WWW Wednesday for September 28th

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

I am reading several books at the moment, although I am not making a lot of progress on any of them. I am continuing with reading the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore (which due to my spotty blogging of late, I may not have ever mentioned), with The Fall of Five, the fourth book of the series. As you may have seen from my post yesterday, I am also reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I came to this one for the Seasonal Reading Challenge over on Goodreads, where for this task, I had to choose a book off the “It’s All About the Swords” list. I am also re-reading a couple of books – An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, because I wanted something lighter to read at night, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, because I wanted to read something along with Mark Reads again.

What have you recently finished reading?

Since I’m trying to read multiple things at once to catch up on my Goodreads goal (it’s still not going to happen, but I want to try and at least make the attempt), there are a few of these. I read Divison of the Marked by March McCarron and re-read Feed by Mira Grant, both for the Seasonal Reading Challenge. I also finished Pittacus Lore’s third Lorien book, The Rise of Nine.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Definitely the fifth Lorien book, The Revenge of Seven. I will also continue reading with Mark Reads, so that means I will continue with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The next book I plan to read for the Seasonal Reading Challenge is Exalted by Tara Elizabeth.

So there are my WWW answers for the week, much more lengthy than most of mine are. Moving on to our Banned Book Week question for the day!

bbw16prompt3I’ve been so lucky to have some amazing teachers who have inspired me to read, but the person who most influenced my love of books would have to be my mom. We spent a whole lot of time at the library, which is always fun, but she encouraged me to expand my book collection. Ah, those were the days. The Baby-Sitter’s Club. Sweet Valley High (and before that, Sweet Valley Twins). She was always (or at least most of the time) willing to run me out to the book store to pick up the latest installment.

Please let me know what you are reading and who inspired you to be the reader you are today!

Teaser Tuesday for September 27th

Teaser-Tuesdays-Purple
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. Here are the rules if you would like to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.

~ Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

In other news, today my sweet baby girl turns 12 years old. What?? How did that happen??

Here’s our Banned Book Week question of the day:

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This question is so hard for me! There are so many wonderful characters that it would be awesome to hang out with. If I go with my answer from yesterday (the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling), I would love to hang out with Hermione Granger for a while, going to lunch and then maybe browse at Flourish & Blotts. We are very, very similar. If I want to go with the top banned book, Looking for Alaska by John Green, I think it would be a lot of fun to hang out with Alaska Young at McInedible. If I scroll through the lists from the past few years, I could also easily pick Charlie, Sam and Patrick from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, but only if we can drive through the tunnel on the way to the restaurant.

I am definitely one of those people who immediately connects with characters in books. Hence why this is really hard to narrow down. But I think these are all solid, fun choices.

Please leave your teasers and any Banned Books answers in comments!

Banned Books Week 2016

Happy Banned Books Week everyone! This is a week where we celebrate books that have been challenged or banned and also celebrate the freedom to read and write books that help to express ideas and feelings, even if it is unpopular or uncomfortable.

I have always been a big fan of raising awareness for Banned Books Week, mostly because I am very much against censorship. There are so many documented cases where books have been removed from class curriculums, or removed from school libraries altogether, usually due to complaints from parents or school board members who have never even read the book in question. They are afraid that certain subject matter might scar their children for life and that they must shield them from this at all costs.

To some respects, I understand. There is a difference between something not being age appropriate and a subject that you just don’t want your kid to read about. Many of the books that have been banned or challenged share similar themes, the most common one being anything to do with sexuality. True, I don’t think that books like 50 Shades of Gray belong in a classroom, but you have to be pretty naïve to think that your teenage son or daughter isn’t already thinking or talking about sex. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Part of what bothers me is that in most cases, if a teacher assigns a book that they know might cause issues, they typically have a permission slip to be signed by the parents, and a second book choice if the parents deem the book as inappropriate for their child. Sadly, this isn’t usually enough, even though it seems perfectly fair to me. They aren’t forcing your kid to read the book, but by taking action against it, you are preventing other kids from reading a book that might have just the message they need at that time.

A lot of the books that have been banned, both this year and in years past, have helped students deal with issues like bullying, abuse, questions about their sexuality, drugs, and lots of other subjects that they are exposed to daily, whether in their schools or from what they see online. The best thing about reading these books is that it opens up a dialogue that can allow students to talk through these issues with each other in class, but also to help parents to engage in important conversations with their kids that they may have not otherwise had an opening into. That is such a valuable thing.

I can’t count the number of times a book has opened my mind up to new possibilities, new cultures, and new ideas. That’s what books are for, and shutting off that valuable resource does not protect our kids. Generally, it does the opposite.

The American Library Association has loads of resources to find out more about banned books, including the top ten most banned or challenged books for 2015 and for each year going back to 2001. Shout out to one of my favorite authors, John Green, for getting the top spot last year for his novel, Looking for Alaska. I love this book, and I am always glad when teachers and librarians stand up for it.

Speaking of Mr. Green, here are a couple of videos I recommend where he speaks on the matter: one from this year, and one from 2008 in response to a specific challenge incident.

One other thing the ALA has on their website are a few discussion questions. I’ve decided to pose one each day this week here, along with my answer, and hopefully you guys will also answer. Because discussion is fun!

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The Harry Potter books, definitely. They were mostly challenged in the early 2000s, for reasons of “anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence.”

Um, what?

First off, how can anyone read those books and think they are anti-family? They are anti-Dursleys, that’s for sure, but that is more anti-abusive-family, not families in general. The Weasleys are one of best families in all of literature as far as I’m concerned, and how are they not a great example of what a family should be: warm, loving, supportive, and accepting of all people. They are the only true family Harry has known, and they love him as if he was their own son/brother. Show me the anti-family message here.

Okay, the next points here are “occult/Satanism/religions view point.” I can’t believe I have to actually say this but – these books are fiction. I don’t know how anyone could think otherwise. The books do not promote any sort of religious practice, and certainly don’t promote anything Satanic. It’s magic spells at a magic school, not some sort of textbook on witchcraft. Do you really think that your child wouldn’t be able to tell the difference? That shows a severe lack of confidence in your child’s critical thinking skills. And are you seriously giving your kid a childhood devoid of anything magical? That’s just sad.

Last point – “violence.” This is the only one I can sort of understand. The last books especially get increasingly more intense. The characters are fighting a war, after all. In spite of this, I don’t think any of the violence is gratuitous or graphic, and it certainly isn’t celebrated. It is made very clear that acts of violence have consequences, which is a very good lesson, especially for children. There is a very obvious line between good and evil.

So to sum up, I believe that these claims are unfounded or over-exaggerated. I also believe that the overarching themes of love and friendship and loyalty far outweigh any complaints that the book banners could have.

Please leave your answer, or a link to your blog post, in comments. Happy Banned Books week!

Updates and Such

Ugh, it’s been a bit of a rough time right now, I’m not going to lie. As much as I was trying to keep this blog just about reading (and occasionally writing), it’s not always easy to do so.

I have dealt with depression and anxiety for all of my adult life (and most of my teens). When I have large bouts of that, my creativity is completely stifled. Caput. Zilch. Nada. And I hate that, because there are usually lots of things that I want to do, that I wish I could force myself to do, which only feeds back into the loop of anxiety and depression.

This blog post will mostly be rambling. Sorry for that.

So what’s leading to this? Good question. First off, I don’t remember if I had mentioned this previously, but I quit my job two months ago. Remember that stressful job that was making it hard to take care of my family and enjoy life? Gone. I did this without having another job to go to afterwards, which was probably foolish, but at the time seemed like the thing to do. I had been so scared of pulling the plug or taking the plunge (insert your favorite taking-a-risk metaphor here), so I just did it.

This gave me time to enjoy my family vacation, as well as take another trip to visit family and give me plenty of time to get my daughter ready to start middle school (which is a pretty big transition from elementary school, for any non-U.S. folks who might be reading this – I’m not sure what the equivalent would be where you live, but here, it’s a pretty big deal). I had some savings set aside to pay for things and figured I would be able to find another job fairly soon.

Two months and many, many resumes later – no job.

I didn’t expect this to be as completely demoralizing as it has been. I didn’t realize how much of my self-worth was tied into being able to help provide for my family and being able to basically buy whatever I want (within reason, of course – we’re not fabulously wealthy, but now I have to think hard before I buy a soda at the gas station, which I never had to worry about before). And yes, I know that many, many, MANY people around the world have much bigger and more devastating problems, but that just makes me feel worse – feeling guilty for complaining when really, I have it pretty good.

Put that together with all the ugliness that is in the world, from the shootings to the terrorism to the increasingly grotesque political campaigning in my country (seriously, can it just be November already so we can move on from this?) – life just seems like a complete mess. And now that I’m not distracted by the many, many hours spent at that job, I have to pay attention to it because it seems to be everywhere.

I’m trying to push myself out of this, which is harder that I feel like it should be, which means that I am going to try to blog more often, even if it’s just a quick note about what’s going on in my life. Of course, I will also still try to post my normal book stuff, but I will also post some about writing (which I’m also trying to get back into) and other things. I keep going back into my reading slump, which is why I will finish this year no where near my GoodReads goal, so I will by necessity have to blog about other things. This blog will become a bit more journal-like, although I will try to keep it a bit more upbeat than what I’m feeling at the moment.

And when I can’t be upbeat and don’t have a book thing to talk about, I will show you cute pictures of my cat, like this one. Because everyone loves cute cat pictures, right?

She loves curling up in my purple chair!

I guess what I am saying is that I am very grateful to the people who do follow this blog – you guys haven’t given up on me yet! This is something of an apology as well for not being around all that much and a promise that I am trying to get better at it, even if the content might change a bit. Maybe it will be a change for the better? Who knows. I guess we’ll see.

Teaser Tuesday for September 20th

Teaser-Tuesdays-PurpleTeaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. Here are the rules if you want to play along.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“There are many shades of love, it wears many faces, has many natures, but in its essence it is always the same.”

~ Division of the Marked by March McCarron

I finished this book last week and it was very good. I particularly loved this particular line, although the entire scene it came from had lots of beautiful lines about the definition of love and how it impacts your life. This book came from BookBub, which means I most likely got it for free (if you haven’t heard of BookBub, then you need to go there now and sign up for free and cheap e-books – you will thank me later). There is a second one, which I hope to read soon.

No Top Ten Tuesday today because they are discussing audio books, which I don’t listen to. If you have any audio book recommendations, I would love to hear about them – I’ve been thinking about giving them a try. And as always, please leave your teasers in comments as well!

Teaser Tuesday for September 6th

Teaser-Tuesdays-Purple

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. Here are the rules if you’d like to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I sat on the front steps of my house and watched the beige Subaru station wagon swing too quickly around the cul-de-sac. This was a rookie mistake, one made by countless FedEx guys. There were only three houses on Raven Crescent, and most people had reached the end before they’d realized it. Charlie’s stoner friends had never remembered and would always just swing around the circle again before pulling into our driveway.

~ Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

I just started this one and these are the first few sentences. I don’t know much about this book or the story, but one of the chapter titles is “How to Decapitate a Moose.” Can’t help but wonder how that’s gonna come up!

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Teaser Tuesday for August 30th

Teaser-Tuesdays-Purple

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. Here are the rules if you would like to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“John, you were in school for an hour and a half. How in the hell did you have a disagreement already?”

“It’s high school. I’m the new kid. It’s easy.”

~ I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This is one of the books that’s on my backlog of reviews I need to get out there. I do have to say, I absolutely loved it and I’m looking forward to finishing the series once I get back to it.

Please leave your teasers in comments!