Monday, September 30, 2013

HFVBT: Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey-Guest Post & {Giveaway} #ConfessionsOfMATour


Thank you so much for hosting me, Michelle. I am delighted to be here, being a book addict myself!

The third novel in my Marie Antoinette trilogy, Confessions of Marie Antoinette, spans the final years of her life, opening less than three months after the storming of the Bastille, with the October 5, 1789 Women’s March on Versailles. The mob, purportedly comprised of Parisian tradeswomen and poissardes (fishwives) was swelled with compatriots, whom many believed were sympathetic, anti-monarchist aristocrats—some of them armed men in disguise as poissardes, as well as women from the upper crust who harbored antiroyalist republican sentiments and thought it would be a lark to slog several miles through the mud and rain in a protest march alongside those who may really have been hungry.

Louis XVI was willing to hear their complaints, listening to a small delegation of market women at around dusk on October 5, and promising them that the following morning everyone would receive bread from the palace’s own storage facilities. But the rabble-rousers who had accompanied the mob on the march had no interest in negotiation or in resolving the plight of the poor. They wanted nothing short of the destruction of the monarchy; so all through the night they tiptoed from group to group camped outside Versailles to tell them that the king had lied to them, tricked them, had no intentions of feeding them; and, at the instigation of his horrible, greedy Austrian wife (who in fact had lived in France since she was 14, had never returned to her homeland, and was now in her mid-30s) intended to violently crush their rebellion. 

Consequently, at dawn on October 6th the mob stormed the palace, and made their way straight for Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber, decapitating the sentries in the Hall of Mirrors who were blocking their way to her rooms. Not finding the queen, who had fled in the nick of time, making her way within an inner maze of corridors to one of the king’s rooms, the vengeful mob ransacked and willfully destroyed the room.

Unsure how to proceed, Louis XVI’s ministers offered conflicting advice. The king himself appeared overwhelmed by events. He had trusted the delegation representing the marchers. He never for a moment imagined that women could be so brutal, so fierce, so murderous.

The marquis de Lafayette, in happier days a courtier at Versailles and a military attaché for France in the American colonies, has turned his coat more than once. Having recently attached himself to the Revolution, the events of the October 1789 march on Versailles have caused him to question the good faith of the marchers and the ideals of the Revolutionaries. Hastening to the palace, in charge of an army he can no longer control and whose allegiance to the crown he can no longer vouch for, the marquis takes it upon himself to counsel the sovereigns to appease the mob in a last ditch effort to save their lives.

“C’est moi! Lafayette!” The voice indeed belongs to the commander of the Garde Nationale. The general bursts into the king’s bedchamber as though he has been shot from the mouth of a cannon.

“There is no controlling them any longer, Majesté,” he says, without bowing to the king. “I threw my hat upon the ground before them, pulled open my coat and bared my breast”—he illustrates his words by grabbing his lapels—“and dared them to kill me on the spot. They have already murdered two of the royal bodyguard, Your Majesty. Lieutenants de Varicourt and Deshuttes.” Lafayette lowers his bare head; his hat, embellished with the revolutionaries’ detestable tricolor cockade, remains in his hands. “I am genuinely sorry,” he says. “A general is supposed to know his troops, but I did not expect this. ‘I do not wish to command cannibals!’ I told them. ‘If you wish to take the lives of the gardes du corps, then take mine as well.’ My dare turned the tide, for the next moment, they cried, ‘Vive le roi! Vive la Nation!’ ”

More of the bandits have gathered outside our windows. “The king! “The king! We wish to see the king!” they roar, demanding that he appear on the balcony. Louis looks to Lafayette. After nineteen years of marriage I know my husband well enough to see that he fears the rabble, aware that they have both betrayed and abused his trust. After meeting with the delegation of market women, moved particularly by the poor young sculptress who had fainted from hunger in his presence, he had ordered the grain stores to be opened and bread disseminated among the sodden hordes, but their storming of the château at daybreak had prevented his plan from being brought to fruition. With the greatest effort, Louis surmounts his trepidation, not wishing to appear craven in the presence of his brother and Lafayette. I wonder whether the pair of them enjoy his trust as well, for neither merits my confidence.

The king throws open the mullioned doors and rushes onto the balcony. Raising his arms, he cries, “My good people, your sovereign craves your mercy—not merely for myself, but for my faithful defenders.” He refers to our pair of unfortunate bodyguards who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. They were brave young men with families. “Let no more blood be shed on this or any other day.”

After hearing a resounding cheer, followed by, “The queen! The queen on the balcony,” “Allons, mes enfants,” I say, taking each of the children of France by the hand. “We will greet our subjects as a family.”

The crowd grows ominously silent as if a dark cloud has passed over their heads. “The Queen alone!” shouts a single voice, high and shrill. “No children!” My shiver passes all the way through my arms into the small warm hands of my son and daughter. At the sight of so many fearsome people with their weapons raised against us, the children both burst into tears. Madame de Tourzel appears at the window and I usher them indoors, safely into her care.

Below me, a sea of angry faces wear frowns that only moments before were smiles prepared to welcome their king. A cry pierces the morning air announcing that I am an agent of Austria. “Just look how she’s dressed!” the woman adds, and not until this moment do I realize what she means. From where they stand my striped silk lévite appears to be yellow and my hat is of course black—the colors of the Hapsburgs. The plume in my hat is the white of the Bourbons and the point where it is affixed is embellished with a black cockade, an emblem worn proudly by France’s aristocracy.

Among the thousands of poissardes and market women are a fair number from other walks of life, and I venture a guess that a good many are shop girls, although some of them are arrayed more expensively, if not flamboyantly. Demimondaines. Streetwalkers from the area around the Palais Royal, I assume. Yet others, similarly dressed in gowns of fine white muslin, with tricolor scarves artfully draped like banners across their chests or tied like bandeaux about their curled and powdered locks, convey the impression of wealth. The salons of Paris have been emptied of intellectual women seeking an adventure. These petites bourgeoises stand before me, amid their inferiors, including women who troll the coffeehouses and arcades, wearing without irony the same type of gown that just a few years ago the entirety of France derided me for favoring. My gaulles, the chemises à la Reine, were described as the ultimate luxury for their fragility, and now they are the frock of choice for these harpies who claim them as the ideal garment to denote classical purity and simplicity, a denouncement of the trappings of wealth by the gown’s distinct lack of embellishment.

I am shocked by the harridans’ brazenness, but mask my emotion from my enemies. They will not know what I am thinking, will not so much as see my lip tremble, or my eyes dart about. It is one of the virtues of a queen. This is what being regal is. Instead, with every ounce of will, I endeavor to transform their hatred to love by acknowledging them and giving credence to their right to assemble here. Despite the fact that they have cried out for my blood. Despite the fact that they have demanded in great detail various parts of my body as though I were a calf they were driving to the slaughterhouse.

And so I sink to my knees in a deep court curtsy, inclining my head in a show of profound humility. The roar diminishes to a murmur. And when I rise, I lay my arms across my bosom and raise my eyes heavenwards, offering a prayer to God to spare my husband and children as well as myself. Out of the corner of my eye I spy a man in the crowd raising a musket to his shoulder and peering over the barrel. I can even see him squint as he takes aim at my breast and I pray with greater fervor. The crowd falls silent. Will this would-be assassin pull the trigger?

But when the moment comes, he cannot bring himself to commit regicide in the presence of thousands of witnesses; he is unprepared to become a martyr to the Revolution.

It seems to take an eternity, but he lowers his musket. My armpits are wet with perspiration. For another few moments the mob remains hushed, but then the spell is broken by one, then two, then a chorus of ragged cries of “Vive la reine!” Soon the courtyard reverberates with resounding applause. I shut my eyes and thank heaven, and a moment later, am sensible of someone beside me. Lafayette has stepped through the doorway onto the balcony. With tremendous deference he makes a great show of raising my hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing it as the approbation continues.

“Madame,” he murmurs, for my ears alone, “what are Your Majesty’s personal intentions?”

I am no fool. “I know the fate that awaits me,” I reply softly. “But my duty is to die at the king’s feet and in the arms of my children.”

With one hand the general raises my arm to indicate that we are united, while with his other, he calls for silence. “Men and women of France, the queen has been deceived,” he tells them. At this, one cannot hear so much as a hairpin fall. “But she promises that she shall be misled no longer. She promises to love her people and to be attached to them as Jesus Christ was to His Church.”

The applause crescendos again, to cries of “Vive la reine! Vive le général!”

My cheeks are now wet with tears. The people think they are tears of shame.

But before the clapping peters out, a lone voice shouts, “The king to Paris!” Within seconds, dozens of others have taken up the call, transforming it into a chant, and once more I am frightened. “To Paris! To Paris!” they cry. His hand on my elbow, Lafayette guides me inside. The crowd’s admiration is so fleeting that shots are once again being fired from the courtyard. I shudder and look to Louis to see what he thinks we should do next, but he is deep in conversation with Monsieur Necker. Necker’s wife and daughter Germaine, Madame de Staël, are in the king’s bedchamber as well, witnesses to the scene on the balcony just now.

I approach Madame Necker. “They are going to force us to go to Paris with the heads of Messieurs Deshuttes and de Varicourt on pikes at the head of the procession, just to prove that our bodyguards are useless. We are prisoners of the people, now.” I glance at the Provences, Monsieur and Madame. For they, too, will be compelled to accompany us to the capital; if the mob is to be appeased, the entire royal family must depart Versailles. Marie Joséphine looks terrified, her complexion more green than usual. But my beau-frère’s sangfroid is admirable, unless of course he has no reason to be afraid.

The comte de Saint-Priest is shaking his head. If only we had fled to Rambouillet as he had urged, we would not be in such a predicament.

Out of Général Lafayette’s earshot, Louis confides in his family. “I feel we must go,” my husband says heavily, his voice barely above a whisper. “Although I have never been fond of wagering, if I were to stake one bet this day it would be that my cousin has something to do with this attack. If I—if we—do not acquiesce to the people’s demand, there is a chance they will try to place the duc d’Orléans on the throne in my stead. There will be no more shedding of blood; the Salle des Gardes is already red and reeking with the sacrifice of two brave souls and many more guards are dead and injured.”

My husband rises from his armchair and makes his way back to the balcony. Addressing these vicious insurgents as his friends, he tells the mob, “I will go to Paris with my wife and children. I confide all that I hold most dear to the love of my good and faithful subjects.”

They have won. And so they cheer him.

We are lost.

About the book
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Ballantine Books
Paperback; 464p
ISBN: 0345523903

Confessions of Marie Antoinette, the riveting and sweeping final novel in Juliet Grey’s trilogy on the life of the legendary French queen, blends rich historical detail with searing drama, bringing to life the early years of the French Revolution and the doomed royal family’s final days.

Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.

Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains above all a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen and her family try to flee, and she secretly attempts to arrange their rescue from the clutches of the Revolution, they cannot outrun the dangers encircling them, or escape their shocking fate.

About the Author
Juliet Grey is the author of Becoming Marie Antoinette and Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. She has extensively researched European royalty and is a particular devotee of Marie Antoinette, as well as a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit. She and her husband divide their time between New York City and southern Vermont.

For more information please visit You can also find Juliet Grey on Facebook.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #ConfessionsOfMATour

Watch for my review coming up tomorrow!

One copy of Confessions of Marie Antoinette to a winner in the U.S. only. Please leave a comment and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win (email address, Twitter handle, etc). Last day to enter is Monday, October 14 at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!


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Friday, September 27, 2013

Banned Books Week: Modern Classic--The Color Purple

My second (and final, as it turns out) classic for Banned Books Week is The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I finally got around to reading the book almost two years ago after loving the film for years. I think it is such a wonderful story and though it does show the strained relationship between the whites and blacks of that era, it really is a story of a woman who spent her life being abused by men who finally learns to stand up for herself. The reasons given below for challenges of the book really do not make sense to me. It almost seems that because it's a book written by a black woman about black people...well, darn it, it has "troubling ideas about race relations..." (see first point below). My commentary is in red.

  • 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. As I said above, "troubling ideas about race relations?" Um, yes, race relations during that time were troubling actually, but let's shield our (almost grown) high school kids from scenarios that actually did happen historically, if not exactly what happens in the book.
  • 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.” I might agree (somewhat) that it might be a bit much for a twelve 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." There are plenty of books that portray negative images of white men. Abusive men, regardless of the color of their skin, deserve to be portrayed negatively. Also, maybe they should have kept in mind that the author is African American....
  • 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 Morganton, NC by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book. 

source: Bibliography accessed from the site (see below)

This bibliography represents books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned in 2012 and 2013 as reported in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom from May 2012 to May 2013.

Books Challenged or Banned 2012 - 2013

“Challenges are as important to document as actual bannings, in which a book is removed from the shelves of a library or bookstore or from the curriculum at a school. Attempts to censor can lead to voluntary restriction of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy; in these cases, material may not be published at all or may not be purchased by a bookstore, library, or school district. It should be noted that this bibliography is incomplete because many prohibitions against free speech and expression remain undocumented. Surveys indicate up to 85 percent of actual challenges to library materials receive no media attention and remain unreported. Moreover, this list is limited to books and does not include challenges to magazines, newspapers, films, broadcasts, plays, performances, electronic publications, or exhibits.

Have you read The Color Purple? What is your opinion on the reasons for its being challenged/banned?


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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cat Thursday: What's with cats and household stuff?

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)

These are all great, but I got a good laugh over this first one. The last one is pretty great too. =O)

credit for images: lolcats

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Princess Diana Conspiracy by Alan Power: Guest Post and Review

The Princess Diana ConspiracyWriting the book

I have been asked about my time during the research and writing of The Princess Diana Conspiracy; it was long, frustrating and very hard on my poor suffering wife Sally who endured admirably, knowing that justice must be done but she did have an endearing term for the book; TFB, no further comment.

I didn’t tell Sally about the various experiences such as people watching me outside telephone kiosks where I had gone to make phone calls to avoid being identified in the early days or the unmarked Khaki helicopter hovering just above my house in North Wales, or the two men climbing up a telegraph pole having line of sight to my house. A serving police officer friend of mine ran past on one of his fitness trips; he returned to ask what they were up to and they rushed off down the road. When he later checked the car reg. it didn’t exist.

The research was daunting especially when dealing with the inquest evidence because it was necessary to read everything and essential all the important points that may not alone have been crucial would, when cross referenced with other points, become damming. Knowing what information might later be of interest in a total of four million words of evidence was a major task and gave me some serious headaches; but it got there.

My thoughts on The Princess Diana Conspiracy
Anyone who knows me knows that I adored Princess Diana. When I learned of her death, I was devastated and cried about it for days, just like she was a family member. To this day, I cannot think of her without being deeply saddened by the loss of such a beautiful light in our world.

Although it would be nice to believe that it was all just a terrible accident, one can't help but think that there might have been some foul play in her death. According to Power's book, Diana knew a lot of royal secrets and her popularity with the public made her even more dangerous because anything she revealed would most likely be believed. In light of recent news that the British police were looking into new evidence surrounding the accident, a conspiracy might not be as unfounded as originally believed, although the police did stress that they were not reopening the investigation.

Power does bring to light some compelling, shall I say, evidence that there was indeed a conspiracy. I did find it interesting, though there was a tremendous amount of rehashing which made it a bit tedious. However, if what Power is saying is true, if proved, it could bring the British royalty to their knees. I'm not a conspiracy theorist by no means, but I would like to see Diana receive justice if it is proven that she was murdered. I wonder if we'll ever know?

Join Alan Power, author of the true crime/royalty book, The Princess Diana Conspiracy, as he tours the blogosphere August 29 - September 27, 2013 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!


The Princess Diana Conspiracy is primarily a detailed investigation into the brutal murder of Diana, Princess of Wales but British democracy is also questioned. Evidence is presented that MI6 perverted the course of justice and that they murder people but also that Diana was a target “within their code”. The police are proven to have conspired, “to get their stories straight” at the inquest and there is also further disturbing evidence of other peoples’ murders that were associated with this brutal crime. We begin with a review of the details surrounding Diana’s murder and illustrate many coincidental happenings both during Diana’s life and thereafter (the plane that Richard Tomlinson, SAS/MI6 whistle-blower, was due to return to Geneva on, Swissair Flight 111 from New York where he was booked to give evidence on US television, blew up mid-air killing 227 people; the CIA had returned him on an earlier flight. Princess Caroline of Brunswick, whom George IV was ordered to marry, was taken ill on the eve of George’s coronation and died three weeks later; she claimed she had been poisoned. Her body was sent quickly back to Germany; there is clear precedence of such family behaviour). We are shown what Diana was required to tolerate and see her royal world. We then migrate onto describing how this attack took place and show, again, the amazing coincidences that made the timing of this act serendipitous to the royals e.g. Diana was murdered the very day after her decree absolute came through when she would have been free to marry Dodi Fayed. We delve deeply into the workings and testimony of the major players but especially the authorities (police and MI6) then show an enormous amount of corruption, sidestepping, (I am required to say untruths, not lies) and ridiculous testimony that no sane person could possibly accept; the court did not see fit to criticise either MI6 or the police when these revelations occurred. Please also take note of the various points I have disclosed, not previously discovered, of major comments during evidence that prove these “untruths” and the wholesale corruption. The police did not investigate the abuse of Diana prior to Paris and evidence is produced that MI6 were watching and following her around for years before the murder took place; the police did nothing and the policeman responsible for this did nothing to protect Diana either although it was supposedly his job; he couldn’t explain why. James Andanson, who was the owner of a white Fiat Uno, was found murdered with two bullet holes in his head. He had been bragging that he was in the tunnel when Diana was murdered. His good friend and well known French crime writer Frederic Dard “died” five weeks after Andanson. It is proven that he and Andanson had been engaged in writing a book together about Diana’s murder. It goes on and on. Add to this evidence that the decision to embalm Diana was taken at a “Diplomatic level” and that the paparazzi, who were incarcerated and blamed for the whole event, were prevented from attending court through “Political intervention” and the soul heads further and further into the abyss. If the paparazzi had persuaded the jury that they were first to the tunnel (Which I show they were) then this alone was proof of murder. There really is too much to tell you all during such a brief overview but the comment from one literary agent who read the book before my current agent took over was that he often felt he needed to stop frequently and come up for air. I thought that is what I was supposed to achieve; reveal the truth and let you, the people decide whether you will permit this evil act to go unpunished.

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The author is married to Sally and has enjoyed a variety of interests including being a drama student, an official candidate of the Conservative party and owning his own company but this is his first journey into the world of writing. His hobbies are flying, pistol shooting, scuba diving and he is a past rugby football player. He has written another book about Diana that will be published later and has ideas for other subjects that will also follow. When his company suffered the ravages of internal fraud with no joy from the police due to lack of evidence and a degree of police indifference, his life changed irrevocably but now he had the time to write. When Diana was murdered Alan remembers feeling rage that such a beautiful and natural person as Diana could be used, abused and so cruelly discarded just to serve the monarchy’s needs. He considered the probability that this was a murder of convenience and monarchical survival so he began an extensive investigation into Diana’s death. Although initially unsure he would be up to this task, he persevered and now offers evidence that this murder was not conducted by rogue MI6 officers, considered as possible during the inquests, but by serving MI6 officers and with the use of military aid. This project began in 2003 and despite many attempts by others to prevent, or delay, the book’s release Alan now brings you his findings. There is first an overview of the background to this brutal act and a selection of relevant events prior to the inquests with lateral thought being applied to four million words of cross referenced inquest evidence. He delivers the most compelling and damming evidence and says that it’s important for justice to prevail if Britain still wishes to be considered a democracy.

The Princess Diana Conspiracy Book Publicity Tour Schedule

Monday, September 2 - Book featured at splashesofjoy
Tuesday, September 3 - Guest blogging at Bookingly Yours
Wednesday, September 4 - Book featured at Margay Leah Justice
Thursday, September 5 - Guest blogging at My Devotional Thoughts
Friday, September 6 - Book reviewed at Bookingly Yours
Friday, September 6 - Book featured at Freda's Voice
Monday, September 9 - Book reviewed at splashesofjoy
Tuesday, September 10 - 1st chapter reveal at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Thursday, September 12 - Book review and 1st chapter reveal at Why Not? Because I Said So
Friday, September 13 - 1st chapter reveal at Psychotic State
Monday, September 16- Book reviewed at Psychotic State
Wednesday, September 18 - Book reviewed at Self Taught Cook
Wednesday, September 18 - 1st chapter reveal at Sarah Ballance
Thursday, September 19 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Monday, September 23 - Review, Guest blogging, and 1st chapter reveal at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Tuesday, September 24 -Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Wednesday, September 25 - Book review and Guest blogging at The True Book Addict
Thursday, September 26 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Pump Up Your Book

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Banned Books Week: Classics-The Catcher in the Rye

I had fully intended to post something every day this week for Banned Books Week and I did not plan on posting so late. However, I didn't anticipate work being the pickle it is this week so my daytime posting has not quite worked out. Anyhoo, better late than never, right?

So, for the few posts I'll be doing, I wanted to focus on banned/challenged classics that I have read. I want to list some of the reasons that they have been banned/challenged (according to and perhaps respond to some of those reasons with my feelings. First, though, a little definition about Banned Books Week from the ALA site.                

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:

  1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  2. the material contained "offensive language"
  3. 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.

Today's featured book is one that I found I didn't much care for in the grand scheme of things (my review). Please don't hate on me. That being said, I simply do not agree with its being banned or challenged. My commentary is in red.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Since its publication, this title has been a favorite target of censors.

  • In 1960, a teacher in Tulsa, OK was fired for assigning the book to an eleventh grade English class. The teacher appealed and was reinstated by the school board, but the book was removed from use in the school. 
  • In 1963, a delegation of parents of high school students in Columbus, OH, asked the school board to ban the novel for being "anti-white" and "obscene." The school board refused the request. Did I read the same book? I don't remember it being particularly obscene and I definitely do not think it was anti-white. What exactly does that mean?   
  • Removed from the Selinsgrove, PA suggested reading list (1975). Based on parents' objections to the language and content of the book, the school board voted 5-4 to ban the book. The book was later reinstated in the curriculum when the board learned that the vote was illegal because they needed a two-thirds vote for removal of the text.
  • Challenged as an assignment in an American literature class in Pittsgrove, NJ (1977). After months of controversy, the board ruled that the novel could be read in the Advanced Placement class, but they gave parents the right to decide whether or not their children would read it.
  • Removed from the Issaquah, WA optional High School reading list (1978).
  • Removed from the required reading list in Middleville, MI (1979).
  • Removed from the Jackson Milton school libraries in North Jackson, OH (1980).
  • Removed from two Anniston, AL High school libraries (1982), but later reinstated on a restrictive basis.
  • Removed from the school libraries in Morris, Manitoba (1982) along with two other books because they violate the committee's guidelines covering "excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, things concerning moral issues, excessive violence, and anything dealing with the occult." Occult? What? 
  • Challenged at the Libby, MT High School (1983) due to the "book's contents."
  • Banned from English classes at the Freeport High School in De Funiak Springs, FL (1985) because it is "unacceptable" and "obscene."
  • Removed from the required reading list of a Medicine Bow, WY Senior High School English class (1986) because of sexual references and profanity in the book.
  • Banned from a required sophomore English reading list at the Napoleon, ND High School (1987) after parents and the local Knights of Columbus chapter complained about its profanity and sexual references.
  • Challenged at the Linton-Stockton, IN High School (1988) because the book is "blasphemous and undermines morality."
  • Banned from the classrooms in Boron, CA High School (1989) because the book contains profanity. Challenged at the Grayslake, IL Community High School (1991).
  • Challenged at the Jamaica High School in Sidell, IL (1992) because the book contains profanities and depicts premarital sex, alcohol abuse, and prostitution.
  • Challenged in the Waterloo, IA schools (1992) and Duval County, FL public school libraries (1992) because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.
  • Challenged at the Cumberland Valley High School in Carlisle, PA (1992) because of a parent's objections that it contains profanity and is immoral.
  • Challenged, but retained, at the New Richmond, WI High School (1994) for use in some English classes.
  • Challenged as required reading in the Corona Norco, CA Unified School District (1993) because it is "centered around negative activity." The book was retained and teachers selected alternatives if students object to Salinger's novel.
  • Challenged as mandatory reading in the Goffstown, NH schools (1994) because of the vulgar words used and the sexual exploits experienced in the book.
  • Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995).
  • Challenged at the Oxford Hills High School in Paris, ME (1996). A parent objected to the use of the 'F' word.
  • Challenged, but retained, at the Glynn Academy High School in Brunswick, GA (1997). A student objected to the novel's profanity and sexual references.
  • Removed because of profanity and sexual situations from the required reading curriculum of the Marysville, CA Joint Unified School District (1997). The school superintendent removed it to get it "out of the way so that we didn't have that polarization over a book." Um,'s not polarizing to try to ban/remove a book? Makes sense (no). =O/
  • Challenged, but retained on the shelves of Limestone County, AL school district (2000) despite objections about the book's foul language.
  • Banned, but later reinstated after community protests at the Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, GA (2000). The controversy began in early 1999 when a parent complained about sex, violence, and profanity in the book that was part of an Advanced Placement English class.
  • Removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC (2001) because it "is a filthy, filthy book." Great reasoning...good with the specificity here. 
  • Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) school board member because of profanity. The novel was retained.
  • Challenged in the Big Sky High School in Missoula, MT (2009).
  • Challenged, but retained, in the Martin County, Fla. School District (2010) despite a parent’s concern about inappropriate language.
  • Challenged, but retained as an assigned reading in the Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine (2004). Teachers will provide more information to parents about why certain books are studied. 

Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom (as reported at the ALA website)

What are your views on the challenges/banning of this book? Have you read it? What did you think?


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Monday, September 23, 2013

Bloggiesta: Wrap-Up

Well, I didn't manage to get everything done on my list, but I added one thing (completed) and completed the top task on my list. Below is my original list with completed items crossed off and notes in red (if applicable).
  • Get the super secret group up over at Goodreads that only myself and a few others know about (you know who you are). Stay tuned for the exciting news! The super secret group is not a secret anymore! The name of it is Lit Collective: An Online Reading Retreat and you can check it out here on Goodreads!
  • Finally update my progress on reading challenges over at my challenge blog. It's has been 8 months and I think I might have updated them twice. Pitiful!
  • Get my books read tabs updated with books I've read. I'm almost a year and a half behind!
  • I'll try to make at least one of the Twitter chats and I'm going to look into some of the mini-challenges to see if there's anything I want to do. Just did not have time. =O(
  • Make buttons for Kai's blog event
Did you Bloggiesta? How did you do?


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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon & Tackle your TBR Wrap-Up

Happy Fall! Time for another read-a-thon! The Fall into Reading Read-a-Thon is hosted by Bibliophilesisters and runs from today until September 29. Here's what I'll be reading with a goal of 800 pages read from the following read-a-long and review books:
  • The Princess Diana Conspiracy, Alan Power
  • City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
  • Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  • The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Confessions of Marie Antoinette, Juliet Grey

I did not meet my goal of 2000 pages. Perhaps I was a bit overambitious? HaHa! 

75 pages of City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
125 pages of The Old Rectory, Julia Ibbotson (finished)
169 pages of The Arrow Chest, Robert Parry
220 pages of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
336 pages of The Shogun's Daughter, Laura Joh Rowland (finished)

Total = 925 pages

Thanks to Tressa's Wishful Endings and Colorimetry for hosting!


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Friday, September 20, 2013


I'm going to be taking a super casual approach to this Bloggiesta because I've been so busy lately...I don't want to overwhelm myself. I do have a few things I want to work on though. And they are...

  • Get the super secret group up over at Goodreads that only myself and a few others know about (you know who you are). Stay tuned for the exciting news!
  • Finally update my progress on reading challenges over at my challenge blog. It's has been 8 months and I think I might have updated them twice. Pitiful!
  • Get my books read tabs updated with books I've read. I'm almost a year and a half behind!
  • I'll try to make at least one of the Twitter chats and I'm going to look into some of the mini-challenges to see if there's anything I want to do.
Let's go...OLE!


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HFVBT: The Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland--Review #ShogunsDaughterTour

My thoughts
Who doesn't love a mystery? One with an historical setting...even better. Set in Feudal Japan, The Shogun's Daughter, brings us to the center of the political intrigue of the royal court. The mystery involves the death of the Shogun's daughter, seemingly from smallpox. We soon find out there are suspicions she was murdered.

I thought the ruthlessness of the royal courts in Medieval and Renaissance England was bad. Turns out, they have nothing on the Japanese royal courts. It seems no one can trust anyone and even those you think you trust turn against you for personal gain, in most cases. There are some who are loyal and honorable. The main characters of this book are in that group. As they seek the truth behind the murder of the Shogun's daughter and to topple the new regime who seek to place an impostor on the throne, they must also safeguard themselves against treachery and danger.

This book is the seventeenth installment in Rowland's Sano Ichiro series, but it reads quite well as a stand alone novel. I had no problem understanding the story. Rowland tells this story in such a way that I was transported and felt as if I was part of it. She brings Feudal Japan to life.

Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Minotaur Books
Hardcover; 336p
ISBN-10: 1250028612

Japan, 1704. In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse. Smallpox pustules cover her face. Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, “Who’s going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?”

The death of the Shogun's daughter has immediate consequences on his regime. There will be no grandchild to leave the kingdom. Faced with his own mortality and beset by troubles caused by the recent earthquake, he names as his heir Yoshisato, the seventeen-year-old son he only recently discovered was his. Until five months ago, Yoshisato was raised as the illegitimate son of Yanagisawa, the shogun's favorite advisor. Yanagisawa is also the longtime enemy of Sano Ichiro.

Sano doubts that Yoshisato is really the Shogun's son, believing it's more likely a power-play by Yanagisawa. When Sano learns that Tsuruhime's death may have been a murder, he sets off on a dangerous investigation that leads to more death and destruction as he struggles to keep his pregnant wife, Reiko, and his son safe. Instead, he and his family become the accused. And this time, they may not survive the day.

Laura Joh Rowland's thrilling series set in Feudal Japan is as gripping and entertaining as ever.

Praise for Laura Joh Rowland

Author of The Fire Kimono, “one of the five best historical mystery novels”—The Wall Street Journal

“Rowland has a painter’s eye for the minutiae of court life, as well as a politician’s ear for intrigue.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Sano may carry a sword and wear a kimono, but you’ll immediately recognize him as an ancestor of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade.”—The Denver Post

About the Author
Laura Joh Rowland is the author of a mystery series set in medieval Japan, featuring samurai detective Sano Ichiro. The Shogun’s Daughter is the seventeenth book in the series. Her work has been published in 13 foreign countries, nominated for the Anthony Award and the Hammett Prize, and won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery. Laura lives in New York City.

For more information please visit Laura's website. You can also follow her on Facebook.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #ShogunsDaughterTour

Stop over and read about Laura Joh Rowland's adventures in research HERE.


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cat Thursday: Dog reads cat's diary. Is confused.

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)

First, I would like to send out hugs and positive thoughts to Andrea at A Little Night Music, whose kitty, Mucker, crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. We have all been there and it's very hard. Stay strong, Andrea. 

My sister shared this with me on Facebook last night. Hilarious!

A couple more funnies for you...

bottom two image credits: lolcats

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tackle your TBR Read-a-Thon--Update

This is the first chance I've had to update. Real always. I have done some reading though. My goal for this read-a-thon is 2000 pages and here's what I've read so far...

75 pages of City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
125 pages of The Old Rectory, Julia Ibbotson (finished)
86 pages of The Arrow Chest, Robert Parry
220 pages of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
50 pages of The Shogun's Daughter, Laura Joh Rowland (currently reading)

Total pages read so far = 556

It's not looking like I'm going to reach my goal, but still not too shabby for a busy person in a week and a half's time. =O)

How are you doing with the read-a-thon?


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