Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned? Seriously? But why?

I'm very pleased to be joining in on Sheila's Banned Book Week event at Book Journey.  As a former library employee, I certainly have my own opinions about banned books and we always highlighted some of the so-called 'banned' books during my time there.  I used to love doing a big display of some of the books and then watching them be picked up and checked out during that week.  Doing my little part to see that those books or ones like them circulated.

So, you may be asking - what are banned or challenged books?  They are books or materials that someone wishes to remove from the library shelves or restrict in some manner.  Here's a link to the American Library Association's website.  And here's a link to several lists of frequently challenged books.  In my years of working at a library, I talked about books with patrons all the time.  Sometimes, people would have a question about a certain book - was it appropriate for children or was it shelved in the most appropriate location?  Occasionally, someone would ask how they could get the library to remove a book from the shelf permanently.  I don't think I ever thought that anyone did this with bad intentions.  More often than not, it was about their children and about protecting them from what they perceived as 'bad things'.

One of my first questions was always, 'have you read the book yourself?'.  Sometimes the answer was yes, often it was no.  Sometimes I would have personal knowledge of the book or material mentioned, having read it myself.  Sometimes not.  I was not the manager of my branch and so I would pass along information about how they could pursue their challenge if they wanted to.  However, there were times when I could talk them through their uncertainty and provide information enough to satisfy them.  I always suggested that they read any book that had been assigned to their child or indeed that their child wanted to read, if they had concerns.  I would explain that in my experience, tough topics learned about together with your child could provide much food for discussion.  I would relate my own experience as a parent and try to find common ground.  I would also suggest that if their child had been assigned a book at school and they, as the parent, genuinely felt uncomfortable with it, talk to the teacher and ask for a substitute book.  It would always be given.

Occasionally, a patron would be angry and belligerent regarding some library material.  Usually, these individuals were not interested in discussion - they just wanted their way.  Happily, we didn't have too many of those instances.  The assistant manager of my branch was on a committee that considered challenges that had been bumped up the line to the library director's office and they met monthly, read the books or materials challenged, and then made recommendations to the director for her decision-making process.

Did I ever see a book banned while I was there?  I honestly can't remember one.  I did see a few items removed from the children's section and moved to the adult shelves.  One in particular, and I can't remember the name but it was about women's bodies, I felt was a good decision.  It was still available, but not so easily picked up by a child.

So, take a look at the books most frequently challenged in 1990-1999.  And the books most frequently challenged in 2000-2009.  From these lists, I'd like to recommend 10 books for your enjoyment and edification.  You are probably at least familiar with several of these.  In my opinion, they are all worthwhile.  And Happy Banned Books Week!!

by Shel Silverstein

by Roald Dahl

by Caroline B. Cooney

by Katherine Paterson

by Laurie Halse Anderson

by Anonymous

by David Guterson

by John Grisham

by Ken Follett

by John Steinbeck
(Austin's Mayor's Book Club Read for 2015)   

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Weekly update - 9/24/15 - A desk that goes up and up, a little more time, and pigs...

Here's what's going on in my world this week:

Life in General...

I'm pleased to say that I visited the endocrinologist last Friday and it was a very productive meeting.  I did not see a doctor, but rather a physician's assistant/educator.  We talked for a quite a while about several of my issues and I explained what I had been doing and what my goals were.  The PA gave me an overview of many things, did a short exam, and told me that it was a really good thing that I had come in.  He congratulated me on being proactive and gave me 3 more months to work on lifestyle changes.  We'll do another blood test in December.  I'm to meet with a nutritionist at their office in the next little while and she will help me understand more about carbs and integrating my new eating goals with my Weight Watchers plan.  He also told me that consistent, regular exercise - at least 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week - will be key.  So, that is my new major focus.  And so far, so good.

Also, I wanted to show you guys my new desk accessory.  It's a standing desk.  I told my husband that this was what I wanted for my birthday.  He has one at work that he uses.  It fits on top of my current desk and basically makes my monitor and keyboard/mouse go up and up.  I can stand for however long that I like and then I can adjust it back to chair level and sit.  I love it.  What do you think?  I decided that every little bit helps and I do have tendency to shuffle around or sway back and forth when I am standing.

Life in Reading...

I finished After The Storm by Linda Castillo.  It's the 7th book in the Kate Burkholder series.  Kate is the police chief in Painters Mill, Ohio, which is in the middle of Amish country.  I really enjoyed this latest book.  Lots of character growth for Kate and her significant other, John Tomasetti.  And there were pigs.  A large pig farm or actually, several large pig farms play a part.  Old bones are discovered by some Boy Scouts, there's a huge tornado, and Kate has several personal decisions to make.

I then picked up the latest Ruth Galloway book, The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths.  This is the 7th book in this series as well.  It concerns a WWII pilot and his plane that are discovered when some land is being prepared for new homes.  And guess what?  There is a pig farm and whole discussions of whether pigs will or will not consume other animals or meat.  Ummm....yes, they will.  Can't believe that Kate, Ruth's and Nelson's little daughter, turns 5.  Where did the time go?  Ruth has the chance to be on TV again, plus there is an ancient set of remains discovered that has DNA that connects with the pilot and his family.  And even to one of our regular characters.

I finished listening to The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.  So much fun!  I then tried to listen to The Yard by Alex Grecian, in order to fulfill my book group's October theme of mysteries set in the 1800's.  However, I didn't care for the narrator.  His voice and modulation were fine, but he breathed audibly between sentences.  It drove me batty!  I may or may not get that one read before our meeting.  I've moved on to The Girl In The Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz, the new Salander book.  It's narrated by Simon Vance, who did the original books, and so that's good.  Jury is still out about the book.  We'll see what I think in the end.

Life in Reading - What's Next... 

Honestly, I'm not sure.  We'll see how my mood takes me.  I have planned to read 'Salem's Lot in October, but I might slip something else in between or go off on another tangent.  And that's what's fun about 'no planning' reading.

I'll have a post about Banned Book Week on Monday and my October Bookish Nostalgia post on Thursday.  I may or may not have a weekly post.  We'll see how much reading I get done or if I have anything fun to share.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Name In Books...

Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers had a fun post on her blog, Cleopatra Loves Books.  I've also seen this on a few other blogs and thought I would play along.  Cleo lives on the Isle of Jersey and she has some of the best crime novel reviews.  I'm constantly getting ideas from her.  Anyway, I've linked to her post above and encourage you to take a look at it.

OK, here is Kay's take on 'My Name In Books'.  I tweaked things a bit, as I usually do, and have listed books that are the 1st book in some mystery series that I've enjoyed.  I've used the library circulation 'rules' that I was accustomed to, i.e. if a book starts with the word 'A' or 'The', that is ignored and the second word is used to alphabetize.  Got it?  Here we go:

kay's reading life

Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
Kelly Flynn, an accountant, set in Colorado, all about knitting and murders - 13 books in series

Agatha is a hoot - a businesswoman who is a little tough - wants to solve murders - wants to get her man - literally - 26 books in series

The Yard by Alex Grecian
Scotland Yard Murder Squad - set up after the Jack the Ripper failure - Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith - 4 books in series

Still Life by Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Three Pines, a village in Quebec, maybe the best mystery series I've ever read - 11 books in series

The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman
Loved this first book where we meet Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker - it's been a while since I read one - 23rd book coming out in October

Everywhere That Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline
Concerns Rosato and Associates - a law firm with all women lawyers - Mary DiNunzio is the main character here - 14th book coming out in October

And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander
Historical series set in Victorian England with Lady Emily Ashton - after her husband dies, she meets a charming gentleman, Colin Hargreaves, an early day 'Bond' - 10th book coming out in October

Death On Demand by Carolyn Hart
Set in Broward's Rock, South Carolina and with a mystery bookstore, Death On Demand, this stars Annie and Max Darling and is a charming series with endless book trivia - 25 books in series

Set in beautiful Trafalgar, British Columbia, another Canadian series - Constable Molly Smith and Detective Sergeant John Winters solve crimes in a gorgeous area - 8th book out in February, 2016

Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton
Lacey Flint, a detective constable in London - very interesting character - gripping books - this one is about Jack the Ripper - 4 books in series

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
One of the best detecting duos in existence - Inspector Thomas Lynley (also Lord Asherton) and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers - loved the series for many, many years - am behind on reading it - also loved the TV adaptation - 19th book out in October

The Lost by Claire 
Paula Maguire, a forensic psychologist, returns home to Ireland to work - enjoyed this first book - 3rd book to be published in November

In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alstyne, police chief in Millers Kill, New York - interesting mingling of police work and morality - Clare was once a helicopter pilot in the military - 8 books in series

Fool's Puzzle by Earlene Fowler
Albenia 'Benni' Harper, quilter and director of folk art museum, and Gabe Ortiz, police chief of San Celina, California - each title is a quilt pattern - sadly, this series is at an end - 15 books in series

Edge Of Evil by J. A. Jance
Ali Reynolds is a newscaster that was fired because she was too old - moves home to Sedona, Arizona and starts a blog, among other things, like finding bodies or solving crimes - 10 books in series


So there you have it.  My name in books.  Hope you might find a series that appeals to you.  In my opinion, they are all worthwhile.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Weekly update - 9/17/15 - A new crown, a Penny book, and no jury duty...

Hello everyone!  First of all, I'm thinking that for the next while, this is mostly how I'll write a post.  A little of this and a little of that.  I'll try not to make them too long.  I'm not feeling the whole 'book review' thing right now, so I'm going to do tiny reviews and also talk about what I'm listening to and anything else that might be pertinent to my life.  This seems much more relaxing.  Just a little chat.

Life in General...

Life is good.  My ear is totally healed and not bothering me anymore.  I've lost a bit more weight and am happy with that.  I had my permanent crown put on my tooth this afternoon and the bite feels good - yay!  I have an endocrinologist appointment on Friday morning to get a second opinion about my potential meds and also to talk about carbs and understand what might be best for me in my food intake and also exercise.  If I must take meds, I will, but I want to see if I might be able to avoid it with a little knowledge and hard work.

I was scheduled for jury duty tomorrow, but it has been cancelled.  Am I disappointed?  Yes, I am.  OK, here's a little secret.  I have always wanted to be on a jury.  My husband has been on several and a foreman once.  I've been eligible for 40 years and have had exactly 2 jury summons.  Both were cancelled.  I know many of you probably don't feel that way, but I'd love to see the process once in my life before I can become exempt because of old age.  Ha!  Have you ever been on a jury?

Life in Reading...

I guess I'll start with the book I'm listening to.  I finished The Girl Who Played With Fire and have moved on to The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest.  Both Stieg Larsson books.  Totally enjoying my reread of the trilogy and look forward to the new book, The Girl In The Spider's Web.  Before I listen to the latest Lisbeth book, I'm going to try The Yard by Alex Grecian on audio.  It's for my mystery group meeting in early October.  We're focused on historical mysteries set in the 1800's for this one.  The Yard is the first in a series about the beginnings of Scotland Yard, after Jack the Ripper.

And I'd also like to read at least one other book before the meeting, probably in print.  I'm thinking of Deanna Raybourn's newest, A Curious Beginning, the start of new series for her.  I've enjoyed Raybourn's other series with Lady Julia Grey and her secret agent husband.

I'm participating in the RIPX challenge for September and October, but not all my books will be part of that.  I recently finished reading The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore.  It's the story of a family, a very busy family.  There are three daughters, a husband, a wife and lots going on.  Secrets abound.  The husband has a big one.  The oldest daughter has one as well, as does the wife.  Admission to Harvard is important to the daughter, but I think the title could apply to other admissions that eventually occur as things hidden cannot stay hidden forever.  I loved another book by this author, The Arrivals, a few years ago.  I liked this one quite a bit, but maybe not as much as The Arrivals.  The pace this family was forced to maintain was fairly daunting and anxiety inducing.  I felt exhausted just reading about it!

Next I read Margaret Maron's 20th Deborah Knott mystery, Long Upon The Land.  Oh, I loved this book.  This is a favorite series of mine and it has been for years and years.  Sadly (for all this author's fans) this will be the last Judge Deborah Knott book.  Maron says that Deborah might appear in a short story again, but no more full length tales.  I was delighted with this 20th series book because we were treated to the story of how Kezzie Knott and Sue Stephenson met, fell in love, and married, way back in the 1940's.  Kezzie Knott, a bootlegger, widower, and father of 8 (yes, 8) little boys marries Susan Stephenson, daughter of a prominent local attorney, a woman with a great desire to make a difference and give something back.  She becomes the mother of those boys and has 3 more of her own, plus a daughter.  Did I say I loved this book?  So, basically now, I want to begin with first book, Bootlegger's Daughter, and read them all again.  And I may just do that.

Right now, I'm reading Linda Castillo's latest Kate Burkholder mystery, After The Storm.  Enjoying it very much.  I always love a visit to Painter's Mill.  This one includes a horrific tornado.  Plus some Boy Scouts helping with the tornado cleanup find some bones - human bones.

Life in Reading - What's Next...

Upcoming reading - well, today I received (finally) my signed copy of Louise Penny's latest book, The Nature Of The Beast.  I ordered it from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore and it took a while to come.  Penny did not do an event at the Poisoned Pen this year, so signed copies were a little slow to be stocked.  I'm all ready to go with it and think it will be next on the stack.  After that, well - something creepy or horror-like.  I'm planning on joining in to the 'Salem's Lot Read a Long that some bloggers are scheduling for October.  It's been years and years since I last visited the dark woods of Maine that Mr. King has made so familiar to many of us.  Want to join in?

I'll be back next week with another update.  And I plan to have a post on the 28th that features Banned Books Week.  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2015

R.I.P. X

This is a challenge that I have meant to participate in for years and years.  No, I don't do challenges.  But this one - yep, right up my alley.  What am I talking about and yes, I know I'm coming to it a little late - Readers Imbibing Peril.  It has been hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings in the past.  This year, it is hosted by Andi and Heather at The Estella Society.

The artwork in the image is used with permission from Abigail Larson.

What is R.I.P.?  Well, it's a chance to read or watch or listen to stories from the beginning of September to the end of October.  These stories might fall into these categories:

Dark Fantasy

Pretty much most of what I read anyway.  See?  Perfect for me and I am always even more drawn to books such as this in the fall, especially in October.

There are levels to participate in and I am choosing Peril the First.  This involves reading four books that fit the categories above.  I think that will be a slam dunk for me.  In fact, 3 of the 4 books I've already read in September would fit.

I did a quick run around my bookshelves and picked a few more to perhaps try.  And these don't count what's on my Kindle.  Here's a few that would work:

Probably a little ambitious, but this just gives an idea of what stories are floating around in my sphere right now.  And I did put 2 movie sets here in case.  There is also a Peril On The Screen - movies or TV shows that would fit.  I think that Alfred Hitchcock (by the way this set includes Rear Window, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho and The Birds) and The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy are perfect.  Have you seen any of those?  Or have you read any of the books in the picture (I think you can make it bigger by clicking on it)?

I know I'll have a good time.  Are you joining in on this fall challenge?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

OK, maybe not a whole month's break...

Hey everyone - it's me!  Just wanted to say that I'm feeling better.  And I probably won't be gone for a whole month.  First of all, thanks so much for all the kind words.  It's nice to know that one will be missed and also that people will stick around patiently waiting for me.

I discovered that part of my problem was that I had an inner ear infection - which is not a new event for me - have had lots of those in my life.  The difference was that I had not been sick with a respiratory illness.  I apparently acquired it from some swelling in the tissues near my Eustachian tube of my right ear.  And that was caused by getting a crown put on my back right upper tooth.  Odd, huh?  Anyway, I had hearing issues and imbalance issues (like vertigo and a bit of nausea) and mostly feeling completely off.  I'm better now, but still not 100%.  I get the permanent crown put on next Wednesday and also have another doctor appointment, but I'm hoping that the physical self will be feeling much more normal in a week or so.

I've been reading up a storm, which is a good thing.  I'll share a bit of what I've been reading here, but I'm not going to write reviews for these books.  I've been pondering the amount of time I was spending on writing stuff for my blog and also on reading what others have on theirs and commenting.  I love all your blogs.  Love to hear what you have to say.  I love to comment, but I think I spent way too much time doing it.  So, if I don't comment for a while or if my comments are short, please know that I am around - just choosing to limit the time I'm spending on 'talking'.

And I'm going to cut back on what I write here.  That may mean reviews in a more 'update' type of fashion.  I'm thinking of doing a weekly update occasionally, like many of you do, just to say 'hey - here's what I've been reading and doing'.  I always have a tendency to get way too focused on things and then sort of make 'rules' for myself.  New rules are - take it easy and make it easy.

So, here's what I've been reading:

I've been listening to the Stieg Larsson books on audio.  I've gotten through The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and I'm about 2/3 of the way through The Girl Who Played With Fire.  Have totally enjoyed those again.  Simon Vance is the narrator.  He's wonderful.  I've done this in preparation for the new book in the series, The Girl In The Spider's Web.

I've read and enjoyed these books either in print or on my Kindle:

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge - first book in the DI Helen Grace series - it was good - graphic - scary - I'll read on the series.

One Kick by Chelsea Cain - discussed with my book group - thumbs up for almost all of us - second book will be out next year.  Kick Lannigan reminded many of us of Lisbeth Salander.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan - I had a good time with this sorta novelization of Will and Kate's love story.  American girl and royal prince.  Took me forever to read it, but I did enjoy it.  Maybe a tad too wordy.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - Hen party goes wrong.  Creepy deluxe.  Not horrible scary, but sometimes one wanted to say 'stop - stop - don't go there'.  Will look forward to what comes next from this author.

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan - Mother let's 8-year-old son run ahead on the path and then he disappears.  The public castigates the mother unmercifully.  Includes transcripts of psychologist sessions, website info, emergency calls, etc.  I love those types of things to be included.  I was pretty much turning the pages as fast as I could.  This was a thriller.

That's all in this update.  I'll try to stop by again soon.  Again, thanks for the support.  Have a good week!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bookish Nostalgia - September 2015

So how do you feel about September?  Personally, I like it.  It's not the beginning of school in my part of the country anymore, but it does contain my birthday (and no, I won't tell you when) and it was the month that my darling daughter was born.  As it also holds my husband's mother's birthday, he feels that September is always a very expensive month!  But, we were talking about reading, right?  Let me share the books that I remember best from past Septembers - 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010.  Here we go:

September 1995 - Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher - This is a really, really long book.  It comes in at almost 1,000 pages.  And it took me most of the month of September 1995 to read it.  About 3 weeks.  I remember loving Coming Home.  Set in the years before and after WWII, it's the story of Judith Dunbar and her life.  It's a real family saga.  If you've never read a book by Rosamunde Pilcher, you should.  Lovely books.  I think there was a TV adaptation of this one, but I've not seen it.  If you have, tell us about it.

September 2000 - Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton - This is the first book in the Aunt Dimity series, which is now up to 20 books.  Wow.  It was published in 1992, but I didn't get around to it until 2000.  Have you read anything about Aunt Dimity?  Well, Lori Shepherd learns that she has inherited a large estate from Miss Dimity Westwood.  Lori is shocked.  She knows Aunt Dimity, but she thought Dimity was a fictional character that her mother created for bedtime stories.  As Lori follows the instructions she receives, she finds that Aunt Dimity was real and she also finds that Aunt Dimity is now a ghost.  Communications are received in a very special way, which I'll leave you to discover for yourself.  This is a fun book - part mystery, part ghost story, part fairy tale.  Highly recommended.

September 2005 - To Davy Jones Below by Carola Dunn - Last month's Bookish Nostalgia contained the first book in the Daisy Dalrymple series, Death At Wentwater Court.  I shared at that time that I read all the books available one right after the other.  Well, September of 2005 contained exactly one author, Carola Dunn.  To Davy Jones Below is the 9th book in the series.  I read 11 Daisy books that month.  I remember this one so well as Daisy is on her honeymoon and it takes place on a ship.  I love mysteries set on ocean voyages.  Myself, never been on one, get seasick on a boat tied up at the dock.  Sort of like Daisy's new husband, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher.  If you haven't read a Daisy Dalrymple book, what are you waiting for??

September 2010 - Fragile by Lisa Unger - I had a bit of hard time picking a favorite for this month.  I read I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman - loved it.  I read South of Broad by Pat Conroy and discussed it with a book group.  I read Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel - set on the stilt houses in Florida.  Finally, I decided that really, I loved Fragile best.  This is the first book in her very loosely connected (as in the setting and a few characters) series.  The location is The Hollows, a town in upstate New York.  Maggie Cooper is a psychiatrist and her husband, Jones, is a policeman.  When their son Rick's girlfriend goes missing, it brings all sort of feelings to the surface and reminds everyone of another missing girl, 20 years ago.  Just the name of the town, The Hollows, sounds creepy to me.  Right?  Lots of secrets in the woods.

Well, that's it for this month.  Join me again in October when I take a look back at my reading journals.

*****And I will be back in October.  Promise.*****