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Weekly Reading Recap & FrightFall Readathon

Good morning. I hope you had a great week. I had fun celebrating Banned Books Week last week. I posted several reviews of banned books throughout the week. On the weekend, I went to a local corn maze with my family. We had a great time going through their two mazes and finding all the stations hidden in the corn stalks! It's definitely starting to feel like fall!

Reviews and Blog Posts
Banned Books Week Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Review: Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers
Banned Books Week Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Banned Books Week Review: The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Banned Books Week Review: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reading
I finished reading Accidents of Marriage: A Novel by Randy Susan Meyers, a contemporary family drama. Now I'm about halfway through A Dangerous Fiction: A Mystery by Barbara Rogan.

I'm participating in the FrightFall Readathon thi…

Banned Books Week Featured Review: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Each year during Banned Books Week, I review a book that has been challenged frequently. In 2011, I chose to read and review And Tango Makes Three, written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This picture book has been at the top of the list of most challenged books four times because of objections to the book's homosexual theme. Following is my review from September 24, 2011. Enjoy!
And Tango Makes Three, written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, is based on a true story of two penguins living in the Central Park Zoo, who fall in love and form a family. The reason the book has been challenged so much is that the penguins are both boys.

The authors start the story by describing Central Park and the zoo that is located there. They talk about the people visiting the zoo ~ all types of families. Then they explain that the animals in the zoo are families too. When they arrive at the penguin house, Richardson and Parnell tell readers that each year, the girl penguin…

Banned Books Week Featured Review: The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Each year during Banned Books Week, I review a book that has been challenged frequently. In 2010, I chose to read and review The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. This children's book has been at the top of the list of most challenged books for the past two years. It is challenged because of offensive language, unsuitability for age group and violence. I first read the book with my son C when he was 6 years old. He has since read the entire series and loved it. Following is my review from September 27, 2010. Enjoy!

I originally figured I'd wait until C asked to read the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey before checking it out, but when I saw it on the Most Frequently Challenged Books, I thought it would be a great way to support Banned Books Week. We picked out the first book in the series, The Adventures of Captain Underpants. I opened it up and was ready for lots of bad behavior and potty mouth dialog. What I got was a big surprise.

This book wasn't n…

Banned Books Week Featured Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Each year during Banned Books Week, I review a book that has been challenged frequently. In 2011, I chose to read and review Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This classic has been challenged because of language and religious objections, but it is also a good book to read for Banned Books Week because it's about a future society that banned reading. Following is my review from September 29, 2011. Enjoy!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was first published back in 1950 as "The Fire Man," a shorter version that appeared in the magazine Galaxy Science Fiction. It was published as Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. This classic dystopian novel was the perfect choice to read during Banned Books Week.

I must admit I had never read this book before. I knew it was about a fireman, Guy Montag, whose job is not to put out fires but instead to start them, burning books which are banned in the future world in which he lives. That's about all I knew. When we first meet Montag, he is seemingl…

Book Review: Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

Maddy and Ben are dealing with a troubled marriage. Ben spends more time with his clients than his family and has a hard time controlling his temper. Maddy is overwhelmed with work, and taking care of three kids and a house. In the middle of yet another argument, while driving in the rain, Ben steps on the accelerator and drives them into a tree. Maddy ends up in the hospital fighting for her life.

Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers is the story of a family, not just a couple, struggling with a horrible accident and a complete shift in their lives. It is told from three perspectives: Maddy, Ben and Emma, their 14-year-old daughter. It is the daughter's perspective that I enjoyed the most. Emma is left to care for her two younger siblings and the house as Maddy fights for her life and Ben struggles to keep going. It's a tough time for a young girl.

The novel starts by introducing the family and getting into some of the issues with their marriage. One of the key compon…

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

Junior is a Native American high school student living on the Spokane Indian Reservation with his parents and his older sister. Born with some medical issues, Junior is often picked on in school and around the rez, but his best friend is always there to defend him. Then Junior makes the difficult decision to leave the rez and go to school at an all-white high school in order to get a better education.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie tells the story of how Junior deals with the ramifications of his decision to leave the "rez," and how he deals with lots of typical high school stuff as well. This is a novel but Alexie says it was based on many of his own experiences. It's a look into the life of a young kid growing up on a reservation where the future is limited, where education isn't a focus, where alcohol has a profound negative effect on just about everyone, and where death is much too common.

But it's not a depressing story. I…

Week in Review

It's Banned Books Week!! To bring attention to challenged and banned books, I will be publishing reviews throughout the week of books that have been at the top of the challenged lists many times. I hope you'll visit and read these reviews, and also share what your favorite banned or challenged books are in the comments below. Click here for the list of the most challenged books in 2013. Captain Underpants tops the list once again!

And now on to my regular weekly update.

Reviews and Blog Posts
Bloggiesta
Review - The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield
Review - Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Reading
I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which I will be reviewing for Banned Books Week.

Now I'm reading Accidents of Marriage: A Novel by Randy Susan Meyers for a book tour on Tuesday. 

C is reading Loser by Jerry Spinelli in school, and he seems to like it.

M is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney.

What are you reading t…

Book Review: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Susannah Cahalan is a young journalist working her way up in the New York Post when she suddenly starts feeling different. She starts experiencing hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, but the doctors she sees can't figure out why. They do all sorts of tests but cannot come up with a diagnosis, and eventually she gets so bad, she ends up strapped to a bed in a hospital.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness is Susannah Cahalan's memoir of this time, although it's really more of a journalistic account of her experience. Some of the women in my book club were disappointed in this journalistic style, whereas I actually enjoyed it. I found the medical mystery fascinating, particularly the details about how the brain works and how the doctors worked to figure out what was wrong with her. It was a bit scary, too, to think of all the people who end up with unknown illnesses and are never diagnosed correctly.

When the illness gets so bad she that she is having seizures and lashing…

Book Review: The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield

Colleen and Shay are about as different as two women can be. Colleen is a wealthy woman from Massachusetts, who uses money to get whatever she wants. Shay is an unsophisticated woman from California who uses her looks and tough demeanor to get what she wants. These two women are thrown together when their sons, who were working on an oil rig in North Dakota, go missing. They realize they have to work together to find their boys, since no one else seems to want to help.

The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield is a mystery that explores the lengths two mothers will go to in order to find their children. When they start digging around, they realize the oil company has been implicated in several accidents and injuries that have been covered up. They start to wonder if the company did something to their boys to keep them quiet. There's also a question as to whether the boys just took off, since the work is hard and some men just can't cut it.

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of The Mi…

Bloggiesta Plans

It's Bloggiesta time! What is Bloggiesta? It's a four-day event during which we bloggers focus on cleaning up our blogs and getting to the projects we've put off for too long. I have a lot of work to do!!

Here's my to-do list. The main thing is getting caught up on book reviews! Most of this will be done on the weekend, rather than today and tomorrow. I will update my progress here throughout the event.
Write reviews for:The Missing PlaceBrain on FireThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Codename ZeroThe Land of StoriesAdd reviews to Reviews tabAdd reviews to AmazonCreate logo/lead space imageChoose old book reviews to highlight during Banned Books WeekMake plans for upcoming Blog Action Day - choose book(s) to highlightStart list of ideas for upcoming BlogiversaryFINAL UPDATE
I didn't get everything done, but I did get a lot accomplished, so that feels good. I started thinking about #6 at least, but I think I'll be using social media to get more ide…

Week in Review

Good morning. I hope you've had a good week. It's starting to feel like Fall here in North Carolina. What a change! I think I'm ready for it. How about you?

Reviews and Blog Posts
I wrote just one review last week: The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe.

Reading
I did a lot of reading last week. I finally got out of the slump I was in. I finished The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield. It was a good mystery. I hope to write my review for that one this week.

I also read my September book club selection: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. That was a fascinating memoir, especially if you are interested in the way the brain works! And it's only $5.99 for the Kindle version if you're interested!

Now I'm about halfway through The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie in preparation for Banned Books Week next week.

C has finished the last book in the Swindle series by Gordon Korman. He also read Iqbal by Francesco D'Adam…

Book Review: The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

Cara Rutledge left her southern home many years ago and made a life of her own. In Chicago, her career is her life. But when her mother asks her to come home just as she loses her job and her life starts to fall apart, she reluctantly decides to make the trip back to her family's beach house in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.

In The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe, Cara learns that her mother, Lovie, is dying of cancer, unlikely to make it much past the summer. They try to reconnect, but the past is hard to overcome at times. Misunderstandings about the past and her mother's intentions have clouded their relationship, and it takes a lot for them to open up to each other.

I really enjoyed this beach read. While Lovie is dying of cancer, I didn't find the story to be depressing or overwhelmingly sad. She accepts her fate and the author doesn't dwell on her suffering at all. The story of Lovie and Cara is offset with other storylines involving a pregnant teen who is li…

Week in Review

Good morning. I hope you've enjoyed the last couple of weeks. We've been busy getting back into the routine of school and work, and enjoying a final trip to the pool before it closed for the season.

Reviews and Blog Posts
Since my last update, I wrote a review of After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman. I also wrote a recap of my participation in the 2014 Big Book Summer Challenge. I managed to read four big books (over 400 pages) this summer.

Reading
I never ended up finishing The Bone Seeker by M.J. McGrath. I read about half of it and just could not get into it. It seems to be getting decent reviews, so it's worth considering. I just couldn't connect to the characters or the setting, and wasn't crazy about the writing style.

Once I finally gave up on that one, I started reading The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield. I'm still reading that one. It's been a slow couple of weeks as far as reading goes!

C has been reading a few of the books in the Swindle serie…

2014 Big Book Summer Challenge Wrap-Up

I had a great time doing the 2014 Big Book Summer Challenge this year! I am not one to read a lot of "big" books, but this summer I actually read more than I had expected. I ended up reading four big books:

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (545 pages)
2. Honolulu by Alan Brennert (431 pages)
3. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (438 pages)
4. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe (407 pages)

I still need to write reviews for the last two. And I really want to read more in the Divergent series and the Land of Stories series.

This was a lot of fun, as usual. I look forward to next year's challenge! It's hard to believe the summer has already come and gone.

Book Review: After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

When Felix Brewer skips town to avoid a prison sentence, he leaves behind a wife, Bambi, three daughters and a mistress, Julie. When the mistress disappears 10 years later, everyone assumes she went off to be with Felix. Then her body is found nearby. The police never manage to solve the murder case, but Sandy Sanchez, a former detective, decides to open the cold case about 20 years later and is determined to find the truth.

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman is part crime novel, part family drama. Lippman covers several time frames throughout the novel, telling the story of Bambi and Felix, Julie and Felix, and Bambi and her daughters in the years after Felix's disappearance. We also get to know Sandy a bit, as well as other key characters. It sounds complicated, but it actually was easy to follow after the first few chapters.

I enjoyed the different characters, particularly the three daughters who are middle aged women by the end of the novel. It was interesting to read how the…