Holiday book recommendations!

For those of you who still need to do some last minute gift shopping, here are some book ideas!

For Middle Grade:

The Iron Bodkin (The Sardonyx Trilogy)



Government Inquisitors, crazy old wizards and secret basements abound in this fun adventure. Good for anyone who's ever wanted to make their little sister disappear. *cough*

The Hunchback Assignments



A steampunk, spy book with elements of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and an excellent villain.


For Young Adult:

Matched (Matched #1)



 A wonderful dystopian love story, where the true nature of the society only gradually unfolds. Also quite possibly the most well-done love triangle I've ever read.

Raised by Wolves (Raised by Wolves, #1)



Three words: Kick. Ass. Werewolves. Seriously. If you're burned out on angsty, shape-shifting werewolves with no shirts on (*cough* Twilight *cough*), this is the book for you.


General Fiction:

The Surgeon The Surgeon (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #1)  by Tess Gerritsen

 Yeah, there's only one in this category because I didn't read that much general fiction this year. So just buy a LOT of Tess Gerritsen, because these books are amazing. Okay?


For Writers:

Writing the Breakout Novel



This is a very intensive book with a lot of great ideas. I'm going to have to read it again to catch them all. But overall it's an excellent challenge to dig deeper in your writing.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (Genre Writing Series)



This is still one of my go-to writing books. An excellent addressing of the specific problems of worldbuilding, character involvement and plot that are common to writers of speculative fiction.
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Those are my gift recommendations for this holiday season. If anyone wants to add to my list in the comments section, feel free!

Adventures in French Food

Warning! This is an extended gush about food. If such things bore you, you should probably wander over to avoidthisjob.com, and come back on Monday.  I should be back to talking about cute animals and writing by then.
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As most of you know, I am not an adventurous person when it comes to food. My current daily diet consists mainly of canned tuna, green beans, apples, toast and soy lattes, with the occasional infusion of macaroni and cheese or spaghetti. Eating out-wise, I prefer Italian restaurants, burger joints, Asian food and Mexican in that order.

I have never eaten French food.

Never.

Until Thursday night, when some good friends of ours asked us to go to the local French restaurant for dinner. And not just any dinner, but the full eight-course meal, including wine and dessert.

It sounded like fun, so my husband and I finagled the money, got dressed up and went. And it was beyond fun. It was astonishing.

I decided before we left that I would try unusual things, so when it came time to pick the hot and cold appetizers I went with duck-and-pork-pate and lobster bisque. (I MAY just have wanted to say the words 'pate' and 'bisque' in the same sentence.)

Hello! I am wrapped in bacon for your delicious delight!

My friends were nervous about the pate, but when it arrived, I thought it just looked like incredibly fancy meatloaf.  Not scary at all.


Mmmm... creamy sweet goodness. But watch out for the shell at the bottom!

I was nervous about the lobster bisque though. It's been a long time since I had lobster and since I love shrimp, but hate crab, I figured there was a 50/50 chance I wouldn't like it. But I was possibly the best soup I've ever had.

 I could have been happy with just the pate and the bisque for dinner, and we still hadn't had the entree yet!

Things I tell myself

Yesterday--in the process of explaining why she doesn't give herself the Awesome Stamp--Elana Johnson posted a question on her blog. 

What do you tell yourself--or don't tell yourself--to keep moving forward?

What makes this question so interesting is that I'm in the middle of reading The Screwtape Letters for the fifty-bajillionth time and I came across these lines.
A man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all, since he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame...

(The) ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity--if that is his vocation--washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him.
~ C.S. Lewis
I love this. And to answer Elena's question, this is what I tell myself all the time. I am not called upon to decide how my work shall be used and remembered. I am only called to do it, and do it as well as I can.

That's what I tell myself anyway...

Monday post, part 2...

How blog posts are born...

ME:  Bwahahaha!!  Look at this hilarious orangutan! I should do a short, cute post with it even though that's kind of cheating.

*posts short post*

BELOVED HUSBAND:  You know, you should write about the pressure to be profound that you feel every time you post on your blog.

ME:  But I feel NO pressure to be profound! Did you not see the crazy monkey I just posted? That is the OPPOSITE of profound!

BELOVED HUSBAND:  Then why do you feel like it's cheating?

ME:  ... 

ME:  ...

ME:  ...

ME:  I hate you.


Does anyone else feel like they're cheating when they're not trying to be profound? Or is it just me?

How was my Monday?

Um... great. I guess.

via zooborns.com

How was yours?

Introducing Huxley

As some of you may recall, at the beginning of November I tweeted that I'd found my muse for National Novel Writing Month.

Meet Huxley.


Huxley is not just any mouse, he's a writer mouse. And he's become my new blog/writing mascot.



In addition to nagging me about my writing, Huxley's been busy doing other things around the house as well



Making new friends



Watching CSI: New York



And of course, reading. He's become very fond of British authors.  I blame his adorable waistcoat.

Do you have a writing muse?

No one ever told me I should do this...

Recently an agent I follow on Twitter, the lovely Mandy Hubbard, made the comment that she likes to see brief summaries of what authors are working on when she wanders the blogosphere.

A week later, an author I admire came by here and said she wished she could read an excerpt of my book on the blog.

Doing a current projects page was something I'd thought about before, but I was never sure how it would come across.  The last thing I want to do is to make this blog read like an advertising billboard.




So I'm compromising. For anyone who want to see what I've been working on the last three years, you can go here, or click on the Current Projects tab.

Everyone else, you can just hang out on the main blog where I will continue to provide you with writing tips, random thoughts and kitten pictures.

What do you guys think about this? Do you like seeing what an author is working on? Or do current project lists rub you the wrong way?

Original Monday post called off...

... due to technical difficulties. (Specifically a camera that refuses to focus for some mysterious reason.)

Please enjoy these Pomeranians instead.

When life is out of control...

...what do you do?

It's been a heck of a week. Some friends of mine are going through a painful event, the kind of thing that makes you feel powerless to help. Members of my family are having health problems. At least three people I know have gotten in car accidents.

You do what you can in circumstances like these. You offer support, you offer prayers, you offer time.  But you can't really fix it. And then there are things like finances and distance that make it hard to be there in all the ways you want to be.

And then there's the fear to deal with. Having lots of big, uncontrollable awfulness come at you all at once makes you fully aware that life is not fair, that it's full of dangerous situations and people, that everything that matters to you is unbearably fragile. You realize all over again that there's a wound in every one of us that will never fully heal on this earth.

You want to do something, anything, to fight against the pain and sadness and despair of the world. Something to heal it. But you're only one person. One flawed, messy human being. You can't make cancer or depression vanish from another person's body. You can't turn back time or raise the dead or heal a broken heart.

What do you do?

I don't have a good answer. But the answer I do have is this: to go back to what I know I'm supposed to do. Sometimes, for me, fighting just means doing the little things, creating a little space of light in the darkness.

Hug my husband.

Call my mother.

Smile at people even when I don't feel like it.

Say "I love you".

Be honest.

And write.

Because that's what I'm doing in the face of this week. After I've done everything I can do for others, I go back to my keyboard and I fight against the despair in the only way I know how.

Words are my weapons. Words that describe the textures, both smooth and harsh, of being human.Words that create imperfect people who still manage to love and learn and ultimately have hope.

Words that make light.

"Every word written is a victory against death."
~Michel Butor

Some things that are awesome.

 1. National Novel Writing Month


Yes! That is in fact, a winner banner, and I did in fact write 50,000 words in thirty days. What is even more awesome, my dad also won, and on his first year out too! AND he beat me, which is slightly less awesome but still pretty cool. *grin*
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2. Baby Animals

OMG KITTEN!!!!!  I dare you to watch this and not die of cute. (via cuteoverload.com)



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3. Coffee with whip cream. (Especially when it's snowing outside)



Come on,  you know you want some!

What's been awesome for you this week?

So you want to write a novel....

I know I'm posting early, but I cannot resist this.

So true. And so scary.



You can read the post that goes along with it here

David, you made me laugh harder than anything has all week. Thank you.

Thanksgiving conversations

Well, Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday is over, and as everyone settles into the weekend, I thought I'd give you some giggles.

This year my family went to my grandmother's for Thanksgiving. Eight adults and three kids under six  in one smallish house. As you can imagine, some of the conversations were awesome.

Enjoy!
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I SWEAR HE'S NOT MY KID

My nephew Christian comes into the living room where I'm reading and my sister (his mom) is sitting. He pulls out a paper cutout of a vaguely birdlike form and starts to twirl, holding it out.

MY SISTER: Christian, what on earth are you doing?

ME: (looking up from my book) Oh, he's flying his pterodactyl.

My sister gives me a look of disbelief.

ME: Christian, what are you doing?

CHRISTIAN: I'm flying my pterodactyl.

ME: See?

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GETTING ON THE CASUAL TRAIN


We're getting ready for a family photo.  I'm in jeans and a t-shirt. My grandmother (who is a sweet and wonderful lady) is wearing slacks and a pullover, but she's worried she won't look good.

GRANDMA:Your mother is changing her shirt. Maybe I should change into something nicer.

ME: Don't worry about it, you look great. I'm not changing.

GRANDMA: (looks at me) Yeah, I guess I look as good as you do.

ME: That's exactly my point....

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YOU SHOULD NEVER BE THANKFUL, EVER

My mother is going around the table asking people what they're thankful for, and my three-year-old niece Chloe apparently  doesn't quite grasp the concept....

MOM: So what are you thankful for?

SISTER: This year, I'm thankful for....

CHLOE: *freaking out* NO MAMA! DON'T TELL!!!

All the adults stare at her. My brother-in-law and I start laughing uncontrollably.  

ME: What did you DO, sis? Are we not supposed to know about it?

SISTER: I guess it's a secret. *shrugs* Anyway, I'm thankful for...

CHLOE: *still clearly upset* MAMA, NO! DON'T DO IT! DON'T BE THANKFUL!!

BROTHER IN LAW: *dies laughing*


Our only explanation for this outburst was that  she mixed up being thankful with a conversation about getting spanked that had happened a couple of minutes earlier. She apparently thought if her mom was thankful, she'd get a spanking. Whatever the reason, we spent the rest of the evening randomly yelling "Don't do it! Don't be thankful!" at each other. Good times
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How was YOUR week?

Thanksgiving post!

Things I'm thankful for:

~ My family and friends, especially my writer community and my awesome husband. (I know it's an easy out, but it's still true!)

~ Things that make me laugh. like this site, and this site, and this one too.

~ Cute animals.

zooborns.com
~ Good books.

Ahh! I almost forgot Saturday's post!

In honor of all you Harry Potter fans, here's a story from one of my favorite websites, notalwaysright.com.

(If you've ever been in customer service, or known someone who was, you should check the site out. Hil-arious.)


A Golden Snitch Short Of A Quidditch Match

Bookstore | Bay Area, CA, USA

Me: “How can I help you?”

Caller: “This a bookstore?”

Me: “Yes, this is a bookstore.”

Caller: “Oh. I need the 8th Harry Potter book.”

Me: “I’m sorry sir, but there are only 7 Harry Potter books.”

Caller: “But I need the 8th one.”

Me: “There are only 7 books, sir.”

Caller: “Why?”

Me: “Because there are only 7 years at Hogwarts.”

Caller: “What does that mean?”

Me: “Sir, have you read the Harry Potter books?”

Caller: “No, my son reads them and he finished the 7th one and asked me to get the 8th one.”

Me: “Sir, if he read the 7th one, he would know that that was the final book in the series.”

Caller: “But he wants to read it. What can I do?”

Me: “Contact the author?”

Caller: “Do you have his number?”

Me: “Do I have J.K. Rowling’s number?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “No. I… uh… don’t happen to have that on me.”

Caller: “Oh. Can you tell my son that there are only 7?”

Me: “No, I’m sure you’re quite capable of doing that all on your own.”

Caller: “He will be very upset!” *hangs up*
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PS: I apologize for the cop-out post, guys. But my main character is in a fight to the death with a creepy, soul-stealing green mist thing that can melt people or trap them in mirrors, AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW HE'S SUPPOSED TO WIN!

*brain explodes*

How's everyone else's week going?

Can't stop writing....


... be back on Monday!

EDIT: Oops, I meant Saturday! Be back on Saturday!  Though Saturday's post will probably look similar to this one since I'm, you know, writing and all. *grin*


(If you want to buy this shirt, it's at CafePress)

We interrupt these posts to bring you this:

A video of lion cubs going swimming!

I especially like the look on the third cub's face.



Happy swimming this week!

First draft tip #3: Work through the crazies.

This is the Mountain of Crazy. 


I'm tired.
This is hard.
My brain hurts.
This is impossible.
I'd rather be sleeping.
I don't want to do this.
Everything I write sucks.
This is never going to work.
I'm not cut out to be a writer.
I was crazy to think I could do this.
AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!


There is no way to avoid slipping on the Mountain of Crazy. The mountain doesn't care how many industry blogs you read, or how many writing books you study or how many conferences you go to. It doesn't care if you're writing your first book or your twenty-first book. You could be an unpublished author or a NYT bestseller. You could be a horrible writer or a genius.

The mountain does not care.

The only thing the mountain knows is slippery green moss, jagged stones, and impossible footing. It takes out everyone sooner or later. And the only way to beat the mountain is to pick yourself up at the bottom and climb back up.

And there's only one way to do that.

Sit down and write.

a word
a sentence.
a paragraph.
a chapter
a book

Sit down and write.

Don't let the mountain beat you.

Some songs to fight the writerly blues

It's the dreaded Week Two over here in NaNoWriMo land!

Week Two is when all the mental crap we writers use to self-sabotage ourselves goes into high gear. For most first-drafters, this period is usually about a one-fourth to one-third of the way through the book

Obstacles this week include:

~ The Great Wall of Writer's Block

~ The Anthill of Too Many Characters

~ The Impassable Desert of Word Drought

~ The Cave of Lost Plots

~ The Evil Dragon of Word Count Comparison

~ The Many-Headed Hydra of the Inner Editor

~ The Siren Song of the Shiny New Idea

~ The Choking Fog of "People Who Are Better Writers Then You Will Ever Ever Be"

 And my personal favorite?
~ The Quicksand of "Everything I just wrote was crap and now I have to kill myself with the toaster"
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So in the spirit of encouragement, I'm handing you some songs that always make me feel like I can do it.

Hallelujah by Claire Bradley

Learning to Fly by Tom Petty

Breathe/Shine by Anna Nalick (the video plays them back to back.)

Here's a bit from the chorus of Shine.
Isn't it time you got over
How fragile you are?
We're all waiting, waiting on your supernova
Cause that's who you are.
And you've only begun to shine.
Anyone else got songs or movies or inspiration to share? How do you get through these obstacles?

Monday thoughts

1. There was frost on my car this morning. And not just any frost. This was heavy-duty, kryptonite frost that took twice as long to remove as it should have. VERY ANNOYING. My thought is, if it's going to be that cold outside, it needs to snow.

2. This past weekend was fun, if extremely full. Two sets of out-of-town friends came through, and there was lots of eating out and laughing. I was pretty much gone the entire time, and very little writing was accomplished. However, I saw it coming, and wrote extra all the other days of the week, coming in just on schedule. Now if I can just get past the dreaded Week Two... *shudder*

First draft tip #2: Break it up

When I tell people I'm doing National Novel Month, they usually ask "How much do you have to write?"

I say "50,000 words in thirty days."

At which point everyone I'm talking to looks at me like this.

 Are you NUTS?

There are usually comments along the lines of "That's a lot!", or "How do you do THAT?"

No matter if you're writing a novel in a month or a year, the answer to that question is always the same.

One word at a time.

Earlier this year I did a post on the math of 500 words a day. But even 250 words a day will get you  90,000 words a year, a solid length for any novel. This year for NaNo, I'm not even thinking about it in words, but in hours.
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Is it Saturday already?

Sheesh.  That week went fast.

I'll be back later today with another first draft tip. In the meantime, please enjoy this otter.


My favorite writing movie ever

Movies about writers and writing are all around us, and everyone has their favorite. Me being me, I have more than one.


First draft tip #1: Find your seed

Every story has to have a seed. The vague desire "to write a book" really isn't enough to get you through the first few pages, much less the entire thing.

The good news is, seeds come in all shapes and sizes.

I'm back!

How is everyone? I missed you guys. *hugs followers*

Well, my partly-forced unplugging period has been very productive. I'm all rested and ready for National Novel Writing Month.

Maybe.

This year's a bit different for me in terms of support and community. Not only do I have my area's Nano group to write with, I've also joined the NaNoWriMo Warriors group on Facebook. It's a great resource for tip and encouragement, especially if, like me, you're a bit overwhelmed by the actual Nano forums.

But the biggest thing that's different this year is that my dad, who lives in another city, is also doing Nano. And HIS group has challenged MY group to a word war.

So in addition to having more friends to write with, I'm also locked in deadly combat with my father. Kind of like this...



Definitely epic.
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For those of you who don't care about November's writing free-for-all, don't worry. I'm not going to bore you with constant word counts or rants.

(Okay, maybe a few rants.)

What I AM going to do in November is talk about writing in general and first drafts in particular. I'll share some first draft tips that have been helpful for me, and also do a series of posts on voice, which is kind of like the unicorn of writing.

More on that later.

Things to do when your laptop starts to smoke.

1. Remain calm and don't scream. You might be in a coffee shop full of people.

2. Locate the source of the smoke and blow out the flame.

3. Shut the laptop and take out the battery.

4. Stare at the closed computer for several minutes, Try to figure out how to react to the fact that your primary writing/editing/internet tool just bit the dust.

5. Don't cry. Remember, you're in a crowded public place

6. Resign yourself to being more unplugged then you'd planned for the next two weeks. Thank your lucky stars that you don't have to blog regularly until next month, and that you have a desktop at home that only needs a little tweaking to be fully functional.

7. Cry anyway. But only a little.
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P.S. I have, unaccountably, picked up a few more followers during my unplugging time. *waves to new followers* Don't worry, folks. I am coming back and I have something cool planned for you next month.

See you in November!

Unplugging and an adventurous contest

One of my favorite little cafes on the Internet is the blog of Beth Revis, who I've been following since before she was an debut author with a killer book. Beth does some great contests, and this one is no exception: you simply post about an adventure that you've had.

 Except I couldn't do it.

I've been racking my brains for the past week and I cannot think of a single thing to write about. Thirty years of mishaps, missteps, random moves and bizarre tales, and I could not summon a single one.

My brain is broken.

Things I'm behind on.

1. Dishes

2. Laundry

3. Exercise

4. Emails

5. Blog Comments

6. Revisions

7. Submissions

8. Sleep


Things I do instead:

1. Reading

2. Eating

3. Work


How was everyone else's week?

Grrr...

Okay, so I WAS going to do a Banned Book Week wrap-up. But after the day I had today, the only thing I can think about is this:



(But I still like you, lovely readers. Come back on Monday, I should be feeling better by then,)

Banned Book Week, review 3: Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Summary:  Whale Talk is a novel by Chris Crutcher about "T.J." Jones, an adopted Asian/African/European-American teenager living in the Pacific Northwest. Motivated partly by his teacher and partly by his desire to upset the status quo, T.J puts together a swim team of school outcasts on a quest for respect, dignity and letter jackets. It won the 2002 Washington State Book Award.


~ Whale Talk is on the ALA's list of Top Banned/ Challenged books for the last decade.

~ It has been challenged for language, racial slurs and content.

My Take: I don't think this book should be banned. Yes, there is swearing and racial slurs, but here's the thing. Most of the profanity used is spoken by people who are racist and angry.

In other words, this book paints a very realistic picture of the impact of racism and other kinds of prejudice. It tells the truth about the words and actions that go along with rage and ignorance. And it tells that truth in a very well-written and surprisingly uplifting way.

You don't ban books for telling the truth.  And this is why.
"I realized I had reached adulthood without even knowing what it is to be human. Nobody ever told me how dangerous it is, how risky...  My parents were wonderful people, I suppose, but they didn't want me to know what was out there. They didn't want me to know the real skinny on sex or love or disappointment. They sold me their wishes as if they were fact," ~ from Whale Talk
Racism is ugly. Violence is ugly. Prejudice is ugly. Loneliness is ugly. They are ugly and they are common, for teenagers and adults alike. All the wishing and book challenges and political maneuvering in the world will never change that.

What do you think?

Still more Banned Book Week fun

 1. Story Snoops is doing a series of interviews with librarians and authors this week, including Judy Blume and Meg Cabot.

2. YA author Maureen Johnson started an entertaining Twitter game with the hashtag #bannedbookbingo to see if the Internet could come up with outrageous and ridiculous reasons to ban books. Much hilarity ensued. (Ban the Very Hungry Caterpillar, it promotes obesity!)

3. The League of Extraordinary Writers, a group of debut dystopian authors are reviewing banned books all week. So far they have reviewed To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid's Tale and The Outsiders.

And finally, my brother-in-law sent me this:



I personally hate the phonebook...

Announcements!

1. If you're posting a banned book review this week, please leave the link here so I can collect them.

2. Also, come back on Thursday, when I join a whole lot of other people in posting banned books reviews on the 30th.

3. This looks like entirely too much fun. And has anyone else read Mr. Popper's Penguins?


See you tomorrow!

Banned Book Week stuff.

Hey look, an extra post! *grins*

There are SO MANY THINGS going on this week that are full of awesome, that I just had to share with you.


~ Tahereh and The Rejectionist are challenging everyone to review their favorite banned book on Thursday the 30th.  They want to fill the Internet with amazing, dangerous disscussion. If you want to play, enter your blog on Tahereh's master list.

(And then wander over and drop the link at the Banned Book site so I can add it to my collecition as well!)

~ The Mundie Moms are putting up author interviews all week about banned books. The thread is here.

~ Also, the lovely Amy is giving away a gift card in honor of Banned Book Week, so that we can buy even MORE banned books!

There's more, and I'll keep posting links as I find them. See you later and enjoy the week!

Banned Book Week, review 2: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is about a teenager who is an outcast as a high school freshman because of a rape she can't talk about. The novel was a New York Times bestseller and was also named a Printz Honor book in 2000.


~ Speak is on the ALA's list of Top Banned/ Challenged books for the last decade.

~ It has been challenged numerous times for content and subject matter.

~ Speak was recently challenged in Missouri. The challenge was accompanied by an editorial in which Speak was grouped with other books referred to as soft pornography. The editorial sparked a blogstorm about both censorship and rape and a Twitter conversation tagged as #speakloudly.


My Take:  Speak has been on my to-read list for quite a while, but the Speak Loudly movement bumped it straight to the top. And I'm glad it did. I've been a Laurie Halse Anderson fan ever since I read Catalyst and Speak is even better. What was interesting to me was that I read the editorial about Speak before I read the actual book. So I was activly looking for any parts that might be offensive.

I found nothing.

Here's a deep dark secret about me and books. When I was in fifth grade, I became fascinated with adult romances. The juciy paperback ones, where all the really good parts are somewhere in the middle. I read them at the library and a few years later actually brought them home.

To be honest, it wasn't a great reading choice for me. I would probably have a serious conversation with my niece if I ever saw her reading things like that while still in elementary/junior high, but here's the thing: I got past it. I figured out that it wasn't realistic, that too much of it wasn't healthy and eventually I moved on to other material.

So to hear books like Speak characterized as filthy makes me laugh. It's actually one of the cleaner YA's I've read this year. And bear in mind, I discovered "adult" books in the early nineties, before the Internet really took off AND I was a pretty sheltered kid who went to mostly private schools. If I can get a hold of that kind of thing, anybody can. It doesn't have to be in the schools or the school library.

And scrubbing anything that disturbs us from the school library is not going to make it go away.

What does need to be in schools are books that sensitively address issues that teenagers face more and more, like rape and drug abuse. Books that reassure hurting teens that they are not alone. Books that tell the truth about life and love and the painful, wonderful weirdness of being a flawed human being in a broken world.

I call no-banning on this book. We need it right where it is.
___________

What's your take?

Banned Book Week, review 1: Night by Elie Wiesel

 Summary: Night by Elie Wiesel is a memoir about his experience in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, toward the end of the Second World War. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.


~ Night is on the ACLU's list of bannned and challenged books for the year 2001-2002

~It was challenged in Texas for profanity, violance and horror.

~As a result of challenge:, use of the book in the curriculum was restricted to select students.


Review:  Allow me to indulge in some profanity of my own. Although this is also a prayer.

Oh. My. God.  This is one of the most simply and gracefully written punches in the gut I've ever read.  And it rings completely true. Yes there is some profanity and violence. Yes, it's horrifying. But we're talking about the HOLOCAUST here, one of the most horrifying events in human history.

People need to know about this. They need to know what humans are capable of, what can happen when fear and ignorance and injustice rule a society.


My take: I call shenanigans on banning this book. There is nothing gratuitous or inappropriate about it, only heartbreaking, difficult truth.

Have you read it? What's your take?

A little fun for Wednesday

 After so many serious posts, I thought it was time for a some random fun. So when I found this little game of tag on the awesome Coffey, Tea and Literary blog, I thought I'd pass it on.

The idea is that you answer eight questions about yourself and then tag eight people to do the same. Instead of choosing between all the interesting people I know, I'm just going to tag all of you who read this.

Tag. You're it.

(And no tag-backs. That's not cool.)
 __________

Racism and the Spider Theory: part 2, The Theory

To read the background on this post, go here.
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This past month, there was a spider in my kitchen. I picked up a bag of trash to take it out and a large, black spider ran out from under the bag and across the floor.

I tried to stomp it. Without thinking, without guilt, and without any overt feelings of hostility. I didn't hate the spider, I just didn't want it running in my house.

Then I remembered this picture from Tea Party Jesus:


And I realized something. I'm a total racist when it comes to spiders.
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Racism and the Spider Theory: part 1: The Background.

First off, thanks to everyone for the awesome Mockingjay discussion this past week! I never feel like I can properly process a book until I talk about it with other people.

*pauses*

And now for something completely different.

This year there have been several events and conversations that have made me think very hard thoughts about the topic of racism. Before I get into the thoughts themselves, I want to show you what prompted them.
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1. Cover Discussions.

In the past year, there's been a lot of cover controversy in the world of young adult books. Books with main characters who are darker-skinned or Asian have been released with covers that do not reflect the characters. Sometimes the initial cover was inaccurate, and then changed after people protested.



 In one instance, a book initially released with a culturally-appropriate cover was changed for the paperback version, in order to draw more sales.


The hardback for the sequel is planned to look more like the second version than the first.

I have personally read all of these books, and they were all fabulous. I even did a wildly enthusiastic review of Silver Phoenix last year on this blog. I know that none of this is under the author's control, and I encourage those of you who love to buy books to buy these books and share them. They are all worth it.

That being said, the whole topic of race, both in books and in cover art, has been a huge ongoing discussion in my corner of the world. You can read many opinions here, here and here. While there are a lot of complicated reasons for this sort of thing, it certainly made me think.
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All About Mockingjay, part 2: Snippits edition

 Apparently this is Miriam-posts-late Week. Sorry about that....
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Hey, you!

Yeah, you. The person who hasn't read Mockingjay yet. Why are you reading this post?

Don't get me wrong. I love that you're here and all, and I would love for you to come back again. Just... not today. Browse the archives, or go explore Garfield Minus Garfield or sign up for the Banned Book Challenge. Anything but reading this Mockingjay post.

Seriously. If you haven't read the book, you shouldn't read this post.

This is my serious face.

Really.

All About Mockingjay, part 1:

SPOILER ALERT!

Seriously, if you have not read Mockingjay yet, DO NOT READ FURTHER. If you ever think you want to read the Hunger Games series, don't read further. If you think you might want to see a movie based on the Hunger Games, do not read further.  Just don't do it.

And for everyone who can't read further based on those things, here's a fun little website called What Should I Read Next. And here's a web comic that always makes me smile. And here's a picture of a fox.


Now please, unless you've already read Mockingjay, go away.

The Waltons speak up about book burning.

Don't worry, I will do a Mockingjay post, but organizing my thoughts was a lot harder than I thought. Come back on Saturday for the first of a two-part Mockingjay discussion.
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In the meantime, I'd like to remind you of the Banned Book Challenge, which is still going on. Here's the invitation from the website:


Since 1990, according to the ALA Challenge Database, over ten thousand books have been challenged in our country. These include The Diary of Anne Frank, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien,1984 by George Orwell, the Bible, and the dictionary.

The last week in September is Banned Book Week, a way to celebrate and highlight these and other censored books.
In honor of Banned Book Week, a community of writers and readers have decided to be part of the Banned Book Challenge.

 The Challenge is simple: Read one or more banned or challenged books during the month of September, and post reviews  of them. The reviews will be collected and posted to a central site so that people can find out more about these books.

If you're interested in being part of the Challenge, you can sign up HERE. 

Please join us to spread the word about these books. Thank you.


I could go on all day about what it means to limit people's access to books. But I don't have to, because an old TV show called The Waltons does it for me. This is the scene I always think of when people talk about  banning (or burning!) books.

(The book scene starts about 1 minute in.) 

Ugh, the video was taken down and I can't find a transcript of the speech he gives. But part of it can be found here. 




The appropriate or inappropriate content of books is a sensitive issue, I know that. But taking away other's freedom is a very slippery slope.

Any thoughts?

Monday Snippits: Labor Day and Mockingjay poll

Happy Labor Day!!!


I hope those of you with a long weekend (like my husband) are having fun. And I hope those of you who have to work today (like me) are getting holiday pay.

Since I do have to run off to work, I just have a quick question. How many of you have read Mockingjay so far? I'd love to do a post discussing the book, but if most of you haven't read it yet, I can wait.

Who wants to talk about Mockingjay with me?

Why librarians are awesome.

Whoa, sorry about the late post folks! Long story, but I just now got to my computer to put this up. Enjoy.
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As we have said many times, September is devoted entirely to books on this blog. But books do not exist on their own. For the poorer masses, like me, books will forever equal libraries. And libraries mean librarians and librarians are awesome.

Librarians are cool for many reasons. For one thing, they are on the front lines of the debate on banned and challenged books. (You see what I did there?)

For another, they can find ANYTHING.

And the third reason...  Well, if you haven't seen this by now, it's high time you did.


I'm pretty sure this proves it. What do you think?
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.