Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Wrap Up

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and it's made even more special since it is during my all time favorite month which lands during my favorite season. I adore this time of year and the other holidays to come but it's always a little bittersweet to see the fall come and go seemingly so quickly.

Still, the earlier nights leave me indoors more often and hence I read more so many of these books were read quickly, the reviews written and posted, and then they sat and waited until their number was called. It'll likely be this way for the next few months if my adventures into reading continue.

Last Halloween we had snow from a snow storm a few days beforehand. This year we had a hurricane to cause some destruction. I would have hated this as a kid but it's given me plenty of time to read! But on a completely serious note, my heart goes out to those who are still feeling the effects of this storm and I hope for a speedy recovery to all. If you would like to donate to relief efforts I added a button on the top right side of this page.

In Case You Missed It

October Book Reviews:
Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dressed in Blood) the continuation of Anna Dressed in Blood didn't capture my attention quite like the first book did but it was perfect for a Halloween-esque read!
The Casual Vacancy really disappointed me and I ended up re-shelving the book, never finishing it, because it was literally boring me to tears. 
Deathless is, by far, my favorite book at the moment. I own two different copies (one as an e-reader, one as a hard cover) and I fully intend on reading as many of the author's books as I can get my hands on. 
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) took me a very long time to read but I really enjoyed it! I want to read the next book in the series - I just have to wait until I get through some of my other purchased books first. 

Other News:
The first week of October was the annual Banned Books Week. Every year I try to get a few different posts in pertaining to books which have been challenged or banned through out the country. This year's selection was:

I also had the opportunity to host two weeks of Crazy for Book's Book Blogger Hop which was a great experience and brought me many a new follower; hello, new followers!

And this isn't related to my blog but it's about one of my favorite authors: Neil Gaiman. 
If you go to you can download Neil Gaiman's short (and creepy) story Click-Clack the Rattlebag for free. It gets even better than this - for each download audible will donate $1 (up to $100,000) to the charity So you get a nice and spooky short story for Halloween and you get to help out a charity! So go to it, it's the last day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire)

It's been ages since I originally purchased this book on my Kindle. I saw the size of the book and when I got my Kindle it was one of the first purchases I made. I figured it would be better to carry it on that slim device than to lug around the rather large book. I wanted to read the book prior to the premier of the show but... well that didn't happen. So my goal shifted; I wanted to read the first book before the second season began and that also didn't happen. Well, I gave it a try at least. I began reading this book in April just after I moved to Virginia and didn't have a job. I would spend my mornings putting out job applications and then by late afternoon I'd sit back and read a little. But the size of this book overwhelmed me, not that I haven't read anything of this size before, but for some reason the slow moving percentage on my Kindle wasn't being very helpful. Then I got my temp job and this book was put down.

Back and forth over the past five months I went. I would read a new book, put it down, then read 50 pages of Game of Thrones. Not only that but with trying to maintain a regularly updated book blog with ramblings about books I've read it's hard to just guarantee a number of days to read this huge book. However, I finished a book and went back to GoT for my few chapter read through and realized I was actually pretty darn close to being finished. Only, like, 200 pages left! So I read it in a flash and loved every moment of it then sat back and wondered why I hadn't just read it in one go to begin with.

Nonetheless, let's talk about the book for the very few people out there who haven't read it. Because, it seems, I am the last person in the world who got around to starting this series. If you've seen the show it's a lot like the book; they did a very good job at portraying the characters and many of the scenes in my opinion. Still, this book is long so obviously it has much more detail and scenery than the show does. If you've seen the show but have not read the book I'd suggest doing so!

While I wasn't keen on carrying around a copy of the book because it was so large I do wish, in a way, that I had that opportunity so that I could flip back and forth between the maps and family trees. It would have helped as the cast of the book is huge and the families are very wide spread and detailed. I have forever had issues of remembering people's names, book characters included, and had it not been for the fact that I had already watched the tv show and had faces to place with the names I probably would have been more lost as to who was who and how they were connected. 

The story is good, the imagery is good, the description is good. This book is good. If you have a fascination with anything remotely like Tudor history, Arthurian legend or the long, detailed writing in Lord of the Rings then A Song of Ice and Fire is perfect for you. Dragons, princesses, secrets and swords fill its pages and often times left my head spinning. This book has a touch of fantasy but it doesn't go overboard. You aren't stuck feeling like you just slipped into the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy or Hogwarts. It's slipped in so casually that you find yourself, whilst reading the book, to just accept what they are speaking of and not think twice about if dragons exist or the dead can rise and kill.

Martin may put a little too much emphasis into certain details but I suspect they all come around to meaning something and he certainly helps you to picture the world he has created. It reads like some fantastic part of history yet the characters are certainly living and breathing at your ear, over your shoulder, while you go from page to page. Often times I'll read books by authors who have long since left this earth and I'm left feeling melancholy. "Why don't people write like this anymore? Why don't they put detail into their books and write so beautifully?" and I think I've discovered that there are authors who write in such ways and Martin is one of them. It's refreshing to be able to read a book so beautifully written and with such perfect detail that is current and published within my lifetime. Could it have been shortened down at some points? Certainly. Every other chapter I found at least a few pages that I could have gone without but what are you going to do? It's not like I didn't already know this was going to be a long book when I began it.

It does have its fair share of sex scenes, incest, and rape so be forewarned of that those of you who like to avoid such plot. But it's relevant to the story, or so it seems... most of the time, so it's kind of worth talking about. Martin leaves a lot of tidbits of information through out the book which you can pick apart in your own time and wonder what it all could mean. Apparently, it's a Thing fans of the series like to do and I can understand why they would when it spans such long periods of time between publications of books. In that regard, I'm glad I waited to pick up the books so that I won't have to wait forever for each book to come out. Granted, when A Song of Ice and Fire was first published I was ten and this was way beyond my reading comprehension but at least now I can take my time, play catch up, and maybe once I'm completely caught up with the books I can join the countless others who eagerly await the next book in the series.

I think what I liked best about the books was that the characters grow and change while you read. Often times you are able to witness how the surrounding events will alter a person or you are simply given privy to details otherwise unnoticed. I started the book with a dead set group of characters whom I liked and ones I disliked but by the end of the book that list had shuffled a little bit. Some of the characters I disliked at first (Sansa, for example) I had begun to like a little more by the end. While I have many other books I have to get through before I start A Clash of Kings I will be happy when I have that opportunity and look forward to it. There are many people out there who love this book and consider it a work of art, the best thing they had ever read, and swear by it. There are others who refuse to speak nothing but negative things about the book - it just did not work for them. For me, I liked it, I enjoyed it, and while I may not be standing on my office's roof proclaiming to the people waiting for their lunches that they must read this book - I still will quietly refer friends to it who are looking for a good tale. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Musing Mondays - October 29th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...
Do you have people online that you often discuss the books you read with? Not just book groups, but individual readers who share the same taste in books? If so, what do you like best about this? If not, do you wish you did?
My Answer:
Unfortunately, no. On goodreads I'll sometimes get into a conversation with one of my followers after I've finished a book and typically my friends and I talk about our mutual reads which is great. Sometimes I wish I could discuss the books with an assortment of people but then I realize I probably just don't have the time!

For those who are curious:
Hurricane Update 

Hurricane Sandy

I'm originally from New York but I have many family members and friends in New Jersey. I lived in Pennsylvania for four years and now I'm living in the Washington metro area. Needless to say, when I first heard of the hurricane it caught my interest because even if I wasn't in the path of the storm it seemed like various friends and family would be. I paid vague attention to it at first until, quite suddenly, it seemed that this hurricane wasn't just your typical passing remnants of a storm. 

If you have checked out the weather or news at all (and don't live in the path of the storm) then surely you already know that the storm is kind of a big deal. Typically my roommate and I are regularly stocked with food and water so while everyone was in a panic to get food we were already pretty set. Instead we picked up some alcohol and chips then spent this past weekend celebrating Halloween earlier and taking a day trip to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

Yesterday, with the gray skies thick and that creeping stillness to the air, I made final preparations for the storm. With the tub filled of water, food cooked, and our belongings taken off our porch and front step we haven't much else that we can do in order to prepare for the worst. 

By the time I went to bed it was already raining and this morning welcomed me with more rain and a steady breeze. We made a quick trip to a grocery store to pick up some stuff for my roommate's dog and were only out for about an hour. Within that time we saw the roads beginning to gather water and some downed trees. Since then the wind and rain has picked up and the storm still hasn't reached shore!

All transportation in DC has been cancelled or closed (much like the other cities that are being hit) and a trip into DC I was going to make tomorrow morning has also been put off until - tentatively - Thursday. That's only if we have power! 

For the moment we're charging all of our electronics, running the dishwasher, and generally taking advantage of electric while we can. We're assuming we'll lose electric at some point although generally this area is not one that often loses electric. My mother, who is in Pennsylvania, has already been having brown outs and friends in NYC and NJ have either been evacuated or are starting to see the waters rise. 

With that, I wish all of those who are in the path of this storm the best of luck. Stay safe, stay inside, and if I do not reappear for a few days I have some posts set up so they'll appear automatically. Over and out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Blog Hop - October 26th

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
What are three of your favorite book blogs and/or communities? Why do you like them?

My Answer:
I always have issues when asked to pick favorites so this question was a little hard for me. However, thanks to our lovely host this week, she helped to stir my mind and come up with an answer. I love goodreads, first of all (link is to my own goodreads account, you can add me if you'd like!) because it has definitely helped me to add so many new books to my to-read list! Just logging onto my news feed is more than enough because it's like a virtual shopping trip. Of course, as you know (if you're a reader) I've denied myself from buying any new books. But once I CAN buy new books - my to-read shelf will be open on my phone whilst I frolic through a bookstore.
I also really love Sometimes Sweet. While she does not exclusively write about books her occasional book reviews and weekly Literate & Stylish are favorites of mine.  
Another blog that I love is Carabosses Library which I have only recently discovered, oh, a week ago? Her site is lovely to look at and already I've been introduced to books I had not heard of beforehand! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Literary Spots: Edgar Allan Poe - Baltimore, MD

I'm a bibliophile. Give me a place with some history entwined with literature and I am set. While I have focused a lot about the Washington, DC area in this blog I want tobranch out a little for a moment (or two, because I have plans for other posts) and focus on Baltimore, Maryland and my impromptu visit to Edgar Allan Poe's home and grave.

Baltimore holds a lot of mystery to me. My experience can be recounted quite quickly with the details of this: I stopped there for lunch on my way home of my senior class trip when I was in High School. While most of my class went for lunch at Hooters (that was kind of a big deal to a bunch of teenagers that were set loose) I spent my time at the multi-leveled Barnes and Noble. Other than that, I have not spent any time in Baltimore other than an occasional drive by and bathroom stop. This brings me to July... yes, months ago but I've been busy so bear with me.


My roommate is from Baltimore and on a trip up to the area for a birthday party I begged asked to stop by Poe's house. I mean, this is Edgar Allan Poe we're talking about! For the few years I lived in Pennsylvania I unfortunately was unable to see his home in Philadelphia but now I was on the brink of being near one of his other homes and his grave. I couldn't pass that up! Much to my joy we were able to visit both locations.


Word of forewarning for those traveling to his home: it isn't in the most safest of areas so please, do not walk to his home! If you drive, make sure to hide your items in the car and lock the doors. The house is easy to miss so keep a look out for the historical marker but sure enough  it's there. Small and haunting, it's an old little building with tiny rooms and cramped stairwells. I can't imagine living in such tight quarters unless I was completely alone. It certainly had a haunting feel to it which added to the mental  picture of Poe writing by candle light and succumbing to his creepy little world.


A few blocks away is the fascinating church that houses Poe's grave. The church itself is really neat as it was built over the cemetery so you literally have graves underneath the structure. The land is controlled by the University of Maryland so the gates aren't always opened - it really depends on whether or not campus security remembers to swing by - but if the gates are open you're welcome to come in and tour the graveyard. If you're at Poe's house the nice guys who work there have driving directions (remember, you don't want to walk around in this area) to the grave so be sure to ask for them!


Even if the gates are closed and you can't access the graveyard, Poe's grave is literally at the corner of the graveyard and you can see it through one of the gates. But here's a couple of tips for those of you who do go into the graveyard:
  1. Check out the rest of the graveyard because it's that cool!
  2. There are a lot of other historical and interesting graves in the graveyard so be sure to read the info blots.
  3. The large resting place of Edgar Allan Poe and various family members wasn't the original resting place for him - that's around back so be sure to go looking for it. You'll know it for his original grave for the raven on the stone and the items left behind from fans.

This post is cross-posted at my travel blog: Absconding to Wander

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


If you are partial to fairy tales that are dark and slightly twisted then Deathless may be up your alley. I have a fondness for the Slavic deities Marzanna and Chernobog due to nerdy reasons I won't get into on here. A friend knows of this and when she discovered this book, told me about it. It looked interesting so I downloaded it on my Kindle and added it to my "soon to read" list. 

When I did begin to read the book I was immediately mesmerized by it from the very first paragraph. The description was so strong that I could smell the woodsmoke, see the bare apple trees, and feel the autumn breeze. But it got better after that, I was plunged into this entire world of creatures I had never heard much of and a few only occasionally on TV shows. Baba Yaga I've heard a ton about but the other creatures, spirits and demons... not so much.

But that didn't matter. I was head over heels into this story and sinking fast. But I didn't fight off the clutches of this book, I wanted more. And yet... yet it was something special and while I typically will read a book just about anywhere that was not the case with Deathless. I had to read it somewhere special and that's just what I did. I took it to a garden, rich with color and life that seemed not quite as gloomy as where the characters lived in the book. I took it to a sculpture garden and read it there, then inside a museum, then (and my most favorite location) my bed next to the open window. 

This is a book like the gritty fairy tales that I remember as a kid. The ones that aren't all that nice when you come to think of it but as a child you may be frightened or just oblivious to how cruel the creatures in the story can be. As an adult, and this is an adult book mind you, you see all the cruelties these creatures can create. They don't live by our morals or rules and it makes for a damn good story.

Marya Morevna, the girl in the window who watches the bird, is innocent, smart, and generally sweet when Koschei the Deathless comes to take her for his bride. She, who has always seen the "naked world" and wondered of it's splendor and magic, is eager and excited. Here is her chance to escape her home and be taken away! Still, things are never so simple or easy. 

Koschei is cruel and demanding but despite all of this he slowly falls into the grasp and power of Marya. This is truly felt when Marya returns home, taking his destruction with it. Every moment in this book you are being twisted and turned and spun around. If you don't pay enough attention, it's very easy to get lost. 

It's written in the style of most fairy tales as I said but it should be noted about the repetition of different scenes which are commonly used. Never assume something will happen because the other options are unbelievable; everything is possible in this world. Now, I know next to nothing about Slavic deities and demons and Russian folktales so this book could be very far off from what it's meant to be interpreted from. But after browsing around for reviews it seems that the few people who do seem knowledgeable of these stories are quite impressed with this book.

When I buy a book for my Kindle I will typically read it and even if I love it, stash it away in my "read" file and move on. With Deathless I actually went to Amazon and bought myself a printed copy. I wanted it for myself, to cherish and hold and read. This way I can lay in bed with the book and enjoy it at home but I can always go to the Kindle version and mark up the multiple quotes I find so beautiful. I'm not huge on the highlighting tool on my Kindle but I just couldn't stop with this book. 

A skeleton, always, embraced her first, and then remembered to be a man.

How beautiful is that? Aside from completely falling in love with this book and wanting to read it again and again, the author has impressed me and I fully intend on trying her other books. I just feel that in the case of Deathless it may very well become one of my favorite books and only another powerful read will be able to remove it from that place. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - October 23rd

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • 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!
"Have you got fat blood?"
As she drew near, she seemed so vast that the children panicked and sprang apart to be safe from her boots; and standing on either side of the road, they watched her approaching. 
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog Hop - October 19th

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
How did you find out about book blogging and what made you decide to start one yourself?

My Answer:
I honestly can't recall how I found out about book blogging itself. I do recall my introduction to blogging and how I decided to start my own blog - mainly through following other blogs that were about people's lives and adventures. I wanted to do something similar, to write about my life, but my life wasn't all that exciting at that point. I had just graduated college in May of 2008 and the economy had taken its dive. I was living in a desolate area where the only jobs were for Walmart, waitressing, and car repair and I felt completely shot down for all hopes of having an awesome career. I began reading a lot as a way to escape reality but also because I could read whatever I wanted - in college everything was assigned. However, I missed the structure of discussing what I read and I felt that I too easily forgot stories I had read in the past. So began this book blog as a way for me to detail books I've read and the feelings they gave me. I remember, and always have remembered, the books I've read based on what has been going on around me and in my life - the finer details of what the weather was doing or what was happening at that point in my life - but I wanted to record it all. I began writing here and slowly started having some followers to my utter surprise. That still continues today and I love it. This blog has helped me to realize the passion I have and what I want to do with my life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

What makes a book review? Is it any more of a review if you have finished the book or if you've given up on it? Does it matter less if the review is based on only the first 100 pages or so? Well, the mixture of feelings I myself have over this vary but let me say this - if someone attempts to read a book and puts it down in favor of another book or just simply to put it down I want to know why. The reasons for that decision, I feel, can speak volumes about how the book is. With that I have opted to write a review about a book I have yet to finish and likely never will.

Upon hearing that J.K. Rowling was going to be publishing a new book I was ecstatic. I, like many, have been a long time lover of Harry Potter. I grew up with the books, they followed me through my preteen and teen years into my 20's and I was one of the many who sat at the midnight premiere of the final movie in tears. Rowling created a magical world that felt very much real, she opened the door to reading for many children, and she managed to do all of this whilst creating characters who readers were sympathetic to and found they could identify with. I had big hopes for her next book, no matter what it was about, because if there is one thing I know it is that J.K. Rowling can write.

With different things going on in my life I completely missed the books release date until I saw a flurry of activity on facebook and twitter of people freaking out that The Book Was Finally Here. Despite that I have all but banned myself from buying books I felt that this was worth breaking my ban. First I tried to hold the book on reserve at a Barnes and Noble in DC but then upon realizing I wouldn't have the time to get to the store on my lunch break I opted to just download the book on my Kindle. By that evening I had the book cracked open and was reading.

And I read and read and read and then gave up. My job has been notoriously boring. I currently scan documents while temping at an office and it leaves me with a lot of brainless activity time so I get the opportunity to read. This typically leaves me desperate enough to enjoy just about anything so long as it is better than mindlessly scanning documents but this book... I just could not get into this book. 

The cast list is huge and hard to follow which isn't something unusual for Rowling as Harry Potter had a huge cast as well. Yet the key difference between Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy was that each character in HP was unique enough that you could easily tell one character from another. With The Casual Vacancy I saw a lot of catty and somewhat cruel housewives, grumpy men, and a scattering of teenagers. The teens I was able to keep a better eye on and I feel that their story-lines were the most interesting which was interesting in itself - maybe that's where Rowling's strength is. She writes fantastic teen and children characters but not so much when it comes to adults. 

But the storyline was boring. I can't say that enough. It felt like it took me a century to inch along from page to page and I didn't even make it to the halfway point. I'm used to making progress with books and from what I could tell, a whole lot of nothing had happened and there were so many pages left for something to happen and... I felt like nothing would. I honestly didn't care. So this guy dies within the first few pages of the books and everyone, like vultures, are descending on the news in the town. Nice, real nice. But what's the point? Oh, a casual vacancy, okay, well why not introduce that exciting news earlier on? I was so bored by the time I gave up on the book that honestly if something exciting did happen it happened far too late. You need to grip a reader a lot sooner than this book seemed willing to. 

I found reading this book to be a job and not something of enjoyment. I found myself reading it for the sheer fact that I felt I owed it to Rowling. Rowling, you made my childhood and teen years better by your wonderful series filled with magic, tears, hope and joy. What kind of fan would I be if I didn't like your newest book? But then I realized that it wouldn't be fair of me to lie and say I was enjoying it when I very much was not. Rowling is allowed to give a go at other genres. She shouldn't be held back from writing anything she feels needs to be written but I feel that had it not been for her fan base of Harry Potter and how big she became due to that series this book would have been tossed in the scrap pile if it was written by anyone with a lesser known name. 

Rowling can still write; her attention to detail is still there but this story was a flop. I know I should have read the entire book before judging it but I am honest in saying it felt like pulling teeth. I kept gazing at my bookshelf and yearning for something else to read. I felt like this book was homework and that's not the point, for me, of reading. I read for enjoyment. I read for an escape. But this was making me feel rather caged and very much unhappy. So, with that, I write a review of a book I have not finished but I feel it can serve as a bit of warning for those considering to dive into the book. I didn't enjoy it and I put it down. It takes a lot for me to shelve a book and I sort of wish I could get a refund on what I spent when purchasing it. I'm sorry if I've let you down, Rowling, but I am sure there are many other fans out there who liked this book much more than me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Musing Mondays - October 15th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...
Do you have a system as to which books to read from your requested review pile? What is it? What about when there are too many to read in a certain time frame?
My Answer:
When I receive ARCs or books from authors with the request for review I attempt to try and read the books in order in which they were received unless otherwise detailed in the agreement that there was a specific date I would have to read the book by. Generally, I read a book at a time and that is a rule I try to follow with all books I read. So if, say, I am reading Looking for Alaska right now and received a ARC for an up and coming book, I would finish Looking for Alaska before proceeding with the ARC (unless the agreement stated otherwise). It generally takes me a week to read a book, give or take a few days and of course how long (or sometimes how short and boring) the book is so I never really fret about tossing my current read aside in favor of something that needs to be reviewed because I know I will be reading it within a matter of days.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Blogger Hop: Autumnal Books (10/12-10/18)

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by me - Soon Remembered Tales. You can click the friendly logo below to find out more information:

Book Blogger Hop

What to Do: 
1. Post on your blog answering this question:
Blogging Question: With Autumn upon us and Halloween drawing near, what books remind you of fall? What ones do you enjoy reading that are about autumn?

2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list below (enter your Blog Name, Genre you review, and direct link to your post answering this week’s question; failure to do so will result in removal of your link).

3. Visit other blogs in the list, spending quality time getting to know the people you are visiting. Don’t just visit the post with the question, but click around and read some of the blogger’s other content, too! This Hop isn’t about the number of people you can visit, but the quality of each visit. Readers – find a new blog to read by clicking through the links in the list!

My Answer: I love to read one short story from Edgar Allan Poe each October. This year I read Loss of Breath and may even read another short story if time permits. I like to reread Interview with the Vampire or The Vampire Lestat and I really enjoy reading two of my favorite children's Halloween books from when I was little: A Very Scary Haunted House and A Very Scary Jack O'Lantern which just reminds me so much of the Octobers of my childhood! (Octobers which had no leaves on the trees, snow on the ground, and those creepy spooky nights that seem to be lacking here in Virginia during this time of the year).

Linky List

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dressed in Blood #2)

Blog Note: Whoa, readers, sorry for being so AWOL the past handful of days. I've been super ill by my once-a-year cold. So thank goodness I had this post written up and scheduled otherwise this blog would have continued being quiet! Please bear with me until I'm back in fighting shape! Now onto the review...

After reading Anna Dressed in Blood I was so excited for the next book in the series. I had mentioned in my review that I was going to try and hold off so that I could read it with the Halloween vibe in full swing. Well, that didn't exactly happen as I read this book at the very end of August and my next available book review slot just happened to be in October. But it still works, right?

I really adored Anna Dressed in Blood. I loved Anna and her story. I loved every scene that she was in - good or bad - and I was expecting so much more of her in this follow up book. What I found was somewhat disappointing. Anna isn't around all that often and I was really perturbed by the ending (because what happened wasn't what I wanted to happen).

If you haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood, I suggest you do before you read this review. I'm writing this under the assumption that my readers have read the previous book. Anyway, lets get this review rolling.

Cas is depressed and can't seem to shake the fact that Anna is gone. Carmel and Thomas don't really know what to do anymore to help him and it seems Carmel is getting tired of it all. Cas is determined to know where Anna went after she saved them all and when he begins to think he hears and sees Anna, tormented and broken, his desire to find out where she is becomes a necessity.

Throw in a dash of some high school drama, Cas being ignored by the majority of the students and Carmel showing her nasty side, and you have a bit of the stereotypical teenager mentality. But the more hard to believe (harder than believing that a teenager kills ghosts for a living) comes when Cas decides very suddenly that he is going to England and Thomas is coming as well.

I had this discussion with my roommate recently while we were watching Eurotrip. How nice it must be to suddenly, spur of the moment, decide as a teenager that you're going to take a trip to Europe and being able to afford to just pick up your stuff and go. I've never been under the impression that either of the boys' families had much money so that part was a bit of a stretch for me.

Nonetheless, it happens, and off to Europe they go. Then, rather suddenly, I'm thrown into this tale of druids and secret cult-like groups. What's this?! I didn't want this. I wanted Anna! It seems like the author became distracted from what made the original story - Anna. And while Cas was doing all of this for Anna I felt that it was an afterthought for the author. It was all about this cult and about this girl who may replace Cas and this forest of dead things and on and on and on.

At the very least, the creep factor was still very present. As with the last book the author brings great detail to all the creepy ghouly things that go bump in the night. She brings them to life in the most awesome of ways. I was in this story for Anna and I didn't quite get her. Only a couple of chapters and passing glimpses of her until she's gone again. I was disappointed with that and maybe, much like a child, I am pouting over this lack of Anna and it's messing up my review.

I didn't hate this book. I did enjoy it and I gobbled it up. If there is another book in the future - I'll read it. However, I want more Anna. She's my girl. I am glad of the growth the characters made. Thomas has come into his own and he's one of my favorite characters while in the previous book he had times where he annoyed me. Carmel got over herself and figured out her priorities. Cas got his head on straight as well, by the end of the book, and became a little less obsessive. And Anna, darling Anna dressed in blood, she was still the Anna I loved.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Blogger Hop: Banned Books Week (10/5-10/11)

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by me - Soon Remembered Tales - this week and next. You can click the friendly logo below to find out more information:

Book Blogger Hop

What to Do: 
1. Post on your blog answering this question:
Blogging Question: Banned Books Week ends on the 6th. How do you feel about books being challenged to be banned from libraries or schools? Have you read any banned books?

2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list below (enter your Blog Name, Genre you review, and direct link to your post answering this week’s question; failure to do so will result in removal of your link).

3. Visit other blogs in the list, spending quality time getting to know the people you are visiting. Don’t just visit the post with the question, but click around and read some of the blogger’s other content, too! This Hop isn’t about the number of people you can visit, but the quality of each visit. Readers – find a new blog to read by clicking through the links in the list!

My Answer: I asked this question due to how passionate I am about Banned Books Week. Each year I focus on different Banned Books and why they have been challenged or banned. I think it's ridiculous simply because I believe that if you do not like something (movies, tv shows, music, and books) then no one is forcing you to watch, listen, or read it! Do not prevent others from enjoying the experience simply because you yourself dislike the topic. And yes, that goes for different books being available at schools. I love reading banned books - they're usually some of the best books on the market.

Linky List

Banned Books Week: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Published in 2007, Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been out for a number of years. Yet despite its relatively young age it only caught the radar of challenge crazy adults within the past few years. In 2010 it ranked the 2nd most challenged book and by 2011 the craze died down a little and it was bumped down the list to the 5th most challenged book. Reasoning? It has offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence, sex education, and it's unsuited to the age group. 

Let's be real here, teenagers curse and if they don't, they've heard it before. Turn on the tv, read the news, look at a magazine and you are going to be introduced to "sex education" in one form or another. What bothers me about these reasons to ban a book is that I can't grasp the reasoning of the parents (because, lets face it, the majority of challenges are done by parents). Unless you keep your child locked in the house without any access to the outside world they are already being exposed to this type of stuff on a day to day basis. If you think they aren't, you're very oblivious.

Also, let it be known that people have different religious viewpoints. This isn't some new epiphany to be stated, it's fact, and has been fact for centuries. Why else would there be different religions if people didn't have different religious viewpoints? Why is it that a character in a book must follow some specific religious stance? Wouldn't it take away from the storyline if every person was the same and there wasn't some diversity?  
  ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
The sexual explicit argument doesn't work so well either. Yeah, the book talks about stuff that isn't necessarily G rated but there isn't anything that's very graphic and I've read YA books that have a lot more detail than this book did. Even if it was extremely detailed and graphic, who cares? No one is forcing you to read it. If you disagree that your child will have to read this book in school, great, but don't ruin the opportunity for others. 

"I began reading, and I started to cross out sections that I didn't want him to read," she said. "Soon I thought, 'Wait, this is not appropriate; he is not reading this.'"- A mother quoted in this Chicago Tribune article from 2009 said.

The chairman of the English department of this school (featured in the above mentioned article) is fabulous and sums up the book and its meaning - despite all of the sexuality and oh-my-gosh use of bad words in a perfect way:

"While there is graphic language, keep in mind that Arnold [the main character] uses this language to express his own feelings to himself or to exchange taunts with his best friend," he said. "He never uses this language in front of girls, to his family or to other adults, and he doesn't act on such thoughts. He is consistently polite."  
Whitehurst said the book is filled with positive, life-affirming messages and has an especially strong anti-alcohol message.

Rock on, Whitehurst. This book has won countless awards, awards that aren't just given out to anyone. It's a good read and it engages teens who sometimes may not really be interested in reading. If I had a 14 year old, I'd gladly let them read this. I'd even hand them the book since I own my own personal copy.

  ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Banned Books Week: Fahrenheit 451

Out of the top 100 books that have been banned or challenged from 2000-2009, Fahrenheit 451 was listed at 69. However it didn't make the list from 1990-1999. In 2006, a Texas school was asked to ban the book from its required reading due to the use of God's name in vain, burning of the Bible, and the cursing. In Mississippi the book was removed from a required reading list due to the use of the term "God damn" and it has also been challenged at schools due to its "questionable themes."

Okay, so, I've been doing Banned Books Week posts for a few years now and every time a book is banned and I read the reasoning's for it I feel like my mind has been completely blown by the utter stupidity and closed minds of people. Or does this make me closed minded as well? Seeing as I don't understand why people would ban books... However, that's another contemplation for another time.

I read the book for the first time only a few months ago and what really gets me about this particular book banning is what Fahrenheit 451 is about and that it's being banned. As I mentioned in an earlier post a few months ago, Ray Bradbury was quoted to say that the book isn't actually about banning but about television making people uninterested in reading. Okay, cool. But the censorship of books in Fahrenheit 451 is prevalent. I mean, the main character's job is to burn books.   ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
It's interesting that a book that centers so much on book censorship and the brainwashing effect of television consumption is being censored from schools. The fear of the free word and people having thoughts which defer from your own is still obviously common (or else we wouldn't be having a banned books week to begin with). The Bible is a book and susceptible to being burned by people who may not acknowledge or believe in its purpose. It's possible to be censored just as this book (and many others) have been censored. So while you're condemning this book, maybe look at the actual content. Look at the point of the novel itself. Study the fact that the book is discussing the phasing out of literature and that there are characters who read and memorize the written bits of books they have actually been able to come in contact. They are trying to save the books. Just as you, the condemner, attempt to have them banned from schools. Really, this is exactly what judging a book by it's dust jacket is about. Don't judge it until you actually read it! Or rather, don't censor it until you read it.

Something that is rather wonderful about Fahrenheit 451 is the overall love of the book (haters aside) from its readers. I have never met someone who has read the book and disliked it (other than the people mentioned up top, but it's not like I know those people). The words are poetry, the plot captures you and holds you close, and it is exactly what a page turner should be.
Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games trilogy captured the attention of teens and adults alike a few years ago. Readers swept clean store stock of the books and gobbled them up quicker than many wanted to. When the movie was announced and trailers began to appear, the book had a resurgence in sales (although it hadn't slacked off in popularity that much beforehand) and then the craze continued with the spring 2012 release of the first film.

The popularity of the book, I believe, led to the popularity of attempting to censor the book. Last year, 2011, The Hunger Games was the third most challenged book in the United States due to the following claims laid on it: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence. In 2010 it was the 5th most challenged book but for different and fewer reasons than the following year: sexually explicit, unsuited age group, and violence. 2011 had the lowest number of challenges in the past ten years which is fantastic but still, the issue continues.

I've reviewed the three books within the trilogy; The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Not to mention a movie review and review of the book of essays written due to the series The Girl Who Was On Fire. I read and enjoyed the books - as much as one can enjoy dystopian literature.

The destruction of family's is evident in the book, yes. However, the characters are more or less in a war zone. Katniss' mother is suffering from a severe emotional removal of all around her and has been suffering from this since her husband died. Katniss, for all of her emotional trauma, seems insensitive but it also appears that she is suffering from a great deal of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This worsens as the books go on but considering what she is left to do, what she suffers, it's understandable.

There are many books on the YA market that hound in on the fact that many teens are depressed or suffer from a mental illness but there aren't many books that seem to display PTSD so clearly. It's something that is often times associated with survivors of war (which, technically, Katniss is in the books a survivor of multiple wars or battles) but PTSD can lay claim to people outside of the military or war torn countries.  ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
I can't recall offensive language within the books... although I am quite the fan of curse words so maybe I missed them completely because I'm so used to hearing the phrases. But from what I recall, the books were rather G-rated when it came to such things as offensive language or sexual relations. There is violence, yes, and plenty of it. I can almost understand why a parent would feel uncomfortable about their child reading this book due to the intense level of violence it has. But when the book is essentially about a war, what do you expect? Television shows, movies, even commercials can be horrendously violent. The news is riddled with it as are the fronts of newspapers and that is all real life, not some silly book or tv show. Children and teens have access to videos on the internet and there is plenty of graphic material on just the news. A parent who is attempting to shield their children from the violence of these books must be awfully busy shielding them from the violence of the real world.

But for all the challenges for this book, the real kicker that brought forth a chuckle is that it has been challenged because it's occult/satanic. I... I can't even... what? I can't even touch this because it makes absolutely no sense. Not like banning books often makes a whole lot of sense but this is just confusing.

Much like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games got people interested in books. It helped promote reading and it may not be puppy dogs and cupcakes but the nitty, gritty, dirty, raw and bloody story that it tells is a good one. It's entertaining, it's surprising, it pulls at your heart and it gets the reader emotionally involved. Read it with caution? Yes. Make up your own mind of whether or not to read it? Most definitely. ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Catcher in the Rye

Earlier this year I wrote about The Catcher in the Rye. I had reread the book for the first time since High School and fallen in love with it all over again. I went to a very open minded High School, one that I am thankful for having helped make me into the person I am today. I recall the library having a little display about Banned Books but we never really had an issue with censorship. We saw graphic movies, read graphic books, and had very real discussions about history and problems of the present. My school was filled with culture: a mixture of every race, students from different countries, and a slew of different religious beliefs. If you didn’t want to partake in a discussion or see a movie, that was entirely your choice and completely okay. But I don’t recall a single moment where a parent tried to stop the rest of us from learning about something. 
 ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
After doing Banned Books posts for the past few years and seeing what seems to be commonplace for reasons to ban a book, I was never surprised that Catcher in the Rye has been challenged. However, that doesn’t mean I give the challenges any support. The Catcher in the Rye, from 2000-2009 was the 19th most challenged book. From 1990-1999 it was the 10th most challenged book. It is listed on the American Library Association’s page for the Most Challenged Classics as the 2nd book listed with a very lengthy list of every time it has been targeted for censorship. It’s all that pesky profanity and sexual exploits that upset people again, because teenagers are completely oblivious to the actions of sex and have never heard vulgar word in their lives. In Tulsa, OK a teacher was even fired (in 1960) for assigning the book to an eleventh grade class.

Often, the challengers have been unfamiliar with the plot itself. Shelley Keller-Gage, a high school teacher who faced objections after assigning the novel in her class, noted that the challengers “are being just like Holden … They are trying to be catchers in the rye.”
-R. Wolf Baldassarro, author of Banned Books Awareness: “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
The book did have a bad reputation for a time as the murderer of John Lennon asked the musician to sign a copy of it the morning the murder took place. It was later found by police in Chapman’s pocket. While there is no evidence that the book helped Chapman to murder Lennon, many conspiracy filled people enjoyed trying to find a connection between the two.

Aside from this unfortunate association, most schools are faced with challenges for the book due strictly to the vulgarity. Cursing has been around for a very long time and I doubt it will go away any time soon. I went shopping and intentionally listened to the conversations around me, many of which were littered with curse words. Offensive language can be found just about anywhere, is it such a problem that it is in a book because the book is being used in an educational institution? If so, I’m sure your child will hear worse from their classmates.
©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Handmaid's Tale

From 1990-1999 it was the 37th most challenged book and from 2000-2009 it was the 88th. A Judson, Tex., school superintendent banned the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum after a parent complained that it was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians. In doing so, the superintendent overruled the recommendation by a committee of teachers, students, and parents. The committee appealed the decision to the school board, which overruled the superintendent in 2006. Read more here

The Handmaid's Tale isn't a pretty story. It isn't fluffy and the ending is certainly one you can take as glass half full or half empty. It's your decision to have hope or feel despair for the characters involved and it is overall very, very heavy. After reading the book for the first time I was left sitting with my eyes large and my mind over processing the entire tale. It's scary because such a world could exist and it's written well enough to really connect with your own emotions. That barrier between reader and story becomes nearly non-existent. To see my more extensive thoughts about the book and the general review of it check out what I wrote back in August.

This book is sexually explicit in that it discusses the character's freedom being taken away - including their sexual desires and actions. Every little aspect, right down to taking a bath, is controlled by rules and regulations. That's the horror of this novel. The offense to Christians I'm not entirely sure what they mean. A radical Christian based group takes over, yes, but the religions that we know of are persecuted, all of them, and they are not targeted as necessarily a bad thing. This religious sector that was created for the novel is the bad guy, not Christians as a whole.   ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
The Handmaid's Tale essentially describes a world where everything is regulated and the government has complete control over its people. Any book with a sense of totalitarian power seems to be a target for those whom want to control what people read. Funny, isn't it?

So, by banning a book and essentially taking away the control of whether or not people choose to read it no matter their opinion is an exercise of control and a removal of people's freedom overall. Aren't those who are seeking to ban a book that has a totalitarian mindset basically just proving the fears the fictional book are addressing? Granted, the world isn't as horrible as it is in The Handmaid's Tale but I feel that what frightens people so badly about the book they are in turn acting out by trying to prevent others from reading it.

This book is sexually explicit in that it discusses the character's freedom being taken away - including their sexual desires and actions. Every little aspect, right down to taking a bath, is controlled by rules and regulations. That's the horror of this novel. The offense to Christians I'm not entirely sure what they mean. A radical Christian based group takes over, yes, but the religions that we know of are persecuted, all of them, and they are not targeted as necessarily a bad thing. This religious sector that was created for the novel is the bad guy, not Christians as a whole. 

©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.