Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banned Books Week- Some of my Favorite Banned and Censored Books

As you might know, this week is Banned Books Week, and in celebration and support of having the freedom to read and write without censorship, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite banned/challenged books. Feel free to visit the American Library Association's page to see what other books are frequently challenged throughout the years.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
2.The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
4. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
5. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
7. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
8. Cut by Patricia McCormick
9. Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
10. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Each and every one of these books and/or authors have affected me in significant ways. I literally wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for these books, and many others like them. These books defined my childhood and adolescence- most of which were read while I was in junior high and grade school.

These books, and others like them, are important to so many. These books save lives. These books help explain and teach things in a way that's relatable and understandable. Depriving anyone of any single one of these books is a crime of the worst kind.

As a final thought, I'd like you to think of the good things that these books, and the hundreds of other banned/challenged books, can teach and help kids understand. Seriously. Think about it.

Until next time,

Review #16- Blazed by Jason Myers

*Goodreads page*
Goodreads synopsis- Jamie uncovers life-changing secrets from his past when he’s sent to live with a father he’s never met in this gritty novel from the author of Exit Here. and Run the Game.

Jamie is invincible when he is high. His anger, his isolation, his mom’s manic mood swings—nothing can shatter his glass castle. But one brutal night upends everything, leaving his mom broken and Jamie betrayed.

Sent to live with a father he’s never met, Jamie is determined to hate the man he blames for his mother’s ruin. And he blocks out the pain with drugs, fierce music, and sweet, sweet Dominique. Except the more time Jamie spends at his dad’s, the more his mother’s scathing stories start to unravel. Who is he supposed to believe? And how much will he have to sacrifice to uncover the truth?

This actually isn't going to be so much a review as me rambling about how wonderful Jason Myers's books are why you need to pick his work up. Fair warning. 

Alright, so if you know me well enough, you know I LOVE all things Jason Myers.  Let me start off by saying that Myers's books are some of the strangest and most fucked up books I've ever read, and, again, if you know me well enough, strange and fucked up is my absolute favorite type of book. Granted, when I say strange, I mostly mean it explores a sub-culture I'm definitely not a part of but totally respect, and when I say fucked up, I mean take  just about every "bad" thing in life- excessive drug and alcohol use, profanity, sex, shitty life situations- and mush it all into one book, that's more or less what I mean. 

Myers crafts a world that's very real and that hundreds of thousands of people are living everyday, but that most people don't experience/notice. He then crafts very real characters and drops you into their lives and takes you on a journey in this world of theirs that's like the craziest roller coaster you've ever been on in your life that nearly destroys you by the end.

Now, most people I know would pick up one of Myers's books, read the first page, and toss it down in disgust. I'm here to tell you not to do that. Yes, his books have loads of profanity and drug and alcohol use from beginning to end, but you have to look further than that. His books really do have some great messages- the biggest of which, at least for me, is that life isn't all rainbows roses- that isn't an excuse to sit and wallow in self-pity, though. Live in the moment. Make memories with your friends. The only thing that really matters is right now.

Okay, this is starting to sound super freaking lame, and I'm not even coming close to doing justice to how amazing Jason Myers's books are, but trust me when I say they are worth it. These books really mean a lot to me and so many others, and they could mean a lot to you, too. And I guess these books probably speak more to people who've had shitty times, but I think everyone could take something from his books, especially Blazed.

And with that, I'll leave you with a couple of quotes that really spoke to me from Blazed, and hopefully they'll convey what I'm afraid I've been unable to adequately show in this rambling mess:

"I'll never compromise a thing I love in order to be liked by anyone else."

"All the monsters I've met in my life have come gift wrapped in gold or killer band shirts."

"...'What we might end up making is the only thing that's ever gonna outlive us. It's art, Jaime. It's timeless. Nobody can hear your excuses when you're dead. But they sure as hell can listen to your music.'"

"'Art is the only immortality we have,' Edie says.'To be able to positively affect people for generations after we're dead. This is what it's about.'..."

Until next time,

Banned Books Week 2014- September 21-27

If you didn't know, today is the first day of Banned Books Week. If you aren't sure what Banned Books week is, here's a quick explanation from the About page of the website:

"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular."

If you haven't already figured it out from some of my rants on here, I'm not the biggest fan of the banning and censorship of books. I believe that everyone should have their own say in what literature they want to read, and not miss the opportunity to experience a piece of literature just because one person is offended by the content. Everyone has their own opinion on what is and isn't appropriate to read, and that opinion shouldn't be dictated by anyone else. 

Throughout this week, I'd like to share some articles and maybe some thoughts on this subject and generally just try to spread awareness as to why banning and censoring books, particularly in schools, should be rethought. 

I'm also going to take this week to read at least one "banned book", which will more than likely be The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  

I really hope you'll join me in spreading the discussion and leave your own thoughts in the comments. 

Until next time,

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review #15- The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

*Goodreads Page*
I received a copy of this book for review from NetGalley


Goodreads synopsis-  What begins as a clever, gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero's wholly original, modern-day adventure.

When twentysomething A., the unexpected European relative of the Wells family, and his companion, Niamh, a mute teenage girl with shockingly dyed hair, inherit the beautiful but eerie estate of Axton House, deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never even knew he had a "second cousin, twice removed" in America, much less that the eccentric gentleman had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together, A. and Niamh quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and a cushy lifestyle. Axton House is haunted, they know it, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the secrets they slowly but surely uncover. Why all the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze and what does the basement vault keep? And what of the rumors in town about a mysterious gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?

Told vividly through a series of journal entries, scrawled notes, recovered security footage, letters to Aunt Liza, audio recordings, complicated ciphers, and even advertisements, Edgar Cantero has written a dazzling and original supernatural adventure featuring classic horror elements with a Neil Gaiman-ish twist.

I don't generally read this kind of book, mostly because I'm a little harsh when it comes to "scary" books because it's next to impossible to creep me out. Unfortunately, this book didn't succeed on that front. It did, however, make me fall in love with it's many other aspects.

This book follows A., a young man from England who has inherited a manor called the Axton House from his distant cousin, Ambrose Wells, from America. Along with Niamh, a mute teenage girl from Ireland, A. travels to Point Bless, Virginia to live in his new home. Not long after, A. and Niamh realize that things in this house and the late Ambrose's life were anything but ordinary. After finding a letter addressed in code to the missing butler, A. and Niamh find a series of clues that point toward the mysterious group that Ambrose was a member of and the possible cause of his suicide.

Add to all of that A.'s strange dreams, the appearance of several members of Ambrose's secret society, secret rooms, coded letters, and the installation of a swimming pool in the dead of winter, and we've got ourselves a pretty intriguing mystery!

The only thing I didn't like was that there are a few unanswered questions at the end of the book, all of which I hope will answered in a sequel, though *cough cough*.

Apart from that though, I really enjoyed this book. I stayed up much later than I should have just so I could finish this book, because I just HAD to know what was going to happen next, and there was no way I could sleep knowing shit was about to go down.

In short, pick this book up. You won't regret it.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WWW Wednesday #1

This is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading

All you have to do is answer these three questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you'll be reading next?

*What are you currently reading?*
Blazed by Jason Myers

*What did you recently finish reading?*
The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

*What do you think you'll be reading next?*

The Game by Barry Lyga

Review #14- I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

*Goodreads Page*
*NetGalley Page*- I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review.


Goodreads synopsis-  What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

I'd seen this book around, never really thought much of it and didn't really have it on my radar. I don't know. Some books just call to you the moment you see them, you know? This book didn't really do that for me. However, I'm extremely glad I picked this book up!

I don't even know where to begin. This book follows Jasper "Jazz" Dent, 17 year old son of the world's most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent. With Billy safely tucked behind bars, Jazz is trying to live some semblance of a normal life- or at least as normal as a kid who thinks he is genetically disposed to one day follow in his fathers footsteps can live. However, with a string of fresh murders, Jazz is convinced there's a new serial killer on the loose in the Nod, and he enlists the help of his hemophiliac best friend and his tough-as-nails girlfriend to help convince Sheriff G. William of the same. Add in a bat-shit crazy grandmother, a meddling social worker, and Jazz's own belief that he's a monster waiting to snap, and you've got yourself one hell of a novel!

Seriously, the only things that held me back from reading this book in one sitting  were classes and sleep. This book was seriously amazing, and Lyga had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire thing, desperately trying to figure out who the killer was.

And the end? Holy crap! The end left me desperate for book two!

So basically, what I'm trying to say is, if you haven't read this book, you really should. It's more than worth it, and this review doesn't even come close to doing it justice.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdays #1

In an attempt to have more fun in the blogosphere, I'm going to try to participate in some fun memes, the first of which is going to be Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten: Authors I've only read one book from, but am dying to read more by.Click the picture to visit each book's Goodreads page.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Review #13- Jackaby by William Ritter

*Goodreads page*
*NetGalley page*- I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley
Release date- September 16, 2014


Goodreads synopsis-  “Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

This book was FABULOUS! It isn't often that a book described as a cross between such and such actually turns out to be a cross between such and such. Let me tell you, this book was the PERFECT cross between Sherlock and Doctor Who!

There's really nothing better than an eclectic detective with a keen eye for paranormal detail. Add in a sharp and witty assistant, a string of unusual murders, and a few fantastic creatures and you've got an incredible book you'll stay up all night devouring.

If it weren't for the fact that sleep is a thing and that I had class in the morning, I totally would have finished this book last night, it was that great. 

My only issue with this book was the last few chapters- they seemed to drag on, and it felt like the author could have ended the book in any number of places, perhaps condensing the last four or five chapters into one, and ending it there. I don't know. Maybe it's just me. But really, apart from that little issue, this book excellent, and I truly hope there will be more to come!

Until next time,

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Unfinished Review #1- The Fifth Vertex by Kevin Hoffman

*Goodreads Page*
*NetGalley Page*- I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley.

 Goodreads synopsis-  Urus Noellor--a boy born deaf who is about to be publicly branded as a burden, incapable of being the warrior his people demand--stands upon a rooftop, poised to throw himself over the edge. His failed attempt at suicide unlocks within him a long-dormant form of magic thought to have died out thousands of years before, a power that may be the key to saving the world from an equally ancient enemy.

Urus and his companions--Goodwyn, the greatest warrior in Kest, and Cailix, a mysterious orphan--must find a way to stop a powerful group of sorcerers from destroying the five long-hidden vertices that ward the world against threats from beyond, while fighting off threats from within. They soon learn that the scope of the coming danger may be more dire than any of them could have imagined. As the battle for the vertices spreads to the neighboring realms, Goodwyn must face the realities of war and death; Cailix discovers a devastating truth that could change everything; and Urus discovers his uncanny gifts and courage as he peels away clues to his true identity. But even as Urus gains the power he has always craved, he experiences it all in profound, lonely silence.

I feel awful, guys. Really, really awful. This book has AMAZING reviews on Goodreads, and I was really looking forward to it because the synopsis sounded awesome, but it ended up falling flat, and I just can't finish it.

This book started out great-- a deaf protagonist named Urus, about to be marked as an outcast, standing upon the roof of his home, ready to jump to his death, only to end up landing unharmed,- in fact, smashing the cobblestones beneath him with the impact of his fall-with blue light sizzling out of his fingers. Urus looks up and sees his uncle standing in the shadows and knows he's in trouble, and begins the trek back up to his rooms for what he knows will be a harsh discussion with his uncle.

In retrospect, this is where things got a little... sketchy. Personally, if I jumped from a building to what I assumed would be to my death, and wound up walking away with not even so much as a scratch, and blue light flying out of my fingers, I'd be a little more concerned and a little less inclined to worry about what my uncle is going to say about my trying to kill myself. Also, once we do get to the discussion with the uncle, it seems unreal, almost forced. I don't know. I just felt like it was all a little off.

Anyway, as for the rest of the book that I managed to read, I was slightly annoyed by a few gaping plot holes in some of the stories. There were some things that just didn't seem to add up, and some information that I think the author meant to tell us, but didn't, and then would later put into the dialogue as if it was common knowledge (which it wasn't. Unless I just blacked out some of stuff. It's a possibility...)

Also, another thing that bothered me was the speed at which the story accelerated. I know that really weird, but things just felt like they kept moving too fast. It was like boom, boom, boom big even here, big event there. It kind of gave me whiplash. 

I really do feel awful for not liking this book. It has some serious potential. I think if the author just goes back through, irons some things out, clears up a few other things, this book will be spectacular.
I really hate not finishing books, but obviously, if a book just isn't clicking for you, it's best to move on. Which is what I'm going to have to do with this book. I have a pile of other books that need to be read, and trying to slog through this book is keeping me from books that I really will enjoy. Who knows, maybe one day I'll pick this book up again and fall in love with it. Right now though, I have to set it aside and move on.

Until next time,

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review #12- Althea & Oliver by Christina Moracho

*Goodreads page*
*Penguin's First to Read Page*- I received an e-ARC of this book from First to Read
Release date- October 8, 2014

Goodreads synopsis- What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good

Anyone who knows me knows that this type of book- YA contemporary, coming of age- really isn't my favorite. I have to be in the right kind of mood to want to read a book like this. And when I first picked this book up, I really wasn't in the mood- or at least that's what I thought.

I was hooked from the first sentence. That doesn't happen a lot. It usually takes me a few pages to fall into a book, or sometimes even a chapter. But this book- this book I fell in love with from the get-go. Moracho writes with such beauty and such wit that you can't help but fall into this book and wonder where her beautiful words will take you next.

I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and I reminisced on my days in high school and the pain and laughter and friends and adventures that go along with it. This is the kind of book that pulls at your heart, makes you stop and thing, pulls some more, and then lodges itself into the deepest crevices of your soul once it's all over. You won't forget this book, and you won't forget this author.

Until next time,

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review # 11- The Quick by Lauren Owen

*Goodreads Page*

Goodreads synopsis- An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London  
London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

Named One of the Top 10 Literary Fiction Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly

Let me start off by saying that this book took me several tries before I got into it, but I'm beyond glad I kept trying!

Without giving too much away (because I feel like this book is one of those that you shouldn't know too much going in), this book is about a young man named James who has moved to London and is living with another young man named Christopher. Where James is quiet and bookish, Christopher is a partying, out all hours of the night, charming opposite.  James and Christopher eventually develop a relationship that inadvertently ends in tragedy. 

James is missing, and his sister Charlotte comes to London looking for him. What she stumbles upon and is pulled into will change her life, and her view of the world, forever.

Okay, so this is a little obscure, (hopefully not too misleading) but I promise you I'm leaving out a lot because there is a twist that I at least didn't see coming, and I really think if you go into this book knowing what that twist is, it won't be quite as enjoyable. I do promise that it's more than worth it! This book had me in tears, it had me screaming, it had me laughing. I honestly can't tell you the last time I enjoyed an historical novel so much! This book is dark and charming, and I honestly couldn't get enough!

The only thing I was upset about was the ending. However, that's probably because I like nice clean endings in these kinds of books, but at the same time the ending leaves room for a sequel (which I am fervently praying is in the works!).

All in all, this was a SPECTACULAR debut novel, and I really can't wait to get my hands on more of Owen's work! I urge you, if you have not done so already, to pick this book up! I promise you won't regret it!

Until next time,

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Banning and Censorship

First off, let me apologize for dropping off the planet! I'm in my second week of college and I've just been bogged down by assignments (I'm making an attempt to not shrug off my homework this semester!) and band practices. I promise I'm going to try to make more regular postings soon though!

I know I've made a post about this before, but I saw this link from the American Library Association, and I couldn't help but make a small rant on my personal Facebook about it, and I decided I wanted to share with you guys as well. So here it is. Please feel free to share your thoughts and feelings on this subject! I love to hear other opinions and views!

There is literally nothing that makes me angrier than the attempted censorship of literature, not even because I love to read myself, but because every one on this planet should have the opportunity to decide for themselves what is and isn't "appropriate". People have to understand that we live in a world with opposing beliefs, drug and alcohol use, differing sexual orientations, and many other ideas, products, and facts that one might not want to be exposed to. However, pretending like these things don't exist just creates a world full of ignorance, and believe me, there's nothing more dangerous.

Many of the books on these lists I've read myself, and almost all of them have helped me understand things in my life in a way that wouldn't be possible otherwise. I can understand wanting to shield your children from some things like drugs and alcohol, but would you rather your kids learn bout these things from the pages of a book, or out on the streets?

Take it from someone who grew up on books, and knows many others who feel the same way: many of these books that are considered "controversial" or "inappropriate" can and will save someone's life. Just think about that before you condemn a book.

 Until next time,