Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011: The Color Purple

The words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (" The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports , vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1953, p. 20):

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.


The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Unfortunately, this is a book that I have not read yet.  I did see the film and it was so wonderful.  I know the book must be even more wonderful.  The most common reasons for its being challenged are that it is sexually explicit, contains offensive language, and for violence.  A Pulitzer Prize winning novel, it tells the story of a woman who is sexually abused by her father and then married off to a violent and abusive man.  It is a telling examination of how African Americans were treated in that era, how they were suppressed and maligned by some white people.  Even whites who professed to be their friends turned out to be suspicious and mistrustful of them in reality.  The Color Purple not only illustrates the historical realities of the lives of many African Americans during that time, but it also parallels their suppression with Celie's suppressed life.  Yet another historical novel that should not be kept from young adults because there are important lessons about our past in its pages.

--The Color Purple is on the ALA Top Ten Challenged Books in 2007 (#6) and 2009 (#9)

--On the Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color 1990-1999

--On the 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999 (#17), the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 (#17), and one of at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century that have been the target of ban attempts. --ALA

Specific Instances:
--Challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA High School honors class (1984) due to the work's "sexual and social explicitness" and its "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality." After nine months of haggling and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book's use. 
--Rejected for purchase by the Hayward, CA school's trustee (1985) because of "rough language" and "explicit sex scenes." 
--Removed from the open shelves of the Newport News, VA school library (1986) because of its "profanity and sexual references" and placed in a special section accessible only to students over the age of 18 or who have written permission from a parent. 
--Challenged at the public libraries of Saginaw, MI (1989) because it was “too sexually graphic for a 12-year-old.” 
--Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because of its language and "explicitness." 
--Challenged as an optional reading assigned in Ten Sleep, WY schools (1990). 
--Challenged as a reading assignment at the New Burn, NC High School (1992) because the main character is raped by her stepfather. 
--Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as appropriate reading for 10th graders because it is "smut." 
--Challenged on the curricular reading list at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, CT (1995) because sexually explicit passages aren’t appropriate high school reading. 
--Retained as an English course reading assignment in the Junction City, OR high school (1995) after a challenge to Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel caused months of controversy. Although an alternative assignment was available, the book was challenged due to "inappropriate language, graphic sexual scenes, and book's negative image of black men." 
--Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). 
--Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent. 
--Challenged, but retained, as part of the reading list for Advanced Placement English classes at Northwest High Schools in High Point, NC (1996). The book was challenged because it is "sexually graphic and violent." 
--Removed from the Jackson County, WV school libraries (1997) along with sixteen other titles.
--Challenged, but retained as part of a supplemental reading list at the Shawnee School in Lima, OH (1999). Several parents described its content as vulgar and "X-rated." 
--Removed from the Ferguson High School library in Newport News, VA (1999). Students may request and borrow the book with parental approval. 
--Challenged, along with seventeen other titles in the Fairfax County, VA elementary and secondary libraries (2002), by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. The group contends the books "contain profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct, and torture.” 
--Challenged in Burke County (2008) schools in Morgantown, NC by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book. 

--from ALA

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Book Weeks 2011: Gone with the Wind

If we are to continue to protect our First Amendment, we would do well to keep in mind these words of Noam Chomsky:

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

Who Challenges Books?

Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.

In his book, Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”

According to the Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, parents challenge materials more often than any other group.


Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

One of the most beloved novels in the history of America, Gone with the Wind has been challenged/banned for it's portrayal of the South, particularly in regards to slaves--the treatment of, negative references to, and behavior of slaves before, during, and after the Civil War.  What I ask again is, why is a book challenged for being historically accurate (as in the challenge of The Pillars of the Earth--see my post HERE)?  And, if it's a question of Mitchell's historical accuracy, here is a quote from an article written upon the re-release of the film, Gone with the Wind:

But all in all, her research was thorough and professional, and it paid off: According to many of the most prominent historians and writers of historical fiction of the day, she got things just right. Fact was the winner.

What were her research methods and skills? In a densely detailed 1991 biography of Mitchell ("Southern Daughter" by Darden Asbury Pyron), the author, a historian at Florida International University, wrote, "She spent a vast amount of time verifying historical facts. The fear of missing something or getting something wrong drove her to distraction."

That was after the novel was in manuscript form. She wrote a reader in 1937 that she had spent "ten years of reading thousands of books, documents, letters, diaries, old newspapers and interviewing people who had lived through those terrible times" in preparation for writing her first draft. (from The Baltimore Sun, by Theo Lippman Jr., August 9, 1998)

It's a shame that some parents believe they should shelter their children from the realities of history.  One important aspect of history is that it's a tool to help us understand the mistakes from the past and to helf us to learn from those mistakes.  Children need to know that such behavior and atrocity did occur so that they can learn what we have overcome--so they can learn that some past behavior was glaringly wrong.

Gone with the Wind is one of at least 46 classics on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century that have been the target of ban attempts.

Specific Instances:
--In 1978, the Anaheim (California) Union High School District, according to the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Assocation, and as reported in Dawn Soya's Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds, for its depiction of the behavior of Scarlett O'Hara and the freed slaves in the novel. --The Online Books Page

--Challenged in Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the word "nigger."

Although these instances are not recent, it certainly does not mean that it can't, or won't, happen again.

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon


Hosts: Bex @ Kindle Fever, Amanda @ Letters Inside Out, April @ My Shelf Confessions

Yes, read-a-thons rule! Here's another lovely one.  Resistance is futile. ;O)

Here's the info from My Shelf Confessions:

We also have many great prizes already lined up! There will be prizes for participation and for challenges on various blogs. There will be international prizes! We’ll also have a hashtag on Twitter: #WWReadathon.

This is a Halloween themed Read-a-Thon but we’re not going to restrict it to only Halloween/creepy books, so pick whatever you want to read! If you don’t know how a Read-A-Thon works, you just read as much as you can for that specific time! It’s basically an online reading party!

Head over and sign up...HERE! And if you haven't signed up for my Frightful Fall Read-a-Thon, which is next week, stop procrastinating and go sign up HERE.  No pressure...LOL!

Cat Thursday

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

In honor of Banned Books Week, I created this one over at Lolcats.  If you like, you can vote on it HERE.  What is your opinion on the banning/challenging of books?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Tour: Review of The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu (and Giveaway)

WINNER: Martina CK...Congrats!

My thoughts:
The first thing I have to say about this book is that Michelle's world building is amazing.  Her description of the Haanta, a proud race of giants, and their lands is so vivid and detailed.  While reading, I almost felt I was walking along beside the characters.  Like I said, the Haanta are a proud race and can be very stern and austere.  Their customs are quite constraining and rigid, down to the way they live and the food they eat.  When Rautu, a captive of the Frewyn, is enlisted by Commander Boudicca MacDaede to fight along side her in the war, it is very hard for her to win him over.  But despite his outward view of women as warriors (not their place and all that chauvinistic viewpoint), we find him secretly admiring the Commander and a budding romance ensues, although Rautu tries to fight his feelings with all his might.  An interesting aside, you know the old adage, "food is the way to a man's heart," well, as Rautu is accustomed to very bland fare, I think the Commander wins him over in a small way with her delicious pork and chocolate.  He loves both so much that he greedily stockpiles it for himself.  Too funny!

Michelle's books have been touted as romance, but I didn't really feel that it was the main focus.  Yes, sure there is a romance between Boudicca and Rautu.  However, what I also gleaned from the story was a message of justice, that perhaps the Haanta could learn more humane practices from the Frewyn.  The Haanta seemed to be an intolerant people, especially in their treatment of their mages, many who are mere children.  I think that the developing relationship between the Commander and Rautu, of Rautu becoming more tolerant of her and the customs of her land, it a parallel to a future tolerance among the Haanta.  I guess I will have to read the rest of the books to find out.

Michelle has definitely written an intricate fantasy novel.  Despite some instances of words being overused (simpered comes to mind), it is well-written in its descriptive prose and I enjoyed it.

Guest blog:  Here is an example of Den Asaan Rautu's love of good food:
On his way to the garden, the Den Asaan stopped to send his correspondence by way of one of the messengers in the Haven. He gave the direction of the letters, but the hint of a familiar scent made him hurry through the address. The lingering aroma of chocolate tarts grew stronger and he was unable to concentrate on anything other than discovering their origin. He prowled toward the kitchen, believing it to be the source of the fragrance, and upon arriving at the doorway, he saw one of the fatter cooks—presumably the one who had eaten the almond paste—removing the tray of tarts from the oven.

As they had already been baked last night, she was merely warming them up and preparing to disperse them. She must have believed they were for her and the remainder of the kitchen staff since they had been
left untouched throughout the night, but the giant would prove all such assumptions mistaken.

The cook placed the tray onto the counter and went to the basin to wash her hands. She scrubbed and hummed, imagining to herself how many tarts she would eat before sharing them with others, but when
she turned to dry her hands on the rag beside the basin, she observed a most terrifying sight; a mauve-grey, enormous beast was standing over her precious tarts and devouring them one by one. His loud and
hungry snarls and voracious movements suggested his unfriendliness.  He turned, looked at her, and she drew back. She saw he had gathered the chief of the tarts into his arms. She wished to salvage them even if it meant danger to herself. She sought to lure him carefully away from his object with one of the muffins she had just prepared and when she took one from the pan near the oven, his eyes blazed in wild and ferocious
hunger. She waved the muffin back and forth, watching his eyes follow it, but when she tossed it out of the kitchen, the beast did not chase it.  He took the gesture as an offense and roared at her, causing her to flee
the room in horror. She knew not how the mountainous beast came to her kitchen, she only knew she wanted him gone and Rithea as Head Cleric would certainly know how to expel him.

She raced into the assembly hall and nearly tripped over herself when hurrying toward the lectern where Rithea stood speaking with her two guests. “Pardon me, Rithea,” said the cook, gasping for breath,
“But there’s a monster in the kitchen.”

The commander and Rithea exchanged a doubtful expression. “Monster?” Rithea repeated.

“Aye, and it’s hungry somethin’ terrible. It’s eatin’ all those tarts.  I tried to give it somethin’ else to get it away, but it wouldn’t take nothin’.”

The commander pursed her lips to suppress her laughter. “Did it look at you?” she said, feigning astonishment.

“It did, kin! It had eyes wide and fierce and all. I thought it was gonna eat me.”

The commander laughed and placed a hand on the cook’s shoulder.  “I assure you, it wasn’t. Excuse me, I will tend to this.” She snickered into her hand and went toward the kitchen.
“Was what I saw a demon, kin?” the cook asked Rithea.
“No, dear,” Rithea replied coolly. “What you saw was what happens when a very large man hasn’t eaten for some time. Nothing to worry about, Lettigh.”
The cook thought otherwise, but remained with Rithea and Ghelbhi until her kitchen was secured.
Upon entering the kitchen, the commander found little evidence to support the cook’s claims. There was certainly no creature in the room whether wild beast or famished Den Asaan. There was, however, a tray
of muffins with one missing and the tray of chocolate tarts with only those the commander had fashioned herself absconded. She looked about for evidence of the giant’s presence and found a trail of crumbs along the floor leading out of the kitchen and toward the garden. She followed them and the path led her to the Den Asaan, who was standing in the center of the garden performing his rigorous kaatas. There were no tarts in his hands, near the flower beds, or on his trappings he had left aside, but there were a few crumbs delicately blanketing the furs along the shoulder pelts. She smiled, pleased that he would take so seriously
the matter of her confectionary endeavors, and went to inform Rithea and the cook that the beast had been tranquilized for now.

Book description:
The Kingdom of Frewyn is being invaded by the Galleisian infantry and at the forefront of the battle is
Boudicca MacDaede, a First Captain in the Frewyn armed forces. Her regiment is charged with defending
the borders between the two nations, but when Frewyn’s last line of defense falls, Captain MacDaede enlists the assistance of a Haanta, one of giants from the islands to the far north. Promising to free him from his
imprisonment in exchange for his help, she gains his trust long enough for them to win the battle and save the
Frewyn border from being breached. The giant’s freedom is granted, but Rautu cannot return home unless he redeems himself in the eyes of his people for past his transgressions. He is offered a place by the captain’s side, and together, they defeat the Galleisian forces and become the saviors of Frewyn.  One year later, King Alasdair Brennin takes the Frewyn throne, Boudicca is made commander, Gallei and Frewyn reach an accord, and Rautu is granted an invitation home. He is eager to return and see his brothers but finds it difficult to leave Frewyn without Boudicca at his side. He has become accustomed to her company and the idea of being made to live without her begins to distress him. Rautu invites the commander to the islands in hopes of finding a way for them to remain together, but when they arrive at the white shores of Sanhedhran, not everything goes as planned: one of the dangerous Haanta magi is freed, Rautu’s three brothers are strangely missing, and the neighboring nation of Thellis leads an attack on the islands.  Together, the commander and the Den Asaan Rautu must find a way to unite their two nations and defend against the Thellisian fleets, but can they do so successfully when outside forces are attempting to keep them apart?

Rautu stood on the bow of the ship remarking his home with the commander at his side. He gazed at the island’s white sands to the south, dense trees to the north, and the animation of the docks with a reverential countenance. He had been waiting for this homecoming for the greater part of three seasons, and when he regarded Sanhedhran for the first time in nine months, all the longing he had reaped during his separation rushed on him. He was eager to stand on the southern shore again and reclaim his place among the Amghari. His exhalations became labored, his eyes glowed with quiet joy, and the Den Asaan’s estrangement was reconciled; he was home, and this was all that occupied him at present.

The commander smiled at the giant’s silent worship and used his fascination as a diversion to place her hand atop his as it rested against the ship’s railing. She savoured the texture of his stone-like flesh with her rough fingertips and then placed her hand along the railing beside his. She observed him to inspect any perceptible difference. There had been a momentary upturning in the corner of his mouth, but his gaze held firmly toward the island approaching. She was satisfied with his minimal recognition, but was amazed to feel his small finger suddenly wrapping around hers. He moved not otherwise, did not even peek at her from the corner of his eye, but she heard the sound of a profound sigh and knew whose sigh it was. She coiled her finger around his, looked toward their pending destination, and wondered how he should govern himself once returned to his people.


The official site



Barnes and Noble


"I'm always on the lookout for the next series I can get thoroughly involved in and love. With Michelle
Franklin's Haanta series I have found just that." -- Back of the Book Reviews

"If you are a fan of Tamora Pierce or authors similar to her YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK (seriously,
you will not be disappointed)." --Avery's Book Nook

"I was drawn in by the story and prose, which flows beautifully off the page and into the imagination.
This series has something for everyone! This novel alone has war, bloodshed, magic, romance . . ." --A
Book Vacation

"The prose has an Austen-esque quality, the characters are believable and engaging, the woman and the giant are hilarious, the sexual tension is intense. Never thought I would like a romance this much." 
--Concrete Visions

"Instant love." --Cassandra Florence

"I was wondering where well-written, high fantasy went. I found it." -- WareHouse Magazine

Michelle Franklin is a woman of moderate consequence who writes many books about giants, romance and

Twitter: @MrsDenAsaan

Michelle is giving away a PDF copy of her new Haanta novel, The Reporter from Marridon, to one lucky winner.  Just leave a meaningful comment and include your email address.  Giveaway will end on Wednesday October 12 at 11:59pm CST.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011: The Pillars of the Earth

Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., in Texas v. Johnson , said most eloquently:

"If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."


The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

A top ten favorite of mine, I find it hard to believe that a book such as this has been challenged.

For this book to be banned/challenged due to its accurate descriptions of life in medieval times is a travesty.  History is dark and gritty and violent.  It's a reality.  Should young adults be shielded from the realities of life, especially the realities of history?  I think not.  The Pillars of the Earth is one of those historical fiction novels that does its job well...inspiring an interest in history that a person might not otherwise have had, spurring the desire to investigate further the subject.

The Pillars of the Earth is on the ALA list of most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000 (#91).

Specific Instances:
Parents say novel pornographic

By Pete Kendall/

Dr. Ted and Maureen Benke say it was never their intention to try to have the Ken Follett book, “Pillars of the Earth,” banned from the Cleburne High School library.

But they did want it eliminated from a reading list of a CHS senior English class of which their son is a member. And they’re gratified that Cleburne Superintendent Dr. Ronny Beard granted that desire.

“He said an alternate choice [of books] would be made,” Ted Benke told Times-Review editor Dale Gosser on Thursday. “That was this Tuesday.”

“We’re thrilled with the superintendent’s decision to remove the book,” Maureen Benke told Gosser. “We feel he made the right decision for all future students of Cleburne High School and that it was indeed worth the effort to have this kind of outcome.”

Members of Concerned Parents and Citizens, whose membership includes the Benkes, are expected to request time to speak in the public forum segment of Monday’s school board meeting. Likewise, citizens in favor of the book’s inclusion on the reading list. CPAC was formed in early October, when the Benkes filed a grievance against use of the book.

“We started out with four members,” Maureen Benke said. “I can provide you with a list of 900 names now.”

The issue began last summer when English IV dual/AP students were directed to read the Follett book.

“You will be asked to read your novel during the summer and participate in an online discussion with a small group of your peers,” a three-page typed directive from English department chairman Sherri Bell said in part. “There is no definitive timeline concerning the online discussions since everyone reads at different rates, and everyone will have different schedules through the summer. However, I expect everyone to post one entry for each assignment that is at least 7-10 sentences (more if you are so inclined) in length and to respond to two other members of the group (more if you wish).”

The directive also included a statement reading, “Alternate assignment is Edward Rutherford’s “London” if you find reading occasional sex, violence and language unacceptable.”

The Benkes say they didn’t become aware of the sexual content in Follett’s book until their son began reading it.

“We read the book and found it to be pornographic,” Maureen Benke said. “We made an appointment to meet with Mrs. Bell, and Mrs. Bell asked [Prinicipal] Monte Pritchett to be at the meeting, which was fine with nus. At the time of the meeting, we told Mrs. Bell and Mr. Pritchett that we thought the book was inappropriate for curriculum use. We asked them to please remove it from the curriculum. We gave them the reasons we thought the pornographic nature of the book made it unacceptable.”

“The key points we made were that the American Library Association did not recommend the book for anyone under the age of 18,” Ted Benke added, “that the book had no special merit and had not won any awards. It wasn’t on any special list except for Oprah’s Book Club. We checked with approximately 15 school districts in this area including Keller, Southlake and Highland Park, and none of them had the book on their summer reading lists.”

The Benkes said the reading list directive did not include space for parents to voice their objections to the books.

“There is a general belief system in place that parents are ignorant of many things that their children read because of trust,” Maureen Benke said. “We trusted [Bell] to choose reasonable material. Without our knowledge or permission, she was assigning this book to our son.”

Bell did not return a phone call from the Times-Review seeking comment. Pritchett referred all questions to school district spokesperson Lisa Magers.

The Benkes said they also objected to the directive for students to chat about the book in an online format.

“No parental control is too loose for us to be comfortable,” Maureen Benke said.

They said their meeting with Bell and Pritchett culminated “with Mr. Pritchett saying he would read the book,” Maureen Benke said. “We had sent him a list of references for pages to read if he didn’t have time to read the whole book. We understood that. It’s 1,200 pages. I don’t believe we ever got a direct answer whether he had read all the excerpts.”

“He said he had read some reviews,” Ted Benke said, “that maybe there were some racy parts. However, he thought it was okay. He said if we wanted to take it further, we would need to fill out an Exhibit A to go to the curriculum committee to appeal his decision. We started that process around October. We got the material to Dr. [Darlene] Callender [assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction] and asked her to review our grievance.”

The Benkes said Callender initially told them a curriculum committee had ruled in 1998 that the book was acceptable as reading list curriculum.

“She said the school district attorney told her the district would never have to convene on that book again because it had already done so,” Maureen Benke said. “Then we got another call from Dr. Callender’s office, telling us that it had been over 10 years, so the district had consented to form a new committee. They were in the process of forming that committee when the superintendent made his executive decision to excuse the book from the curriculum.”  (Source: Cleburne Times-Review)

TTBA Weekly News/Mailbox Monday...Tuesday edition

This feature was inspired by It's Monday! What are you reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and by The Sunday Salon.

Boy, it sure has been hectic around here lately! Am I treading water? Yes.  Will I be able to stay above water?  That remains to be seen.  ;O)  Launching a new blog is a lot of work, but I'm still enjoying it.  I know things will even out soon.  When I add school to the mix again is when it's going to get tricky!


--The Frightful Fall Read-a-Thon starts next Monday! Have you signed up yet?  For those who haven't, either signed up or heard about it, I am hosting it over at Castle Macabre.  You can still sign up.  I don't have a deadline.  If you decide to join us halfway through the read-a-thon or even at the end (on the weekend), that's perfectly fine.  I'm all about flexibility.  If you'd like to read more about it, or to sign-up, go HERE.

--Kai, Orchid and I are hosting the Frightful Fall Reviewers Challenge throughout October.  There will be prizes at all three blogs so tons of chances to win.  You can read all about it HERE.

--There are lots of giveaways going on over at Castle Macabre too.  Head over and check them out in the left sidebar.

--Banned Books Week is in full swing! I am participating in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop.  I'm giving away a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Lovely Bones (two winners).  Go HERE to enter or click the hop image at the top of the right sidebar.

All week, I will be doing posts here showcasing historical fiction that has been challenged/banned.  Yesterday, I featured Jean Auel's Earth's Children series.  Over at Castle Macabre, I'm featuring challenged/banned horror books and authors.  Today, Stephen King!

--Check out my interview, review, and GIVEAWAY over at The Christmas Spirit with author, Melissa Ann Goodwin, in celebration of her upcoming Christmas novel, The Christmas Village.

Dust by Joan Frances Turner  my review
The Christmas Village by Melissa Ann Goodwin  my review

Currently reading:
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Commander And The Den Asaan Rautu by Michelle Franklin
Decayed Etchings by Brandon Ford
Tick Tock by Dean Koontz (on audio)
The Diviners by Julian White (later this week)

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is currently on tour. This month's host is Amused by Books (want to read a book description? Clicking the book covers will take you to the book's page on Amazon)
BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

The Darkness by Crystal Connor...from Pump Up Your Book! promotions
Bending the Boyne by J.S. Dunn...from Seriously Good Books, publisher

The Golden Acorn by Catherine Cooper...from Back of the Book Reviews
In Malice Quite Close by Brandi Lynn Ryder...from Jean at Maurice on Books
Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen...from Debbie at Debbie's Book Bag

Bang the Keys: Four Steps to a Lifelong Writing Practice by Jill Dearman
Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon

How To Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane

Holiday Decorations: A Collection of Inspired Gifts, Recipes, and Decorative Ideas by Genevieve A. Sterbenz

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011: Earth's Children Series

What's the difference between a challenge and a banning? 

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Why are books challenged? 

Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. See Notable First Amendment Cases.

Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. 

On Liberty, John Stuart Mill

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to
the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
the material contained "offensive language"
the materials was "unsuited to any age group"Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

--


Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel

I read The Clan of the Cave Bear when I was in high school upon a recommendation by my English teacher.  Even though it has been many years since I read it, it still remains one of my most favorite books of all time.  I can't imagine if my parents would have forbade me from reading it.  It was an early introduction to historical fiction, a genre that has become my first love.  I'm thankful to have discovered it through my reading of Ms. Auel's fine work.

Most common reason:
Banned for sexual references, which were described vividly.
A specific instance:
Challenged, but retained from the Moorpark High School recommended reading list in Simi Valley, Calif. (1993) despite objections that it contains "hardcore graphic sexual content." Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Mar. 1994, p. 70; May 1994, p. 99. (obtained from

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to my stop on the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop! This hop is being hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jen from I Read Banned Books! It was inspired by the ALA’s Banned Books Week that runs from September 24th to October 1st. For more information on BBW, visit the ALA HERE.

I have been a supporter of Banned Books Week for about five years now. Although there are certain genres that I do not read (erotica, for instance), I firmly believe that no book should be removed from the shelves just because certain persons believe it immoral, racist, or whatever the reason. When I think of books being challenged/banned, Fahrenheit 451 always comes to mind. We do not want to become a society that burns books because the powers that be think they provoke dangerous thoughts and/or actions. That is why events like this are so important. This Monday - Friday, I will be featuring historical fiction books that have been banned/challenged, along with historical fiction authors who have had their works banned. Over at Castle Macabre, I will be featuring banned/challenged horror books and authors. Hope you will stop by!

Now for the giveaway goodies!

(Click covers for book descriptions)

Trade Paperback-movie tie-in edition

Years of, and reasons for, being challenged/banned:

Challenged at the Coleytown Middle School Library in Westport, Conn. (2007).  The school superintendent acknowledged that the book is "for mature readers" and also acknowledged that "the book is appropriate to be part of a middle-school library collection serving students from ages 11-14, many of whom possess the maturity level to read this book."
Moved to the faculty section of the John W. McDevitt Middle School library in Waltham, Mass. (2008) because its content was too frightening for middle school students.
Moved to the faculty section of the John W. McDevitt Middle School library in Waltham, Mass. (2008) because its content was too frightening for middle school students. 

Hardcover edition
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.

(all info obtained at

To enter the giveaway, you must leave me a comment telling me your favorite banned book OR the name of a book you were surprised to hear was banned/challenged.  Also, let me know which book you would prefer.  Please include your email address for notification if you're a winner.  There will be 2 winners chosen by  First winner chosen will receive their choice, second winner receives the remaining book.  Open to US only.  Giveaway ends October 1st at 11:59 pm CST and I will announce the winner on the 2nd or 3rd.  Winners will also be notified via email.  Winners must respond within 48 hours to the winning notification email, or another winner will be selected.

Thanks for 'hopping' by! Good luck!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cat Thursday

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I created the caption for this one over at Lolcats.  I couldn't resist! Click the pic or link, if you'd like to go vote for it. =O)

Not sposed to be messin' wit momz shooz

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TTBA Weekly News and Mailbox Monday...Late Edition

This feature was inspired by It's Monday! What are you reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and by The Sunday Salon.

Here I am with another late edition! My Monday was very hectic so now I'm playing catch up. =O)


If you haven't already, be sure to stop over at Castle Macabre for my launch event this month.  The giveaways are listed in the left sidebar.  Also, I'm hosting my Fall read-a-thon over there next month.  You can read more about the Frightful Fall Read-a-Thon and sign-up HERE.

Next month, Kai at Fiction State of Mind, Orchid at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia, and me (over at Castle Macabre) are hosting the Frightful Fall Reviewers Challenge.  You can read the details and sign-up HERE.  There will be giveaways on all three blogs!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is on October 22, 2011 and the official sign-up is posted.  They have made some changes with sign-ups and some other stuff.  You can read all about it and sign-up HERE.  I never do well at the shorter read-a-thons, but I'm still going to give it a shot.  I'm seriously thinking about sleeping long hours on Friday (while the boys are at school and go to bed early Friday night) so I can pull an all-nighter for the read-a-thon. We shall see!

The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe my review

Currently reading:
Dust by Joan Frances Turner (to be reviewed at Castle Macabre)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Tick Tock by Dean Koontz (to be reviewed at Castle Macabre)

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is currently on tour. This month's host is Amused by Books (want to read a book description? Clicking the book covers will take you to the book's page on Amazon--with the exception of these three below--click Goodreads below the books)


BookBox: embed book widget, share book list


from Kai at Fiction State of Mind:
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Falling For Hamlet by Michelle Ray
+ some extra goodies...tote bag, book previews, swag!

Maybe You Should Write a Book! by Ralph Daigh

The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come to Life by Alicia Rasley

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
Eden Close by Anita Shreve
Red River by Lalita Tademy
The Fatal Crown by Ellen Jones
Once in a Year by Elizabeth Yates
Cat Book by Emily Eve Weinstein
Tonight on the Titanic: Magic Tree House #17 by Mary Pope Osborne
Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
The Twits by Roald Dahl
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Tour: Review of The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe, edited by Sandi Gelles-Cole

My thoughts:
What if Marilyn Monroe did not die that day in 1962?  What if someone close to her happened to stop by and saved her?  And what if Marilyn decided she didn't want to be Marilyn anymore and let (almost) everyone believe she was dead and started a new life?  This scenario is what Gelles-Cole explores in her 'fictionalized autobiography' of Marilyn.  Not only does she start over, but she starts over again and again, learning from various mistakes along the way.  The author has given us an inside look at what it would have been like for Marilyn, had she lived, to overcome her total dependence on alcohol and chemical substances while taking on a new identity and seeking a new life.  Most people have a difficult time overcoming addiction while remaining who they are in their lives.  In the book, what Marilyn accomplishes is remarkable, although she does stumble along the way.  The book really is a story of a woman's self-discovery and rebirth.  A woman that was so manipulated and, at times, maligned in her life that for her to have accomplished what she did in this fictional tale would have been a miracle.  If only it could be true.  In the book, 'Marilyn' sets straight just how she climbed to the top in Hollywood, she comes clean regarding the truth about her marriages to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio, and she debunks the whole conspiracy theory surrounding her death in connection with the Kennedy family.

I enjoyed this book, although at times the jumping back and forth had me a bit confused.  I think 'what if' novels are so interesting, especially when it takes a famous person or event and turns it on its ear.  I mean, how many of us have wished that a beloved celebrity really wasn't dead and had just staged their death to escape the public life.  That's why there are so many reports of Elvis sightings or of Jim Morrison being alive and living in France.  Heck, I've even wished this about Heath Ledger! Gelles-Cole has taken our wish (especially for Marilyn fans) and breathed it to life.  She has made us think about what might have been.

About the book:
Marilyn Monroe is 85, the victim of a fire set purposefully to destroy her. This is the memoir she writes of what really happened from the night she was rescued in August, ‘62 until June 1, 2011 when the book starts, her 85th birthday.

Told in her own voice and propelled by the various lifestyles she tries on in her search to dig beneath the character that she created for the movies to the real woman inside, the book is two stories. While we read to learn what caused the horrible accident that ruined her face, she writes of her recovery from the addictions that subsumed her in Hollywood, her life as an average woman traveling with a young lover in Europe; her final goodbye to DiMaggio. As senior citizen Marilyn’s face is recreated she tells what happened to her fortune and then how she supported herself, how it felt when her face and body aged, how lust continued into her late years and how she fell in love when she thought all of that was behind her.

THE MEMOIR OF MARILYN MONROE is a mix of fiction, myth and Marilyn history.

I received this book from Pump Up Your Book Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion.  No monetary compensation was received.
- See more at: