Friday, September 30, 2011

Some Awesome Banned Books

Here are some of the banned/challenged books I love that have been challenged in the past decade (you can find the entire list of banned books here):

Update: The list above was only for 2000-2009 but I found two other lists for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, and I added books from those lists as links.


 And, of course, the Harry Potter series (I was having too hard of a time getting the image to line up, so I decided to just give the link)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Winterson
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Here's a list of recently challenged books that I want to read:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Beloved by Toni Morrison
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Staying Fat for Sara Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (I read a post at Let's Book It about this book for banned book week that convinced me to read this sweet picture book about the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo that raise a chick as their own)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Contest Craze: Zombie Survival

Amanda at That Teen Can Blog is hosting a mini challenge for Princess Bookie's Contest Craze.

The Zombie Apocalypse Preparation Challenge:
(Use any book you've read)

  • Choose two characters to fight along side you
  • Choose the fictional world you will be fighting in
  • Choose a weapon/superpower/ability you will use to fight
  • Go to this site and choose one of the 8 words to be your mode of transportation (this WILL get silly!)

My Fighting Partners: Alice (from Twilight) & Emily (from Emily the Strange)
My World: the fictional world from Dark Life--it's a community under the sea! What? There could be zombies there.
My Power: I'm going to borrow Chloe's supernatural ability (from Darkest Powers) and control the dead! Haha! Those zombies won't stand a chance!
Transportation: Lasers (I'm not sure how this would work, but it sounds cool)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I Love Wednesdays: Banned Books

Reflections of a Bookaholic

Why I Love Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic. Every Wednesday, she discusses a different literary topic. The topic this week is to share a banned book that you love.

Why I Love . . . Sophie's Choice by William Styron

Reasons why the book was challenged (found at ALA website): "Banned in South Africa in 1979. Returned to La Mirada High School library (CA) in 2002 after a complaint about its sexual content prompted the school to pull the award-winning novel about a tormented Holocaust survivor."

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

 The narrator, Stingo, is a struggling writer (he's sort of Styron's persona) who meets a couple living in his building and ends up getting caught in the middle of their tumultuous relationship. I really enjoy books told from the voice of a narrator who is not the main focus of the novel (ex. The Great Gatsby). The reason why reading Sophie's Choice from Stingo's point of view makes the novel so appealing is because the reader finds herself caught up in the mystery of Sophie's character. Why is she in this relationship? Why does this beautiful, smart, kind woman subject herself to the abuse and humiliation of this mentally unstable man? (These may not be such pressing questions for someone who has seen the film, but I read this novel knowing nothing of the plot except what was on the book jacket. I didn't even know the surprise ending. So needless to say, I was furiously turning the pages trying to get more insight into Sophie's motivations.)

There is one highly disturbing scene that I'll never get out of my mind: Sophie is lying in the dirt in the middle of the woods after being hit by a drunk Nathan and Nathan tells her to open her mouth so he can urinate in it, and she does so without hesistation. That scene showed me just how broken Sophie was. She is completely tortured by her past and the choice she was forced to make, and it's heartbreaking. She has lost all respect for herself and believes she deserves nothing good out of life. She seeks out punishment, needing it in order to go on living.

The complexity of this story is amazing. I even found Nathan to be a sympathetic character at times; he was someone whose mental illness had stolen from him the incredible potential he had been born with and turned him into a monster.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find upcoming topics at their Top Ten Tuesday page.

1. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Every time I am asked what my favorite novel is, I say Crimson Petal without hesitation. This book blew me away when I first read it, and I have never had a book draw me in like this one did before or since. However, it's been six years since I've read it and my memory is getting hazy. I can only remember some little details of the characters now and not much else. I have to reread it soon so that I can have the pleasure of reliving the experience, and also so that I can start talking it up to my friends and have something more to say than "It's amazing! Read it!"

2. Abarat and Days of Magic, Nights of War  by Clive Barker

I love everything about this series. The characters are amazing, the fantasy world is fascinating and unique, and the original artwork is beautiful and the icing on the cake. The third book, Absolute Midnight, is coming out in April (well, hopefully it is--the release date has been pushed back about nine dozen times), and I definitely need to reread this series before then.

3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Fantastic book! At the time I was reading this book, I hadn't added a book to my favorites list in what felt like years, but I added The Namesake immediately after finishing it. Gogol is one of my favorite characters in literary fiction. Plus, I was a huge fan of Russian literature before I even read this book, and I love how big of a part Russian lit played in this novel. It made me want to reread Gogol's short stories (so I guess I'm unofficially adding that collection to this list).

4. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

This book always makes it on my top five favorites list, no contest. I knew I had found a new author that I could read everything by him and love every single book. I want to make a confession to you all, though--I only read the first 2/3 of this book. I don't know what happened. I think I just got distracted and before I knew it, the book was due back at the library and I returned it unfinished. I planned to get back to it as soon as possible once I finished the huge stack of books on my nightstand, but I never did. I bought my own copy a couple of years ago. Now I just need to find the time to read it again, all the way to the end this time.

5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I had to read this book for my ninth grade English class and I hated it. However, so many people say it's their favorite Dickens, and I just want to see if my feelings have changed about it or not. I may have just been too young to enjoy it or it could have been the fact that I was reading it for school under a deadline or it could have been because I thought Estella was such a b****. Regardless of why I disliked it the first time, I want to give it a fair shake before I definitively say whether or not I hate this novel.

6. An Alchemy of Mind by Diane Ackerman

I've already read this novel three times (I think that's the most I've ever read one book), and I will be rereading it again (and again). This book started my obsession with all things neuro. And I am so jealous of Ackerman who gets to travel all around the world, observing different species (I mean, she actually plays with baby seals. I want to do that!). I almost stole this book from my high school library. I figured no one would miss it seeing as that I was the only person who had checked it out the entire four years I was there. My conscience wouldn't allow it then, but now I regret not doing it. It would have made a nice souvenir.

7. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This novel made me want to get out my pen and write and write and write (or, more accurately, get out my laptop and type and type and type. This is the 21st century after all). I never had a book inspire that kind of desire to create before. I'll be looking towards this book as my muse for some time to come.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is another book that was assigned reading in my ninth grade English class. This one, however, I loved. But since it's been nearly seven years since I read it, all that I know of P&P comes from the Keira Knightley movie (which I also love). I want to get reaquainted with the book now and not rely so much on the film adaptation, no matter how well it may have stayed true to the novel.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This is the first classic I can ever remember reading for pleasure. My public library had a really pretty pastel pink Oxford World Classics Hardcover, and I fell in love with it (both the story and the lovely pocket-sized book). I now have my own miniature-sized Jane Eyre, which I will have to make time to read real soon since I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't watch the movie until I do, and I really want to watch the movie.

10. Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

It's been a year since I finished The Awakening, and I've been dying to go back and read this series all over again ever since I closed that last book. I love Chloe. She's one of the best, most down-to-earth heroines in YA lit. And Chloe and Derek's relationship is so different from any of other romances that I've come across in the genre. I think this is a series that I can read again and again and not get tired of it.

I could add a bunch more books to this list. I'm really enjoy rereading favorites, though I don't reread more than two or three books a year. It's just so hard to make the decision to read a book I've already read, no matter how much I love it, when there are so many amazing unread books out there. Rereading is particularly a problem for me because so many of my favorite books are really long, which is the main reason why I still haven't gotten to The Crimson Petal and the White (894 pages) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (613 pages) yet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Across the Universe

Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 398
Where I Got This Book: Own
Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

My Thoughts: This was a really amazing story, and I immediately added it to my favorites shelf after finishing it. One author described this story the best by calling it science fiction, romance, dystopia, and a mystery all rolled into one. I would even add thriller into the mix. Seriously, this book is great.

The main story line began later than I expected (Amy doesn't wake up from her cryonic sleep until about fifty pages in) but I couldn't say that it started out slow. I thought the build-up in the beginning was really interesting. I loved how Revis included tiny bits of information, such as including made-up words and having the ship residents have different accents than Amy. Being a part of a completely different society from Earth for centuries would cause noticeable changes in the way a person thinks and speaks, and I loved how Revis handled these tiny, yet important, details.

And while I, myself, have not grown tired of the insta-love plot found in most YA lit, I know many others have, so you all will be happy to know that Amy and Elder's relationship grows in a gradual and realistic manner (aside: Did anyone else have a problem getting used to Elder's name? I kept picturing an old man everytime his name was said in the beginning). The book ended with Elder and Amy still just friends more so than boyfriend and girlfriend since the murder mystery took precedence over their hormones.

I would love to see this book turned into a movie, which is a rare thing for me to say. Usually, I can't imagine a book I enjoyed being changed and adapted for film, but this book had such amazing visuals all throughout it. I know it would make an incredible movie series.

*Major Ending Spoiler* 

Highlight to read: I know that the doctor said Amy can't be frozen again, and of course it isn't plausible for Elder to be frozen with her since he is the only living Elder/Eldest now, but I still hope that somehow things will work out that they can be frozen together at some point in the series. I really want to see Centauri Earth! It would be a shame if the whole series was stuck in the ship. I feel like the residents, getting all claustrophic and dreaming of a new planet and the open sky!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Contest Craze: Scariest Word

Contest Craze is hosted by Princess Bookie. This particular mini-challenge is being hosted by Benji @ The Non Reluctant Reader.

What to do:

  • Pick up a book you're currently reading
  • Go to Chapter 13 (if your book doesn't have 13 chapters, go to the nearest one)
  • Pick the scariest word in that chapter
  • Type the word into Google Images and choose a random picture
  • Make a post with the book's cover, title, your word, and the image

I am currently rereading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers for a class, which isn't a horror novel by any means, so I wasn't sure how successful I'd be at finding a scary word, but I think I did pretty well.

My Book

My Word: Bloodier

My Image

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon!!

I'm sooooo excited to be participating in Dewey's Read-a-Thon for the first time! The readathon will be all day Saturday, October 22nd. There will be a lot of mini challenges and stuff going on at a number of other participating blogs. I just signed-up to be a reader this time, but you can volunteer to be a cheerleader and visit participating blogs to cheer them on as they try to to get through as many books as possible before crashing, or you can host a mini-challenge yourself. Click on the link above if you want to sign up or just find out more about it. There are prizes!!

I'll post what books I'm planning on reading for the readathon in a couple of weeks.

Review: Middlesex

Title: Middlesex
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 529
Where I Got This Book: Own
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads Summary: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license...records my first name simply as Cal."

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

My Thoughts: Epic is the perfect word to describe this book. Cal is an all-knowing narrator, going into great detail of his grandparents' and parents' lives, which he could not possibly know (having not been present), but you never doubt what he is telling you. You go on the journey with him, from the first appearance of the genetic mutation that cropped up due to his grandparents' incestuous relationship to its culmination in Cal's own body, causing him to be born a hermaphrodite.

Eugenides gives each generation of the Stephanides family their due. The reader gets to know the very interesting stories of Lefty and Desdemona's immigration from their burning village in Greece to America's Motor City. The author gives a grand history of Detroit, the beginnings of car factories and division of labor, and the riots of 1967. I can see why Middlesex is considered a great candidate for the title of The Great Amerian Novel. I had never read anything that went into such descriptions of Detroit and its pink nights. Usually, when Detroit crops up as a setting in a book, the author pulls a Forrest Gump, merely naming the city and then leaving the reader with "and that's all I have to say about that." I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Michigan's largest city.

The book continues slowly through the Stephanides' marriage and the birth of Cal's parents, his father being the son of Lefty and Desdemona while his mother is the daughter of Lefty and Desdemona's cousin, which means (you guessed it) Cal's parents are second cousins. This was the second pairing that defined Cal's fate. Of course, no one knew about Cal's intersexuality until he reached puberty, so for quite some time Cal was raised as Calliope.

Once Cal reached age thirteen or so, I started to get impatient for Cal to finally make the big discovery that the book was leading to, and this is the reason for the half-star deduction. The story really started to drag for me around page 350 or so. Cal began to count down to the day when he would be going to the doctor's appointment to check things out and I would start getting excited, thinking We're finally going to get there in this next section, only to be roadblocked with Cal desribing each day of that last week in detail, taking up precious pages. But once everything was revealed, I was again hooked to the story and I couldn't read fast enough. I found Cal's psychological growth going from female to male fascinating, and I ended the book completely satisfied.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Top 100 YA Books

I found this list over at What's Your Story, and I thought I'd share it.

Books that I have read are in blue.
Books that I have not read, but want to read are in orange.

1.                 Alex Finn – Beastly
2.                 Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
3.                 Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
4.                 Ally Condie – Matched
5.                 Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
6.                 Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
7.                 Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
8.                 Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
9.                 Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
10.             Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
11.             Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
12.             Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
13.             Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
14.             Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
15.             Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
16.             Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
17.             Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3)
18.             Christopher Paolini - Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
19.             Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
20.             Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
21.             Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
22.             Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
23.             Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
24.             Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
25.             Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
26.             Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
27.             Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
28.             Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
29.             J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
30.             James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
31.             James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
32.             Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
33.             Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
34.             Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
35.             John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
36.             John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
37.             John Green – Looking for Alaska
38.             John Green – Paper Towns
39.             Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
40.             Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
41.             Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
42.             Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
43.             Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
44.             Lemony Snicket - Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
45.             Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
46.             Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
47.             Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
48.             M.T. Anderson – Feed
49.             Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
50.             Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
51.             Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
52.             Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
53.             Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
54.             Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
55.             Mary Ting – Crossroads
56.             Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
57.             Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
58.             Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
59.             Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
60.             Meg Rosoff – How I live now
61.             Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
62.             Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
63.             Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
64.             Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
65.             Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
66.             Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
67.             Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
68.             Neal Shusterman – Unwind
69.             Neil Gaiman – Coraline
70.             Neil Gaiman – Stardust
71.             Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
72.             P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
73.             Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
74.             Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
75.             Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
76.             Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
77.             Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
78.             Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
79.             S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
80.             Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
81.             Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
82.             Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
83.             Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
84.             Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
85.             Scott Westerfeld - Leviathan (1, 2)
86.             Scott Westerfeld - Uglies (1, 2, 3, 4)
87.             Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
88.             Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
89.             Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
90.             Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
91.             Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
92.             Stephanie Meyer – The Host
93.             Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
94.             Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
95.             Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
96.             Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
97.             Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
98.             Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
99.             Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
100.        Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

Obviously, I have way more books on my to-read shelf than my read shelf, but isn't that how it always is?