Saturday, September 30, 2017

Banned Book Week: Graphic Novel Review of This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer was the ALA's Most Challenged book of this last year! It was removed from schools in both Minnesota and Florida (was later reinstated in MN with restrictions and only in FL high schools in the area).  It is challenged due to the sexual diversity, drugs, profanity and sexually explicit.

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge/ Banned Book

Synopsis: "Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation."

My Review: I picked this one up because it was on the banned book list. I like the art style in this one, the blue tones really adds to the feel of the story. It makes me a little nostalgic for those years of easy laid back summers and discovering the world around us. It is a simple book but young readers will really be able to relate to the situations that the girls encounter during their summer. This is how kids experience and learn things, they encounter difficult situations in daily life, they hear and see everything around them and take something away from each encounter. A simple yet beautifully done statement about life and growing up.

My Rating: This was simple and beautiful, I would say it is like a younger version of Blankets, a statement of lessons learned in daily life.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

So with this one being the most challenged book of last year, you would expect something truly horrific, but instead you get a simple glance at what young pre-teens and teens encounter every day.  How is this book any different than sending the kids out to the mall or movie theaters? Have parents actually paid attention to what happens in the world around them?  Again if you don't want your kid reading a book, that is your choice but you can't shelter them forever when they encounter these situations in regular life anyway.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Banned Book Week: Bedtime Story: The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter

The Librarian of Basra has been challenged a few times over the past couple of years, mostly because of the violence depicted as a result of the war and also religious reasons. 

Read for: Banned Book Week & Children's Book Challenge

Synopsis: "Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries."

My Review: I don't know why but when I originally decided to pick this book up in preparation for Banned Book Week, I wasn't expecting a children's book. With that said it was a great book with a different point of view than we usually see. It also shows the passion and care that librarians will take, it goes above and beyond the job. The pictures were clear and while the frightening parts of war are included, it isn't too terrifying for young readers to see. I will have to look back and see why exactly this book was banned but I don't see any reason for that to have occurred, it is important history and a non-fictional look at an unsung hero.

My Rating: I appreciate getting different view points for events in our history, especially for young readers.  It is important to educate on all the beliefs and what happened from different sides because otherwise how will we learn from past mistakes? I rather enjoyed this little book and give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

After going back and reviewing the reasons for the challenges, it seems a little crazy, to challenge a book because of the violence of war and differing opinions with religion is against so many of the values we live by today.  As I said in my review it is important to see all sides of history to grow, learn and understand the effects of our decisions.  Also for the age of kids that are in school where the books are challenged, I can almost guarantee they have seen much worse depictions of violence on TV and video games!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Banned Book Week: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Since it's publication The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been challenge, banned and removed from required reading lists multiple times every year. The most common reason is the profanity and vulgarity as well as racism.  

Read for: Banned Book Week/ Audio Book Challenge

Synopsis: "Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike."

My Review: I have been meaning to read this book for quite some time and finally had the chance this year. It was an interesting book that not only tackles the subjects of race, poverty and bullying but also about striving beyond your current situation to improve your own life. When I first started listening to this book I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, the beginning was rather woe is me and I am not a fan of books that try to make you feel bad for the character. With that said it quickly captured my attention as the story continued and Junior sought to put the worst behind him and dared to dream of a better future, or a future at all. There was a lot of profanity and vulgarity but it really lent Junior's voice, made it rather authentic for a young teen boy. It may not have been my favorite book but it did a great job of getting it's message across.

My Rating: This was an interesting read though it didn't really end up appealing to me all that much but I am glad I took the time to read it.  The voice really came through strong and clear and will really appeal to young teen/middle grade boys.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

I have to admit that I was slightly shocked at the amount of vulgar language throughout this book and I can understand why some parents would find it to be inappropriate.  However, it does still have a purpose, the overall message of the book is to push beyond what life has handed you and to seek your dreams and desires.  I also believe that there is nothing worse than what a teenager would have already come across in their own daily lives.  As said yesterday with my review of Ban this Book, no one should say what you can and cannot read other than your parents. So folks, if you don't want your kid reading this, then make sure you are aware and having open conversations with your own child!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Banned Book Week: Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Ban this book is a brand new release (September 5th) that hasn't been challenged or banned. I am featuring it this week instead because it tells us the story of a school where books were removed from shelves without following proper procedure and the danger that puts all other books in as a result of a single person's opinion. 

Read for: Requested Reviews/ Netgalley

Synopsis: "An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library--by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That's when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate's mom thought the book wasn't appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.

Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice."

My Review: I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. When I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. I like how it uses books that have actually been banned from various libraries over the years and it shows how quickly banning of books can escalate. Even though I am an adult I really connected with Amy Anne, she reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. This book shows us the young reader's point of view when favorite books are removed from library shelves and how passionate those young readers can be about those books. It is a pretty powerful book on this sometimes controversial subject and it is done so well, it presents both arguments in a way that you can see where each side comes from when approaching the subject. All in all the sentiment that 'only parents should be able to tell you what you can and can't read' comes across very clearly. Definitely a book to read and to spark conversations.

My Rating: This is such a great book that really brings both sides of the battle over books to light, if you don't think banning books from libraries effects you or that there is a perfectly good reason books should be removed, take a read of this one and it will show you the snowball effect.  I really enjoyed this book and it made me so glad to have grown up in a school where books remained on the shelves where they should.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!!

I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

To find out more about Alan Gratz and his work check out his Goodreads Page or Website.

Ban this Book was just released at the beginning of this month, you can obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check with your favorite book provider.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Banned Book Week: Totally Joe by James Howe

Totally Joe was Challenged and marked for removal (though I do not believe it was removed in the end) in 2012 at a school in Utah.  According to information found on Marshall University Library Website it was in fact removed from an Elementary school in Virginia without formal review.  

Read for: Recent Purchase/ Banned Book

Synopsis: "Meet Joe Bunch. Lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falls, New York. Like his longtime best friends Addie, Skeezie, and Bobby, Joe's been called names all his life. So when he's given the assignment to write his alphabiography -- the story of his life from A to Z -- Joe has his doubts. This whole thing could be serious ammunition for bullying if it falls into the wrong hands.
But Joe discovers there's more to the assignment -- and his life -- than meets the eye. Especially when he gets to the letter C, which stands for Colin Briggs, the coolest guy in the seventh grade (seriously) -- and Joe's secret boyfriend.

By the time Joe gets to the letter Z, he's pretty much bared his soul about everything. And Joe's okay with that because he likes who he is. He's Totally Joe, and that's the best thing for him to be.

Here is an exuberant, funny, totally original story of one boy's coming out -- and coming-of-age."

My Review: I had never heard of this book or series until I was looking on the banned/challenged books list. Joe is definitely a unique character that comes alive on the pages. I like the way this book is written as an assigned journal with lettered entries. The story takes place from October through the school year as Joe comes to terms with who he is and also how that relates to the people around him, and how he is at a stage in his life but others aren't quite there yet. This book not only takes on a coming of age and coming out as a teenager but also bullying and prejudices in school. Middle school is a tough time in general and this book may inspire some young readers to make it a little easier on themselves and those around them.

My Rating: I really enjoyed this book, Joe's voice is so strong throughout the book and he is a fun quirky character to get to know.  It is a book that addresses concerns of so many middle school aged children, not just those who are in the LGBTQ+ world, bullying effects everyone.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!!

Upon reading this book, I didn't find it to be questionable at all, there wasn't anything crude about it.  The main character is gay but that is no reason to ban or even challenge a book, just because it has a different view or belief than you have.  As a mother, once my son is at an age he can read this is a book I would have no problem seeing in his hands, hopefully it will teach him a little compassion and understanding towards those around him and those different from him.

Monday, September 25, 2017

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

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Ted and Friends by Phil Roxbee Cox and Stephen Cartwright (Bedtime Story)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Queen of the Darkness

Currently Reading:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman - Print - on page 265 of 435
Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo - Print - on page 67 of 384
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - Kindle - 32%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Pages Read/ Time Listened
192:02 Hours (about 7+ Days) Listened (17:45 listened this week)
41,506 Pages Read (None this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently TBR
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Saga Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English
New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
And I Darken by Kiersten White
World Mythology in Bite Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels
Eliza and Her Monster by Francesca Zappia
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
Frogkisser by Garth Nix
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Addie on the Inside by James Howe
Also Known as Elvis by James Howe
Viking Warrior Rebel by Asa Maria Bradley
New Leash on Love by Debbie Burns
Puss Without Boots by Shari L. Tapscott
Monstress Vol. 2 by Marjorie M. Liu
Everyone is an Aliebn when ur are an Aliebn too by Jomny Sun
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Saints Blood by Sebastien de Castell
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
P.O. Box Love by Paola Calvetti
Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by various authors
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
The Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
The Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor
Luin the Sapphire by Rich Feitelberg
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
Realm of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
The Winter King by CL Wilson
The Christmas Blessing by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Hope by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere
The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
The John Wayne Code by Media Lab Books
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Books Read From My Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


Gosh I really was hoping to get a little more reading done than I did last week but with everything we did while down in Florida it is understandable why I only managed to finish one book (granted it was a long one too).  Can you believe that September is almost over? We are already in fall! I really don't know where my month went, it has been so insanely busy and it doesn't look like it will be slowing down for another few weeks at least.  Oh well, just too much fun to be had!

This is a big week in the bookish world, it is Banned Book Week.  I am going to be finishing up a couple of banned books myself this week as well as featuring several here on the blog and posts about the topic of banned and challenged books.  How will you be getting involved? Do you have a favorite book on the challenged book list?