Thursday, October 14, 2021

Cat Thursday - Halloween Week Two


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat 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! Share the link to your post with your comment below.






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Thursday, October 7, 2021

Cat Thursday - Halloween Week One


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat 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! Share the link to your post with your comment below.

It's October! That means all the fall AND weekly Halloween cats! Let the fun begin!







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Friday, October 1, 2021

Banned Books Week 2021 - Spotlight on a favorite: The Handmaid's Tale


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood has made the 100 most frequently challenged books list for three decades (since the ALA started collecting data in 1990), in 1990-1999, 2000-2009, and 2010-2019.

The following are specific years (2001-2020) and reasons for challenges of this book:

2020

Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones.”

This classic novel was included on a reading list before the beginning of a twelfth-grade advanced placement literature and composition class at a north Atlanta suburb’s high school in Georgia. A student’s mother forbade him from choosing the book. Alleging “porn and gore and cursing,” the mother wanted the book removed from the high school and held prayer circles outside the library while a committee of more than a dozen staff, administrators, and parents discussed the item. Retained.

This dystopian novel was offered as a curriculum choice to students in an elective high school English class in Marietta (OH). Two complaints were filed alleging vulgarity and sexual overtones, although school officials believed the cited passages did not reflect the context of the novel. The school board voted to retain the book in the curriculum.

2018

Retained on Wyomissing (PA) High School’s summer reading list of books recommended for juniors and seniors, after a group of parents attempted to get the novel removed because of vulgar language and graphic depictions of sex. At a curriculum and technology committee meeting with the acting superintendent, administrators decided to retain the book and develop additional options for families who choose not to read it.

2014

Challenged, but retained as required reading for a Page High School International Baccalaureate class and as optional reading for Advanced Placement reading courses at Grimsley High School in Guilford County (NC) because the book is “sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt.” Some parents thought the book is “detrimental to Christian values.”

2013

Challenged as required reading for a Page High School International Baccalaureate class and as optional reading for Advanced Placement reading courses at Grimsley High School in Guilford County (NC) because the book is “sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt.”

2007

The Judson (TX) school board overturned the superintendent’s ban of the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum. The review committee of students, teachers and parents had appealed the ban to the school board.

2006

The Judson (TX) school board overturned the superintendent’s ban of the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum.

2002

Challenged in Texas due to description’s of sexual encounters.

2001

Downgraded from “required” to “optional” for the 11th grade summer reading list in Upper Moreland (PA) school district for age inappropriate subject matter.


"Atwood said she didn’t include any events in the book that hadn’t already happened in history or any technology not already available. “No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities,” she wrote in the New York Times in 2017. The result is a book about a theocratic dictatorship that takes over the United States after climate change and declining birth rates threaten to cripple the nation’s economy. Fertile women are reproductive slaves, forced to bear children for the elite. In the 1980s, when it was published, the book read as a response to the political rise of Christian fundamentalists, the bombing of abortion clinics and the control of those behind the Iron Curtain. As we sit in 2021 with climate change threatening our coastlines and crops, a rising threat of nationalism and attempts to chip away at the hard-fought rights of women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, the plot seems evermore an apt prediction. What could be more important now than a book that explores the dangers of totalitarianism as we watch democracy challenged on the very steps of Congress? A book that explores the power of women as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements push the next wave of feminism forward? A book with dire warnings about what can happen when resources get scarce, as drought and wildfires have become the new norm for a swath of our country? Because of its plausibility, "The Handmaid’s Tale" is timeless and relevant. It was a necessary book in the 1980s and it's still a necessary book in 2021." – Katie Wedell
(from a USA Today article, September 28, 2021)

An excerpt from my thoughts on the book when I read it in 2017:

"I'm wondering if now was a good time to read a book like this...because it scared me, and I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach throughout reading it. I now realize that it's an important read because it demonstrates why we must fight to keep the freedoms we have won. We must not let our status as women be demoted to that of the women in this book. We must not let the tenets of our Constitution (United States) be trampled upon. The freedom of speech, of the press, to address grievances. The separation of church and state."

Read the rest of my thoughts on the book here. 
 


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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Cat Thursday - Coffee 3.0


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat 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! Share the link to your post with your comment below.






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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Banned Books Week 2021 - Spotlight on a favorite: The Giver


The Giver by Lois Lowry has made the 100 most frequently challenged books list for three decades (since the ALA started collecting data in 1990), in 1990-1999, 2000-2009, and 2010-2019

Released in 1993, it has been one of the most controversial books in American schools. Between 1990 and 1999, The Giver ranked 11th on the list of the books most frequently requested for removal. In the 2000s it was 23rd, just two spots below To Kill a Mockingbird. Just under one-third of all challenges of The Giver (for which the outcome was reported) resulted in a removal. The state that has seen the most attempts at removal is Texas, but the book has also been challenged in Massachusetts, Washington, and many other states all over the country. 

The most frequently cited reasons to challenge The Giver have been “violence” and claims that the book is “unsuited to [the] age group”— or in other words that it’s too dark for children. Also, "sexually explicit," "Religious Viewpoint," and "Suicide." (Insider, August 15, 2014)

A must-read dystopian novel for any teen, I first read this book in middle school, and then I reread it in high school and college. The main character, a tween named Jonas, is given the important role as ‘Receiver of Memory,’ where he is supposed to retain the beautiful and dark moments others in his community can't see. He can see color in a black-and-white world as well as the environment, animals, human emotions and past experiences. The book sheds light on the importance of freedom and living life as one chooses to, but the message goes deeper than that. Valuing our relationships with our friends, family, and colleagues in the real world is a gift. Oftentimes, we lose sight of what makes our life beautiful, even though it is right in front of us. And those lessons are conveyed elegantly in this book, from start to finish. Life is spontaneous and crazy, and there shouldn’t be someone telling us how to live our life when we have the ability to carve our own destiny. Banning this book would be a loss for children, not a gain – Sudiksha Kochi  (from a USA Today article, September 28, 2021)

My personal experience with the book, to touch on what Kochi talked about above, was the gut-wrenching reality of family not meaning what it means in our society. Honestly, it made me cry. The story's focus on personal freedom and choice, and the value of relationships, made for a truly powerful read. Certainly an important read for today's young people. 

Read my review of The Giver here


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Monday, September 27, 2021

Banned Books Week 2021


It's that time again. Another year, another bout of targeting books. Let's take a look at the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020. You'll probably notice a few of the titles seem to make the list almost every year. This year's theme is "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." I'm planning to share a few posts this week, but have not quite decided what I will be covering. Stay tuned.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020. Of the 273 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:
  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
    Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
What about you? Are you surprised by any of the titles appearing on the list? 


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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Cat Thursday - Autumn is here!


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat 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! Share the link to your post with your comment below.







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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cat Thursday - Random


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat 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! Share the link to your post with your comment below.


Late posting today. Email subscribers, you won't receive this until Friday. I apologize.







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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Cat Thursday: Authors and Cats (106) Donald Hall


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat 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! Share the link to your post with your comment below.

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author (with a birthday during the month), pictured with their/a cat(s), or guest posts by cat loving authors who also (sometimes) write about cats.


Donald Hall (b. September 20, 1928, d. June 24, 2018) was an American poet, writer, editor and literary critic. He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of sixteen—the same year he had his first work published. Donald Hall published numerous books of poetry. Besides poetry, Donald Hall wrote books on baseball, the sculptor Henry Moore, and the poet Marianne Moore. He was also the author of children's books. Hall edited more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies. His honors include two Guggenheim fellowships, the Poetry Society of America's Robert Frost Silver medal, a Lifetime Achievement award from the New Hampshire Writers and Publisher Project, and the Ruth Lilly Prize for poetry. Hall also served as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1989. In December 1993 he and his wife poet Jane Kenyon were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, "A Life Together." In the June 2006, Hall was appointed the Library of Congress's fourteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. (Goodreads)




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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Cover Reveal: And By Fire, Crime Mystery Debut by Evie Hawtrey

The above mentioned Evie Hawtrey (aka historical novelist Sophie Perinot – in a new, darker, incarnation) has recently revealed her cover for her crime mystery debut! AND BY FIRE is a dual timeline novel, pitting two extraordinary female detectives—tempered by fire and separated by more than three centuries—against a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art.


LOVING THE COVER AND THE PREMISE? Check out the FULL BOOK DESCRIPTION below, and PRE-ORDER today (that way you won’t have to give next summer’s early beach read another thought).

ABOUT AND BY FIRE:
Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure is found curled beside Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, Nigella is dragged into a case pitting her against a murderous artist creating sculptures using burnt flesh.

Nigella partners with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard to track the arsonist across greater London. The pair are more than colleagues—they were lovers until O’Leary made the mistake of uttering three little words. Their past isn’t the only buried history as they race to connect the dots between an antique nail pulled from a dead man’s hands and a long-forgotten architect dwarfed by the life’s work of Sir Christopher Wren.

Wren, one of London’s most famous architects, is everywhere the pair turn. Digging into his legacy leads the DCIs into the coldest of cold cases: a search for a bookseller gone missing during the Great Fire of London. More than 350 years earlier, while looking for their friend, a second pair of detectives—a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker—discovered foul play in the supposedly accidental destruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral…but did that same devilry lead to murder? And can these centuries-old crimes help catch a modern-day murderer?

As Nigella and O’Leary rush to decode clues, past and present, London’s killer-artist sets his sights on a member of the investigative team as the subject of his next fiery masterpiece.


PRAISE FOR AND BY FIRE:

“BONES meets the Restoration Court in Evie Hawtrey's AND BY FIRE, a taut dual-timeline mystery that races along at the pace of an inferno! .... Fresh, dynamic, and crisply researched, AND BY FIRE WILL appeal to histfic fans and mystery readers alike—I couldn't put this one down!"

—Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Alice Network

🔥 PRE-ORDER LINKS 🔥

Amazon 

Hudson Booksellers 

IndieBound 

Barnes & Noble 

BIO:
Evie Hawtrey is a Yank by birth but a sister-in-spirit to her fierce and feminist London detective, DI Nigella Parker. Evie splits her time between Washington DC, where she lives with her husband, and York, UK, where she enjoys living in history, lingering over teas, and knocking around in pubs.



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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) XVI and Something Wicked Fall


I rarely share the scary stuff on this blog. Everyone knows I have my horror blog, Castle Macabre. However, I make an exception during this time of year. Yes, autumn is the season for scary. I know it's not technically fall yet, but what's a few weeks. You should see all the Halloween stuff I've been buying. Step away from the online shopping, lady.

So, R.I.P is back...version XVI...and my scary events are back this year with Something Wicked Fall over at Castle Macabre in September and October, and in conjunction, the FrightFall Readathon over at Seasons of Reading in October (sign-ups for the readathon will be open soon). All the details about Something Wicked Fall can be found here.




My reading plans are in the graphic below. I know I won't get to everything, but going to try. Several are for sure, as I'm reading them for read-alongs, challenges, and my book group read in October. The Blood Countess, All Things Cease to Appear, Stoker's Wilde, and Mexican Gothic. Some of them are short story anthologies so I will be picking and choosing stories from them. Gothic horror in September and horror in October.


I completely forgot about this beauty I picked up a couple of months ago. A lot of great classic horror stories in this 864 page tome. Classic Tales of Horror 


Going to try to fill in this BINGO card for R.I.P. since I watched three horror movies last night...The Fear Street trilogy on Netflix. SO good! I'll also be listening to Bone White by Ronald Malfi on audio. It's a reread...one of my favorites.

I will be posting updates on this post. Hopefully, I'll keep up with it. There will a tab linking to it in the blog menu. Title = Fall Reading


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