October 2013 Books On My Radar…

Only a few books on my radar this month…and I won’t buy most of these this month.

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October 1

This is another series I’d like to catch up with! I’m far behind…I’m not even sure which I read last. 😦

Ttempt-the-starsempt the Stars

by Karen Chance

Series: Cassie Palmer series #6

Published by Signet Select

Genre: Urban Fantasy

432 pages

Synopsis: Being a goddess is a lot less fun than you might think. Especially when you’re only a half goddess, and you only found out about it recently, and you still don’t know what you’re doing half the time. And when you’ve just used your not-so-reliable powers to burglarize the booby-trapped office of a vampire mob boss.

Yeah, that part sucks.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Cassandra Palmer, aka the Pythia, the freshly minted chief seer of the supernatural world. After all, Cassie still has to save a friend from a fate worse than death, deal with an increasingly possessive master vampire, and prevent a party of her own acolytes from unleashing a storm of fury upon the world. Totally just your average day at the office, right?

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I read the first book in this series and liked it pretty well, but I’m not sure I’ll read this book. It doesn’t sound as interesting to me.

Spy’s Honor

by Amy Raby

Series: Hearts and Thrones #2

Published by Signet

Genre: Fantasy Romance

400 pages

Synopsis: Rhianne, mind mage and Imperial Princess of Kjall, cannot openly challenge the emperor. Instead, she acts in secret to aid the victims of his worst excesses. But now the emperor plans to wed her to the cruel Augustan, the man leading Kjall’s attack against the nation of Mosar. Soon she will be torn from her supporters and shipped overseas, where she can help no one.

Mosari crown prince Janto is desperate to save his country from invasion. When one of his most trusted spies disappears while gathering intelligence at the Kjallan palace, Janto takes his place and continues searching for information that could save his people. But falling for the Imperial Princess was not part of his plan. Nor was having his true identity revealed…

Now Rhianne must make a choice—follow the path of tradition or the one of the heart, even if it means betraying her own people.

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October 15

I bought the first book in the series a couple weeks ago. I hope to read it soon and if I like it will want to buy this second book!

across-a-star-swept-seaAcross a Star Swept Sea

By Diana Peterfreund

Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars series, book 2

Published by Balzer & Bray

Genre: YA Science Fiction Distopia

464 pages

Synopsis: Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

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October 29

The second in a new series (the first book was published in September). I haven’t read the first book yet, but have bought it so I want to read it and not forget about this book.

A Studya-study-in-darkness in Darkness

by Emma Jane Holloway

Series: The Baskerville Affairs series, book

Published by Del Rey

Genre: Urban Fantasy

352 pages

Synopsis: A migration of mythical creatures has begun, and more and more of them are landing on Zoey Donovan’s doorstep. As the only Aegis left in the country, it falls to her to protect the Hidden and keep them safe—and her house has become a sanctuary for water sprites, goblins, harpies, djinn and more.

Keeping track of her boarders is a full-time job, and Zoey’s already got her hands full trying to run her wedding planning business. Good thing she has a resident closet monster to keep her organized, and a hot Reaper boyfriend to help her relax every once in a while.

But she can’t keep up monster-triage indefinitely, and as more Hidden arrive, it becomes clear that someone—or something—is hunting them. In the midst of planning an event for a notoriously difficult client, Zoey’s got to figure out who’s behind the hunt…and she’s got to stop them before there are no Hidden left.

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I like Sarah Morgan’s writing so I’m looking forward to this book and hope to read it in the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon!

Sleigh Bells isleigh-bells-in-the-snown the Snow

by Sarah Morgan

Series: ?

Published by Harlequin HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance

384 pages

Synopsis: Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

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I only plan to buy Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan this month. Before I buy any of the other books I need to read earlier books in the series!

What books are you looking forward to this month? What books have I missed?

Sunday Post–September 29

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kim at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look at my last week and forward to the next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to participate in every week and I thank Kim for hosting it!

Last Week

Around the House

Hard to believe I was in Iowa and Chicago last week. Also hard to believe it’s already the end of September. I love autumn, but it always flies by so quickly. My kids’ birthdays are in September, October and November. I like to do something special for each of them and then we have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…before I know it a new year has begun! I always have so many plans and never enough time! Kind of sounds like my reading life!

Blog…Lots of posts this week! Karen contributed two posts this week–both about A Tale of Two Cities!

Sunday Post–September 22

Top Ten Tuesday–Best Sequels

How Does a Person Fall in Love with A Tale of Two Cities?

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death!”

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Review: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

What I’m reading

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (audio book)

The Arrangement by Mary Balogh

What I read this week

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

E-books bought

 

The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (from the library)

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

Around the web

I had my last two classes in my WordPress class. I learned a lot and am looking forward to working on some setting up my blog in WordPress.org.

Next Week

Around the house

My husband works for the federal government so we are waiting to see what’s going to happen next week. It’s frustrating not to know. But I really feel sorry for the young people–especially the young military troops–who don’t make much money and can’t afford not to be paid.

Posts on the blog

  • October Books on My Radar
  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Fraterfest
  • Review
  • Sunday Post

What was your week like? Are you enjoying fall? Did you read (or find) some great books this week? What do you think about banned books?

Review: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Phillip Pullman is an author I haven’t read before and so it’s part of my New Authors Challenge which is hosted by the Literary Escapism blog. Check out their blog and also the challenge. I’m really enjoying all the new authors I’m reading this year!

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bannedbooksThe Golden Compass is also frequently on banned or challenged book lists. Even though I’ve had this book in print form for years and my family have all read it and told me how good it is I hadn’t read it before now. I was curious why this book would be a banned book.

Rita_h at My Home of Books has issued a challenge for readers to read at least one banned book by the end of September. There’s a list of 100 frequently banned books on her blog and at the American Library Association site (Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009).

Banned Book Week 2013 was this week–September 22-28. This week I have posted my two reviews of the banned books I read

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golden compassThe Golden Compass
by Phillip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials, book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1996
E-book, purchased
368 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

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What I like about this book:

  • Lyra Belacqua is such an innocent. She’s had a very odd childhood, but she has grown up completely unselfconscious about herself. She hasn’t had a lot of formal education, but she has learned honesty, loyalty and how to make friends.
  • The world Phillip Pullman has created is very similar to ours, but just enough different to make a great fantasy world.
  • It’s a very original plot.
  • Although it’s a young adult book there is plenty to keep an adult interested.

What I don’t like:

  • It ends with a cliffhanger.

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My thoughts: 

Again, as with The Handmaid’s Tale this book paints religion in a very poor light so I can understand (even if I don’t agree) why people might want to ban the book.

However, I loved the book and look forward to reading the next two.

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What do you think? Have you read any of His Dark Materials series? Have you read other banned books?

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

bannedbooksThe Handmaid’s Tale is frequently on banned or challenged book lists. Rita_h at My Home of Books has posted a challenge about banned books. There is a list of 100 books on her blog and at the American Library Association site (Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009). Today is the last day of Banned Book week for this year. I’m posting my reviews of the two books I finished this week.

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handmaids-taleThe Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction Distopian
Published by Random House,1986
Trade paperback, from library
311 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

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I originally read this book over twenty years ago and it was a disturbing book when I originally read it. It’s still a disturbing book…and it’s supposed to be.

What I like about this book:

  • A classic science fiction novel which considers “what if” questions.
  • Most science fiction of this type is somewhat obscure leaving the reader to gradually discover what’s happening and come to their own conclusions. I like that. The reader is treated like a thinking person!
  • A distopian novel before distopian became popular.
  • I like that the ending is somewhat oblique. What happens to Offred is unknown…leaving it to our imagination–however, that’s also something I don’t like…

What I don’t like:

  • I don’t like that the ending is somewhat oblique. When I read books now I like to know what happens. I like a happy ending. However, I recognize The Handmaid’s Tale is a stronger book written as it is.
  • The Republic of Gilead’s administration creates a solution to their problem, but at a terrible cost to women.

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My thoughts: 

This book was written in the 1980’s. Ronald Reagan was president. Christian fundamentalism was on the rise. In the 1960’s Silent Spring by Rachel Carson had shown a link to pesticide and pollution. By the 1970’s the pesticide DDT was banned in the U.S. and other countries. Women were given drugs such as DES to control problems such as miscarriage in pregnancy. However, it was discovered DES didn’t help pregnancies and, in fact, caused cancers in both the mothers and children and could cause fertility problems for both the sons and daughters. Thus, there were many fears about the chemicals which were being used.

Also birth control (“the pill”), abortion and feminism all caused a certain amount of “anti-feminist” activity by some people. By the time this book was written The Equal Rights Amendment had failed to be ratified by 38 states. Conservatives led by Phyllis Schlafly were a major factor in the amendment’s defeat.

When I originally read the book I had no idea it was on banned lists though knowing it is I can see why some people wouldn’t like it and might try to keep others from reading it. The book certainly doesn’t give a favorable view of religion. But books are for widening our horizons and challenging our beliefs. If we can’t read a book without changing the way we believe our beliefs aren’t very strongly held.

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Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale? What do you think? Have you read other books which challenge your beliefs?

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death!”

So yesterday I wrote a little bit about my love for A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I feel like I said almost nothing about the book and there’s more I wanted to write about, so this is post 2. This post is mostly about Dickens writing about the French Revolution. I don’t think it really counts as a spoiler for me to say that once the French Revolution portion of the story gets going, the French peasants are going to kill a lot of people and they’re going to do it some really awful ways. That’s just history. I’ll alLibertyLeadingthePeopleso say that once they start doing that stuff, it becomes really difficult not to view them as an extremely unlikable bunch of people, but this is where Dickens is really amazing. He’s spent the earlier part of the book painting such a brutally moving picture of the life of the poor in pre-revolution France that you can totally understand why they end up murdering all these people later in the book. Here’s an example where he’s speaking of the French peasants:

“A people that had undergone a terrible grinding and re-grinding in the mill. . . The mill which had worked them down, was the mill that grinds young people old; the children had ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon the grown faces, and ploughed into every furrow of age and coming up afresh, was the sign, Hunger. It was prevalent everywhere.”

One of my favorite passages from the book is a description of the frenzy of a crowd of peasants in Paris to collect and drink every drop of wine from a dropped and broken wine cask. They scoop it off the muddy ground, they soak their scarves in it and wring the wine into their mouths, they chew on the broken pieces of the wine cask to suck out all the wine they can. This scene manages to be funny while highlighting the extreme poverty of French peasants before the revolution. It also foreshadows the blood that will eventually stain the streets and people of this neighborhood once the revolution begins.

“A shrill sound of laughter and of amused voices–voices of men, women, and children–resounded in the street while this wine game lasted. . . The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled. It had stained many hands, too, and many faces, and many naked feet, and many wooden shoes […] One tall joker. . . scrawled upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy wine—BLOOD. The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.”

This book manages to make you feel for both the peasants and the aristocrats, even though in the beginning of the story you despise the aristocrat429px-Cruikshank_-_The_Radical's_Armss and by the end you are repulsed by the peasants. It really left me with an intense feeling of the general awfulness of this kind of conflict. Given the horrible way the peasants are treated, I really can’t say they shouldn’t have had their revolution. But then reading about the terrible things that happen to the aristocrats, even if you agree that they deserved to be overthrown, it still made me cry to read about them being sent by the hundreds and thousands to La Guillotine:

“It sheared off heads so many, that it, and the ground it most polluted, were a rotten red. It hushed the eloquent, struck down the powerful, abolished the beautiful and good. Twenty-two friends of high public mark. . . it had lopped the heads off, in one morning, in as many minutes.”

I was going to end this post by talking about the ways in which the tragic costs of revolution seen in A Tale of Two Cities really made me think about the current situation in Syria, but that’s probably a bit heavier than my mom really wants me to get on her blog. And at the end of the day, it’s not really the point of the book. I think it’s more important to say that even though the Revolution is the backdrop for a large part of this book, A Tale of Two Cities is really mostly about love. The love of a father and daughter, of a husband and wife, and of a man who loves a woman he knows he can never have, but who loves her enough to want nothing but happiness for her. I haven’t done the book justice in these two short reviews, but hopefully some of you will still want to read it anyway!

How does a person fall in love with A Tale of Two Cities?

Hi, this is Karen. As my mom said, I’m hoping to write in occasionally with book reviews, so hopefully this first one won’t be so off topic that it gets me kicked off the blog!A Tale of Two Cities

I’m starting with a review of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I know this isn’t the type of book my mom usually reviews on her blog, but she told me I could write about any books I wanted, and I really loved this book. I’d never been particularly interested in reading A Tale of Two Cities because it sounded like kind of a boring book, but wow, was I wrong! This is an amazing story, full of romance, unrequited love, mysterious imprisonment (“Recalled to Life!”), and all the drama and violence of the French Revolution. And lots of sad and terrible and occasionally wonderful things happening to people and being done by them to others. Plus, Dickens has such an amazing gift for words and imagery. I suppose since he’s one of the greats of English literature this shouldn’t surprise me so much.

You might wonder how I ended up reading A Tale of Two Cities in the first place if I thought it was going to be boring. The answer is pretty simple. A guy I had a big crush on loved this book and read me the passage quoted below during one of those marathon nights of conversation where you’re both getting to know each other and pretending to find everything the other person likes to be profoundly interesting. I went and bought the book in a rather transparent attempt to impress him, but now, 3 years later, he’s long gone and I have a book that has a permanent place on my list of favorites. So here’s the first section of A Tale of Two Cities that I ever heard; and even after reading the whole book it’s still a favorite quote of mine:

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness, even of death itself, is referable to this.”

When I first heard this, I struggled with the idea that at the deepest level, even in the closest or most intimate relationships of life, there will always be some ways in which no ever truly knows you, or at least some things that no one ever knows. It seems at first incredibly lonely, to imagine that there will always be parts of yourself, thoughts, opinions, dreams, secret hopes, that are so delicate or dangerous that you never share them with another soul. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it really is true. I’m a big fan of sharing about my life with the people who are close to me, but there are personal doubts and worries that are too personal even for my closest confidants, and sometimes it seems like I might jinx myself or sound foolish if I voice the deepest hopes of desires of my soul. This quote has also altered my perspective somewhat when I interact with other people. As a new person in a new city, I feel like I’m a “profound secret and mystery” to pretty much everyone I meet, and they are certainly a mystery to me. I tend to be a little quick to form opinions about new people I meet, so I find that it’s useful to think of this quote and remember that there’s a lot more to people than the personality that they may present at work or otaleoftwocitiesaudiobookut at a bar or on a first date. People are complicated and I shouldn’t be so quick to think I know or understand them. And even with people I know really well, I shouldn’t assume that they really share everything with me. But I’m getting off topic. . .

This post is getting long and A Tale of Two Cities is a book with lots of plot twists and turns and a ton of great characters, none of which I’ve actually talked about at all. I don’t want this to turn into a book review though, so I guess I’ll just let you read the book to find out about the story. Or if you don’t want to read the book, try listening to the audiobook. I have the version from Audible.com narrated by Simon Vance (really excellent version!). I will warn you though, I listened to this last month while doing mundane things in the lab, and although it made my days go by really fast, there were some sad or touching sections that caused me to cry at my lab bench. Very embarrassing. I had to pretend I was having a terrible allergy attack.

I may write a bit more about this great book tomorrow, so if I got you at least a little interested in this fantastic classic, stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Top Ten Tuesday–Best Sequels

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme which I participate in occasionally. It’s a great meme and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week a new topic is presented. It’s not only fun to think about my own list, but to read what other people come up with!

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This week we tell about the best sequels ever. As usual I had a bit of trouble with this! So many books are written as a series and have more than two books. Karen and I each came up with five books. We fudged a bit and some of the books are part of a series of books. Some are also not really considered sequels. Oh well, this is what we have…lol

Jan’s Choices

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien–I’m including the whole series (The Lord of the Rings) as the sequel to The Hobbit!

 

A Precious Jewel and The Christmas Bride by Mary Balogh–Mary Balogh often has books (especially her older regency romances) which have characters in one book who show up as the main character in another book. That’s the case here–Sir Gerald Stapleton is one of the main characters of A Precious Jewel and his stepmother is a main character of The Christmas Bride. These two characters’ lives are intertwined and they are both damaged characters so these two books work as main book and sequel for me!

 

Welcome to Temptation and Faking It by Jennifer Crusie–These two books are linked because because they are both about the Dempsey family, but Faking It is not a sequel. Jennifer Crusie says that on her website, too–but I liked these two books a lot and the Dempsey family was a great part of my enjoyment!

 

Agent of Change and Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller–Carpe Diem does work as a sequel. It is a continuation of the story of Miri Robertson and Val Con yos Phellium. They are part of a bigger set of books which are all set in the Liaden Universe.

 

Archangel and Jovah’s Angel by Sharon Shinn–There are five books in this series and they are a wonderful set of books. Jovah’s Angel does work as a sequel for Archangel though.

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Karen’s Choices

(Karen only gave me a comment for her first set of books)

 

The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman–but it ends on a ridiculously suspenseful cliffhanger…and then he took a number of years to write the last one!

 

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie King

 

A Wrinkle in Time and Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle

 

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken

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What are your favorite sequels? What did we forget?

Sunday Post–September 22

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kim at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look at my last week and forward to the next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to participate in every week and I thank Kim for hosting it!

Last Weekapple_picking_IA

Around the House

I was in Iowa this week with my daughter Karen. I’ve had a great time in Des Moines. Karen moved to Des Moines in June for a new job which she loves. My older daughter arrived Friday night for the weekend. We went apple picking on Saturday. It was a beautiful day…lots of fun.

Blog…Lots of posts this week! My daughter contributed a post which I appreciate. I hope she will write a few more now and then!

Sunday Post–September 15

Top Ten Tuesday–My Fall 2013 TBR List

Banned Books Challenge

New blog contributor

Banned books for what reason?

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

What I’m reading

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (audio book)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

What I read this week

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

E-books bought

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

February Thaw by Tanya Huff

The Lies of Locke Larmora by Scott Lynch

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Deliah’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer (from Kobo)

Around the web

  • This week in my WordPress class we worked on monetizing our practice website–using affiliates, ads or selling products. We also did more work on the site and learned about social networking and how that can help a website or blog. Many people taking this class are building a small business blog or website. Only more week in the class. Next week we learn about WordPress SEO and how to use statistics and analysis as well as other WP tips.
  • Next week is Banned Book Week sponsored by the American Library Association. My daughter and I added a couple of posts this week about banned books. I don’t think books should be banned, but I do think parents should know what their children read though I confess I didn’t always know the books they read.
    • Even though my daughter comes out strongly against banning books she told me about reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker in high school. She wishes she hadn’t read it then. (It contains rape scenes and abuse by her father and husband.) She feels she could have read it later in life, but as a high schooler she was very disturbed by it.
    • Rita_h from My Home of Books is offering an Amazon gift card to someone who joins her challenge to read at least one banned/challenged book from the list at her site and review it during September.

Next Week

Around the house

I’m driving back to Chicago with my older daughter on Sunday and fly home on Monday. I imagine next week I stay busy catching up!

Posts on the blog

  • Review: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Sunday Post

What was your week like? Are you enjoying fall? Did you read (or find) some great books this week? What do you think about banned books?

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm FrontStorm Front
by Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files, book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc, 2000
E-book, Library
322 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Harry Dresden — Wizard

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed

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I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges and where elves don’t come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p’s and q’s. My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I’m in the book.

What I like about this book:

  • Harry is a great character. He’s a wisecracking, irreverant private detective/wizard. (“I’d made the vampire cry. Great. I felt like a real superhero. Harry Dresden, breaker of monsters’ hearts.”)
  • Lt. Karrin Murphy, Gentleman Johnny Marcone and Toot-toot are well-developed characters even in this first book. They have distinct personalities.
  • The book is set in Chicago where I’ve spent a lot of time over the years.
  • The ironic and wry way the author writes. He shows the ironic even in dire circumstances.
  • The world building is interesting. For example, a wizard can gaze into a person’s eyes and see their soul. The other person can also see into the wizard’s soul…a disturbing experience especially for the nonwizard.

What I don’t like:

  • The book starts a little slow.

Interesting Detail:

  • The book was published in 2000. Amazing to think how much has changed: film and cameras using film are important in the story, but now 13 years later we don’t use film at all.

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My thoughts: This is a good start to the series. The characters are introduced and I got a good feel for them. Since I’ve read the fourth and fifth books in the series I know some of the recurring characters who show up in this first book. It’s also good to get some of the back story for Harry and some of the other characters. A good start to the series even if I did find the book a little slow at first.

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What do you think? Have you read any of this series?

Banning books for what reason?

Looking at the list of 100 top banned books made me laugh, not because I think people trying to ban books is funny, but because many of the books people think are dangerous enough to ban are just plain laughable. Captain Underpants? It may be a dumb book full of fart jokes and other things adults don’t think are funny, but dangerous? Threatening to young minds or AWrinkleInTimemorals? I don’t buy it. Many of the books on the list were just baffling to me. Who thought A Wrinkle in Time needed to be banned? Too fanciful? Don’t like the idea of space travel or monsters or really smart kids? Nothing particularly dangerous or morality-eroding there.

Not that I think dangerous or morally ambiguous books should be banned. Most people need a little challenge to their lazily held moral beliefs and I’d say kids in particular deserve the opportunity to form their own opinions about the type of beliefs they want to call their own. Rather than being banned, I think a book like To Kill a Mockingbird should be mandatory reading. Books like this at least get people thinking about their beliefs and opinions about issues like race and justice and standing up for what’s right even when it’s really difficult and unpopular.

No book will ever force a child to change their mind about an issue or force them to give up their faith or beliefs, but many books do expose both children and adults to new perspectives and to the nuances of issues they may have to-kill-a-mockingbirdthought were just black and white. And it seems to me that a moral stance or faith system must be pretty weak if it can’t even stand up to the challenge of an opposing idea in a book. So I’ll be re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird this month. And A Wrinkle in Time. But not Captain Underpants. Just because I don’t think it should be banned doesn’t mean I’m going to subject myself to fart jokes.

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What are your thoughts about banned books? Join the banned book challenge at Rita_h My Home of Books: pick at least one book on the list of banned books to read and write a short review by the end of September and you could win an Amazon gift card!