Book Challenge 2017

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While working to revive this blog I’m starting off with the new year with yet another book challenge! Book Challenge by Erin is being hosted over on Facebook and the (very basic) rules are as follows (more detailed rules/guidelines can be found here):

  • Challenge is from January 1st- April 30th, 2017.
  • Books should be at least 200 pages long (audio books are fine too!).
  • Books can only be used once per category.

Now for the fun preliminary list (that isn’t very preliminary since it is already Jan. 2nd but no one ever said I was prompt):

crown-midnight

5 points: Freebie- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (448 pgs)

wuthering-heights

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (385 pgs)

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10 points: Read a book with six words in the title- The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (464 pgs)

silent-spring

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (400 pgs)

brave new world

20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title (Helpful link: https://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html)- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (259 pgs)

sleeping-murder

20 points: Read a book by your favorite author. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (217 pgs)

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25 points: Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live. (Helpful links: US-  https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1152882-where-we-ve-been-master-list, International- https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1152745-where-we-ve-been-previous-years-master-list) – The Michigan Murders by Edward Keyes (340 pgs)

shadow-wind

30 points: Read a “Rory Gilmore” book. The character of Rory from the Gilmore Girls was shown reading over 300 different books throughout the series.  Choose one of them from this helpful link:  https://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/all-339-books-referenced-in-gilmore-girls – Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (512 pgs)

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30 points: Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read)- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (818 pgs)

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35 points: Read a book with time travel. (Helpful link:  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4018.The_Best_Time_Travel_Books_of_All_Time) – 11/22/63 by Stephen King (1120 pgs) or Timeline by Michael Crichton (480 pgs) – we’ll have to see how ambitious I feel especially if I actually manage to tackle the Hamilton biography

I’m going to try to update as I go either on the Facebook group or my Instagram @inkyscroll (possibly both), so if you want to follow along please check over that a ways.

Thanks for stopping by my little blog! 

~ ❤ ~ Meg Rose

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Webseries Wednesday/Poe Party Reading Challenge

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Edgar Allen Poe’s Murder Mystery Invite Only
Casual Dinner Party/Gala for Friends Potluck

Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Invite Only Casual Dinner Party/Gala for Friends Potluck is a lovely new webseries by the folks of Shipwrecked Comedy. Essentially, Poe decides to host a dinner party inviting over various popular authors (with a very fluid timeline- no these people were not all contemporaries of each other). Over the course of the evening however the authors are killed off one by one while the survivors race about trying to figure out who is targeting the guests and why. All of the episodes have been posted so I highly recommend taking a moment (or about 123 moments- 140 if you include the prologues) to binge watch it because Poe Party is excellent.

Since Poe Party includes so many famous classical authors, many of whom I haven’t actually read any of their works I decided to do my own little Poe Party Reading Challenge. Basically over the next year I’d like to acquaint myself with works from each of the guests/authors featured in the series. Though this is mostly a challenge for myself anyone is welcome to join me and read whatever you would like to from the following people!

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Edgar Allan Poe– The Bells, The Masque of the Red Death, The Purloined Letter, A Descent into the Maelstrom, The Oval Portrait, Spirits of the Dead, Mesmeric Revelation, The Cask of Amontillado, The Sleeper, Annabel Lee, The Tell-Tale Heart, Lenore, The Raven

Note: These works of Poe’s were selected based on the fact they are the episode titles for Poe Party, with the exception of Lenore and The Raven– but seeing as Lenore was a guest at the party and The Raven is probably Poe’s most famous work they get included also.

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Ernest Hemingway- The Sun Also Rises or For Whom the Bell Tolls

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Charlotte Brontë- Villette or if you’ve never read anything by Brontë before then please start with Jane Eyre it is wonderful!

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H.G. Wells- War of the Worlds or The Time Machine

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Emily Dickinson- I recently picked up Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As she preserved them edited by Cristanne Miller, so I’m pretty much planning to work through that but any collection of Dickinson’s poems obviously works just fine.

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George Eliot- Middlemarch

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Agatha Christie- goodness I have so many of her books on my TBR shelf (including an autobiography) but I’ll probably shoot for Sleeping Murder or Taken at the Flood

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Mary Shelley- Frankenstein

Regarding the pictures: Whitney Avalon played Mary Shelley at the party but Melissa Hunter was originally slated to fill the role and I just thought her poster image was so cool that I still wanted it included.

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Fyodor Dostoevsky- The Idiot or Crime and Punishment

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Oscar Wilde- The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Louisa May Alcott- An Old-Fashioned Girl, again if you’ve never read anything by Alcott start with Little Women, it is a charming tale.

Bonus Prologues: 

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Mark Twain- The Prince and the Pauper or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

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J.M. Barrie- The Little White Bird or Peter Pan (if you haven’t read it yet)

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Ralph Waldo Emerson- Nature

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Leo Tolstoy- War and Peace or The Cossacks (and if you’ve never read Tolstoy Anna Karenina is always a good option)

Bonus Cameos {Here there be spoilers}:

Continue reading

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Audiobook narrated by: Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden,
Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, and Juliet Mills

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.” ~Isola Pribby, pg. 53

Charming, utterly charming. That’s the first description to pop into my head while listening to this tale. Told via a series of letters, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society follows author Juliet Ashton as she corresponds and gets to know a group of people living in the channel islands. Taking place shortly after the end of World War II, Juliet begins to collect the islander’s recollections from the German occupation- revolving mostly around the society formed because of the German presence and one woman’s quick thinking.

Shaffer and Barrows introduce a cast of characters who are diverse, eccentric, and utterly charming. I was hooked early and simply devoured the story. Proper accolades must also be given to the wonderful cast of audiobook narraters who further enhanced each character’s voice. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone- read it, you won’t regret it.

~ ❤ ~ MegRose

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Summer 2015 Reading Challenge Round Up

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The Semi-Charmed Summer 2015 Book Challenge has come to an end (yes it ended in August and yes the Winter 2015 Book Challenge just ended as well- what’s your point?). I finished the challenge this time around, reading 12 books in 4 months that fit into the various categories! You can see my wrap-up for the first half of the challenge here, this post will cover the second half. so without further ado here is (some of) what I read this summer:

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5 points: Freebie!- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (456 pages, 4 stars) 
25 points: Read a book that is longer than 500 pages.- The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (528 pages, 4 stars)
Bonus: The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (472 pgs, 4 stars)

I read the entire Unbecoming of Mara Dyer trilogy and luckily I could fit 2/3 into challenge categories. This was a gripping tale that follows Mara Dyer after a horrible tragedy forces her family to move and various odd/unnatural/supernatural things start happening  around/to her. Delving a bit into mental health issues but with a supernatural/conspiracy twist it is an engrossing tale, but I’m still not sure how I felt about the ending and the way Michelle Hodkin wrapped things up. If any of you have read this series let me know your thoughts in the comments; and if you haven’t read the books I do recommend them even if I’m iffy on the ending- so you should go read them and then lend your opinion.

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10 points: Read a book you have never heard of before. (Just go to a shelf and pick a book based on the cover, the title, whatever you want!) – Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix (248 pages, 5 stars)

I LOVED Horrorstör! If you had asked me a year ago whether or not I liked creepy thriller/horror stories the answer would have been an emphatic No. But some of my recent reads have led me to question that stance, maybe it’s just horror movies I don’t like… Regardless, Horrorstör takes place in a large Ikea-type store that is plagued by broken/damaged merchandise with no logical explanation. Three employees are recruited to patrol the store late at night but what they find is nothing short of terrifying. It is a great book but also creepy so maybe avoid reading in the dark, late at night, and inside buildings. The book is designed to look like an Ikea catalog which just adds an extra element of enjoyment.

northanger abbey

10 points: Read a book that has been on your TBR list for at least two years.- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (251 pages, 4 stars)

Probably the most overlooked/underrated of Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey was born of a revision of the first novel Austen ever wrote (unpublished) and is generally considered something of a parody/satire on Gothic novels and “unsophisticated romances” that were popular in the late 1700sNorthanger follows Catherine Morland as she navigates new friendships and relationships while on a journey to Bath. During which she also needs to come to terms with her “obsession” with gothic romances that begin to impact her perception of situations and people a little too much. Although, the novel certainly won’t usurper Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice in my Austen affections it was still an enjoyable novel- and is much more subdued with a steadier Catherine than what is portrayed in the 2007 movie.

dark prophecy

15 points: Read a book with “light” or “dark” in the title.- Child of the Dark Prophecy by T.A. Barron (434 pgs, 4 stars)

Since I am such a procrastinator, I don’t actually remember much about my thoughts/feelings on Child of the Dark Prophecy. I do know that I enjoyed it but it also does not really work as a stand-alone book, so I sort of need to finish up the series before I can give an honest opinion overall… (Would also help if I wrote this closer to when I actually read the book- it’s a work in progress, ok?). Anywho, the book follows Tamwyn, Scree, and Elli as they seek to save Avalon from a drought- while dealing with the fact that one of them is destined to save all Avalon as Merlin’s one true heir and another is fated to destroy the world.

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25 points: Read a book that is part of a series with at least four books.- Sabriel by Garth Nix (491 pages, 5 stars) Audiobook read by Tim Curry

This is yet another book that has been on my TBR shelf for years- I was so excited to finally sit down and read it! Sabriel is a lovely story that follows a young necromancer on a search to find her missing father- encountering various dangers and characters along the way. I would probably give the story itself 4/5 stars but once you have Tim Curry narrating it really can’t get anything less than 5/5. The tale of this world continues in Lirael and Abhorsen which I did read and enjoyed even more than Sabriel- highly recommend this series! (Especially with the Tim Curry audiobook narration!)
Side note: I adored Mogget and now have an intense desire to get a gray or white kitten, just so I can have my own Mogget-cat 😉

13 tale

30 points: Read a book with an alliterative title- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (406 pages, 4 stars)

I ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would, it was especially interesting how much the author addressed sibling relationships (though to be fair some of the sibling relationships were incredibly twisted and not at all a role model of familial harmony- or even a generally functioning family). Along with biographer Margaret Lea we learn about the strange family and upbringing of author Vida Winter, while also exploring Margaret’s own troubled family history. A tale of mystery and “gothic strangeness” it is a very intriguing story recommended especially for anyone who enjoys weird family dynamics, mysterious circumstances, and surprise endings.

And there’s the Summer 2015 Round-Up, better late than never! Right? (Just nod your head in agreement 😉 )

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ❤ ~ MegRose

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Winter 2015 Reading Challenge

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It’s that time of year again! The Semi-Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge is here! With new categories and thus new books to explore! Here are this season’s categories and my planned reading list (which if you’ve been following along at all is highly subject to change but I still like to have a bit of plan going in).– And yes, I realize this challenge actually started Nov.1 but due to my participation in NaNoWriMo I’m a bit behind in posting this, and it’s my blog so…


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451F slow regard

5 points: Read a book that has between 100 and 200 pages. – Might go for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (159 pgs), which is a re-read. Or The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (159 pgs).

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Done- 10 points: Read a debut book by any author. (The book does not have to be a 2015 debut.)- You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (272 pgs, 5 stars).

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Done- 10 points: Read a book that does not take place in your current country of residence.– So anything not set in the US is free-game, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (set in London, England) (372 pgs, 5 stars)

immortal life life life winter

10 points: Read a book that someone else has already used for the challenge. — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher Kristen @ See You in a PorridgeNow that we’re through the first month I’ve got a few contenders including The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (381 pgs), Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (525 pgs), and Winter by Marissa Meyer (832 pgs) – or many other options if I choose to go for a re-read including Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (412 pgs), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (435 pgs), Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (288 pgs), etc.

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15 points: Read a book published under a pseudonym (e.g. Robert Galbraith, Sara Poole, J.D. Robb, Franklin W. Dixon, Mark Twain, etc.). — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher Megan M.– I might end up going with The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling, 455 pgs).

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In Progress- 15 points: Read a book with “boy,” “girl,” “man” or “woman” in the title (or the plural of these words).The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (1120 pgs)

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15 points: Read a book with a one-word title (e.g. Attachments, Americanah, Uglies, Wild, etc.).– Multiple options for this one as I try to decrease my TBR bookshelf: Tithe by Holly Black (331 pgs), Inkspell by Cornelia Funke (635 pgs), Merlin by Stephen Lawhead (445 pgs), or Bonk by Mary Roach (319 pgs).

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In Progress- 20 points: Read a book with a person’s first and last name in the title (e.g. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle). – Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (312 pgs)

restaurant universe

20 points: Read a food-themed book. — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher Jamie @ Whatever I Think Of!Possibly The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (256 pgs)- that totally counts as a food-themed book, right?

bury my heart art racing rain

20 points: Read a book with a verb in the title. (For any grammar nerds out there, I mean “verb” in the most general sense, so gerunds count. For non-grammar-inclined people, just use any book that appears to have a verb in the title!)Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown (481 pgs) or The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (336 pgs).

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30 points: Read two books with the same title (by different authors). — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher bevchen @ Confuzzledom.Asylum by Madeleine Roux (336 pgs) and Asylum by Jeanette de Beauvior (320 pgs).

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30 points: Read a nonfiction book and a fiction book about the same subject (e.g. a biography and historical fiction novel about the same person; two books about a specific war or event; a nonfiction book about autism and a novel with a character who has autism, etc. The possibilities are endless!).– My topic is Space. For non-fiction I’m looking at either An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield (320 pgs) or Cosmos by Carl Sagan (396 pgs). For the fiction option I’ll most likely read The Martian by Andy Weir (400 pgs) or Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams (240 pgs).

So there it is, my (somewhat) preliminary list for this season’s book challenge! Let me know in the comments if you’re also participating or if you have suggestions for the categories or thoughts on the books listed above or anything else you might want to say (hellos are always welcome 😉 )!!

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

~ ❤ ~ Meg

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Top 5 Banned/Challenged Books on My TBR List

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As the final installment in my Banned Books Series I’m sharing some banned/challenged books that are currently on my to-be-read (TBR) list. Two of these books were among the 10 most challenged books of 2014, 5 of these books are among the top 100 books banned/challenged from 2000-2009, 4 of them are in the top 100 banned/challenged books from 1990-1991, and the rest have been challenged/banned at some point in the last decade or so.

In no particular order the banned books I am most interested in reading (with synopses from the back cover):

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

mockingbird Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading                                                       local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man                                                                   unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now…everything has changed.

 

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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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.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Melinda is a friendless outcast at Merryweather High. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. It is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and who is still a threat to her. It will take another violent encounter with him to make Melinda fight back. This time she refuses to be silent.

 

Brave New World by Aldophous Huxley

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Aldous Huxley’s tour de force Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a ‘utopian’ future – where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthesized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions (aka I was unable to actually whittle the list down to just 5 books):

Catch-22 by Joseph L. Heller
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Persepolis:The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Let me know which banned books are next on your reading list!
Thanks for stopping by!

~ ❤ ~ Meg

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Top 5 Banned/Challenged Books I Read in School

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Yes, I recognize that banned books week is long over but I still have things to say on the topic so… Welcome to The Inky Scroll’s Banned Books Month! This week I’m sharing a list containing some of my favorite banned books that I read for school. In fact many frequently banned/challenged books have become staples of the American education system and it’s nearly impossible to go through school without having read at least one banned book. But let’s be honest some of those books are more enjoyable than others and often folks dislike books due to the fact that they were read for class- often times they just need to give the book another try outside of the school setting.

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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall

Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

The Glass Castle is a memoir of Jeannette Wall’s unconventional upbringing (which is putting it rather mildly in my opinion). Constantly moving with her parents and 3 siblings, the Wall’s rarely had any sort of stable home, schooling for the kids was sporadic at best, often living in (almost) extreme poverty. I read this book in college as part of an Abnormal Psychology course, we were required to write a paper discussing the possible psychiatric and/or personality disorders displayed by Jeannette Wall’s parents- frankly there were a lot of possibilities. An excellent read, if rather uncomfortable at some points but isn’t that one of the points of books? To make us uncomfortable, to make us think about the world around us.

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Reasons: Offensive language, sexual references, against objectors’ religious beliefs

Typically considered a rather ironic book to ban/challenge since the book deals with the idea of censorship and revolves around the burning of books (apparently books burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit). The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman, which in this world means he sets fires, specifically book fires. Over the course of the novel Montag encounters people and situations that lead him to question society’s ideals and whether information should be so very controlled. I haven’t read this book since my 9th grade English class but I remember really enjoying it then and I keep meaning to read it again… one of these days it’ll happen 😉

1984

1984 by George Orwell

Reasons: Pro-communist, explicit sexual matter

1984 was another book I really remember enjoying from my 11th grade English class but I haven’t had a chance to re-read it since then.  As in Fahrenheit 451, 1984 takes places in a dystopian society (considered a future society at the time of initial publication- 1949) in which citizens are essentially brain washed and the “Big Brother” government is always watching. People and situations conspire to lead Winston (protagonist) to question his society and to a revolutionary group trying to overthrow the extreme totalitarian government.

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Reasons: offensive language, racism, violence

So I read this book in a 10th grade English course, one where I was pretty meh about most of the books but the class was still awesome because the teacher was so incredible.  Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie, two very different men who formed their own sort of family, working as laborers on ranches and farms in California. This short book (only 112 pages) follows a slice of their life as they encounter new situations and difficult decisions.

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reasons: Offensive language, sexual references

Read in the same class as Of Mice and MenThe Great Gatsby follows Nick Carraway as he counters the strange/mysterious Jay Gatsby and becomes entrenched in the strange world of the rich and famous in 1920’s New York. Admittedly this book is chock full of symbolism, the bane of any high school student but it is still a great book. And before you ask: No I haven’t not seen the recent(ish) Baz Luhrman film based on the book so I have no idea if its a good representation of the book. But it definitely won’t help you pass your English class, so read the book! (It’s only 142 pgs you can do it.)

Let me know what some of your favorite high school reads were
(banned or otherwise) in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ❤ ~ Meg

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My Top 5 Banned/Challenged Books

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According to the ALA website, the most common reasons for banning/challenging books over the last decade were sexually explicit material, offensive language, material unsuited to age group, violence and homosexuality.  As stated in the previous post I can certainly understand if someone wishes to avoid certain materials based on their own personal preferences, however that does not give them the right to restrict access for others.

For example, I prefer to avoid books (and other forms of entertainment) that contain overly explicit sexual scenes/subjects of an erotic nature but at the same time I don’t wish to completely erase that genre since there are people who really enjoy it.  Additionally, sometimes a book has a couple overly graphic sex scenes that are not the main focus of the story and I can still greatly enjoy the overall tale/message/characters.  This is most prominently seen in the realm of graphic novels, two of my favorite series (Saga and Rat Queens) have moments with pretty explicit nudity/scenes of a sexual nature but the general storyline is still amazing with some spectacular characters. On the other hand, a comic series called Sex Criminals is very popular but the entire premise is so very hinged on sexual situations (as you perhaps guessed from the title) that I just can’t bring myself to read it, however, I have no problem with others enjoying/exploring the series.

Continuing my series on celebrating those books that have been challenged or banned for various reasons, here are some of my personal favorites among those banned books (in no particular order):

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Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Reasons for ban/challenge: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence

One of the most commonly banned/challenged books from 2000-2009, the Harry Potter series is also one of the most popular book series in the world (with approximately 450 million copies in print and 73 foreign-language translations as of 2013).  Nonetheless, this tale of a boy wizard is one of my all time favorites, if you’ve never given it a try head to your local library/bookstore and pick up a copy- you won’t regret it ;).

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Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons for ban/challenge: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

As mentioned above I love this on-going comic series by Vaughan and Staples, it was also one the top ten most challenged books of 2014. Saga follows Marko and Alana, deserter soldiers in a centuries long war between the citizens of Landfall (Alana’s home planet) and Wreath (Marko’s home moon). Against the odds these two crazy kids fall in love and have a child. However, their relationship and the very existence of Hazel is seen as a major threat to the ongoing war and the citizens of the warring worlds- leading to a chase across the galaxy with multiple parties wanting to get a hold of this family for various less than pleasant reasons.

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

Reasons for ban/challenge: irreligious, Satanic, promoting witchcraft

The reasons for this challenge/ban are particularly ironic considering Tolkien himself was a devout Catholic and considered The Lord of the Rings to be a very Catholic story.

This classic series is often my go-to book when forced to answer the question “What’s your favorite book?” (which is a ridiculous question to ask a book lover).  This joyful romp follows 4 hobbits, 2 men, an elf, a dwarf, and an Istari across Middle Earth as they work to rid their world of a powerful evil that threatens to destroy everything they love. The Lord of the Rings is very rich in describing the world Tolkien built which can sometimes make it a bit difficult to get into- if this has been the case for you I would recommend watching the Peter Jackson movie series from the early 2000s. Though some die-hard LotR fans might disagree, I think the movies provide a nice jumping-off point for entering the written world and helps to keep events within their broader context.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

Reasons for ban/challenge: lewd, twisted, mature themes- suicide, sexuality, euthanasia

Commonly taught in elementary schools, The Giver is one of the books that I could read over and over again, coming away with new thoughts and perspectives each time. Within a utopian society where peace and order are paramount, 12 year old Jonah is assigned to become the Receiver of Memories.  While training with the man known as The Giver, Jonas becomes the receptacle for all knowledge of pain, sorrow, pleasure, love, everything removed from the community in order to maintain the seemingly idyllic world. As he receives these memories and learns more about the world around him Jonas begins to realize that utopia comes at a price leading to questions about deeply held beliefs and values.

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A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Reasons for ban/challenge: promotes violence and disrespect, glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, encouraged children to be disobedient

I’m usually not real big on poetry but I adore Shel Silverstein- quite frankly it’s hard not to love his works. Rather than talking about it, here are a couple of selections from A Light in the Attic:

What Did?

What did the carrot say to the wheat?
“‘Lettuce’ rest, I’m feeling ‘beet.'”
What did the paper say to the pen?
“I feel quite all ‘write,’ my friend.”
What did the teapot say to the chalk?
Nothing, you silly… teapots can’t talk!

Hurk

I’d rather play tennis than go to the dentist.
I’d rather play soccer than go to the doctor.
I’d rather play Hurk than go to work.
Hurk? Hurk? What’s Hurk?
I don’t know, but it must be better than work.

Turtle

Our turtle did not eat today,
Just lies on his back in the strangest way
And doesn’t move.
I tickled him
And poked at him
And dangled string in front of him,
But he just lies there
Stiff and cold
And sort of staring straight ahead.
Jim says he’s dead.
“Oh, no,” say I,
“A wooden turtle cannot die!”

It was incredibly difficult to whittle this down to only 3 poems, there are just so many gems in A Light in the Attic. I would especially recommend “Meehoo With an Exactlywatt”, “Whatif”, and “Nobody” but really you should just read the whole book!

I could see where some parents might be concerned about certain poems (such as “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes” and “Prayer of a Selfish Child”) but it wouldn’t be difficult to skip over those poems until your children are older or to make sure you have the discussion with them that the poems are funny but should not be imitated in real life.

Feel free to share some of your favorite banned or challenged books in the comments!

Thank you for stopping by!
~ ❤ ~ Meg

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Welcome to Banned Books Week!

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This year Banned Books Week runs from September 27th to October 3rd. Banned Books Week is a time of year where we (in America at least) seek to “defend the freedom to read“, by highlighting/raising awareness about various books that have, for one reason or another been challenged or banned from schools or libraries around the country.

In case you are unclear about what this issue is the American Library Association (ALA) summarizes it fairly well:

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice. (source)

The ALA website provides several resources for learning more about the banning/challenging of books and how you can help fight/bring awareness to current challenges thus allowing free access to all materials.  One article highlights some of the most frequently challenged books, including the reasons behind the challenges/bans.

Though I do not support the banning of books from public spaces I can certainly see how some people would perhaps prefer to avoid books that deal with subjects they deem “too adult/mature” for their kids or books on subjects that they find offensive.  However, to my mind that is a matter that they should deal with in private spheres- police the books your young children read until they are old enough to have discussions about those things you find distasteful/unacceptable.  If a middle or high school class is a reading a book with subject matter you dislike, have an honest discussion with your kids about the topic- if you are truly uncomfortable, talk with the teacher about why they feel the book is important to teach (I’m willing to bet it has nothing to do with the swearing/sex/whatever you object to) or ask about an alternative assignment for your child (but quite frankly don’t assume that your teenager won’t find some way to read the book you objected to later on). Again I completely understand if someone wants to avoid certain books/topics/subjects that they find uncomfortable/offensive for whatever reason- feel free to avoid them! However, don’t automatically assume that everyone feels the same way you do and attempt to remove that material from the hands of every person who frequents a particular library.

Admittedly this topic is not always black and white, especially when it comes to school curriculum, but it is always best to educate yourself on the topic, realize that it is a problem, and a threat to the idea of freedom of speech or even more importantly the freedom to read.

So this week, in honor of banned books I’ll be highlighting favorite banned books, most commonly banned/challenged books, banned classics etc. And if you are interested in learning more about this topic here are a few resources to start you off:

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ❤ ~ Meg

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Summer 2015 Reading Challenge Halfway Point

We are very nearly at the halfway point for the Semi-Charmed Summer Reading Challenge, so I though this might be a good time to show where I’m at so far with my goals! Plus give a bit of my initial reactions/thoughts about some of these reads.

opposite lone10 points: Read a book that won a Goodreads “Best Book” award in 2014. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (240 pgs).

I gave this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads, it was certainly an interesting read and there is no denying the Marina Keegan was a talented writer. It was difficult for me to connect with her short stories, the characters were just coming from a place that is somewhat foreign to me, and the endings sometimes felt a bit abrupt. But to be fair I don’t really read short stories all that often so some of my issues may stem more from my unfamiliarity with the genre than any problems on the part of the author. I did really enjoy her non-fiction essays though, especially the titular Opposite of Loneliness (it isn’t hard to see why that became such a sensation) and Why We Care About Whales. All in all an enjoyable book and the introduction by Anne Fadiman is not to be missed.

RPO

15 points: Read a book by an author who is completely new to you.– Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (374 pgs).

I started hearing about this book from folks who make YouTube videos about books (commonly known as BookTube), they all seemed to be raving about it and the book had an interesting premise. Cline’s book is about a quest within a virtual reality world, billions of dollars are at stack and there a number of real world dangers that come into play over the course of the novel as well. Though it took until about chapter 10 for the story to really pick up (for me anyways) after that point I was well and truly hooked. 5/5 stars.

prudence

15 points: Read a book by an author you have read before. (No re-reads for this one.)– Prudence by Gail Carriger (368 pgs).

Not going to lie, one of the main reasons I picked up Prudence was because of the author. I loved Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate and The Finishing School series, the characters are generally amazing (occasionally ridiculous but in the best way), Carriger’s wit and writing also just speak to me. This book starts a new series set in the same world as Carriger’s previous works but a generation after the Parasol Protectorate. It follows Prudence and several of her friends/comrades as they set off in a dirigible for India on a hunt for “tea”. One of the most interesting parts of this book is how it expands the supernatural presence within this version of the world during the Victorian age and furthers the exploration of cultures outside of England and Scotland. 4/5 stars (only because I didn’t find this book quite as captivating as some of the authors other works).

american gods

20 points: Read a book with the name of a city, state or country in the title.– American Gods by Neil Gaiman (541 pgs).

This Gaiman novel could have also very easily fit in the pick a book that’s been on your “to-read” list for a while (though to be fair I have a lot of books on that list). Every since I read Good Omens I’ve been meaning to read more Gaiman (and Pratchett), I adored Good Omens but it’s been tough to find one of their solo works that matches up to that magic. American Gods received 3.5/5 stars from me, mostly because I really couldn’t decide how I felt about the book. There were sections of the book that were certainly interesting/engaging/thought-provoking. But it took me 2 months to get through it and I was just generally ambivalent about following Shadow and Mr Wednesday’s journey. Though the bits about the “old world gods” and “new world gods” trying to figure out how to survive in America, both as their own individual entities and in comparison to those in the other group was rather interesting.

wee free men

20 points: Read a book with an animal on the cover.– The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (375 pgs).

As mentioned above with American Gods, I loved Good Omens (which Pratchett also had a hand in writing) and quite frankly I really enjoyed this book. 5/5 rating! This was a marvelous introduction to the world of Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle as they battle beings that are crossing the bounds between worlds, stolen little brothers, tribe hierarchies, and a witch born on chalk (which is apparently a big deal in Discworld)!

Total Books Read: 5/12

Total Points Earned: 80/200

Thanks for stopping by!!

~ ❤ ~ Meg

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