...never judge a book by its movie

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along; you don't have to be a blogger! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week:

"For a beat, he looked at me with an expression of sadness so complete, I mistook it for calm.

He turned and walked down the hall and I went back to my bed and continued writing."

- Page 252 - Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

I'm reading this book as part of BanThis! month and Banned Books Week challenge (you can read my full post)

It's not too late to join in! 

Feel free to leave the link to YOUR Teaser Tuesday post or your own teaser in the comments!
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Vivian Rising by Daniella Brodsky - BOOK REVIEW and GIVEAWAY {CLOSED}

Title:  Vivian Rising
Author:  Daniella Brodsky
Publisher:  Downtown Press, a division of Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  August, 2010
Paperback, 352 pages
ISBN 10: 1439172021
ISBN 13:  9781439172025

From the publisher's website:

Vivian Sklar has always depended on her wise and feisty grandmother—not just because Grams raised her after Viv's mother took off twenty years ago, but because she seemed to have life all figured out. So when Grams dies, Viv feels completely alone. Everything she once knew seems unfamiliar and unwelcoming—until she finds hope in a most unlikely place: the cluttered second-story walk-up of an alarmingly perceptive astrologer. Viv thinks horoscopes are about as reliable as fortune cookies, but when Kavia's first reading dissuades her from taking a train that later crashes, she's hooked. 

Under Kavia's guidance, Viv begins to process her grief and rebalance her life. She faces her mother, gets her career back on track, and even shares some meaningful moments with Len, her handsome new neighbor. Every prediction seems to speak directly to Viv's life, and so far, the stars haven't steered her wrong. Then the stars tell Viv that the bond she has forged with the insightful yet guarded Len isn't meant to last. Len has become her greatest source of security and comfort, but just as she settles into his arms—and into his heart—Kavia insists that a relationship with him is dangerous. Now Viv faces a choice: should she follow the path that's been written in the stars, or trust herself to write her own story? 

Witty and honest, Daniella Brodsky's charming new novel is a powerful tale of moving on, letting go, and keeping the faith—in any form it happens to take.

My take: The story opens in Grams' hospital room, where Vivian has gone into the bathroom in an effort to avoid seeing the life-saving efforts of the hospital staff.  As she's thinking that this is a movie and that the doctors and nurses were just putting on an act, she walks out to see her Grams with her eyes closed and the machines that had been monitoring her being rolled away.

Now Viv is all alone in the world, her absent, promiscuous and irresponsible mother having left her to the care of Grams after her father died.  She has a job that she dislikes and a boss that hates her (and vice versa).  She is lucky enough to work with her very best friend from childhood, who almost always manages to make her smile, even through the bad.

As Viv tries to cope with the loss of her grandmother, she finds herself in the office of an astrologer, Kavia, who seems to have much insight.  As Viv becomes "hooked" on Katia's readings, she finds herself relying on her readings more and more, almost unable to make a move without consulting her first.

She meets the 'man' Kavia told her about, the son of her next-door neighbor, who is home helping his father cope with what may be his final illness  They have an instant connection, but later find themselves barely on speaking terms.

In spite of what could be heavy subject matter, this book is a charmer, wittily written and pretty darn fun.  Within the first few pages, the reading voice in my head changed to a Brooklynite's dialect, with a touch of Jewish hutzpah thrown in.  The characters are people that we all know and like (well, except for Viv's boss Stan, who we would all like to chuck our shoe at).  You will find yourself rooting for Viv, pushing her to stand up to her mother, and pushing her to do the right thing.


I look at the calendar and know just what to do for Grams:  I should go into Manhattan and order a falafel sandwich with extra tahini and tomatoes at Rainbow Falafe.  And the second I bite into it, just as she always did, I should complain there isn't enough tahini and tomatoes.  And then twenty minutes later I should say, That was the best falafel in the world--just the perfect amount of tahini and tomatoes.  This she would find the perfect tribute.

Book Rating.  3.75 out of 5 stars

BUY IT: You can purchase this book at the publisher's website, on Amazon, and at other on and off-line booksellers

WIN IT: The publisher was kind enough to offer 2 of my readers a chance to win their own copy!

MANDATORY ENTRY: Have you ever visited New York?  If so, what is your favorite part of it?

EXTRA ENTRIES (please leave a separate comment for each; if you already follow or subscribe prior to this post, leave 2 comments for each):

1. Follow Knitting and Sundries publicly on Google Friend Connect and/or Twitter

2. Subscribe via RSS and/or newsletter to Knitting and Sundries (buttons to the right) - I hate clutter in my email box, so my emails are just the headlines of whatever posts I put up that day - if you see one you like, you can click on it to read the full post - 1 entry for each you do

3. Spread the word! Tweet (maximum of ONCE daily - include @jewelknits and @simonschuster in the tweet so that I see it. To make it easy, you can use the "Share" button at the bottom of this post! Blog about - 2 entries/comments. Sidebar link to giveaway - 1 entry/comment (leave the URL)

4. Enter another one of my giveaways that are current at the time you post your entry comment. You can get one extra entry for each giveaway that you enter.

ALL ENTRIES: Please leave your email in your comments: Like this: imacrazedmommy at whydidihavekids dot com OR like this imacrazedmommy(at)whydidihavekids(dot)com to avoid the spam bots. If I can't reach you, you can't win!

In addition, if you follow, tweet, etc., please leave the name or email address you follow/tweet/subscribe under.

Eligibility: US and Canada, 18 and older. These books will ship directly from the publisher, so no P.O. Boxes, please!

End date: October 12, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST

I will pick the winner(s) using Random.org. I will post the winner(s) on the site AND send an email to the email address used to enter. The winner will then have 72 hours to reply with their mailing information; otherwise, a new winner will be picked. The email will be easy to spot; the subject line will begin "You WON on Knitting and Sundries!"

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from Downtown Press to objectively review. No other form of compensation was received for this post, and I am not required to post a positive review.

This book is a charmer
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Winners! Queen Pin and UPrinting.com Winners!

Time for some winners! I have six giveaways to close, so I will pull two tonight, two tomorrow night and two the night after!

First, up .. Queen Pin! There were enough unique entries to draw two winners!

And the winners are:

ky2here!  who said:
27. ky2here said...
Becoming a man by paul monette. Probably the most devastatingly honest set of essays I've ever read. ky2here at msn dot com
Hannah!  who said:

30. Hannah said...
http://twitter.com/achrissmile/status/23971008629 aigcanada7 at hotmail (dot) com
For the UPrinting postcard giveaway:

The winner is Tiffany!  who said:

13. Tiffany said...
I am a follower via GFC schlarmette[at]gmail[dot]com

Congratulations, winners!  Check your email!  Please get back to me within 72 hours and I will forward your information to the sponsors for fulfillment!

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Readathon Final Report

I'd like to thank The True Book Addict for hosting this challenge.  Although I did NOT get all of the reading done that I'd hoped, I DID get through quite a bit:

Vivian Rising

Red Hook Road

The Life O'Reilly


City of Tranquil Light

(Reviews coming soon AND giveaways for both "Vivian Rising" and "Red Hook Road")

Now on to the next challenge - Banned Books Week!  I have decided to put upcoming and current challenge progress bars at the side and retired challenges will have their own page.   I will be starting a bit late (need to finish reading "Room", as it has me in it's grip), so the starting post (for me) will go up tomorrow along with ALL of my latest winners!  (That's SIX giveaways, folks!  If you entered, cross your fingers!)
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Mailbox Monday and In My Mailbox - September 27, 2010

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page

Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour.  I will be hosting starting next week throughout the month of October.  I'm going to be giving away some books for participation each week, too, so be certain to join in!  Click here to see the tour schedule!

This month's host is Bermuda Onion Weblog, Visit her blog to see links to the latest and greatest books arriving in mailboxes!  Be aware, though, visiting can lead to book envy and toppling TBR piles!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren.

Every week we'll post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments!  Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Through GoodReads Bookswap
Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four cultures: English, Chilean, Chinese and American, and set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara!so, Chile, with young Eliza Sommers, who was left as a baby on the doorstep of wealthy British importers Miss Rose Sommers and her prim brother, Jeremy. Now a 16-year-old, and newly pregnant, Eliza decides to follow her lover, fiery clerk Joaquin Andieta, when he leaves for California to make his fortune in the gold rush. Enlisting the unlikely aid of Tao Chi'en, a Chinese shipboard cook, she stows away on a ship bound for San Francisco. Tao Chi'en's own story, richly textured and expansively told, begins when he is born into a peasant family and sold into slavery, where it is his good fortune to be trained as a master of acupuncture. Years later, while tending to a sailor in colonial Hong Kong, he is shanghaied and forced into service at sea. During the voyage with Eliza, Tao nurses her through a miscarriage. When they disembark, Eliza is disguised as a boy, and she spends the next four years in male attire so she may travel freely and safely. Eliza's search for Joaquin (rumored to have become an outlaw) is disappointing, but through an eye-opening stint as a pianist in a traveling brothel and through her charged friendship with Tao, now a sought-after healer and champion of enslaved Chinese prostitutes, Eliza finds freedom, fulfillment and maturity. - Publisher's Weekly

Phone Home, Persephone by Kate McMullan
Through GoodReads bookswap
What a myth-o-maniac! Zeus's version of the myth is completely wrong. The story about Hades kidnapping Persephone when she was picking flowers? Poppycock! Persephone wasn't picking flowers. She was plotting a way to escape her overprotective mother, Demeter, and she hitched a ride to the Underworld. It's time to set the record straight. For the first time ever, Hades, King of the Underworld, reveals the true story behind the myths.

Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino
Through GoodReads bookswap
Hudson Catalina has given up—having lost both breasts to cancer, she is emotionally and physically exhausted, no longer willing to endure the nausea and crushing weakness of her grueling treatment. Nothing in her life—not even her beloved husband and children, her best friend, or her passion for teaching high school—will sway her decision to terminate her treatment. On the eve of her daughter's fifth birthday celebration, a troubled former student confronts her, hell-bent on violent revenge and then suicide. Facing certain peril, Hudson vows to do whatever she must in order to survive and see her husband and children once again.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Through GoodReads bookswap
"On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this story that unfolds over a quarter of a century - in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night. Norah henry, who knows only that her daughter died at birth, remains inconsolable; her grief weighs heavily on their marriage. And Paul, their son, raises himself as best he can, in a house grown cold with mourning. Meanwhile, Phoebe, the lost daughter, grows from a sunny child to a vibrant young woman whose mother loves her as fiercely as if she were her own." The Memory Keeper's Daughter articulates a silent fear close to the heart of every mother: What would happen if you lost your child, and she grew up without you?

A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer
Through GoodReads bookswap
This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."
Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son. 

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Through GoodReads bookswap
Is this new land a place where magics really happen?
From Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author of Wicked, comes his much-anticipated second novel, a brilliant and provocative retelling of the timeless Cinderella tale.
In the lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings.... When we grow up, we learn that it's far more common for human beings to turn into rats....
We all have heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes.But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty . . . and what curses accompanied Cinderella's exquisite looks?
Extreme beauty is an affliction
Set against the rich backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister.
Clara was the prettiest child, but was her life the prettiest tale?
While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, burning all memories of her past, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household--and the treacherous truth of her former life.
God and Satan snarling at each other like dogs.... Imps and fairy godmotbers trying to undo each other's work. How we try to pin the world between opposite extremes!
Far more than a mere fairy-tale, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed--and love unveiled--in the most unexpected of places.

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan
Through GoodReads bookswap
Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.
When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.   

A little bit of everything, including some for Bebe Boy James' Christmas reading box!  How about you?  Leave the link to your mailbox or include your received list of books in the comments!  I'll be certain to hop over and visit you!

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Sunday Linky (Don't Forget!)

If you are a blog owner hosting your giveaway, please feel free to link up with the Giveaway Linky!  Please leave an end date so that I can delete it and keep the linky clean for everyone!
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Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hunger Games AND Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - BOOK REVIEWS

Title:  The Hunger Games
Author:  Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish Date:  January, 2009
Paperback, 454 pages
ISBN:  9781407109084 

Good Reads description: In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Title:  Catching Fire
Author:  Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish Date:  September, 2009
Hardcover, 391 pages
ISBN:  9780439023498 

Good Reads description:  Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. 

My Take:  Yes, I know ... why am I just now getting around to reviewing these? :)

Well, back in July, I won a copy of this book from Feed Your Reading Habit. It had been on my TBR list for some time, but even then, I held off on buying it because .. I don't know ... maybe I have some sort of aversion to wildly popular books ... sometimes I think things like, "Anything that has such mass appeal is probably sophomoric and wouldn't hold MY interest"...well, except for Stephen King ... I love me some Stephen King!  Reading his stuff is like literary crack for me .. just can't help it.  Where was I?  Oh!  Once I started working again, I treated myself to a couple or three book shopping sprees which resulted in ALSO having "Catching Fire".  The weekend that "Mockingjay" came out, I finally sat down to read these two.

I ended up propping my feet up on the couch and only getting up to refill my coffee and to go to the restroom (my daughter cooked and brought my plate in to me).  That was Saturday afternoon.  I finished BOTH books within 24 hours of starting.  I had to take a break to sleep (which kind of made me angry at a body that for some reason DEMANDED that I take a break), woke up, washed my body, brushed my teeth, brewed some more coffee and went right back at it.  I was done before 11 AM.

I can't say anything in my review that hasn't been said all over the place ... I LOVED these books!  I loved Catching Fire only slightly less than The Hunger Games, but the cliffhanger ending left me wanting Mockingjay RIGHT THEN AND THERE!

But .. I waited until Tuesday (payday) and went on yet ANOTHER mini book-buying spree, which netted not only Mockingjay, but "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (the only reason I didn't get "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" is because it was only on the shelf in hardcover, and I wanted all of the books to match each other).  You see, reading The Hunger Games' first two books made me realize that maybe .. just maybe .. sometimes mass market appeal means that the books are actually GOOD .. in this case, better than good.

I was totally caught up in the dystopian world that Katniss finds herself in.  I could feel how she felt, learning to hunt in order to feed her family while her mom "abandoned" her and her little sister to the depression she fell into after her husband's death.

I applauded her sacrifice at "the reaping".  I cried with her when she lost a friend in "The Game".  I got a glimpse of what the mockingjay might symbolize to the districts at large, then much more than a glimpse in "Catching Fire".  I felt Katniss' confusion and betrayal in "Catching Fire"..when she should have had no more worries.

If you haven't read these books, and you like fantasy, drama, sci-fi, suspense, and even mystery mixed with hints of romance - READ THEM!

Seriously, go out and buy them right now.  If they are sitting in your TBR pile, go ahead and indulge .. just make certain you don't have any plans that involve budging from your favorite reading spot for a while!

The Hunger Games Sample Chapter download (PDF file)
Catching Fire Sample Chapter download (PDF file)

Book Rating:  4.75 out of 5 stars (5 stars for "The Hunger Games"; 4.5 stars for "Catching Fire")

BUY THEM:  At Amazon, and other on and offline booksellers.

Disclaimer:  I won a copy of "The Hunger Games" from Feed Your Reading Habit, who requested that I write a review in exchange.  "Catching Fire" was a personal purchase.  All opinions expressed are my honest opinion, and I received no compensation for this review.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday Book Blogger Hop - September 24, 2010

It's that time again!  Time for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy for Books!

What is it?  Well, it's a way to for bloggers and readers to find each other.  You write a little post about the subject of the week and link it up.  THEN (and this is the important part), you hit a few of the other linked up blogs (take your time; you can spread it throughout the weekend), visit, comment, follow if you like what you see, and make new friends.

Each week, to encourage participation, we get to answer a different question.  This week's question is

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

Well, this one's easy for me.  I've read books that started out fabulously, then crashed and burned.  I've also read books that started out so-so, but redeemed themselves at the end.  I've had the misfortune of reading review books that started out so-so, and stayed that way throughout, and that started out badly and got even worse as I went along!  LOL!

I read a book; put a draft post up with my initial thoughts, then stew on it for a while to see if it's still with me.  (Some books do that, you know .. they just stay with you). THEN I edit and post my review.

How about you?  Leave a comment with your thoughts and/or your link!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Book Week - 09/25/2010 to 10/02/2010 // Ban THIS! 9/1/2010 to 10/2/2010 AND Speak LOUDLY

When I saw Lit Bites post on "Ban This!" (you really need to head over to her blog and read some of her stuff -  she's hilarious), I said to me, "Julie, this sounds like good fun".  But then I realized that I had NO Internet access at home, and a HUGE pile of review books to get through, so I couldn't fully participate.

THEN .. I read THIS and THIS and THIS ... and more ... about a "guy" (since I really don't like to personally insult people, I'll leave out what I FIRST thought of) with some sort of doctorate writing an article condemning three books as unsuitable for the schools in his district.

One of these books is "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson - a book described by the good "doctor" as soft porn - which tells the story of a junior high student who is raped and her refusal to speak out about it.  Soft porn - a RAPE?!!?  R U KIDding me?  Maybe the good doctor feels turned on by that, but the rest of us normal folk DON'T.  Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ocklin (which is on Not-So-Bebe Girl Autumn's Christmas books list) and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut are the others he classifies this way.

The other two books were already on my wishlist (Slaughterhouse Five is on my mental "I must read before I die" list), but I had never heard of Speak (I know ... I'm probably the most 'not with it' book blogger out there).

The book bloggin' world is up in arms about it, and we're telling all of our friends and neighbors to stop letting other people tell YOU what to think.

I'm a parent; I try to raise my children with good Christian values - values such as moral character, empathy, decency and kindness to others.  I DO screen watch they watch and what they read ... however, I don't presume that my opinion is the same as someone else's and I don't try to foist my opinion off as the only truth.

The truth is, some books and movies are OK for certain kids of an age, and some AREN'T good for other children of the same age.  It depends on the mindset of the children.

A book that encourages young girls to speak out about bad things that happen to them, including rape, is NOT a book that I'd censor for my girls.  I WANT my girls to know that sometimes bad things happen, even if I pray that those things never happen to them.  I DON'T want them to be ashamed and blame themselves if something DOES happen.

So, of course, I'm buying "Speak" .. it will be part of my Ban This! and The ALA Banned Books Week.  "Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

Here is a list of the other books that we currently have in our possession (or that are on the way) that we will be reading and/or re-reading through the week:

Banned in 2004-2005:..AND 2005-2006 AND 2006-2007
The Giver by Lois Lowry. 

2004-2005 - Challenged as a suggested reading for eighth-grade students in Blue Springs, Mo. (2003). Parents called the book “lewd” and “twisted” and pleaded for it to be tossed out of the district. The book was reviewed by two committees and recommended for retention, but the controversy continued in 2005.

2005-2006 - Challenged, but retained at the Seaman,
Kans. Unified School District 345 elementary school library 

2006-2007 - Challenged, but retained at the Seaman, KS Unified School District 345 Elementary School library.

What the Hades?  Ask ANY of my three girls what their favorite book of all time is...It WON'T be "Twilight" (although they liked THAT one just fine, thank you!)  THIS is the one!  I loved the discussions it provoked, AND it cemented their love of reading!

Banned in 2004-2005 AND 2006-2007 AND 2007-2008 AND 2008-2009
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain, [Samuel L. Clemens].

2004-2005 - Challenged in the Normal, Ill. Community High School sophomore literature class (2004) as being degrading to African Americans. The Chosen was offered as an alternative to Twain’s novel. Pulled from the reading lists at the three Renton, Wash. high schools (2004) after an African American student said the book degraded her and her culture. The novel, which is not required reading in Renton schools but is on a supplemental list of approved books, was eventually retained for classroom usage.

2006-2007 - Pulled from classes in Taylor, MI schools because of complaints about its liberal use of racial slurs.  Challenged as required reading at Cactus High in Peoria, AZ (2006)  The student and mother have threatened to file a civil-rights complaint because of alleged racial treatment, the segregation of the student, and the use of a racial slur in the classroom.  Challenged in the Lakeville, MN High School (2007)  and St. Louis Park High School in Minneapolis, MN (2007) as required reading for sophomores.

2007-2008 - Challenged, but retained in the Lakeville, Minn. High School (2007) and St. Louis Park High School in Minneapolis, Minn. (2007) as required reading for sophomores. The district will conduct staff training about race issues and revise the way it weighs requests for curriculum changes. The district will also let its staff offer alternative assignments on racially sensitive issues in ways which “students do not feel ostracized because they have opted out of the assignment." Challenged at Richland High School in North Richland Hills, Tex. (2007) because of racial epithets. Challenged at the Manchester, Conn. High School (2007) "because the 'N' word is used in the book 212 times."

2008-2009 - Retained in the Manchester, Conn. School District (2008) with the requirement that teachers attend seminars on how to deal with issues of race before teaching the book in their classrooms.

Well, if THAT isn't impetus for Bebe Boy James and I to FINALLY get around to reading this together, I don't know what is!  I can explain to him that in the "old" days, before people figured things out, they used to call us bad names and think that we weren't as smart as everyone else, but NOW we all know better, right?

Banned in 2008-2009
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt 

Banned for just four days from the Beulah, N.Dak. High School library (2008). Two school employees followed school policy to request removing the book after their son brought it home from an accelerated‑reading program, in which students pick from a couple of hundred titles. The parents said the 1994 runaway nonfiction best seller was too pornographic and at odds with student behavior promoted in the school handbook. The board reversed its decision at the encouragement of the board president, who said the board moved too fast and unleashed a possible court case it would never win. He said there might be more palatable alternatives, like creating a list of restricted books that parents have to approve before their children can check them out. A decision to review school policies and investigate less‑restrictive means to control library books was approved by the school board

I'm just reading it because I wanted to read it anyway and it's on the list!   

Banned in 2006-2007 AND 2009-2010
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs 

2006-2007 - Challenged in the Howell, MI High School (2007) because of the book's strong sexual content.  In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Value in Education (LOVE), the county's top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distributing sexually explicit materials to minors  had been broken.  "After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic, or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors," the county prosecutor wrote.  "Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of criminal laws"

2009-2010 - Challenged as a suggested reading in a class where juniors and seniors earn college credit in Hillsborough County, Fla. (2010). Four high
schools — Plant, Middleton, Hillsborough, and Bloomingdale — voted to keep the book and place a “Mature Reader” label on the front cover. Three high schools — Sickles, Robinson, and Lennard — will require parental consent. Gaither High School and Riverview High School voted to ban the book. The book was banned at Riverview because, “This book has extremely inappropriate content for a high school media center collection. The book contained explicit homosexual and heterosexual situations, profanity, underage drinking and smoking, extreme
moral shortcomings, child molesters, graphic pedophile situations and total lack of negative consequences throughout the book.”

OK; I get why some wouldn't want their children reading this book; I wouldn't want a younger teen reading it either - it IS graphic and DOES depict some scenes that, in my opinion, should not be read by younger teens.  HowEVER, once again, it is not up to ME to decide what is suitable for OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN.

(This is another one that I'm reading just because I've wanted to read it and it's on the list!)

Banned in 2009-2010
The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle

Challenged on the Santa Rosa, Calif. High School reading list (2010). A review committee approved the continued use of the book with the following guidelines: “The teacher must appropriately prepare students for parts of the book that may be considered provocative; limit the book to juniors and seniors; should a parent object to the book, board policy is currently in place that allows a student to be excused from the book assignment, and provides for an alternative assignment without penalty to the student.” 

This one has been on my TBR list, so now I can have a solid reason to read it!

These books are on the short list, but I may not be able to get to them:

Banned in 2005-2006 AND 2006-2007

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood;

2005-2006/2006-2007 The Judson, Tex. school district board overruled (2006) Superintendent Ed Lyman’s ban of the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum. Lyman had banned the book after a parent complained it was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians. In doing so, he overruled the recommendation of a committee of teachers, students, and parents. The committee appealed the decision to the school board.

Banned in 2008-2009
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Removed from a Cleburne, Tex. summer reading list (2009) for a dual credit, high school English class because the novel contains a rape scene and passages of explicit sex.

Honorable mention must go to two of the most ridiculously challenged/banned books of 2009/2010 (No, I'm not re-reading or reading either of them - I just find it almost laughable that they are on the list)

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting
by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich 

Challenged at the Easton, Penn. School District
(2010), but retained despite a parent’s claim the
book promotes “economic fallacies” and socialist
ideas, as well as advocating the use of illegal drugs
and belittling Christians.

This book chronicles a period of time when the author decided to see how it would be to attempt to make a living on minimum wage.  It ain't easy, and she tells you all about her adventures as a maid, a waitress, and a Wal-Mart worker.  It's pretty interesting, especially if you've never had to truly struggle to get by .. or if it's been so long since you were struggling that you've lost track of what it feels like - I'd recommend it as an eye opener.

I shared a dais with Ms. Ehrenreich for a minimum wage workshop when individual states were pushing for minimum wage legislation of their own in 2006.  She is a fine, upstanding woman, who, like me, doesn't believe that someone should work 40 hours a week, every day ... and still be poor.  That's not socialism; that's plain human decency - a decent wage for a hard day's work - and isn't that the principle of the "American Dream"?  If you are willing to work hard, you should be able to do more than barely eke out an existence.  Off my soapbox now. 

Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary; Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff

Pulled from the Menifee, Calif. Union School District (2010) because a parent complained when a child came across the term “oral sex.” Officials said the district is forming a committee to consider a permanent classroom ban of the dictionary.

Seriously?  Wow, for once I'm almost speechless....

Visit the sites above and sign up for your own challenge.  Check the lists at the ALA website; I guarantee that there are some books on your shelves or TBR lists that you can read to celebrate intellectual freedom and our intellectual rights.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Read-A-Thon

So .. I'm a bit late getting in on this; but I'm really going to get through some of these books, and what better way than to participate in a challenge?  This one is really laid-back, and hosted over at The True Book Addict.

From her site: 
Sign up in the linky with your starting post (or other link, if you don't have a blog).  Everyone who signs in here and participates in the read-a-thon will be entered for a $20 gift certificate to BetterWorldBooks! They ship free in the U.S. and for a small fee worldwide.  I will also be hosting a mini-challenge which will probably start on Tuesday and there will be a book(s) prize from author Charlie Courtland for this one.  Both the mini-challenge and the main giveaway will be open until Sunday, September 26 at 8pm CT. 

The linky is active all week long, so it's not too late for YOU, too, to jump on in!

Here is my list of books to finish reading:

The Life O'Reilly - Brian Cohen


 Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

Vivian Rising by Daniella Brodsky

Yes, I am reading all 3 kind of at the same time!

Books to start and finish:

Room:  A Novel by Emma Donoghue

City of Tranquil Light - Bo Caldwell - This gorgeous cover just keeps calling to me!

I'm pretty certain that even with the day job, I can do this.  Wish me luck, as this will help take my review pile down to a more manageable 9!   Don't these all look great?

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Teaser Tuesdays - September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along; you don't have to be a blogger! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week:

"Listen, you arrogant son of a bitch," said Phil, incensed, "you might think you're an all-star, but make no mistake about it-Duncan Shaw and ATR came to the firm because of the firm and because of this firm's stellar reputation.  If anything, we might lose him because of you.

- Page 119, The Life O'Reilly - Brian Cohen

This book is good so far; I'm glad that I'm reading it :)  
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