September In Review

Well September turned out to be a better reading months than it’s siblings, July and August. Must be because I could see an end to the relentless southern Summer that insists on gracing us with it’s presence every year. I feel like October will be even better. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous down here today and yesterday and it’s scheduled to stay nice for the next couple of days!! Fall has finally arrived! We’ve actually had lows in the 60’s with very low humidity. I feel revived…except not really, but I’ll get to that in a sec. First let’s talk about what I read this month:

71. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, 2002, 582 pgs., 5/5
72. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, 2007, 328 pgs., 3/5
73. Bone Vol. 2 by Jeff Smith, 2005, 132 pgs., 4.5/5
74. The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay, 2009, 249 pgs., 4.5/5
75. The Haunted Playground by Shaun Tan, 1998, 73 pgs., 2/5
76. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, 2008, 479 pgs., 5/5
77. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly, 2007, 239 pgs., 4.5/5

September Totals: 7 Books, 2,082 pgs.

That beats my July and August totals COMBINED! And it’s still not even that impressive…sad, huh? It can only get better!! Favorite book this month? Easily The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness…it’s my favorite book of the year and it’s a competitor for one of the top slots of all time. I just loved loved loved that book in every sense of the word. Can’t say enough about it. Least favorite…The Haunted Playgroung by Shaun Tan…such a disappointment. I didn’t even like the illustrations. It’s an earlier Tan book. The story was just horrible, wasn’t scary in the least bit. Basically, don’t bother. Luckily, it only took about 30 minutes of my time if that.

I’ve been a bad blogger for the last few days…or weeks, and I apologize for that. Is it me, or have I been saying that all year. Please forgive me oh kind blogging world, I really have sucked this year! I’ve just been crazy. As you know I’ve been busy with a move and they switched my schedule to dayshifts for this week, so I’m all out of whack. But I’ll get back to normal soon.

I am feeling much better now though because it’s OCTOBER!!! Or it’s almost October at least 🙂 My favorite month of the year, my favorite time of the year!! So I wish you all happy, warm Fall thoughts 🙂 And of course, spooktacular reading! corny….

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Celebrate Banned Books!

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I couldn’t let this week pass without saying a little something about the banning of books. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. Not the banning, but the freedom to read what we choose to read. When society chooses to put restrictions on a book for it’s content, we lose our freedom of speech. That author has lost his or her freedom of speech. We have lost the right to make our own decisions. As Nymeth mentioned in her wonderful post, I certainly think that parents have the right to filter their children’s reading to an extent, until a certain age. There are certain things that I don’t think a 7-12 year old needs to read. But the truth of the matter is, each child is different.

I can’t stand the recent idea that has risen of putting age suggestions on books. As I commented on Nymeth’s blog, I first read Stephen King’s Misery in 5th grade. I was 11 years old. And I don’t think it had any lasting negative effect on me. In fact, had it not been for that book, I don’t know if I would’ve become so excited about reading novels at such a young age. Proof that each INDIVIDUAL is different. It is WRONG for one person or one group to ban a certain book for everyone in a certain area because they have a problem with it. The great thing about our country is that we also have the freedom of choice. That also means that you have the CHOICE not to read that book if you don’t agree with it’s topics. I think that many of us won’t read certain books that don’t have any appeal to us. It doesn’t mean though that we will fight to have that book banned so that no one can read it. I’m sorry, but to me, that spells ignorance.

Another book that I read in the 5th grade was Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. To think that I might have never read that book because someone else thought it was satanic is truly sad to me. That book changed my life. I know that it made me the reader that I am today and it was the first fantasy novel that I fell in love with. How anyone could read something that needed to be banned from that book is beyond me. To think that there are children who have actually been affected by bannings like this is sorrowful. That there are thousands of reading experiences that have been stolen from children because of the fears and insecurities of those surrounding them is terrifying to me. Does fear, ignorance, and unacceptance have that much power today?

The answer is no. We as readers can continue to fight this and we will. And we’ll fight it by continuing to READ BANNED BOOKS! We can read them and recommend them to those that we know will love them and cherish them and recommend them to others. We can share them with those to whom they will make a difference. To those that may have a spark lit inside of them that grows into a love of literature in all of it’s colors, shapes, genders, races, religions, ethnicities, and views. Because we celebrate books as they are…as the author’s meant them to be. Not the censored versions that a handful of naysayers would like to see.

I Can Haz New House?

I can! I can’t believe that the day has finally come, but I’m writing my first post from my new house. It’s kind of funny actually. I first started my online life on this same property. In 2000, I started a Deadjournal, and I’ve been blogging ever since then on one medium or another. I didn’t start book blogging until January 2007, but it’s been over 10 years now since I first started blogging in general. So really, I’ve come full circle back onto this property doing the same thing despite hurricanes and tearing the house down and rebuilding it, blah blah blah. So…wanna see the house?

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Here it is! You should be able to click on all of the pictures in this post to enbiggen them. I’m truly in love with this house. It’s like a dream house in more ways than one. And I’m so happy for my Mom. She deserves this house. I think it’s what she’s always wanted and she’s been through so much crap to get to it. We’ve flooded 4 times, with Katrina being the last, and we finally got to demolish and just rebuild at a higher elevation. And this thing is hurricane proof! It’s 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths…master is downstairs, me and my sister are upstairs and I don’t think I’m ever moving out. Want to know why? Because this is upstairs with me:

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Yep, at the top of the stairwell is a giant built in bookcase!!! And that’s not even all of my books. There’s a very funny story here. I fit all of my books EXACTLY. I literally can’t fit one more book in this house. Well I can, it just won’t look neat on the shelf. See, there’s another shelf in my room (which you’ll see shortly) that continues my TBRs and the very last book by Marcus Zusak fit perfectly in the last spot! I couldn’t believe it!! Looks like I’m going to have to start double stacking because there’s no more room for another bookshelf :/ As for the shelves above, the space you see on the first shelf of the second case is where the books that I have read ends. The second shelf of the second case begins my TBRs and then my TBRs continue onto an ENTIRE bookshelf in my room :/ Here’s my room so you can get a peek:

roomThis is sort of a birds eye view of one wall. See that big stack of books next to the bookshelf? That’s all books that are going on Paberback Swap or Bookmooch! When I was going through my TBRs, I was looking at just how ridiculous it was and I knew I had books there that I was never going to read…so I put quite a few to the side. I filled a whole box and then made that big pile on the top.

buddahSome of my favorite little things like my Buddhas followed me over to the new house. But there’s one thing that’s here that has just kept the biggest smile on my face. I swear, I am just so so so in love with this little guy. Isn’t he cute? And he loves the house just as much as I do! Here he is:

pumpkinSo, now I’m off to kick up my feet, listen to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon album and just spend the night relaxing for the first time in my new room at my new house. Thanks again for all of the wonderful support that you guys have given me over the last few days through emails and thoughts and tweets and everything else. Love you guys!

Bad Bloggers!!

Not too many more weeks before I come to the end of this round of Bad Bloggers! It’s in October..don’t remember the exact date…I’ll have to check that. Looks like it’s going to be Nymeth again :p So you might as well start picking your book! Though Becky isn’t too far behind!! We’ll see what happens. You’ll notice that there are a few books in the “books bought” section :O I know, you’re thinking…”but he’s on a ban!” Well, all but one of those were bought before the ban!! I couldn’t help myself with The Ask and The Answer!! I’m weak!! Weak I tell you!!! I was going to actually do a vlog this week, but I realized that all of my books that I acquired are currently in boxes 😦 So I couldn’t show them to the camera. Maybe next week. Yes! I can do a vlog in front of my new built in book shelves!! I’m going to have to show those bad boys off! Anyway, lets get off with the Bad Blogger point giving!

Books Bought

789

Books Received as Gifts

56

Books Mooched or Swapped

10

Library Books

1234

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1. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo – I preordered this one as soon as I saw that it was being released! I’ll forever have a special place in my heart for Kate DiCamillo’s books. There’s something about them that is just so magical, innocent, yet deep and meaningful. Something that touches a reader’s heart at the core. I’ll be reading this one during the read-a-thon. DiCamillo is PERFECT for the read-a-thon!

2. The Book on Fire by Keith Miller – Carl told me about a book called The Book of Flying a couple of years back written by Keith Miller and anyone who’s read my blog for some time knows that it became one of my all time favorite books. Well Keith Miller contacted me the other day to let me know that he’s written a novel set in the same universe. I preordered it immediately and received it shortly thereafter! Thrilled about this one! If it’s half as good as The Book of Flying, I’m in for a treat.

3. The Ask and The Answer – Um…I probably don’t even need to explain why I bought this one. Can I just say that The Knife of Never Letting Go may be my new favorite book EVER and that this is totally worth breaking a ban for?? I’m just sad because it’s packed in a box now and I can’t read it!!!

4. Rose by Jeff Smith – This one is sort of a prequel to the Bone series and it’s illustrated by Charles Vess!!! Yes, I’m all over this one! What makes it even more special is that it’s a gift from my dear friend Debi 🙂 She sent it to me in a package full of wonderful stuff! And she gets a point for it too because I’ve wanted it ever since she reviewed it ages ago! Point to Debi!!

5. Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz – It’s not just Debi who’s sweet, she’s raised the whole family to be sweet 🙂 Her daughter Annie emailed me and asked me if I’d be interested in reading this one and I told her I’d love to! So she sent it my way! Can’t wait to bite into it! Hardee har har…

6. Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge – Becky, did you read this one?? Whether you did or not, you’re getting the point, because I think you read it :p It’s sad when you start losing track, huh? Anyway, it sounds fantastic!! Can’t wait to read this one…may be another option for the read-a-thon.

7. Normal by Amy Bloom – This one has Eva’s name written all over it!! A big point to her!! And it’ll work perfectly for Amanda’s LGBT challenge. This one is all about gender issues and sounds fantastic. It’s a book of essays I believe and I really don’t read enough essays! Plan on reading this soon.

8. Spook by Mary Roach – Picked this one up for the RIP challenge! I’ve been wanting to read more Roach for ages….ever since reading Bonk.

9. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly – A point to Carl for this wonderful treasure of a book. You can read my thoughts on this one by clicking here.

10. Yarrow by Charles de Lint – I figured it wouldn’t be a RIP challenge without a little Charles de Lint, so I picked up Yarrow. The reason being, it’s subtitled, An Autumn Tale. Couldn’t pass that one up 😉

If you’re playing along with Bad Bloggers, please feel free to leave the link to your post in the comments!

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

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Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly
2007
239 Pages
4.5/5

Finally, I feel like I’ve found the perfect book to set the tone for the RIP challenge. I’ve read several books now for the challenge, but none of them were exactly creepy. Several of them were depressing, were dystopian, had a sense of mystery or foreboding, but none gave that genuine creepy feeling. None were an “October book” as I like to call them. This, my friends, is an October book.

I first heard of this book after reading Carl’s review over at Stainless Steel Droppings right after I started my book buying ban and thought “woe is me, I can’t have it!!” And then I though…aha! I forgot about that lovely building called the library!! So I hopped in my car, drove over there, and there it was waiting for me in all it’s Edward Gorey-esque glory. Let me tell you a little bit about what it’s about.

The book is sort of a novel told in short stories. I really enjoyed this format. It’s about a young boy who goes to visit his eccentric uncle, Uncle Montague. Along the way, he spots a number of children playing in the forests around his house…children that won’t approach him. When he gets to his uncle’s house, he sits down in his uncle’s parlor which is lit by nothing but candles and is served tea. The room has odd adornments and each one has it’s own story, stories which Uncle Montague tells his nephew, and each tale ends with a character who is left in a very bad off way…often dead.

The stories are often truly horrifying. There are several that stayed with me for days. Some are your traditional ghost-type stories, while others are brand new inventions that I truly loved. What I loved about these stories is that you can tell that Priestly has true respect and love for folklore and haunted tales. His story telling abilities are brilliant and I’d love to read some of these to children (or adults for that matter) on a crisp autumn night. The stories are accented by David Roberts’ wonderful illustrations that reminded me so much of Edward Gorey with his own twist added to them. They added a nostalgic feeling to these tales that seems to be missing in so much modern horror. Truly enjoyable!

If you’re looking for something to add to your RIP list, this is highly recommended. He has another book out that centers around tales aboard a pirate ship and has a book coming out soon that takes place in a cave 🙂 Looking forward to reading both of those!!

Reading Rambles and Giveaway Winners

This was supposed to be a Sunday Salon, but it’s nearly Monday now, so it’ll just be a “reading rambles” post :p That works, right? I wanted to talk about the two books I’m reading right now because I’m really surprised by both of them and I’m totally loving them!! They’re great!

inkThe first is an audiobook and you might be surprised to hear that I’m loving it. It’s Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr. Now as you all know, I had some problems with Wicked Lovely, mostly dealing with the date rape scene, and I’m still sticking with that scene as a date rape scene. No, there was no intercourse, but all that’s said is that they didn’t have intercourse…we do know that they kissed, and woke up together and that Aislinn actually accepts her fate after that instead of being horrified that she was slipped “summer wine”. Sorry, I just have problems with that. Many people said that if I had problems with that, just wait until I get to Ink Exchange.

In the very first chapter, a rape is introduced. Now I’m assuming it’s a rape because I’m only on chapter 3, but it seems pretty obvious that Leslie was raped by her brother’s friends and her brother actually profited from it. Here’s the thing. I don’t have a problem at all with Marr writing this. I actually have sympathy for Leslie’s character. Why? Because here, she doesn’t paint rape in a positive light! I don’t think at all that Marr intentionally meant to say that date rape is ok in Wicked Lovely. I know she wouldn’t do that. But it came off that way to me. Here, she takes a stance against it and says, it’s wrong. And I really like Leslie’s character. In the first three chapters, she’s trying to reclaim her body for herself…and I just know she’s going to get screwed over for it, but at least she’s trying :p

Onto my second book…that book is Breathers by S.G. Browne. Oh My God this book is so good!!! Let me start by saying that it’sbreathers nothing at all like what I expected. I was totally expecting like this silly romance zombie tale. That’s what the cover would have you think, right? Well it’s not. There’s definitely some witty humor there. It’s dark humor (the book opens with a guy realizing that he’s cut his parents into pieces and stuffed them into a freezer) but it’s very humorous at times. But really, the book has quite a lot of serious issues that it tackles. Mainly, it tackles issues of stereotypes, racism, discrimination, and injustice all through the idea of zombies. It’s genius if you think about it. I’ve never actually been touched by zombies before, but these zombies are doing it!

Basically, zombies have been around since the civil war, but are just becoming more prevalent in society. No one knows why they exist, but they do. However, “breathers” do not accept them as they try to integrate into society. They’re not allowed in public places, there are numerous laws against them, they’re treated like animals, they’re not allowed to congregate, hate crimes are constantly committed against them…sound familiar? It’s all stuff we’ve been through and continue to go through and I just think that Browne has done a genius job so far with this novel. And I love the main characters. They’re fantastic.

So that’s it for what I’m reading right now. I actually have a review that I plan on writing for tomorrow!! I finished Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror and it was deliciously creepy 🙂 Perfect little RIP read that reminded me a lot of Edward Gorey, but we’ll save all of that for tomorrow.

I also got some fantastic news the other day 😀 I might get to meet another blogger and it’s someone that I’ve just gotten to know recently and I already think that she’s one of the most incredible people out there!! Yep, it’s Amanda at The Zen Leaf 😀 😀 She’s talking about possibly coming down here with her family in December!!! Are you kidding me?? Debi and Amanda in one year! How cool is that? I hope it happens!!

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Ok! now I owe you all some winners from BBAW!! This is probably what you’ve all been waiting for. We have three winners to announce here! So without furthere ado, here we go:

The winner of Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge is:

Paradox!!

The winner of The Complete Bone by Jeff Smith is:

Lu!!!

And the winner of the New Orleans prize pack which includes Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite, City of Refuge by Tom Piazza, and Voodoo Season by Jewel Parker Rhodes is:

Amanda!!!

Congratulations to everyone!!! I’m thrilled to see that Lu and Amanda won, and it’s nice to meet you Paradox 🙂 Send me your addresses either via email at chrisa511(at)gmail(dot)com or just use the contact form above and I’ll get your books right out to you!!

Warning: This Post Poses Imminent Danger!

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Because we all don’t have TBR stacks that are falling over and wishlists that are 20 pages long, I thought I’d put together a list of books that you must read right now!!! And where did I get these books, you might ask? From the ultimate source! Book bloggers!! I recently hosted a giveaway for Dark Harvest (which is going through Saturday, September 19th by the way) and asked people to name a book that everyone should read RIGHT NOW! Here are the answers. I thought it would be fun to see how many of these I’ve actually read too. Turns out that I’ve actually read 11 of them! That’s over 1/3! Anyway…here they all are:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (recommended twice)

2. Jackdaw Summer by David Almond

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfeld

4. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

6. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

7. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

8.Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande

9. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

10. The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim

11. The Cave by Steve McGill

12.Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

13. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

14. Watership Down by Richard Adams

15. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

16. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

17. Nation by Terry Pratchett (recommended twice)

18. A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin

19. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

20. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

21. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

22. The Night Country by Stewart O’Nan

23. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

24. The Wave by Todd Strasser

25. Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen

26. Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant

27. Dark Sister by Graham Joyce

28. Hex Appeal by Linda Wisdom

29. The Gunslinger by Stephen King

30. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

31. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (added by me :p)

32. Sucks to Be Me Me by Kimberly Pauley

33. Between Mom and Jo by Julie Ann Peters