Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Banned Book Week: The Giver by Lois Lowry

When I originally picked up this book, I had no idea it was on the banned/challenged book list. To me it was a highly recommended book that I had not yet read. Now I know that it has been on the ALA's challenged/banned book for the past two decades! Rather than rambling on and on about this, I found one article that summed everything about the Giver being a banned book including a perfect quote from Lois Lowry herself. Check it out at Walden Media.
Synopsis: "This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he's given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community."

My Review: I wasn't really sure what to think of this book when I started, I had heard it raved about but didn't know much else. It is a slow moving book that allows the ideas to sink in and gives you time to absorb. I can imagine this book could be brilliant in an active discussion group or class. Some of the ideas presented sound brilliant until you ponder on the longer and larger impact. I think it is a book that can be applied to current events no matter the era and what is happening. I did feel a little let down at the end of the book, I wasn't looking for a happy ending tied up in a bow but a little more closure would have been nice (I do realize it is part of a series but I don't know if I will continue with it).
My Rating: While this isn't the most exciting read, it is a hard hitting book that really makes you pause and think about what happens around us on a day to day basis. I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Have you read The Giver? How do you feel about using censorship to bring everyone to the same level and expectations?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Book Week: Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle

This was yet another book that I did not realize was on the Banned/Challenged Books list when I originally picked it up.  As I got it from Munchkin's old daycare, and it is a much loved copy, I know they used it in class. I have not seen it in his new preschool, and for their reaction to other things, I have a feeling it will not be used. It is an often challenged book due to the nudity of the man and women on one page.  As with all Eric Carle books the illustrations are in collage form and is a little free form, the nudity is not explicit by any means.  Upon reading it Munchkin didn't even think twice about it, just kept on looking at the pictures and reading the story.  If we as adults do not sexualize the image, then the kids will not even notice or react to it, especially for the target age group.
Synopsis: "Draw me a star. And the artist drew a star. It was a good star. Draw me a sun, said the star. And the artist drew a sun.? And on the artist draws, bringing the world to life picture by beautiful picture until he is spirited across the night sky by a star that shines on all he has made. In Draw Me a Star, Eric Carle celebrates the imagination in all of us with a beguiling story about a young artist who creates a world of light and possibility.?A remarkable, quintessentially simple book encompassing Creation, creativity, and the cycle of life within the eternal."

My Review: We really enjoy Eric Carle's books and I happened to come across this one at Munchkin's old daycare when they were closing and had to pick it up. The artwork is in Carle's collage style which I really enjoy and it always gives lots of interesting textures to the pictures. The story itself is interesting as it seems to tell the story of creation without actually saying it. Munchkin enjoyed the little lessons on how to draw a star (both 5 point and 8 point are included), he would follow his finger along with the artist crayon. This is another wonderful Eric Carle book!
My Rating: This is a beautiful book, as always with Eric Carle books. Munchkin enjoyed this book and liked following the artist's pencil/crayon to learn the movements to draw a star.  We give it a rating of Four Paws.

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Carnival at Candlelight by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House)
Unexpected by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Resist by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Longing by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Here All Along by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
More Than Words by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Irresistibly Yours by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Can't Stay Away by Lilly Avalon (After Dark)
Hot Burning Love by Dominique Eastwick (After Dark/ Mini Review)
You Are Mine by Karen Blake-Hall (After Dark/ Mini Review)
The Green Ember by  S.D. Smith (Mini Review)
Zeus's Eagle by Lucy Coats (Mini Review)
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Mega Machines = 1pt
Howl for Halloween = 1pt
One Lavender Ribbon = 3pts
Season of Sandstorms = 5pts
Zeus's Eagle = 5pts
Tango Makes Three = 1pt
Hot Burning Love = 3pts
Draw Me a Star = 1pt

Currently Reading:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Audio - 32%
1984 by George Orwell - PB - on page 267 of 328

 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt


Total Points Earned
     244 points + 20 points + 10 points (completed series) + 10 points (competing Series Challenge + 10 points (24 hours listening) - 55 points spent = 239 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 1099
Total Points Spent this Year: 884

Pages Read/ Time Listened
218:44 Hours Listened (10:50 listened this week)
35,551 Pages Read (590 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - 15 points spent
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir - Audible Download
Zeus's Eagle by Lucy Coats - 20 points spent
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - 20 points spent
Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan - Requested Review
Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott - Scholastic Books order
Apple Picking Day by Candice Ransom - Scholastic Book Order
My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order
There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order
I Love My New Toy by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems - Scholastic Book Order

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Hello everyone! I hope that you had fun last week with my Author Feature of Lilly Avalon.  I hope to do more large author features in the future.  If you have someone you would like to be featured (or if you are an author and would like to be featured) please feel free to contact me. 

Anyway, as you probably are aware, it is Banned Book Week. I kicked off the event here on my blog with a post yesterday about censoring what your children read.  I really don't pay attention to what books are challenged or have been banned at some point, I don't go out seeking them to read or avoid. I simply read great books I find or are recommended to me.  With that said though, I usually forget about Banned Book week, but this month I made sure I had a plan.  I have several reviews and posts on banned books for you this week, including children's books and graphic novels, because it isn't just the classics that get challenged.  Anyway, I hope you will stop by some of the posts to discuss with me. 

Next week we will finally return to my regular posting schedule.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Banned Books Week Discussion: Censoring Your Own Child's Books

So it is Banned Books Week, an event that brings to light the issues of censorship of books to the point of challenging them and even banning them in some cases that goes against the First Amendment.  Now to be honest I usually miss this week because I have never really focused on reading banned or challenged books, if it looks like a good book, something I would be interested in or comes highly recommended, I read it. Simple as that, but right before Munchkin was born someone did make me think, and it is something I have been thinking about ever since, so I thought it was time to bring these thoughts to you for discussion.
A few months before Munchkin was born, a friend of a friend contacted me regarding censoring my child's reading. She was writing a thesis paper on the matter and wanted an avid reader, book lover and future parent's take on the issue.  Of course when she first asked me the question 'Will you censor your son's reading or not allow him to read certain books?" my initial and immediate response was no, absolutely not.
Now, Munchkin is 4 years old and starting to pick his own books at the bookstore and what he reads off our shelves at home. This question comes back to me often. Am I censoring what he reads? Some might question whether at this age if it is even a matter of concern but as we look at the ALA's website there is a whole list of Children's books that have been challenged and banned.  Some of the books on that list are for a slightly older reading audience the my son but some of them will surprise you. . .
So anyway back to the question at hand. Have I already started censoring what my son reads? I certainly do guide him away from the books that we have read in the past that caused him nightmares.  I also make it a point to put books that are more age appropriate on the bottom of our bookshelves. But do I actually censor what he is reading? I do not believe so, instead what I do is provide a vast number of options that are appropriate for him at this time.  I look at that list of Children's books that have been banned and challenged, and I can honestly say I don't think there is a single book on that list that I would feel uncomfortable with him reading at some point.  In fact I did read a couple of them on the list that we haven't read before to discuss throughout this week, and I didn't find anything disagreeable to him or myself in them, and certainly no reason to remove them from a bookshelf.
(The bookshelf in Munchkin's own room offers a variety of books for him to read and look at, including some of the books on the banned list)
As he gets older, I will be asking myself this same question time and time again. Am I censoring my son's books?  I would like to think that I will encourage him to read what he enjoys, provide him with enough options of age appropriate books, and even books that others have challenged in the past. I would like to believe that he will be able to read a book and be able to come to me with any questions the content of the book may bring up. I also hope that if his school bans a book from lesson plans or their library that I will be able to find out and get a copy for ourselves and read and discuss it at home.
So I would like to hear from you. Have you been asked this question in your own lives?  Some might consider the fact that I try to limit him to age appropriate books to being a form of censorship. What do you think constitutes as censoring books your child reads?  Have you encountered book censorship in your own lives?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mini Reviews:The Green Ember, You Are Mine and More

So with reading and reviewing so many books, I am running out of days in which to share them with you.  I am going to start posting Mini Reviews of books that I read through out the month but couldn't find the time to post on the last Sunday of each month.
Obviously it is not the last Sunday of the month, that would be tomorrow, but as tomorrow kicks off Banned Book Week and I have things already planned and scheduled for that I thought I would instead post my mini reviews today. 
An anthromorphism fantasy quest that kept forgetting the characters were rabbits and not humans (hint to author: rabbits have paws not hands, even if they are doing human things with them). One Paw and a Stump Wag
Final book in the Beasts of Olympus series (at least so far) and I hope so too. It was an okay one just not great and I can see younger readers growing bored. Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
A short Thriller Romance that could draw me into the sub-genre. Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Even though it is a short read it has a satisfying conflict and resolution that is unique and fun. Four Paws

Friday, September 23, 2016

Author Feature: After Dark Review of Can't Stay Away by Lilly Avalon

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
Synopsis: "Piper Winchester is fresh out of college. With only three weeks until her father remarries and five weeks until her first business venture launches, she's got her hands full. She certainly doesn't need any distractions to get in the way of building the future her father's always wanted for her. But when a familiar boy with bright green eyes walks back into her life, she's thrown for a loop.

Four years ago, Chase MacKenzie left for college without looking back. He didn't mean to disturb the peace then, and he definitely doesn't want to do that now. Once he lays his eyes on Piper again, there's no way he can leave without fixing what went wrong in the past. Although she's more determined than ever to push him away, he still manages to get under her skin. Regardless of what happens between them, there's one thing that will always be standing in their way...

He's about to become her stepbrother."

My Review: I don't think I have ever read a book quite like this one and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy a step sibling romance, but the way this one is set up really works. There is clear history between Chase and Piper, while you don't really get to see that initial interaction and getting to know you period, you don't really feel like you need it. The characters had their own personalities and were well developed, while I was not a fan of Piper (I just can't stand for females that allow others to take advantage or let themselves be walked all over) I did enjoy the development of her character throughout the book. I LOVED the sub-characters, for me they really added a big bonus to the book, Theo, Nathan & Charlie were each fantastic and I want more of them. All in all a great read, plenty of steam, some emotional journey and interesting characters and plot line.
My Rating: I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book but having read all of Lilly Avalon's other books I shouldn't have worried. I love how she manages to integrate steamy moments and tension into the story without dropping the plot line. I give this a rating of Four Paws.
You can find out more about Lilly Avalon and her books on her Goodreads Page and Blog.
You can get your own copy of Can't Stay Away in print and digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
 Don't forget to check out my interview with Lilly Avalon and enter the giveaway HERE.  The giveaway ends at midnight tonight!
Thank you all for joining me for this author feature with Lilly Avalon!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Author Feature: After Dark Quick Fire with Lilly Avalon & Novella Reviews

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
So while we had a nice interview with Lilly Avalon on Tuesday (See HERE) I thought it would be fun to have her answer some quick fire after dark style questions about the perfect stud. So here we go . . .
Long or short hair?
Tattoos or piercings or neither?
~Neither, but I'm cool with either
What color eyes?
Works with his hands or office job?
~With his hands
Jeans & Tshirt, Button down and slacks or board shorts?
~Jeans & T-shirt
If historical what weapon? Sword or Bow and Arrow?
~Bow and Arrow
What would be the best part to unwrap (besides the obvious) Chest? Abs? Arms? Butt? Back?
~Butt, always always always
Haha wasn't that fun?! It was quite an entertaining way to kick off tonight.  I also have reviews of a few of Lilly's novellas.
Synopsis: "Every time Hazel Bell goes on a date, she returns home unhappy and disenchanted about love. At least her best friend Adrian Williams is always there for her, even more so now that they're roommates. After both of them have a bad night out, they decide to just relax and forget the world for awhile. It's been a long time since they've been alone together. They certainly weren't counting on the close quarters bringing out hidden desires. Now it appears their platonic friendship is being put to the test—one that neither can resist. By the end of the night, will it be the end for Hazel and Adrian—or a new beginning?

*Here All Along is an 8000 word erotica short story*"

Synopsis: This is a fun and steamy quick read. It is a short story so you don't get a lot of backstory, just basically one scene, but you don't miss it at all. The characters are well developed and ones you can really enjoy and connect with. The storyline felt familiar like something I have read before but again I enjoyed it so much that I really didn't mind.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book, it was such a quick and entertaining read. Just right for a nice bedtime story. I give it a rating of Four Paws!
You can obtain your own copy of Here All Along in digital format for FREE from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Synopsis: "All of her friends know her as Dana Darling, the clean romance writer. She's never written a steamy novel, not even in her head, but now her publisher needs her to write one. It doesn't appear too difficult at first, but then Dana's lack of sexual knowledge creates writer's block.

That's where her friend Landon comes in. She needs pointers on positions and dirty talk, and he owes her a favor. They agree that it's strictly business and clothes are mandatory, but once they get to work, it's another story entirely... one that's being written between the sheets and not on paper.

*More Than Words is an erotica novella*"

My Review: I really loved this story, it was a light, steamy and quick read. I really enjoyed the concept of the story about need to research for a novel. It is a short story that you can read in one sitting, which normally leaves the reader wanting more, but this one completely fulfills. You aren't left wondering at backstory or with unresolved questions, you would certainly like more time with the characters but you are still satisfied with the ending. 
My Rating: This has been my favorite of Lilly's books so far. I found it to be steamy and yet great at moving the storyline along.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

You can obtain your own copy of More Than Words in digital format for FREE from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Synopsis: "After spending the last year pining for her boss, Sara has decided it's time to move on. What's the point of waiting around for Brandon when it's considered inappropriate work behavior to date? A night on the town should be just the thing she needs to get her mind off him—that is, until Brandon shows up."
My Review: This book starts out as something familiar, the classic office lusting but then takes quite a turn. It is a very short read but it certainly keeps you reading to see what will happen next. We don't get to know the characters very well or watch the relationship develop but you don't really miss it. You not left feeling unfulfilled but still wanting more.
My Rating: This was another great novella, a quick read to enjoy in a single sitting. I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
The only way to read Irresistibly Yours is for FREE on Wattpad.

You can find out more about Lilly Avalon and her books on her Goodreads Page and Blog.
Don't forget to check out my interview with Lilly Avalon and enter the giveaway HERE