Library Loot: September 29, 2009

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I just got back from the library!  I had a couple of items on reserve to pick up.

First off, audio books

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I also got two childrens/YA books to read in honor of banned books week.

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Anyone else find anything goot at the library this week?

Banned Books Week: Children’s Literature

Today, in honor of banned book week, I’ve chosen to focus on some of the stories and books I read as a child and loved. All of the books listed have been challenged or banned at some point, and a more conclusive list of banned childrens books can be found at the University of Illinois ’ website. (http://www.library.illinois.edu/edx/challenged.htm)

wherewildcovWhere the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak: A naughty little boy, sent to bed without his supper, sails to the land of the wild things where he becomes their king.

Where’s Waldo, Martin Hanford: The reader follows Waldo as he hikes around the world and must try to find him in the illustrations of some of the crowded places he visits.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain: The adventures and pranks of a mischievous boy growing up in a 19th-century Mississippi River town as he plays hooky on an island, witnesses a crime, hunts for pirate’s treasure, and becomes lost in a cave.

Alice in Lace, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: While planning a wedding as part of an assignment for her eighth-grade health class, Alice thinks about her father’s and older brother’s love lives and learns that you cannot prepare for all of life’s decisions.

All But Alice, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Seventh grader Alice decides that the only way to stave off personal and social disasters is to be part of the crowd, especially the “in” crowd, no matter how boring and, potentially, difficult.

Anastasia at Your Service, Lois Lowry: Twelve-year-old Anastasia has a series of disastrous experiences when, expecting to get a job as a lady’s companion, she is hired instead to be a maid.

Anastasia Krupnik, Lois Lowry: Anastasia’s 10th year has some good things like falling in love and really getting to know her grandmother and some bad things like finding out about an impending baby brother.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume: Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, an eleven-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.

Blubber, Judy Blume: Jill goes along with the rest of the fifth-grade class in tormenting a classmate and then finds out what it’s like when she, too, becomes a target.

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson: Ten-year-old Jesse Aarons, who has lived all his life on a farm in Virginia, becomes friends with Leslie Burke, a “city girl” who has moved into a farmhouse down the road and opens doors to culture and imaginative play. But then tragedy strikes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl: A poor boy wins a tour of a chocolate factory and a supply of chocolate.

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White: The story of Wilbur, the pig, smallest of the litter, who is raised by the farmer’s daughter, and who finds a friend in Charlotte , the spider.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg: Claudia and her brother run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she sees a statue so beautiful, she must identify its sculptor. To find out, she must visit the statue’s former owner, the elderly Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The Giver, Lois Lowry: Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

Goosebumps (series) R.L.Stine: Scary stories with mild gore.

Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh: Eleven-year-old Harriet, who wants to be a writer, writes down everything she sees, but alienates her friends in the process.

Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson, Judy Blume: Expelled from boarding school, Charles’ presence at home proves disruptive, especially for sister Rachel, a gifted seventh-grader trying to balance friendships and school activities.

Holes, Louis Sachar: As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.

James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl: A contemporary fairy tale starring the heroic little James, a group of overgrown garden insects who become his friends, and a peach the size of a house.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott: Chronicles the joys and sorrows of the four March sisters as they grow into young women in nineteenth-century New England .

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz: More traditional and modern-day stories of ghosts, witches, vampires, “jump” stories, and scary songs.

Scary Stories (Series), Alvin Schwartz: Yarns about ghosts and witches, “jump” stories, scary songs, and modern-day scary tales. Many include song lyrics and music.

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Judy Blume: Getting to know the kids at her new school in Miami , making up stories about starring in movies, and finding the evidence needed to convince the chief of police that Hitler is alive keep ten-year-old Sally busy during the winter of 1948.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume: A fourth grade boy tries to deal with his very active brother.

Where Did I Come From?,  Peter Mayle: Written for children 4-8 yrs. old, this book describes the reproductive process from intercourse to birth.

The Witches, Roald Dahl: A young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, who is an expert on witches, together foil a witches’ plot to destroy the world’s children by turning them 24666921into mice.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn, an abused outcast, rafts with Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River , where they have a variety of experiences.

Alice on the Outside, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Eighth-grader Alice has lots of questions about sex, relationships, prejudice, and change.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison: Presents the humorous journal of a year in the life of a fourteen-year-old British girl who tries to reduce the size of her nose, stop her mad cat from terrorizing the neighborhood animals, and win the love of handsome hunk Robbie.

Annie’s Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager, Jessica Trantowski: Annie, 14, falls head over heels for handsome, wealthy 16-year-old Danny when he befriends her. But soon she is left to face her biggest challenge on her own.

Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories, Chris Crutcher: A collection of short stories featuring characters from earlier books by Chris Crutcher.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger: After leaving prep school Holden Caulfield spends three days on his own in New York City

The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier: A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school’s annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.

Deenie, Judy Blume: A thirteen-year-old girl seemingly destined for a modeling career finds she has a deformation of the spine called scoliosis.

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank: Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary journal on her 13th birthday, just weeks before going into hiding in Nazi occupied Holland . Her world-wide success of her journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen , Germany , in 1945.

Dicey’s Song, Cynthia Voigt: Now that the four abandoned Tillerman children are settled in with their grandmother, Dicey must decide what she wants for her siblings and herself.

Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline Cooney: A photograph of a missing girl on a milk carton leads Janie on a search for her real identity.

Go Ask Alice, Anonymous: A novel in diary form of a fifteen-year-old girl’s journey from a secure middle class family to the nightmare world of drug addiction, hustlers, and dealers.

It Happened to Nancy, Beatrice Sparks: The editor of the classic GO ASK ALICE has compiled the poignant journals of a 14-year-old date-rape victim who contracted AIDS and died.

Killing Mr. Griffin, Lois Duncan: A teenager casually suggests playing a cruel trick on the English teacher, but did he intend it to end with murder?

Lord of the Flies, William Golding: The classic study of human nature which depicts the degeneration of a group of schoolboys marooned on a desert island.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Lurlene McDaniel: Carrie Blake, whose leukemia is in remission and whose parents are divorced, turns to her friendship with Keith for support until his own illness worsens.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares: Four best girlfriends spend the biggest summer of their lives enchanted by a magical pair of pants.

Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty: Devastated when her best friend moves away, sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling feels isolated at school and at home, as she struggles to deal with her father’s obsession with her track meets, her boy-crazy peers, and her own nonexistent love life.

stargirlStargirl, Jerry Spinelli: In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.

That Summer, Sarah Dessen: During the summer of her divorced father’s remarriage and her sister’s wedding, fifteen-year-old Haven comes into her own by letting go of the myths of the past.

This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen: Raised by a mother who’s had five husbands, eighteen-year-old Remy believes in short-term, no-commitment relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician.

Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume: Resettled in Los Alamos , New Mexico with her mother and brother, Davey Wexler recovers from the shock of her father’s death during a holdup of his 7-Eleven store in Atlantic City .

Honestly, I don’t think there is a book on this list that I didn’t love. There is also not a book on this list that I would not allow my hypothetical children to read (with the possible exception of Where Did I Come From?, by Peter Mayle, which is quite graphic for 4-8 year olds). My boyfriend’s nine year old daughter is currently reading the Scary Stories books, by Alvin Schwartz. I loved those books when I was in elementary school and was constantly checking them out of the library. As Ally is reading them now, she will read me some of the stories or I’ll ask her if she’s read the story about such and such. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m currently holding the audiobook version at the library for us to listen to next time she comes home. I remember as a kid I loved the Alice books, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor as well as Lois Lowry’s series about Anastasia Krumpnick. There was something endearing and relatable about Anastasia and Alice that made me want to revisit them over and over again. A few of the books on this list I didn’t read until I was an adult. Holes was a book I read a few years ago for a Children’s Lit class in college. I remember thinking it sounded kind of stupid but then, once I started it I couldn’t put it down. I’ve also read quite a few of Sarah Dessen’s novels as an adult and I think she is great at writing about topics that a lot of young girls come in contact with throughout adolescence. I was already planning on stopping by the library tonight so it may be the perfect opportunity to pick up some banned books to read. Later on this week I’ll also highlight a list of adult banned books, so keep an eye out for that. What are some of your favorite children/YA books that have been challenged or banned?

Teaser Tuesday: American Wife

teasertuesdays31Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from

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Oh, how different my life would have been had I not grown up in the same house as my grandmother, how much narrower and blander!  She was the reason I was a reader, and being a reader was what made me most myself; it had given me the gifts of curiosity and and sympathy, an awareness of the world as an odd and vibrant contradictions.  And would I have married Charlie if not for my grandmother? Surely not . . .

The Sunday Salon

TSSbadge1Today got off to a bad start reading-wise.  I almost never get out of bed in the morning without reading for at least ten minutes.  On the weekend heck, I could be in bed for an hour sipping my coffee and reading a good book.  However, every other weekend my boyfriend’s daughter is with us.  She’s nine, so she doesn’t usually ruin my reading time, but occasionally it falls by the wayside so that I can make her breakfast or just hang out with her.  Today though, we had a one year old and a two year old with us also.  My best friend’s children stayed the night.  I guess I should preface this by saying it went much better than anticipated.  My boyfriend and I had a crib on either side of the bed and we were only woken up briefly in he middle of the night, so what could have been bad went relatively smoothly.  However, I got in not one minute of reading this morning, so now my whole routine feels out of whack.  I suppose I’ll have to make up for it later tonight.

This week was my first foray into audiobooks.  I’m still on my first one–We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver.  It’s taken a bit of getting used to, but so far I’ve enjoyed the experience.  I did have some issues with the narrator at first, but that has waned dramatically.  Her tone and voice did not embody what I envisioned the narrator to be like as I’ve listened to the book, but slowly I’ve grown warmer to the idea that maybe it’s not as big of a tretch as I first thought.  I have at least five or six audiobooks waiting for me at the library right now, so watch out for a Library Loot post later in the week.

This week coming up is Banned Book Week.  I plan on having some posts featuring some of my favorite banned books, so keep an eye out for those!

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My short story this week was “The Bloody Chamber”, by Angela Carter.  Every other week I’ve read stories by authors that I’m familiar with but this week I branched out because Angela Carter is not an author I’ve ever heard of.  Coincidentally, “The Bloody Chamber” turned out to be one of my favorite short stories so far during this challenge.

The story is about a seventeen-year-old girl who is married off to a very wealthy, older widower.  And when I say widower, I mean that he’s fallen prey to three dead wives.  This seems to cause no concern for the girl and she marries him with, what seems like, no real misgivings.  The man must then leave their home soon after they are wed.  Before leaving, he entrusts his wife with the keys to their home, telling her that she is welcome to go anywhere or see anything in the house except for his one, secret room.  He explains to her that if she really loves him, she won’t dare venture into the secret room.

Of course she makes her way to the secret room almost as soon as her husband has left and stumbles into a torture chamber replete with the bloody, mangled bodies of the man’s first three wives.  Soon after the shocking discovery, the man returns home and is immediately aware that his wife has broken his rule.  He in turn brands her with a red heart on her forehead and condemns her to die by his sword.  As she approaches her death in the courtyard, her mother rides up and rescues her, shooting the husband dead with a single bullet.

The story was pretty predictable and I was actually a little aggravated that the wife lived and the husband was killed.  That may seem rather sinister, but the ending the way Carter wrote it was just too tidy and neat for me.  She may as well have added and they lived happily ever after.  I don’t always appreciate those endings, and I especially didn’t in this case.

In my Mailbox, week of September 27, 2009

imagesI actually had a pretty good week this week–definitely a good amount of books!  I’m just always afraid I’m getting books faster than I can read them.  Which–who am I kidding?–I am!!

First off, I got the following book from my mom to read for next month’s book club meeting.

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Of the following three, the first two were sent from publishers and the last one was a book I got through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

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I know there are book bloggers out there who get many more books than I do, so this doesn’t seem like a lot but I am always afraid I’ll wind up with way more books than I can read, so although I would love to get multiple books a day, there’s not enough time to read them all!!

Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables

9781416534778_house7gablesThe House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I want to preface this review by saying that I am a big fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I think The Scarlett Letter is phenomenal and I greatly enjoy Hawthorne’s short stories.  So when it came to choosing books for the RIP IV challenge, I remembered The House of the Seven Gables sitting on my bookshelf and though perfect!

Unfortunately, getting through this book took all I had–that is not an exageration! It seemed overly verbose to the point where the story got lost for me.  The first 200 pages were a description of the house in question, which was built by the Pyncheon family.  The House of the Seven Gables took place about two hundred years later, with some Pyncheon ancestors living in the house: Hepzibah, an old maid, along with her semi-imbecilic brother Clifford and their neice Phoebe.  There was also a tenant, Mr Holgrove.  Hepzibah is forced to open a cent shop in the home because she is nearly destitute, although her cousin, Judge Pyncheon has tried to subsidize her over the years.

The house had originally been built by the ancestral Mr Pyncheon, after he stole the land from a Mr Maule.  Maule refused to give over his land when he was alive, so Pyncheon help convict him of witchery in order to have him put to death.  Pyncheon then takes control of the land and hires Maule’s son to build the house.  On the day of the housewarming party, as all the neighbors show up to the unveiling, Pyncheon is found dead in his study.  The house then falls under scrutiny, with numerous mentions of Maule the wizard and a well in back that hold brackish water.

There is also made mention of Alice Pyncheon, another ancestor who comes under the control of Maule’s grandson, Matthew Maule.  And then you have Clifford and Hepzibah, living in this decrepit, solemn home.  And that’s pretty much all.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, although if you can even make it to the ending, I applaud you!  What disappointed me most about this book is that it had such potential.  According to the afterward, The House of the Seven Gables was the book/story that Hawthorne most appreciated and liked of all his image16writings.  The house stood for all the greed and relentlessness of the Pyncheon family and throughout the book it became more and more apparent to the reader that the house was not the source of the Pyncheon’s problems but rather a symbol of their greed.

I wish that Hawthorne could have toned down his descriptions because the last few chapters of the book really were worthwhile and fun to read.  Unfortunately, by the time I made it that far, I was so exhausted from my effort that I could not fully appreciate Hawthorne’s great storytelling.  I think, overall, The House of the Seven Gables should have showed me that I don’t have to continue with a book if I’m not enjoying it.  However, I kept expecting it to get better.  However, as I mentioned previously, once it did improve, it was too little, too late.

BTT: Recent Sad

btt2What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?

I honestly feel that I haven’t been reading any horribly depressing books recently.  Sure, almost every book has sad bits in it, but a book that actually strikes me as sad is harder to come by.  One such book that was more sad than not was How it Ends, by Laura Weiss.  I was almost brought to tears, which rarely happens with books for me.  I just was heartbroken over the lapsed relationship between Helen, the older neighborly woman and Hanna, the teenage protagonist.  Helen was dying of Parkinson’s and losing all her faculties, which was very traumatic.  She was also rehashing the previous events of her life, which involved many trials and tribulations.  If you’re looking to get a good cry, this book would be a good choice!

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Another book that comes to mind is Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje.  It’s a very lyric book that is low on plot, but what does occur in the book is very disturbing.  The three main characters, Anna, Coop, and Claire, all have this sense of acute melancholy about them that just permeates the entire book.

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I want to hear from everyone else now–what is the saddest book you’ve read recently?


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