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Showing posts from September, 2008

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week again and time to celebrate your freedom to read. As freedoms go...it's sort of right at the top of my list. Not to be taken for granted. To be defended at all cost. According to the American Library Association, more than 400 books were challenged in 2007. The 10 most challenged titles were: 

1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle
8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
9. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I've read half of the top ten. Go Mark Twain! I love this week as librarians and booksellers all around the nation get together in support of free speech. So get out there and join the fight against the powers of darkness.

Listening Valley by D.E. Stevenson

When someone states that a book is their favorite book of all, especially when that someone is Jen Robinson, I am so gonna pick up that book. I mean, I have trouble even thinking about making a top ten list of favorite books of all. Break it down into different genres, and perhaps I could start whittling it down. Maybe. In the meantime, I truly would like to have read as many of the important-to-people, comfort-read books as I can. I like the fellow feeling it engenders. Plus, it makes me branch out and I invariably find little gems I otherwise would not have.
Listening Valleytakes place in Scotland just prior to World War II. Tonia and her sister Lou grow up thick as thieves in a world apart from their extremely detached parents and the other kids in town. Tonia particularly is dreamier and more sensitive than the gregarious Lou. Whenever things become too much, she retreats to that quiet and calm place in her mind she dubs Listening Valley. There she can suss things out on her own ti…

Chalice by Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley knows first lines. You read just the first sentence and immediately feel like you've entered a world entirely complete and utterly its own. And you want to sit down and stay awhile. Chaliceis no exception to the rule. The world reminded me a bit of the kingdom in Spindle's End, both of them deeply entrenched in a sticky sort of magic with a heritage and weight to it. The characters reminded me a bit of those inRose Daughter, purposefully a bit vague and left up to your imagination to carve out clearly. All of them living their lives as best they can with a sure but undefinable sense of doom hanging over their heads. 
Mirasol occupies a position known simply as Chalice. She is the second-highest ranking individual in the Willowlands and it is her job to bind relationships and ties within her domain, between the people and the land they both live on and belong to. At the opening of the story, a new Master (the highest-ranking individual in the land) is coming home …

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This one came with such glowing recommendations that I was delighted to see it sitting there on the shelf all shiny and mysterious and earlier than expected on my last trip to the bookstore. Seriously, it seemed to glow at me from within. It could have just been the flourescent light glancing off the cover but, either way, it was a pretty promising start to a great read by debut author Kristin Cashore.
Gracelingis the story of a young woman named Katsa. Katsa's life is made difficult by the fact that she is a member of an unwelcome minority known as the Graced. The Graced possess certain enhanced natural abilites such as the ability to swim like a fish or sing like a bird and no two Gracelings have the same ability. These almost superhuman traits set them apart from the whole of society and they are viewed in a highly negative light. Unknown quantities. Not to be trusted. Too make it worse, Katsa has a killing Grace. She can dispatch bad guys like nobody's business. Trouble is …

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Somewhere in between the release of Girl at Seaand Suite Scarlett, I'm embarrassed to admit that I think I may actually have forgotten, for just a second, how funny Maureen Johnson is. I mean the hunching your shoulders, tongue caught between your teeth, giggling kind of funny. I read her blog regularly, so I shouldn't be a bit surprised. But Suite Scarlett was even funnier than her previous books. It was like concentrated Essence of Johnson: charmingly and unrepentantly hilarious. They really should bottle it somehow. I also have to say how much I like the cover. This is just how I pictured Scarlett, right down to the platinum curls, red lipstick, and Lola's little black dress. 
Scarlett Martin's life is slightly different from most 15-year-old New Yorkers' lives. She lives in the Hopewell--an old Art Deco hotel her family has run for generations. On the morning the book opens, Scarlett celebrates her birthday and learns that they've had to let go the last empl…

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Cybele's Secretis the sequel to Wildwood Dancing--Juliet Marillier's first young adult novel. I have been a huge Marillier fan ever since picking up her first novel, Daughter of the Forest, to take with me on a trip to Italy. The wonderful thing about Marillier is that her sequels are always as good as, if not better than, her first books. So even though I liked Wildwood Dancing well enough (it didn't wow me), I was really looking forward to Cybele's Secretto see where she took her characters and what peril they got themselves into. 
The story follows Paula, the next to youngest of the five Brasov girls, and the one most noted for her scholarly bent and lack of interest in pretty much all things mundane. Fluent in both Greek and Latin, Paula accompanies her merchant father on a trip to Istanbul to serve as his assistant in his attempt to acquire a most unusual, legendary artifact known as Cybele's Gift. The artifact is a remnant of a long dead pagan cult and is said…

A Heritage of Shadows by Madeleine Brent

Awhile back, Rachel over at Rachel Reads mentioned Madeleine Brent--an author I'd never heard of before. I read Rachel's reviewof Moonraker's Brideand decided to go find it based on her 9.5/10 rating and the fact that the cover image she posted reminded me of several of my more beloved Mary Stewart paperbacks.Moonraker's Bride was checked out, but my library did have a copy of A Heritage of Shadowswhich looked intriguing enough for me. 
The story follows young Hannah MacLeod who has lived more life in her eighteen years than most have by the time they're fifty. When the tale opens she is working twelve hours a day at a small bistro in Montmartre, living in a one-room apartment that ranks just above a garret, and is pleased as punch to be doing so. Her perplexing attitude is explained through the hinting of some horror in her past which led to her fleeing her native England for Paris and the comforting anonymity of her current life. She has no family and only one fri…

Mine

I love it when people post pictures of their bookshelves on their blogs. The glimpse I get into other booklovers' homes is a bit of the delightful as I see books on their shelves that rest on mine as well, how worn (read: loved) each book is, the multiple editions of the same book side by side, and the different ways in which they are stacked. So when DH took these pix tonight, I figured I'd go ahead and show you mine. I have to mention that the shelves themselves were a "housewarming" gift from my mother-in-law when we moved into this house. Yeah. I still haven't found a way to thank her. Not sure if I ever will.

The Hunger Games Giveaway

Cheryl Rainfield is giving away three copies of The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins. I've been looking forward to reading this one ever since I saw Stephen King's review as well as Jen Robinson's excellent review. If you're interested leave a comment on Cheryl's post. Good luck!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Several of my favoriteblogs are up for awards during the 2008 Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Head on over to My Friend Amy to check out the nominees and cast your vote for your favorites. I love the Best Name for a Blog category!

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Given how much I loved Silent in the Grave, I felt a tingle of thrill and anxiety as I cracked open the sequel. The first book had what I consider to be a "perfect" ending. I couldn't have asked for more and wouldn't have wished it different in any way. Such endings are rare and to find one at the end of the first book in a series is rarer still. So, could Silent in the Sanctuary live up to its predecessor? I really, really hoped it could.

The second volume picks up several months after the end of the first. Lady Julia is on vacation in Italy, attempting to recover from the traumatic events of her investigation into her husband's death by basking in the Tuscan sun. Her recuperation is cut short, however, when she and her brothers (the delightfully named Plum and Lysander) receive a summons home to England for the Christmas holidays. At the last minute, they decide to take along a young Italian count who has become a friend to all three, but who also seems to have …