Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Happy Banned Books Week! - Why it's Important to Read Banned Books

Happy Banned Books Week guys! I love Banned Books Week and the ALA, so I like to make a post celebrating the week each year, and discussing some of my favorite banned books and why it's important to read banned books. But first I've got some important links for you.

The American Library Association (This is the place to go for info. on Banned Book Week. reporting the challenge or removal of a book in your local area, and info on what books are most frequently challenged)

The books that were challenged the most in the past year (just in case you forgot or were unaware that books are still being removed from public libraries and schools)

Last year's Banned Books Week Post
2013's Banned Books Week Post

A few of my favorite challenged or banned books:
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 
The Awakening by Kate Chopin 
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut 
Blubber by Judy Blume 
Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson
The Handmaid's Tale by Maragaret Atwood
Howl by Allen Ginsberg

Why Read Banned Books? 
If you look at the lists on the ALA website of the most frequently banned and challenged books, they all (or mostly) have something in common: they tell the story of a minority experience or bring to light issues that we as a society would rather ignore. If a book has been challenged, there is a pretty good chance it is an amazing read that will challenge the way you think, see the world, and think about the others around you. Pay attention to the books that make some members of society uncomfortable enough that they try to remove them from the shelves, those are the books that need to be on the shelves most of all.

Art is crucial to humanity; it allows the sharing of stories and everyone's story should be heard (or read!). I hope you can support Banned Book Week by checking out the ALA website, or reading a banned or challenged book!

Happy free reading!  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: If You Like This (Super Popular Novel) Try This (Classic)

You guys know, I will take any opportunity to recommend some of my favorite classics. So Today I've got some classics recommendations for you based on some popular novels you have probably read. 

If you loved the doomed love and angsty teenagers in The Fault in Our Stars try Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Cathy and Healthcliff are the original angsty teenagers in a doomed love. The drama in this novel is real people.  
If you loved the unlikable characters and murder in Gone Girl, try The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

The characters in Gone Girl have nothing on the characters in Gatsby. So unlikable, so selfish, but so real and so interesting. 
If you loved the scary vampires in Vampire Academy, try Dracula by Bram Stoker

If you loved the love-hate relationship in Obsidian, try Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

If you loved the love triangle in The Infernal Devices, try Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

If you loved the kick-ass female character in Throne of Glass, try Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Eliza Doolittle kicks ass in a much different way than Celaena, but they both kick ass! 
If you loved the mental illness elements in Challenger Deep, try The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

If you loved the feminism in Only Ever Yours, try The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 

If you loved the travel in Just One Day, try On the Road by Jack Kerouac 

If you loved the  family and friend drama in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, try Hamlet by William Shakespeare 

Hamlet has more drama than any YA contemporary. Guaranteed. 

If you loved the honest look at sexual assault in Speak. try Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy     

Anything to add to my list? Link me your list below! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Recently Read: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publication Date: 2014
Page Count: 292
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads 

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know that yet." From the first line, this novel promises to tell a story filled with love and grief. The Lee family lives in Ohio in the 1970's, and is a mixed family. James is Chinese and his wife Marilyn is white. This novel chronicles the private and shared conflicts and relationships of the Lee family while they deal with the grief from the death of the middle, and favored child, Lydia. 

I had been hearing a lot about this book and was eager to pick it up since its release last year. I looked everywhere for a copy of the paperback once it came out but couldn't track it down, and when I did it was so expensive that I couldn't bring myself to buy it. Then I was lucky enough to find a used copy at my local bookstore and snatched it up and read it right away and I'm so glad I did. 

I really like books like examine family relationships, but especially books that take a close look at sibling relationships. This novel does an excellent job of doing both. The Lee family is far from perfect and their relationships with each other and themselves are complicated. I admired that this book was honest about sibling relationships and didn't have that squeaky-clean ending where the siblings have an epiphany moment and are of one mind and one body. Other people will always be a mystery to us, and even though you might feel like you know someone, there can be a whole existing inside of them that you never knew about.   

I also loved the added element of the Lee family being a mixed family in the 1970's. The prejudice that the whole family faced was heartbreaking and added strain to their relationships. Ng's writing is smooth and captivating, and I found myself getting lost in this book for hours at a time without even realizing. 

I highly recommend this novel, even if adult fiction isn't usually your cup of tea. I really loved seeing the dynamics of the Lee family and thought all of the characters were real and developed and the story was extremely engaging. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up

What's New:
Schooooooooooooool! All I have been doing is school. I am currently watching, and cracking up at, My Big Fat Fabulous Life and ignoring the mound of homework I should be doing. I'm trying to catch up on my shows that start new seasons this fall so I can watch them real time, but that is proving to be much more difficult that I thought it would be. So my life this week has been school -work and tv shows!

What I Read:
I'm still reading Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, but I have really been enjoying the non-fiction I have been reading for my Women's History class (which you can see here.) I'm also still listening to Sense and Sensibility which I should finish soon because I have been doing a lot of driving lately.



What I Bought:

Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
I pre-ordered this a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to mention it! It was under ten dollars on amazon, so I went ahead and ordered it! I'm really excited that Black Widow is getting a novel, because I love her and think her backstory is so interesting and not explored enough in the Marvel movies. PETITION FOR A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE! 

What I Posted:
Monday- I reviewed Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Tuesday- I shared Ten Books I'm Dying to Read this Fall (but probably won't because school has taken over my life)
Wednesday- I shared some of the books that are high on my wishlist!
Thursday- I shared some scattered thoughts on names in a 1 AM Post

Last Week's Wrap-Up

What's Next: 
I'm not sure! I have an adult fiction review on Monday for sure, and the rest of the week is unplanned and unscheduled so I'm not sure how many posts I will be able to get up next week- we will have to see what the week brings.

The Sunday Post Hosted by: Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Stacking the Shelves Hosted by: Tynga's Reviews

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1 A.M. Post-- What's in a Name?

So, a long time ago (as in a couple of months) I read Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman which I loved, and a particular quote from that novel really got me thinking, Here's the quote:

" "To name her is to sink her" he told me. "That which we name takes greater weight than the sea it displaces. Ask any Shipwreck" "
Now, if you don't know, this book is about mental illness and the main character Caden has created a sort of alternate world/extended metaphor that he is the passenger on a ship in the middle of the ocean and here he is speaking to the Captain about the ship they are on. But, what this quote really got me thinking about the idea it introduces separate from the novel.

The Captain is telling us that words have power but particularly when they are used as names. We, the human race, name things that we have a strong reaction to, either positive or negative. Think of the things we name, and I don't mean saying an apple is an apple, I mean the things that we ourselves assign a separate name other than their label.
We name:
groups we fear,
our first car or other prized possession,

All of these things generally create some kind of reaction from us and so we give them a tittle. I have always found it interesting that we give hurricanes and other natural storms human names. We spend hours laboring over a piece of art, of any kind, and then we name it, just as we would a child or pet.

Another interesting connection I made with this quote and something that immediately came to my mind was, "He-who-must-not-be-named." People fear Voldemort so much, they cannot say his name, because to say his name is to acknowledge his power. Harry and co. begin to say his name in the series when they begin to fear him less-and-less, and therefore, some of his power is taken away because the saying of his name, his real name and not his second name that fear has given him, lessens the fear.

Just a quick little post on some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head recently! Let me know your thoughts on names, and please check out Challenger Deep it was really great. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday!

I haven't been buying books lately because I'm back at school and away from my favorite local bookstore, and I've been too busy to do much online browsing, so my wishlist is growing at a rapid rate. Here's a sampling of the books I'm really itching to purchase.

Book Titles Link to Goodreads

The Uninvited by Cat Winters

I loved The Cure for Dreaming so I'm really eager to pick up Winters latest work. This is her first adult novel, and of course it's a historical fiction paranormal read. Winters is a master at this genre, and I love the way she weaved old photography into her last novel (well her last two novels, but I still need to get my hands on her debut novel, which is also on my wishlist.) This one is about the Spanish flu in 1918, the perfect setting for creepyness!

Viper Wine by Hermonie Eyre 

This book sounds so weird and interesting! It's another historical fiction novel, but I think it involves time travel and some other magical elements. I love the cover of this book, and the premise sounds so interesting. I haven't read too many reviews for it, though I have seen it around for a while.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

This is a retelling of Rapunzel, which fairy tale retellings aren't usually my cup of tea, but this one has really caught my eye. I have seen a couple of good reviews for it, and it seems like the perfect book to curl up with while drinking a cup of tea this fall. 

Lair of Dream by Libba Bray 

This sequel has been on my wishlist for a very long time. I read the first book in this series The Diviners when it first came out two years ago and enjoyed it. I was eager to carry on with the series but the release date for this one kept getting pushed back and it finally came out last month. Now I really need a reread of the first book, which is no easy task because it is about 800 pages long, and this sequel is about 700 pages. I want to pick this one up, but the need for a reread of the first one is keeping me from ordering this one right away. 

Have you read any of these? Let me know your thoughts! And tell me what's on your wishlist. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I'm Dying to Read This Fall (but probably won't because school has taken over my life)

There are sooooo many books I want to read right this minute, but school is in full force now, so most of my reading time is dedicated to required reading, and the rest of my free time is dedicated to junk TV because it combats school nicely. So here's a list of books  I really want to read this fall, but probably won't. 


1. The Raven Boys, Maggie Steiefvater
This book has been on every TTT TBR list for the past year, I swear! I am definitely committing to reading this book before the end of this year. 
2. The Hourglass Factory, Lucy Ribchester
I love reading historical fiction novels in the fall! I'm really eager to get to this one, so hopefully I can pick it up this season. 

3. The Kiss of Deception, Mary E. Pearson
Another book that makes many appearances on my TBRs. I really need to start this series this season. 


4. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh 
I've heard lots of great things about this book, and I think it will be a quick and fun read. 

5. The Uninvited, Cat Winters 
Fall is the perfect time to read Cat Winters, as her books always have a creepy/ paranormal element to them. This is Winters' newest release and I'm hoping to pick this one up soon. 

6. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Ffored 
This literary mystery series looks like a lot of fun and something that would be the perfect fun read during school. 


7. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel 
This one has gotten a lot of praise lately, and the concept sounds really interesting. 

8. The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak (reread)
This is one of the books on my rereads goals lists I made at the beginning of the year, and I think Fall is the perfect time to reread this one. 

9. Jackaby, William Ritter
I've had this one on my ereader forever! The sequel just came out not that long ago, and I really want to start this series. 

10. The Book of Dead Days, Marcus Sedgwick 
Sedgwick is one of my favorite authors, and this is the only unread book of his that I own.  

Let me know what's on your fall TBR! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Recently Read: Tess of the D'urbervilles

Author: Thomas Hardy
Genre: Classic
Publication Date: 1891
Page Count: 392
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads:

Tess is the oldest of the Durbyfield siblings. She lives a simple life until her father is one day informed that he is one of the last remaining members of the D'urbervilles, a large and wealthy British family. Tess is sent to seek the good fortune of her rich relations, and her life is changed forever as a result. 

I'm going to divide this review up into a spoiler free section and another section that discusses plot points. This is a pretty often talked about novel, so you may know the outline of the plot even if you haven't read it, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. 

Spoiler Free
Hardy's writing is notoriously wordy. His prose is quite dense and there is a lot of extra wording in this novel, which at times can be a little boring and slow down the plot, so if that sort of thing really bothers you, I suggest skipping this one and watching a mini-series version, or listening to it on audiobook, as I did, which really helped. I could kind of tune out the descriptive rampages that Hardy embarked on while I was listening to the audiobook and then tune back in when the characters came into play.  

This novel is worth sticking out the wordy-ness for. Tess is such an interesting and tragic character and the book sparks a lot of really interesting thought and discussions on women's rights in the late nineteenth century. When the plot was moving forward, I was really sucked in and wanted to know what was going to happen to Tess next. I knew one of the big plot points in the novel, but the second one was a surprise to me, and I didn't see it coming. So if you are interested in reading this, I say go for it! and skip the spoiler part of this review so you can enjoy all of the plot points. Then of course come back and read my thoughts and tell me what you think!

Contains Discussion of Plot Points
This novel is extremely sad. Tess endures some awful events and society is really the biggest person to let her down in this novel. After Tess is raped by her cousin, she refuses to marry him and returns home to her family to find herself pregnant with his baby. Tess keeps the baby by herself until the baby dies as an infant, and she becomes an outcast in her town. Tess is beautiful and admired by many men, and many times in the novel, her beauty becomes a threat to her safety. Tess is blamed by society, as well as her husband once he finds out, for her attack, and is denied a happy life because of the tragedy that happened to her. 

Tess was frustrating at times because of how passive she was and because she would claim she had deserved all of the bad things that happened to her, and that her husband had every right to leave after hearing what had happened to her. But my frustration evolved as the novel went on, and I realized I wasn't frustrated with Tess, but with the time and society she was living in. She had internalized the victim blaming that her society practiced, and one can hardly blame a young teenage girl for that. 

Every male character in this novel was scum, and extremely frustrating. It was clear that Tess was more than just a character, but a representation of womankind and feminine beauty and the struggles and prejudices faced by women in Hardy's time, and it is interesting to read this novel now and compare Tess' story to the stories of woman who have face similar tragedies today. One hopes that Tess's tragic story would not end the same way if she were alive today, but that is still not something we can guarantee. I thought the end of the novel was a bit surprising and really thought provoking. 

I'm half way through the latest BBC mini-series adaptation of the novel, and I will share my thoughts on that once I have finished it of course. Let me know if you have read Tess or anything else by Hardy and what you think of his writing style.   

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: Wait, Non-Required Reading Exists?

What's New:
Wah!! This week went by so fast, and I didn't really get anything done! I accidentally spent one night watching almost an entire season of Dating Naked because I can not control my reality TV addiction during the school year, and the rest of the week I did homework, but I still have lots to do!

I went to a really great concert with my best friend last Saturday though, and that was fun. I have really gained a new appreciation for live music this summer and it's something that I really enjoy now!

What I Read:
I didn't read anything for fun this week! I finished Everything I Never Told You last weekend, and haven't had the chance to pick anything else up. But this weekend I'm planning on starting Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Oh wait! On my way down to my parents house this evening I started listening to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I've heard lots of people site this one as their favorite Austen novel, and of course I'm loving it so far.


What I Bought:
Nothing again! Go me!

What I Posted:
Monday- I posted my answers for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award
Tuesday- This week's TTT was a freebie so I did the Top Ten Historical Fiction Books on my TBR
Wednesday- I reviewed The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Thursday- I discussed what I'm reading for school semester 

Last Week's Wrap-up

What's Next: 
Monday- Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy Review 
Tuesday- TTT: Fall TBR
Wednesday- Wishlist Wednesday
Thursday- Discussion

Stacking the Shelves Hosted by: Tyngas Reviews
The Sunday Post Hosted by: The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

What are you guys reading? How's school if you're in it?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What I'm Reading for School This Semester

As usual, I've got a full reading schedule for my newest semester of school. I'm reading some really interesting non-fiction and some early American Lit. so I thought I would share it with you guys!

Women in Global Activism:
Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl

Summary from Goodreads:
This is the extraordinary first-person account of a young woman's coming of age in Somalia and her struggles against the obligations and strictures of family and society.  By the time she is nine, Aman has undergone a ritual circumcision ceremony; at eleven, her innocent romance with a white boy leads to a murder; at thirteen she is given away in an arranged marriage to a stranger.  Aman eventually runs away to Mogadishu, where her beauty and rebellious spirit leads her to the decadent demimonde of white colonialists.  Hers is a world in which women are both chattel and freewheeling entrepreneurs, subject to the caprices of male relatives, yet keenly aware of the loopholes that lead to freedom.  Aman is an astonishing history, opening a window onto traditional Somali life and the universal quest for female self-awareness.  

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Summary from Goodreads:
With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.

They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.

Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.

Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.

I have started both of these already, and they have both sucked me in. As you can tell, the reading for this class is quite heavy and not light-hearted, but it is quite interesting and inspiring. Both novels contain the stories of strong, brilliant, and resilient women, and really call for action from the reader. 

Early American Literature:
The Lamplighter, Maria S. Cummins

Summary from Goodreads:
A female Bildungsroman, The Lamplighter tells the story of Gertrude Flint, an abandoned and mistreated orphan rescued at the age of eight by Trueman Flint, a lamplighter, from her abusive guardian, Nan Grant.

We are only reading one novel for this class, although this one is quite the doozy, and the rest of our reading are short stories, dramas, or poems. 

Some authors in the anthology include:
Christopher Columbus 
Anne Bradstreet
Jonathon Edwards
Judith Sargent Murray
Phillis Wheatley
Washington Irving
James Fenimore Cooper
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Edgar Allan Poe
Fanny Fern
Henry David Thoreau
Walt Whitman
Herman Melville
Emily Dickinson