Classic Remarks – Children’s Classics

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It’s Friday (yay!) Today’s Classic Remarks topic: What children’s classic couldn’t you read enough when you were growing up?

When I was in elementary school I could not get enough of Dr. Seuss! I would bring home Dr. Seuss books from the school library on a regular basis to read with my mom.  After a while I think she got tired of being tongue tied and suggested I try another author. So I started bringing home Roald Dahl books instead (so much for not being tongue tied!)

So I’ll say The Lorax and The BFG were my favorites when I was really young. Here are two quotes from each:

The Lorax: I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.

The BFG: “Words,” he said, “is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life.”

What was your favorite classic children’s book as a kid?

September Reading Recap

September has been really crazy! I feel like a slacker because I haven’t had time to participate/comment on other blogs much this month but I’m finally back in the swing of things. However, due to lots of time spent in airports, I did manage to read 5 books!

prayers-for-rain

Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane – This is the fifth book in the Kenzie & Gennaro series and I enjoyed it. Like the previous books in this series, the topic was pretty dark so it isn’t for everyone. But if you like super creepy stalker weirdos you may enjoy it😉

moonlightmile

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane – I followed Prayers for Rain up with the sixth (and probably final) Kenzie and Gennaro book. I was actually pretty disappointed with this one which was a bummer since I really enjoyed the first five. Two of the main characters – Angie and Bubba – were barely in the book. The writing style felt different as well. For some reason I kept reading this thinking that Lehane was either trying to hurry and wrap up the series or got paid a boatload to write this and just threw something together. I liked that it was tied to the characters in Gone Baby Gone (book #4) but was otherwise not impressed.

i-like-you

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West – After two fairly dark books I really wanted something light and fluffy to read and this fit the bill. It’s a YA romance and I thought it was pretty cute. The two characters write notes back and forth without knowing each others identities. It’s pretty obvious who the mystery writer is but it was fun to read anyway.

the-distance-between-us-by-kasie-west

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West – Another Kasie West title, The Distance Between Us is also pretty light and sweet. I enjoyed the humor of the main character, Caymen. It’s a rich guy/poor girl love story. Between the two West books, I preferred this one but if you like YA romance, both are pretty fun.

schumer

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – I received this one as part of my Book of the Month Club (I got a subscription as a birthday gift!) I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not a super fan but I’ve seen her show a few times and thought it was funny. Some of the essays fell a little flat to me. That being said, I really liked her diary entries (and years-later footnotes) and some of her more serious essays were really good as well.

That’s it for me! What did you all read this month?

Banned Books Week

Banned Book

Today is the start of Banned Books Week!

If you are unfamiliar, Banned Books Week launched in 1982 after schools, libraries, and bookstores saw a surge in challenges to books. The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of organizations who seek to “increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read.” The 2016 theme is Diversity!

Diversity

The Banned Books Week website has all sorts of resources, webinars, and videos. They even a We Need Diverse Books YA Short Story Contest! You can also check out this interesting Censorship Mapping Project: http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/mappingcensorship

Most local libraries hold special events for this week so make sure to see what’s going on in your area!

Freedom to Read

Just for fun, here are my Top Ten Favorite Books on the American Library Association’s list of most frequently challenged books! I’m also adding why the book was banned or challenged.

  1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: This has been challenged due to magic, setting a bad example, and being scary, among other things.
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This consistently makes the challenged list every year because people find its racial and sexual content inappropriate.
  3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey: Reasons include glorification of prostitution, murder, and obscenity.
  4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: One reason is the claim that it desensitizes readers to violence. I think it does the complete opposite, personally.
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Banned for being sexually explicit and morally corrupt. Side note: this is one of my all-time favorite books and I highly recommend reading it!
  6. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein: Challenged for promoting “disrespect.”
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison: Banned for violence, language, and “inappropriate topics.”
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry: Challenged for being “too dark.”
  9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: This has been challenged or banned since its publication, basically. Mainly due to the use of racial slurs.
  10. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl: For encouraging disobedience, and for having magical elements.

And honorable mention to Where’s Waldo by Martin Hanford! I have no idea how this was challenged so many times that it made a top 100 list but there you go!

For more information on how to Celebrate the Freedom to Read this week, check out the Coalition’s website: http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/ or the American Library Association’s website: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek.

What are some of your favorite banned books?

Classic Remarks – Jane Austen Adaptation

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It’s Classic Remarks time! Anyone can participate – check out Pages Unbound to see the 2016 topics!

This week’s topic: Which Austen adaptation is your favorite and why?

This is a hard one! I really like Jane Austen and I love Austen film adaptations! I’m going to list three because that’s as far as I can narrow it down (there are many others I enjoy that are not on this list!)

pride and prejudice

  1. Pride & Prejudice with Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen – I expect to see the P&P miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth on many bloggers lists, and rightly so. There is something about this version, though, that I can’t get enough of. I love it!

 sense-and-sensibility

  1. Sense & Sensibility – The cast is amazing and the film is so well done. You can’t go wrong with Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and Hugh Grant!

 Dalibor Milosevic

  1. Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow – I’m not the biggest fan of Paltrow’s acting for some reason but she really nails it as Emma. I remember seeing this in the theater and wanting to own it immediately!

And I’m going to give an honorary mention to Clueless, which is a loosely based adaptation of Emma, because it’s hilarious.

Your turn – what is your favorite Jane Austen film adaptation?

Ten Questions with: Nicole Sewell!

Today I’m super excited to post my first author interview!

My friend Nicole Sewell is publishing her second book – Emerson Hills – on October 6th. It’s a ghost story (just in time for Halloween!) and is available for pre-order now – links below!

Nicole Sewell
YA Author Nicole Sewell

Heather: Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?

Nicole: I’m a full-time wife, mother, and recruiter at a staffing company. I love toast made from white bread, and HATE bananas.

Heather: Emerson Hills releases October 6th – what is it about?

Nicole: Trailer parks, ghosts, and the power of friendship. Ha! Kidding. Sort of. It’s about a girl who is being haunted by the ghost of her worst enemy. And smoking pot. And concussions. And friendship bracelets…I’m bad at this. Here’s the jacket summary:

Seventeen-year-old Jordyn Bentley lives in a trailer park in Georgia with her overworked mother and slacker older brother. Like any trailer park, Emerson Hills is full of drama usually reserved for daytime talk shows. But things get serious when local pageant princess and trailer park resident Emmy Roper goes missing after shoving Jordyn in front of a truck.

All eyes are on Jordyn, who has been Emmy’s worst enemy for years and has every reason to want revenge. To make matters worse, Jordyn is being haunted by Emmy’s annoyingly cryptic spirit.
With accusations flying and an irritating ghost on the loose, Jordyn sets out to prove her innocence and put Emmy to rest with the help of her best friend Rachel, and Brandon, her brother’s hot friend who lives across the road. The cops are breathing down her neck, the clock is ticking, and it just might take help from beyond the grave to clear her name.

Heather: This book is considered Young Adult. What draws you to this genre?

Nicole: I prefer Young Adult just because I’m not a fan of gratuitous sex. There’s plenty of sex in YA, but no heaving bossom’s and throbbing members. I also have decent memories of my late teen years, so it’s fun to relive those to some extent.

Emerson Hills

Heather: Emerson Hills is a ghost story. Do you believe in ghosts?

Nicole: I do. And here’s why: I believe in spiritual entities, beings that exist on a higher non-corporeal plane, and everything in between. If you believe in God, angels, demons, souls, aliens, etc., you kind of have to include ghosts in that mix. Now, do I believe ghosts are scary things that float around and terrorize people out of spite? No. I think “ghosts” are released souls or energy that are making their way to the next plane. Occasionally one gets caught here.

Heather: Did you have to do any research for this book? There is a séance scene that was pretty creepy; have you been to a séance before?

Nicole: I’ve never been to a séance, but I did pick the brain of a few people that I know dabble with that kind of stuff. I guess you can call that research. I also watched some YouTube videos. They were all pretty lame, honestly. The most informative people I spoke with were the Pagan and the Satanist. Two different perspectives that are radically different from my own Christian perspective. I did a little research on head injuries and the rate of decomposition of bodies too. Not exactly the most pleasant, but it was interesting.

Heather: Along with being a ghost story, Emerson Hills is also a murder mystery. I was surprised by who the killer was – was that your intention?

Nicole: Fo’ sho! Actually, I went back and forth with who I wanted the killer to be. Literally right up to the very end, I had one person in mind. And then I was like, “No, THIS!!!” I’m always REALLY happy when someone tells me they were surprised.

Heather: Can you give us a small excerpt of the book?

Nicole: Sure…

“Wanna go in?” she asks.

I stand up from the porch swing and stretch with my arms above my head. “Yeah, why not?”

Movement three trailers up catches my eye. It’s Jason and his lifelong best friend, Kyle, with that bitch Emmy.

I roll my eyes. “God. What’s she doing here?”

Rachel twists around in her seat. “Let’s go inside before they get here.”

Jason catches my eye and walks a little faster, leaving Kyle and Emmy behind.

“Hey,” he says, taking the four front steps in two strides.

“Carlos is looking for you,” I say, watching him closely for signs of nervousness. His face tells me nothing, other than that he needs to shave. And cut his hair. It’s starting to curl around his ears and at the back of his neck. His shirt is so wrinkled it’s like crepe paper. “You look like shit,” I add.

He narrows his eyes, giving me a bland smile before he turns to Rachel. “What’s up?”

“We were about to go inside for a minute,” she says, standing up.

Jason’s eyes drift to Kyle and Emmy as they cut across the neighbor’s yard to join us on the front porch.

Emmy stomps up the steps in her stupid ballet flats. She’s only been on the porch for three seconds and I already want to punch her in the throat.

We didn’t always hate each other. Emmy Roper has always been Camp Springs, Georgia’s pageant princess. We used to compete side by side until fifth grade, when I won the crown and she got first alternate. Emmy considered it an act of war, and even though I quit competing, she’s hated me ever since.

I take in her freshly bleached roots and immaculate hot pink nail polish. Why anyone would want to be a living Barbie doll is beyond me.

“Mom probably won’t want a bunch of people in the house,” I say, glancing pointedly between Jason and Emmy.

“She’s working late. It’ll be fine,” he says, putting his arm around Emmy. Emmy giggles and flips her hair over her shoulder, eyeing me, daring me to say something.

“Well, I don’t want her in the house,” I say.

“Tough shit.” He tightens his grip on her and leads her into the house.

The screen door screeches and bangs behind me, the last one in. If it was just Rachel and me, we’d go to my room. Since Jason brought his fan club, we make ourselves at home in the living room because the last thing I want is Emmy Roper in my bedroom, touching my stuff.

Heather: Even though Outside was a serious topic, there were times when I laughed out loud. Does Emerson Hills also have humor in it or is it just totally scary?

Nicole:  I meant for Emerson Hills to be a comedic horror. I’m a fan of movies like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead and Jennifer’s Body. I don’t like super-intense horror. If there aren’t moments of hope and a laugh or two, I usually can’t handle it.

Heather: What was the hardest part of writing Emerson Hills?

Nicole: Developing the romance at a reasonable pace and keeping it relevant. I always struggle with that, though. I’m a fan of the slow-burning romance, but have a hard time writing it myself.

Heather: Okay, last question: What can we expect from you in the future?

Nicole: I’m working on two projects simultaneously. Literally one sentence at a time… One is a contemporary romantic thriller that takes place in the same universe as Outside. The other is a supernatural angels/demons type thing that I plan to make into a series. Finding time to write is a serious challenge though. I’m probably going to have to take some vacation days or call in sick if I ever hope to finish anything!

Heather: Thanks so much, Nicole! I hope Emerson Hills is a huge success!

You can pre-order Emerson Hills on Amazon now! And be sure it add it to your to-read list on Goodreads! You can also purchase her first book, Outside, for only $2.99!

Outside

Thanks again, Nicole!

 

Top 5 Wednesday – Characters You’d Want as Family

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It’s time for Top 5 Wednesday! This week’s topic is a fun one – Characters You’d Want as Family!

Hermione

  • Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Hermione is my favorite; I would love to have her as a family member! And while we’re on the topic of Harry Potter, I wouldn’t mind being related to Harry, Luna, Neville, or any of the Weasleys either.

city-of-thieves

  • Kolya from City of Thieves by David Benioff – I like Kolya because he has the ability to bring humor to bleak situations, making them more bearable.

Anne

  • Anne from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery because life is never boring when Anne is around.

cheaper by dozen

  • The Gilbreth kids from Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. – Being an only child I think it would be fun to have a boatload of sibling.

Whered-You-Go-Bernadette

  • Bernadette from Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – I wouldn’t want her to be my parent but I’d sure like having her around to keep things interesting.

Which literary characters would you like to have in your family?

Top Ten Tuesday – TV Shows!

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic: In honor of fall TV, do a TV-themed topic! I was originally going to somehow tie in a book theme with this (being that this is a book blog and all) but instead I’m going with TV Shows I Discovered This Year.

Some of these are NOT new – I just happened to start watching them a lot later than everyone else!

Ferguson

New Girl – I actually watched the first season of this when it debuted and really liked it. My husband had never seen it and we couldn’t find anything good on TV so we decided to watch an episode. A month later and we’d watched all 5 seasons! (Thanks, snow days!)

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer – I’ve recently started watching Netflix and they have so many interesting shows! My coworker insisted I watch this and I was hooked by episode 2. With the recent news that Brendan Dassey’s conviction was overturned I’m sure there will be another season of this.

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Stranger Things

Stranger Things – Okay, I LOVED this. This was another Netflix binge watch (sensing a theme yet?) and it was so good. The best way I can describe this is: mix together Goonies and E.T. and then make it really creepy.

FARGO -- Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo -- CR: FX/Matthias Clamer
FARGO

Fargo – If you haven’t seen this (and don’t mind violence) you need to watch this ASAP. Both seasons are fantastic. They manage to pull in some really great actors, too.

Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – First of all, the theme song is the best. This is a really quirky show and it cracks me up. Tina Fey is one of the producers – she also appears now and then – and if you watched 30 Rock you’ll like this, I think.

Jinx

The Jinx – I watched this while I had a free HBO trial and oh my God, this guy is bizarre. Watch this, then check out All Good Things with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. And then be weirded out forever.

Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers – I am not usually a cartoon person. I don’t watch Simpsons, Family Guy, or any of those shows. But Bob’s Burgers? YES. This is such a funny show. Tina is my personal favorite but the entire family is bonkers and it’s fantastic.

Breaking-Bad

Breaking Bad – Another Netflix show. We just finished the first season – so far so good!

playing house

Playing House – This is super funny. The seasons are pretty short so you could definitely binge watch this without it taking up your entire life.

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Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – This has been on for a few years but I just started watching it. I didn’t care for it the first time I watched it but now I’m hooked.

So there you have it – I watch way too much TV. As far as what I’m looking forward to, I cannot wait for Gilmore Girls to come back! Can. Not. Wait.  Oh, and Sherlock. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for new Sherlock episodes.

What are your favorite TV show discoveries?