It’s Banned Book Week!!!

September 24-30 is Banned book week.  The week that American Library Association releases their top 10 challenged books of the last year and we talk about censorship.  A topic that has been getting a lot of talk recently.  Anyway, so why do books get challenged? ALA has this helpful infograph to help us out.

WHY books challenged_0

No surprise that most of the content that people object to have to do with sex and LGBT lifestyles.  Violence and offensive language is also a big one but nothing seems to get people uptight then their poor innocent children reading about having sex or Gay people.  THE HORROR!  So who are challenging.  THe ALA has another infograph to help us out.

WHO challenges books (1)_0

And what are the most challenged books of 2016?

Top Ten for 2016

Out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language

 

Let’s not forget that books like Harry Potter, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Where’s Waldo? have all been on this list before.  So go read a banned book.  Don’t let ideas go to waste.

BBW.17.IF

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So I’ve Also Been Reading: Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona (artist)

runaways In July, one of favorite authors, Rainbow Rowell  announced her next project would be writing a new series of Marvel’s Runaways, we were intrigued.  True I was hoping she would be releasing a new novel.  It’s been over a year since Carry On came out.  I wasn’t all that familiar with Runaways. I knew of them from all the years shelving graphic novels while working at Barnes and Noble but never really paid much attention.  Well, the Runaways are having a moment.  Not only are they being revived by Rowell but next year Hulu is premiering a TV show based on them.  I’m a big fan of Rowell’s.  I enjoy her writing so for the first time I’m going to read issue by issue instead of waiting for Trades to come out because let’s be honest, even with a star writer and an only cult following there is no guarantee that they will come out in trade.  I didn’t even know you could pre-order comic books like you can book books!  It’s a whole new world for me people.  I’ve decided that even though Rowell’s Runaways is a reboot so I don’t need to be a fan to runaway, I would go ahead and read the previous stories.  So far, I’ve made it through the original series by Brian K. Vaughn and artist Adrian Alphona (2003-2004) and they are delightful.  I can see why so many people latched on to them.  It follows a group of teenagers with seemingly nothing in common except for once a year they are forced together as their parents get together to catch up and fund raise for charities.  Alex, Nico, Karolina, Gert, Chase and Molly discover that their parents are not who they think they are.  They are in fact super-villains and they call themselves the Pride.  They runaway as they try to figure out what to do next.  They also discover that some of them have powers of their own.  Molly is mutant with super strength.  Karolina is actually from another planet and has the ability to fly and glow. Nico is a kind of a sorceress who can cast spells. Gert has a psychic connection to a dinosaur.  That’s right a dinosaur!  Being a teenager is hard enough but being a teenager on the run from your evil parents while trying to figure out how to use your powers is down right stressful!  It’s a full cast of diverse characters with different backgrounds and different personalities.  I’m quite enjoying them.  Now on to the next series.

Mom and I went to BookCon and it was a lot of Fun!

Our Mom is visiting me in Brooklyn this weekend.  When she comes I always look for things that we haven’t done before so when I finally realized that BookCon was going to be at the Javits Center while she was going to be here we decided to go.  Both of our parents inspired our love for reading.  Mom has already 81 books in 2017.  Putting my 25 books to shame.  She’s never been to anything like this before and my only convention experience was at BookRiot Live.  Which was tiny compared to this.  The Javits Center is huge.  Not surprising since this is also the home to New York Comic Con.  We decided first to explore the vendors as we got our bearings.  Pretty much every major publisher was there with a mini store and most a signing area.  Now there were signing areas that you had to sign up for ahead of time and then smaller ones that you had to line up for.  It was kind of confusing what was what.  Also, we seemed to always miss all the free giveaways the publishers were handing out but that’s ok.  I’ll live.  After we had a quick bite to eat we headed to hear Rainbow Rowell talk.  I’ve read all of her books but Mom hasn’t.  Before the talk began, Mom asked if any of her books would make her cry and I was like yes but I’ll lend her Attachments because of all Rainbow’s books that seems to have the less tears.  I think.  She was just a delightful as I imagined her to be but the one comment that stuck me was talking about Eleanor and Park and sad it is that having a fat female protagonist was somehow revolutionary.  We all know someone who is overweight.  We have seen them in relationships, married and have kids so why wouldn’t they have their own love stories?  After Rainbow, we went back to the vendor floor.  We each bought a few books, tote bags and shirts before heading down to hear Jeffery Tambor.  The Arrested Development star has a new memoir coming out and after seeing him I want to read it.  He was funny, smart and completely honest.  We then went to our final panel of the day with Maggie Stiefvater, Kami Garcia, Laini Taylor and Marissa Meyer about Magic and World Building moderated by Daniel Jose Older.  I adore all these authors books (Mr. Older’s book are on my to read list) so it was interesting to hear how they all go about crafting their stories.  The most interesting part was talking about you are always building a world no matter if you are making a world from scratch or drawing from the real world.  I’ve never thought of that.  Maggie said that authors talk about how if they were to assign each of them to write about this room they would all write it differently because they are writing from their perspective their view and how that is reality but not completely real.  It was an interesting talk.  It was then that we decided to leave as it was a full day of books and fun.  I’m glad we did it because it was something new and different.  My one complaint was that it would have been better if they had clearer signage of where things were because it was kind of hard to figure out where things were.  We had to wander around to find things. Either then that it was a fun day.

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Books that Rocked My Face off in 2015

This year it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 books as there were so many books I really loved this year.  So to narrow it down, I had to ask myself which ones was I still thinking about even after I started reading the next book?  Those are ones I choose for the list. (These are really in no particular order

  1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – This book I really wish I read when I was a teenager as so many of the messages I could have really used.  You would almost think that a book about teenage beauty queens stuck on a desert island would be caricatures but they weren’t.  They were very like girls I know or were me.  I could pretty much identify with all of their struggles.  Plus it was a lot of fun.
  2. Winter by Marissa Meyer -I am really going to miss this series so much.  Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter made me laugh, cheer, angry ( on their behalf) and proud of all of them.  Winter was by far the longest book of the series and it was non-stop action.  There wasn’t any filler or time to relax.  It was the perfect ending.
  3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell  – A little bit Harry Potter and a little bit of fanfiction.  It was a great final book to an imaginary series.  I was surprised by many of the twists and turns and touched by the romance.
  4. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – I loved the first book in the series and so I was nervous this one wasn’t going to be as good.  It was better.  Now my only complaint is that she doesn’t write fast enough.
  5. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – It was fun, tense and very interesting.  I thought I knew where things were going and then I didn’t.  I’m looking forward to what lays in store in the next book.
  6. Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – This wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  It was surprising.  It was fresh.  It had the sassiest A.I. in the history of A.I.’s.  For that reason alone, you all should read it.
  7. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – It was sorta historical fiction with a dystopian vibe and boy did it work.  It was brutal and it was tense but entertaining.
  8. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This was very much an Ocean 11’s style caper with a little bit of a magic and darkness in only the way that Leigh Bardugo could do it.  It’s set in the same world but after the events of her last series but a completely different vibe.
  9. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson – This is the third book in the series so the stakes are so much higher and it didn’t disappoint.  It’s full of humor, action and ghosts.  What else can I say.
  10. The Rose Society by Marie Lu – This is the second book in the series that tells the story from the villainess point of view (though I’m not convinced that Adelina is the real villain but whatever) It was intense and was surprising, maybe a little problematic but worth the read.

There was two books that I enjoyed so much that I read the other books in the that were out in the series this year too.  So I thought they would get their own category.

  1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas  – For those looking for a Game of Thrones fill in until George publishes the next book, I recommend this.  It  was has all the twists and turns and is not afraid to kill of a character or two.  I’m never really sure where it’s going to take us next but I know it will be well worth the ride.
  2. Talon series by Julie Kagawa – It has a little bit of everything.  A Romeo and Juliet Love, a love triangle, a betrayal and yeah dragons.  Who doesn’t love dragons?  Ok, the idea isn’t that original but I do love it anyway.

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Featured imageWhen I Rainbow Rowell announced that her next book would be Carry On the entire internet let out a huge SQUEEEE!! For those who may not be familiar with her work (which really you should) in her 2013 novel, Fangirl, she introduced us to Simon Snow, a Harry Potteresque “chosen one” and his nemesis/roommate Baz.  In Fangirl, Simon and Baz are characters in a beloved fantasy series that Cath was writing a fan-fiction for.  We got a few snippets of Simon and Baz through Cath’s writing, in which she took the characters from enemies to lovers.  Cath spends Fangirl trying onto finish her fan-fiction before the author of Simon Snow series, Gemma T. Leslie publishes the final book.  Carry On is the final book of the Simon Snow series but it’s not Cath’s story or Gemma T. Leslie’s story it’s Rainbow’s story.  I guess that’s sort of meta.  Rainbow isn’t really writing her own fan-fiction.  How can an author write a fan-fiction of her own work? I guess this is more canon then anything else since she is the original creator.  Cath and Gemma, don’t actually exist. I would say it’s in it’s own unique category.  The other thing that makes this different from Rainbow’s other book is that it’s a full fledged fantasy novel.  Her other books have all been contemporary novels though Landline does have the fantastical element of having a magical phone that allows Georgie to talk to her husband Neal from the past.  So this is new territory for her but she passes with flying colors.  In a way, Carry On is much a love letter to the fantasy novels of her life.  Obviously, Harry Potter is a huge influence but so is Chronicles of Narnia and a little Twilight among others.  She’s able to give little winks and even a little commentary on other franchises while still remaining it’s own thing.

Simon Snow is the most powerful mage of all time.  He is the Chosen one.  The one who is has come when the world of the Mages need them the most.  The Insidious Humdrum is draining the world of magic and only Simon can stop him.  Unfortunately, Simon can’t control his own magic and is beyond obsessed with his roommate Baz, who is a vampire!  When Simon comes back to school for his final year, Baz is not there and is missing for weeks.  Simon tries everything to track him down and figure out what evil plan Baz is concocting now.  Unfortunately his best friend Penelope and his girlfriend Agatha are not really all that interested.  Now when I say he is obsessed with Baz, he really is.  He spends the first part of the book doing nothing but thinking about him.  Describing him in such a detailed manner that only someone who pays attention or cares for notices.  He may not see his attraction to Baz but as readers we can see it.  When Baz finally returns we learn that he also in love with Simon but at least he knows it.  It excites him but also scares him because he knows that they can never be together. Most likely they will end up killing each other since they are on opposite sides of the war and yeah, he’s a vampire.  He’s cruel and mean to Simon because he loves him and tries to push him away.

When in Baz’s dead mother appears to Simon and tells him to search for Nicodemus and avenge her death, he and Baz team up to find out what really happened the night she died and Baz was turned.  They soon realize that they have more in common but they truly feel for each other.  It’s a gradual process but when it happens it’s breathtaking.  There was nothing strange or unusual about Simon and Baz falling in love except that they are two boys.  You could changed the gender of one of them and it would still work as a love story.  I think that’s important.  We’ve talked before on how important representation is important in books, especially in kids and teen literature.  Here we get two boys falling in love. One knows he’s gay and the other still figuring out his own sexuality but it’s still beautiful.  It’s wonderful to have this positive relationship out there.  Not just for LGBTQ teens but for straight ones too.  Love is love.

Now let’s talk about the girls.  Penelope is Simon’s best friend.  She’s smart and no nonsense.  She knows who she is and not afraid to stand up for herself.  She’s also Indian descent.  She is always there to help Simon and helps him out of some really scary situations.  She also willing to roll with anything that Simon does or feels.  She doesn’t trust Baz at first but sees that Simon is set on helping him so she goes all in.  Agatha is a little more complicated.  She is Simon’s estranged girlfriend. She loves Simon but not in love with him.  She’s struggling with the expectations of what others expect from her and what she wants.  She has friends outside the Mages world.  She knows there is more to life outside her closed circle.  She’s also tired of being just the girlfriend who Simon has to come and rescue.  She doesn’t really know what she wants but she knows it’s not that.

I truly enjoyed this book and I do hope that Rainbow writes more fantasy but I don’t care what she writes because I will read and love it anyway

There are just so many good books coming out!!!

I was looking at all the new books coming out in the next couple of months and THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS THAT I WANT TO READ!!  I’m already behind because The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare came out earlier this month. I have to get myself in gear.  Here are just a few titles that I can’t wait to read this fall.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, 9/29/15

Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan, 10/6/15

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, 10/6/15

The Rose Society (Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu, 10/13/15

Dark Tide (Waterfire Saga #3) by Jennifer Donnelly, 10/13/15

The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One by Daniel Kraus, 10/27/15
The Iron Warrior (Iron Fey #7) by Julie Kagawa, 10/27/15
Manners and Mutiny(Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger, 11/3/15
Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer, 11/10/15
Frozen Tides (Fallen Kingdoms #4) by Morgan Rhodes,12/15/15
Endure (Defy #3) by Sara B. Larson, 12/29/15
I’m sure I’ve missed a few but one thing for sure, I’m going to be busy!  What books are your excited to read this fall?  Let me know in the comments if they are any I need to add.

Summer’s End: The Pop Culture Homework Assignment Roundup

Well, folks, It’s Labor Day and summer is over. This has been a really fun summer for us at StacksXLifeX. We challenged each other in June to do a Pop Culture Homework Assignment. We each assigned the other four books that were themed and we gave ourselves the summer to read them. (We, of course, could and did read other things, too!) My theme for Beth was travel. She read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She then followed it up with Traveling Mercies, 13 Little Blue Envelopes (with the bonus extra credit: The Last Little Blue Envelope!) by Maureen Johnson, and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

Beth assigned me The books of Rainbow Rowell. I’ve been hearing about some of these books for awhile now (in particular, Eleanor and Park) so I was very happy to dive into them. I also read Attachments, Fangirl, and Landline. Plus, we got some bonus posts because, serendipitously, Rainbow Rowell spoke at our parents’ local library while I was visiting home, Eleanor and Park inspired a playlist and Fangirl inspired a dessert.

We enjoyed this challenge enormously. It has been so fun to read books outside of our normal fare and to discuss those books with each other and you. We hope that you have enjoyed the posts and this summer. School is back in session, the leaves will be changing soon and before we know it, everyone will be doing year-end reviews.

So, tell us in the comments: What were your favorite books this summer?

Pop Culture Extra Credit: Insidious Humdrums

So, I have finished Fangirl, the third book in my pop culture homework assignment. I enjoyed this book in both execution and in concept. I loved the overlap between real life and fan fiction. I love the acknowledgement of how invested fans get into books. So, in the Fangirl, Cath is obsessed with a book series about a wizarding world and is an avid writer of fan fiction. She’s actually not just a writer of fan fiction, she’s kind of a big deal in the fan fiction world. The evil villain in the book series is called the insidious humdrum. I thought this villain sounded…desserty. And, then Rainbow Rowell gave me this beautiful line. 

“‘Insidious Humdrum,’ Baz groused. ‘If I ever become a supervillain, help me come up with a name that doesn’t sound like an ice cream sundae.'”–Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

After reading this, I spent a lot of time thinking about what would go on an insidious humdrum. Beth had some ideas, too. We decided that there should be two versions: the Simon and the Baz (the two main characters in the wizard books). First, we gathered our ingredients. (Me: Is Simon salty? Beth: Sure. Me: Levi is salty.) 

  

Both sundaes have a base of vanilla ice cream and marshmallow cream drizzle. 
The Baz has dark chocolate syrup and chocolate whipped cream. 

  
It is topped by graham cracker crumbles. 

  
The Simon has salted caramel sauce and cinnamon imperials.  

  
It is topped with whipped cream. 

 
They were delicious but crazy sweet. And, that, Ladles and Jelly Spoons, is how you make an Insidious Humdrum!