Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Book Week- The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Young Adult - Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic
purchased for my Nook.
4.5 stars

The American Library Association lists The Hunger Games as number four on the most frequently challenged books for 2010. The Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom cites that a parent has asked the Gofftown (NH) School Board to remove the book from her child's class "claiming that it gave her 11-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence." (School Library Journal, October 2010). The article also presents the general description of the book the parent gave to the board, which demonstrates that the parent has not read the entire book, and the child either did not pay attention to the reader (the book was being read allowed in class), or as the article seems to imply, had not heard/read the entire book.

This book has been sitting on my Nook Color for several months now. It was one of the first I got for it, so when I saw it on the list of frequently banned/challenged books, I had to read it now (works well for Read your own Books Month too). I had gotten it because I'd seen the hype, and everyone loved it (apparently, hype over Young Adult science fiction/fantasy does not phase me). This one lived up to the hype

. It is set in Panem, after a huge global warming event and war has devastated North America. The country is centered around the capitol, with districts surrounding it. Each district is responsible for the production/gathering of certain types of materials for the country. The capitol lives in wealth, while the districts are kept in reduced states, where it is not uncommon for families to barely get by. This is one way the Capitol exerts its force on the people, to prevent another uprising. The capitol also hosts The Hunger Games, designed to keep the citizens in the districts in line, and at the mercy of the Capitol. For the games, a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts are selected, given a small amount of training, and placed in an arena with minimal supplies for a fight to the death. The novel is told from the point of view of Katniss, the girl tribute from District 12.

I have a 10 year old nephew, and I don't think I would have any problem giving this book to read. Yes it focuses on a society that routinely puts children in fights to the death, but most of these are "off camera". The tributes don't get to know how the others are killed unless they were involved in the process; they just get a basic rundown of the deaths each day. So the reader gets to see a relatively few number of them. The majority of the kids selected do not want to be in these games, to fight and kill. But they must if they wish to try and get back to their friends and family. The ones the readers get to see aren't terribly graphic or gory either. Kids have seen worse things on the news, in the cartoons and movies they are allowed to watch, as well as in school. I know my five year old nephew has. Whether he understands it or not is another thing. But my older nephew is very much into fighting games (first person shooters), nerf guns and army men. But we've always gone over with him how his favorite heros aren't shooting just to kill, but they are fighting the "bad guys".

Everyone has had nightmares at some point in their life; that's no reason to ban a book. Like all books, this has a target age range to be a guide for parents purchasing books for their kids. Yes this could be a book emotionally difficult for some kids, but that's when the parents should step up and discuss it with the kids. But the average 12-18 year olds this is aimed at will have no problem with the reading or subject matter. By that age, they know the "effects of violence"; one little book is not going to determine if someone will be violent or not. And focusing on the violent aspects only blinds you to the more important aspects of being able to fend for yourself, as the tributes are called on to do, or standing up to what you know to be wrong, as Katniss does several times

I really enjoyed this novel, and look forward to finishing the series once my schedule frees up.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday and What I'm Reading

What I'm Reading is hosted by Book Journey and Mailbox Monday is hosted in September by Amused by Books.

Not much entered my home this week. My copy of Into the Wilderness with a dust jacket arrived (and the ebay seller puts all other book sellers, including Amazon and Barnes and Nobles to shame where her good packaging).  I also headed into the library to check out their sale when I went to the farmers market. Found a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with a dust jacket (previous copy has none, and this upgrading thing is a problem I have), The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks, and a very nice, 1938 edition of Fanny Kemble: A Passionate Victorian, by Margaret Armstrong. During grad school, one of my classes was assigned Kemble's Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-1839 because she was an English actress who married a Georgian plantation owner, it portrays her views on slavery.

Also, I had holds come in from the library: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Doc by Mary Doria Russell, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. And I checked out the audio book for The Shadow of the Wind.

Last week I finished The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick and The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, as well as the audiobook for Bossypants by Tina Fey. I started my Banned Book Week read, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and continue with Gone with the Wind.  Next up will be Doc and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Banned Book Week Giveaway reminder

Just a reminder, if you are entering the giveaway, make sure that you leave your email in the comments section. If you've already commented but forgot, reply to your original post to add it.

Proper post will come later today, but I've been reading The Hunger Games for my banned book week read. Look for a review post later in the week.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Book Week Giveaway Hop

Banned Books Week Giveaway is hosted by I am a Reader, not a Writer and I Read Banned Books

Banned Books Week runs September 24th- October 1, and celebrates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, and therefore, freedom to read what you want to read. The American Library Association runs Banned Book Week, and highlights the common books banned or challenged by year, and decade. You can see who has challenged or banned a book, where they are located, and what reason is given. I am a firm believer that no one gets to dictate what I can or cannot do. If you want to enforce what you read, or what your children want to read, that's your choice. But you don't get to decide what I or anyone totally unrelated to you can or cannot read. My parents never tried to tell me what I could or could not read. I've been lucky living in a school district that never tried to deny me what I wanted to read. The closest I had was one teacher who though Steinbeck's East of Eden maybe wasn't the best book for a 7th grader to read (12-13 years old for anyone not familiar with the US system). Although the same teacher had no probably with me reading Gone with the Wind the same year. If you'd like to see some of the banned and challenged books, check out the bottom of this page for pdfs of some of the most challenged books for most of the last decade. You can find more lists in the sidebar under Frequently Challenged Books.

So in honor of banned book week, I'm doing a giveaway. Last year, I read A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving and I really enjoyed it. I first became of his writing my first year of college when Cider House Rules won it's Oscars. Rented the movie, liked it, so I do what I normally do if I find out a movie I liked is based on the book. I bought it. I loved it. Its one of those books, where I can't quite explain why it marked me, but it did. I've been collecting his novels since then, but Owen Meany is only the second I've read. Irving is not afraid of covering the difficult subjects. Abortions, out of wedlock births, religion, Vietnam War and draft dodging..., he's covered it. They are well written, and well paced reads, despite many being of the chunkster persuasion. A Prayer for Owen Meany was removed from the Pelham, Massachusetts district reading list in 2009, over complaints about language and sexuality.

For the hop, I am giving away one brand new trade paperback of A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. This giveaway is International, so long as Book Depository ships to your country. If the winner resides in the United States, the book will ship from Barnes and Nobles; everywhere else will ship from Book Depository. Please make sure Book Depository ships to your country before hand.

To Enter: Leave a comment to this post, including your email address where I can contact you if you are the winner. If no email is in the content of your comment, you have not entered.
One entry per person. Winner will be chosen via
Contest runs from 12am PST September 24th through 11:59pm PST October 1st. That's the end of the day folks.

Be sure to check out all of the other giveaways running as well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Converted

The Converted by C.R. Hindmarsh
Received from the author for review, Via Library Thing's Member Giveaways

Synopsis from Goodreads:
With his patients dead and his genetic research in tatters, Dr. Anton Springmann fled his homeland as a fugitive, taking a one-way diesel ship to New Alania. But within hours of his arrival, screams ring through the night. Hordes of gray, humanoid creatures--devils, to the townspeople--attack Anton's new home. Among the dead, Anton finds a single survivor: a young girl, Elisa Pierce. Her skin grows cracked and she begins to mutate. She's becoming a devil. Anton's seen it before. Tormented by past sins, Anton struggles to save Elisa before the change takes her completely. But old enemies have pursued him across the seas, and now Anton is being hunted by more than just devils. Redemption doesn't come cheap in New Alania.

I am a big fan of the Firefly television series, and this seemed to have similar elements so that drew me to it. But this didn't have quite as much of the science fiction aspects as I was expecting. The science fiction aspects- the genetic research, mutations, etc.... are important to the climax of the story, but it reads more like a western novel. The setting and characters are ones that could come from any western movie or novel. The novel has a good pace, and the author teases out the history of what brings Dr. Springmann to New Alania in the first half of the novel, so just learn a little bit of it at a time. The author does use the F-bomb several times through out the novel. A few times, if it suits the genre, I can take that, but there was one scene where it was used about as many times as it was in the whole rest of the book, and that just seemed excessive.

Overall, it was a good read. A good diversion, but not a great read. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Regarding commenting

I had been told that the Blogger default commenting method was causing trouble, so I've just added on Disqus, since I had an account for posting on another blog using it. That should clear up any issues. Google folks can use google to login, wordpress can use OpenID, and there's an option for Name+url. If you have trouble with it, you can get me on Twitter @sawcat or Google+

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mailbox Monday and What I'm Reading - Late Night Edition

Hosted by Sheila of Book Journey

Finished this last week
The Converted by C.R. Hindmarsh (review forthcoming)

Currently Reading
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes (on hold until I stop doing challenges)
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Up Next:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

And what's arrived in my mailbox this week. Mailbox Monday is currently hosted by Amused by Books

The Authentic South of Gone With the Wind: Illustrated Guide to the Grandeur of a Lost Era by Bruce Wexler - won at the Gone With the Wind read-along A at The Heroine's Bookshelf. Thanks, Erin!

Fire Along the Sky by Sara Donati
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Sticks and Stones: three Centuries of North Carolina Gravemarkers by M. Ruth Little
Jamestown, the Buried Truth by William M. Kelso
Crossed by Ally Condie
The Tale of Desperaux by Kate Dicamillo

And my Nook got a shiny new cover. One that won't show all the fingerprints (my orange one looks grubby), and one where that microsuede or faux micro suede does not touch the screen. Because that crap catches every bit of dirt and oil it touches, and puts it back onto the screen when the cover is closed..

Most of the books I got at Better World Books. They match each book purchased from them by donating one their literacy partners. Also portions of sales go to libraries and literacy groups. And they ship worldwide. So check them out. My Into The Wilderness didn't end up having a dustjacket, so I ended up getting my backup copy with cover and will send the one along via Paperback Swap. And two of the books have been sitting in my Amazon wish list a VERY long time. Ten years for the one. And for my fellow Nook owners, check out The Cheap Blog. Posts about cheap and free nook books in the store. How I found Desperaux for 99 cents over the weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen
Magical Realismpersonal copy acquired via Paperback Swap
Book #1 for Read your own books Month

About the book (from the back cover)
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.

Thoughts I read The Peach Keeper over the summer, and while I enjoyed it, it didn't quite compare to Alice Hoffman's The Red Garden which I had read earlier in the summer. It was my first time reading a book by this author, and many people who had read most of her works had mentioned how it didn't quite hold up to her other novels. Now having read Garden Spells, I can completely see why they said that. The magical realism aspect in The Peach Keeper is very subtle. So subtle I would not be surprised if some readers missed it completely. In Garden Spells, it is impossible to miss it. It reminded me a bit of the Practical Magic movie (I've sadly not read the book yet. Maybe this fall if there is time), and also The Red Garden, which also features a garden which defines the family in local lore. I really enjoyed it, and had to remind myself that I can't start The Girl who Chased the Moon right away. Its an easy read, and for the most part a fun read. It made a nice change of pace after reading the part of Gone with the Wind where Scarlet goes back to Tara while Sherman is marching through Georgia.

If anyone is interested in winning a copy of this book, Wendy of Wall-to-wall-books also just finished it, and is giving away her copy. So head over to her blog if you are interested in entering.

Monday, September 5, 2011

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI Challenge

I've been seeing this challenge come up on several blogs, and finally had a look at it.(click the image above to find out more about the challenge
The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
Dark Fantasy.
I was planning on doing some witchy reading for October, so this seems to fit in.
I'm going to aim for 2 books fitting the theme. Looking through my shelves, the following seem to fit:

City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Reservoir by John Miliken Thompson
Different Seasons by Stephen King
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Probably more if I could unbox some of my books. But I'll pick out of this list.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten Sequels I'm Dying to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Sequels I'm Dying to Read
I read a great deal of series, I seem to get stuck in some long ones, so this will be repeated somewhat from last week's list.

1. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan I preordered it last summer, but have yet to read it.
2. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon My next one in the series. There was a mention of Jaime and Clare in Into the Wilderness, and I've been wanting to pick it up since.
3. Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati I pretty much inhaled Into the Wilderness when I checked it out. So when I found a near mint copy of the second book at the library sale, I snatched it up.
4. A Clash of Kings by G.R.R. Martin Been itching to pick this up since the tv series ended
5. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness A Discovery of Witches is still my favorite book that I've read this year. I am eagerly awaiting release of the second book hopefully next summer.
6. Crossed by Ally Condie Loved Matched, so this will be one of the highlights of November.
7. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini Been looking forward to the end of this series.
8. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett Wintersmith was one of the first Discworld books read, and probably part of the reason I picked up Wicked Lovely. This was one of my Borders finds.
9. Beat to Quarters by C.S. Forester I have a thing for Regency set military. The Hornblower series was one of the first I started, but I haven't read any since I started using Shelfari. I've had this since then, but haven't read it.
10. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin I love the Mistress of the Art of Death series. Its like the book (and original) Temperance Brennan set in the medieval period. This is the final book in the series, unless another is discovered in Diana Norman's papers, since she died earlier this year.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Read Your Own Books Month

Chick Loves Lit and a few other bloggers are hosting Read Your Own Books Month in September. You can pick a level to aim for, based on your schedule and other things. Check out the link above if you want to join in.

I am going to aim for Cat - 2-3 Books, since I'm still in the middle of (or rather, behind) the Gone With The Wind read along, and will like have a hold on Doc come in sometime this month.