).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m surprised to hear you had a book removed, Olga. I’ve read Escaping Psychiatry, and I didn’t think any of your stories had objectionable content. Like you said, weird on Amazon’s part. Thanks for commenting.:-)

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    1. It does seem to be a popular question, Deby. I don’t object to a private company like Amazon having rules. I just wish they’d communicate better so authors and publishers know which rule they broke so as not to do it again. Thanks for chiming in!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Excellent, You introduced me not only to 3 books I’d never heard of but I didn’t know books could get banned on Kindle. I mean, I had heard some hubbub from erotic authors about an Amazon crackdown on covers, but I didn’t know they reviewed any of the content too. Interesting. Thanks for sharing your reviews of these!

    Liked by 2 people

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