Categories
Banned Books Books

Banned Books Week Starts TODAY!

We all know the importance of knowledge and learning, right? I don’t want to waste anymore time talking about why banning books is dumb. Let’s celebrate the great books that have been challenged and you can decide for yourself what you think.

1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perks of being a wallflower

I love this tiny book so hard. First because it is set in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and second because the setting is the 80s which is also when I grew up, although the author is a couple years younger than I am. Our experiences are kind of similar: no cell phones, record players, pac man and hairspray to name a few.  This is a coming of age tale that is beautifully told about the man character who suffers from some dangerous mental health issues.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I am a tad confused about why books about teens and intended for teens should be completely sterile. Kids want to read about situations that are similar to what they are experiencing; at least when they are reading realistic fiction, right? So why then, do people insist on challenging books that  “…deals with sexual situations and drug use.” ?

Again, this is a title you should read for yourself.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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This is by far my fave John Green book.

Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

Oh how this title reminds me of some of the books we read in high school: the what’s it all about and how do i make a difference in this world type of books!

The book was challenged because of sexual content.  Again. Teens, experimenting with sex. It’s what they do, right?  This one, however, is rather mild considering what I’ve read in other books.  It’s a botched BJ and while that might not be appropriate material for young teens or even middle grade readers, I guarantee your older teen has read worse. Or heard worse on the bus. Check it out for yourself before you pass judgement. As always, parents have a right to decide what’s best for their own kiddos, just not for everyone.

3. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Ironically, Fallen Angels was

Challenged on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, Ohio (2013) because of inappropriate language. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers.

But here’s the question that I’d like answered: what kind of language would you expect soldiers to use? I know the books are for young teens but depicting soldiers using language that is a little too clean, might be a little too unrealistic.  I don’t know about where you live, but around here, Fallen Angels is on many schools’ required reading lists.

Have you read it?

4. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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Please don’t confuse Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison with The Invisible Man by HG Wells!

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

 

For the same reasons that Invisible Man is an important read to understand the struggles of the African American community, Invisible Man has also been challenged. To be sure, the book contains strong language but you cannot properly depict the struggles of that era by using tame language, I think.  Either way, it’ll make you think. This book is so so so well written.

 

5. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

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There is so much to learn about the Middle Eastern region and so little time to read.

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Sounds great, right? Other people obviously don’t feel the same way and have challenged the book “because of violent illustrations and storyline” which  is rather irrational because what would kind of story do you expect to hear when reading about a war torn country? Perhaps the age group was not appropriate for the book.

 

 

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Banned Books

Banned Books Week-Day 2

 

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8.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

 Click the link for My review . Why this book is on the banned book list every year is beyond mystifying.

 

7.  The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is one of those books you need to read more than once to appreciate
the many facets of this beautiful story of two young friends.

This book is always on the list, it seems, for these reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
I dunno.  This book is real world. Again, what age group are you giving this to?

Have you read either of these books? What are your thoughts?  If you’re just now getting around to either, they qualify for the Diversity Challenge also.

 

 

Categories
Young Adult

The Obsidian Mask by Caroline Ludovici

I LOVE when my friends write books! I love it even more when they write sequels to books! My lovely friend Caroline, wrote The Obsidian Mask, which I read and enjoyed.

The Obsidian Mask by Caroline Ludovici

Here’s a synopsis to refresh your memory:

A highly respected Mesopotamian warrior queen, known throughout the lands for her diplomacy and fairness, has been killed in a cowardly attack by a neighboring king intent on securing their city’s precious water supply during a long, devastating drought. Her daughter, the young princess, has a death mask crafted from an ancient, sacred block of obsidian, has it inlaid with precious family stones, then seals it in the tomb with the queen until the end of time…

The Obsidian Mask is present day, fast moving adventure involving four young teenagers. Natasha, the main character, is fifteen, pensive and intuitive. Her thirteen year-old brother, Alex is easy-going, fun and likable. They fly from London to the Middle East to join their archaeologist mother for the Easter holidays, where she is excavating with an international team of archaeologists. However, almost as soon as the children arrive, things don’t go as smoothly as expected.

The team has recently discovered the palace and the tomb of an ancient Mesopotamian queen, which they are in the delicate process of uncovering. Until its discovery the queen was merely a legend, so Marcello, the Italian director of the dig, is ecstatic at finding it; it is the pinnacle of his long career. The tomb contains many skeletons and interesting artifacts, but nothing more fabulous than the queen’s incredible, priceless death mask that covers her skull. However, unbeknown to Marcello, it is not only his team who shows a keen interest in the precious mask.

Despite the general excitement with the find, Natasha’s mind is elsewhere. She has taken an instinctive dislike to Marcello, who she realizes has interests in her mother. Her resentment and jealousy towards him is made worse when she is thrown together with his two teenage children, who are also staying at the camp. Lorenzo, fifteen, is immaculately dressed, polite, and well spoken, and Gabriella, his sister, is thirteen, bored, very spoilt and irritatingly winy. But despite Natasha’s reluctance in liking the family, Marcello confides in her while showing her the incredible tomb of the ancient queen. He exposes his vulnerable side, and Natasha finds that he shares many of her own feelings and sentiments, especially in the subject of digging up the past, and she reluctantly begins to warm towards the middle-aged Italian.

Yanni, an enthusiastic, good-looking, nineteen year-old Polish volunteer, having detected Natasha’s obvious resentment towards Marcello and his children, gently takes her under his wing. As well as showing her the workings of the dig, and around the beautiful palace floor that he is thrilled to be working on, he helps her to get over her selfish feelings of resentment towards Marcello by telling her a story of his own. However, this personal attention leads Natasha to develop feelings of a different kind towards this young man, and the holiday begins to take an interesting turn in her eyes.

Quite unexpectedly, just as the four teens begin to get to know each other, they are kidnapped, hidden in a cave and held for ransom in exchange for The Obsidian Mask. Natasha’s long blond braid is cut off and sent to Marcello in a box with a ransom note. Marcello is holding a major press conference on his discovery of the Mask and the legendary Queen, with the world’s media and local dignitaries present, and it is during this important lecture that the plait is discovered and the children’s disappearance is realized.

As well as being an exciting adventure for young teens, the reader also learns a little ancient history, and experience the excitement and importance of uncovering an ancient site. The story is insightful, tender, and very thought provoking. The reader experiences the changing sentiments and thoughts of a teenage girl, who comes to realize how selfish and pre-judgmental she has been. In this first book, the children’s characters are developed and opportunities are left open for their subsequent adventures in different locations around the world. Book two continues in Italy. While their parents, now engaged, excavate ancient Etruscan ships buried under the Pisa railway station, the four teens discover that Lorenzo and Gabriella’s grandmother, the Contessa, has more to hide than the average Italian nonna, and unraveling someone’s hidden identity leads not only to to stolen artwork hidden by the Nazis during WW11, but a can of worms they wish they hadn’t opened…

 

Say what?? Sounds like the Kane Chronicles mixed with Capture the Flag mixed with a pirate adventure?? Ok well maybe not pirates but one can only hope, right? I love books that take kids to Egypt.  I hear there will be a sequel so keep your eyes on this channel!

 

 

I’m part of Lady Reader Bookstuff Tour!

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Categories
Adult Fiction Books

Lisa Scottoline Book Club – Don’t Go UPDATE!!

I know I know, how many book clubs can one woman person belong to??

As many as I can!

So that is why I started the Lisa Scottoline book club at Towne Book Center and Cafe. There are many reasons to read Lisa Scottoline:

  1. She writes good stories
  2. She’s a local and includes local landmarks
  3. There’s a chance to get invited to her house!!!

Unconventional Librarian Lisa Scottoline Don't Go

That’s me mugging with her latest book, late at night, at work.  Booksellers are notorious night owls!

Even though this is only my second Lisa Scottoline book (the first was Look Again), I got caught up in the plot very quickly.  I also thought I had the story figured out.

Boy was I wrong.

No spoilers here, but man was this a good story of a soldier serving in Afghanistan who has to deal with some inexplicable crises.  And while this is a quick moving tale, I would love a little bit less conversation and a teeny bit more descriptive text.  But man did I go through the coffee finishing this one; I didn’t want to put it down!

Thanks for a good read Lisa, I hope to see you at your house this fall for your Book Club Open House soiree!!

Can’t wait to go clubbing tonight!

UPDATE

Book club was SO SO fun! We had an excellent discussion and even agreed to keep the book club going through the summer which is no small feat, for sure.  I’m looking forward to reading one of Lisa Lisa’s older titles:  Come Again, for  our June meeting!

GUESS WHAT???

The uber cool people over at Macmillan hipped me to this thing called SoundCloud where you can listen to snippets of books.  I may have found my new addiction after cake, coffee, and Pinterest.  Lisa’s book Don’t Go is available to listen to on audio over at SoundCloud.  Check it out below.

How cool is that, huh?

 

way. oh boy, i’m gonna need another ipad just to listen to books. good thing my birthday is coming up in (sigh) 6 months…

Go enjoy the book!

 

Categories
Blogging from A to Z Challenge Books Young Adult

T #atozchallenge

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Happy T day!  Finding a book with the letter T was difficult. Why? Because in the book industry, you don’t count the beginning words like: the, a, an, etc, and I wanted to keep the same approach to this challenge.  So here’s what I came up with:

thing a brother knows Three Rivers

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt, sounds like a good read for the guys:

Finally, Levi Katznelson’s older brother, Boaz, has returned. Boaz was a high school star who had it all and gave it up to serve in a war Levi can’t understand. Things have been on hold since Boaz left. With the help of his two best friends Levi has fumbled his way through high school, weary of his role as little brother to the hero.

But when Boaz walks through the front door after his tour of duty is over, Levi knows there’s something wrong. Boaz is home, safe. But Levi knows that his brother is not the same.

Maybe things will never return to normal. Then Boaz leaves again, and this time Levi follows him, determined to understand who his brother was, who he has become, and how to bring him home again.

Award-winning author Dana Reinhardt introduces readers to Levi, who has never known what he believes, and whose journey reveals truths only a brother knows (Goodreads.com)

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on between brothers or family members’ minds when someone is involved in war; this might help.  This could be another sleeper…

Next is Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards.  I like the idea of this book for a few reasons: #1 it’s written in prose, #2 it’s historical fiction, and #3 the setting is Johnstown, PA which is very near my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA (go Steelers!).  Everyone has learned about the Johnstown flood in history books, right? Well, everyone who grew up in Southwestern PA did, anyway! But I’ve yet to read a nonfiction book about it.  Three Rivers Rising might be just the book I’m looking for.  Here’s what Goodreads has to say about it:

Sixteen-Year-Old Celstia spends every summer with her family at the elite resort at Lake Conemaugh, a shimmering Allegheny Mountain reservoir held in place by an earthen dam. Tired of the society crowd, Celestia prefers to swim and fish with Peter, the hotel’s hired boy. It’s a friendship she must keep secret, and when companionship turns to romance, it’s a love that could get Celestia disowned. These affairs of the heart become all the more wrenching on a single, tragic day in May, 1889. After days of heavy rain, the dam fails, unleashing 20 million tons of water onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the valley below. The town where Peter lives with his father. The town where Celestia has just arrived to join him. This searing novel in poems explores a cross-class romance—and a tragic event in U. S. history.

I’m going to check out Jame’s website and see if she has any photos of the Johnstown flood or why she chose this topic.  I’ll keep you posted.

Do you have a T book for me?