Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian By Sherman Alexie

I flat loved this book. It had be rolling and crying and I could barely put it done. It was a very quick but wonderful read. This book is all about Junior/Arnold a young boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He was born with water on the brain and it was all down hill from there. He was beat up and picked on alot and it only got worse when he decided to "leave the rez." The first day of High School on the rez he throws a book at his teacher and is suspended. While suspended that teacher comes to him and basically says if you want to live you need to go to high school away from the reservation. The teacher tells him that he is too smart and can do better at the high school up the road. The book follows his freshman year. His relationship with his best friend Rowdy, Penelope who half way loves him, walking to school 22 miles on the rain and snow, alcoholics, death, Gordy his Reardan best friend and basketball. This year for him was a wild ride and he handles it amazingly well. From loss, concussions and love he experiences it all.

According to Illinois Library Association  this book was retained on the summer reading list at Antioch, Ill.
High School (2009) despite objections from several parents who found its language vulgar and racist. And was suspended from a Crook County High School classroom in Prineville, Oreg. (2008) after a parent complained it was offensive.

It also talks briefly about masturbation and deals a great deal with drinking and deals with the death of many people due in some way to alcohol. He does have some crude language but it was not very much that I noticed and pretty much how high school boys talk to each other. It talks about Indian Culture and the effects whites, alcohol and other things have had on the culture over the years.

As far as it being racist I just do not get that at all. 

I would guess this book made people uncomfortable and they did not want to answer questions about  what has happened to Indians. This is a book I will let my children read. I think it is a wonderful book but along with that it should be discussed with people.

Added to the cool factor is the illustrations. They are an amazing addition to the book.

And to top it off you know it has to be good because it makes Focus on the Family nervous.

I give this one a 5 out of 5. I can not wait to read more by Sherman Alexie. I really should have listened to my husband soon. I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spirit Bound By Richelle Mead

Spirit Bound is number five in the Vampire Academy series. I love this series. It is about 1000 times better then Twilight for me. There I said it you can stone me later but I love these books. Rose is a Guardian sworn to protect Moroi (living vampires) from Strigoi (undead vamps). This series follows her as she protects her best friend, finishes school, falls in love, gets her heartbroken and is in general reckless. In this book she has returned from Russia where she did not kill Dimitri. Her and Lissa are graduating and then heading to Court. As usual Rose has some crazy plan to do something that she see as important. Lissa is learning more about her Spirit abilities and Rose is trying to be an adult. Much of this one revolves around them adjusting to court life, trying to find information about bringing a strigoi back from being undead and Rose dating a royal Moroi, Adrian, I love Adrian I think he is an great character. I think book in less then 24 hours. I love this series and i can not wait for the next one or the series that will follow with supporting characters as the lead characters.

The Series was actually banned according to ACLU of Texas at Henderson Junior High School in the
Stephenville, Tex. Independent School District (2009). The entire teen vampire series was banned
for sexual content or nudity. Even though the series has not been completed, Stephenville ISD actually banned
books that have not yet been published and perhaps even books that have yet to be written. There is no
way the district could know the content of these books, and yet they have been banned.”

Again I think this is a case of not reading the books and jumping to conclusions or they got nervous cause they are vamp books. I have read all five books and there is very little sex and what sex there is not graphic. (You have to read the Succubus series for that, Which is also excellent)

Richelle Mead is one of my favorite authors ever. 

I give this one 5 out of 5. LOVED IT!!!!

Ok back to my list. I will be finishing Sherman Alexie's book soon.

The Earth, My Butt and other Big Round Things By Carolyn Mackler

This one is about a fat girl and how she deals with her life, her size and her family. Virginia is 15, her best friend has moved to Walla Walla and she come from a family of over achieving skinny people. Once you meet her family you can see why she has issues. Her mother named all her children after authors, Anais, Byron and Virginia. This book is about Virginia and from her point of view. I like the style of this one and it is a super fast read. Virginia's mom is a adolescent  psychologist who does not seem to be able to relate to her own children and honestly does not seem that interested. Her mom wanted them to look like the perfect family though they were far from that.  Her dad was kind of oblivious to the world around him. Her sister was the smart one and got the heck out of there to live her own life.

Virginia is as I said is a chubby girl but past that she a girl left on her own. She feels like she does not fit in with her family. She can not speak french and she overweight. She decides to lose weight the wrong way. She starts starving herself. And her parents praise her for it. She was secretly seeing a boy named Froggy and she said according to the fat girl code she had to keep it behind closed doors. Over the course of the book she starts hurting herself to elevate the pain a little. She hero worships her brother until he does something horrible and she starts to realize he is not the person she thought he was and that he has been treating her like crap.  Finally she starts to rebel she buys a ticket to go see her best friend even though her parents told her know. They never spend holidays together really but because of  Byron's trouble her parents think they should play close knit family. She ends up going getting a eyebrow ring and dying her hair purple. She realizes that she can forgive her brother and see him as a regular guy not the one she had put on a pedestal.

Virginia realizes that is it ok to be herself and does not have be a carbon copy of her mom. And that she can express her self and help others at her school do the same with a webzine written by students.

This book is number 34 on the top 100 list of banned/Challenged books. According to Marshall University  banned book list in 2007 it was banned  for sexual content, being anti-family, offensive language and being unsuited to age group and in 2006 it was banned by the Carrol County Superintendent in Westminister (MD), but after protests from students, librarians, national organizations and the publisher, the book was returned to high school libraries, but not middle schools. The superintendent objected to the book's use of profanity and its sexual references.

I am amazed that is what the people that had a problem with this book focused on. It was not Anti-Family in my opinion it showed a very dysfunctional family that has many issues but loved each other and in the end really started to come together.

I really liked this book. I loved Carolyn Mackler's style of writing and I could totally relate to Virginia in some ways. It is nice to see a chubby girl come out on the other side liking herself. I give it a 4.5 out of 5. I will be reading other things by this author.

I sort of got side tracked from the list. Spirit Bound By Richelle Mead fell into my hands and I had been wanting to read it for awhile so I went off the list and read it. I have read 2 and a half book since Tuesday so I did not lose any time. And since it is also Challenged I thought it would be ok. After I finished Spirit Bound this morning I started The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and I am really enjoying it. It is a fast read as well. I think I can get it done this weekend.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I finished the first book of my banned book list. The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. On the back it is described as a coming of age tale but it is not so much of coming of age as coming to terms. The book was published in February, 1999 and takes place in Pittsburgh during the 1991-1992  school year. The book is written as a series of letters written by a 15 year old at the start through to 16."Charlie" as he calls himself is writing letters to someone that does not know him and he does not use his real name. Through these letters he tells this person all about what has and is happening to him in his life.

"Charlie" is a shy, messed up kid. At the beginning his only friend has killed himself. He feels lonely and sad. Until he meets Sam and Patrick. They are both seniors and "Charlie" is a freshman. They become friends and Charlie sort of slides into their group of friends. This is where he starts experimenting with drugs, alcohol and Rocky Horror Picture show.  Throughout the book "Charlie" talks about all the books he reads, movies he watches and music he hears. He reads The Cather in the Rye, Hamlet, The Fountainhead just to name a few. It was kind of like seeing a high school English class reading list.

According to Illinois Library Association it was removed from Portage, Ind. High School (2008) classroom for topics such as homosexuality, drug use, and sexual behavior. Challenged at the West Bend,
Wis. Community Memorial Library (2009) as being“obscene or child pornography” in a section
designated “Young Adults.” Challenged on Wyoming, Ohio high school district’s
suggested reading list (2009). The book contains frank and sometimes explicit descriptions of sex, drugs, suicide, and masturbation. Restricted at the William Byrd and Hidden Valley high schools
in Roanoke, Va. (2009) to juniors and seniors. Freshmen and sophomores, however, will need
parental permission to check out the book.

In 2007 it was challenged in Northwest Suburban HS District 214 Arlington Heights (IL). A newly elected school board member challenged the book based on excerpts from the book she'd found on the Internet. She challenged it based on references to masturbation, homosexuality, and bestiality.

This book had a major amount of teen issues really life issues crammed into one book. "Charlie" wrote about drugs, sex, music, molestation, cheaters, spouse abuse, child abuse. It was like the author sat down and thought of everything bad that could happen to a teenager and made it happen to "Charlie." As far as it being challenged I think this is a case of the people did not really read the book. The lady that stated it had bestiality clearly read paragraphs and taken out of context they could be seen as bad. The two sentences that talk about bestiality are when Patrick and "Charlie" are telling tall tales they have heard about kids at their high school. We have all sat around and told  tales and most of the ones in the book I remember there was rumors of it happening at my school too.

Patrick is gay in this book and "Charlie" and him are friends and to "Charlie" his friends issues are his. He states in a  matter of fact way wishes the world was a happy excepting place for Patrick and not so hard for him. It is not the major theme in the book. "Charlie" took it to heart when one of his friends was in trouble.

"Charlie" is in love with Sam who is Patrick's stepsister. He does not really understand love nor does he know how to express things in an appropriate way. "Charlie" has been under the care of a shrink on and off since his Aunt died. They would find him weird places or doing weird things. He said he just wanted to understand what was wrong with him.  He starts to have sex with Sam and sort of snaps and ends up catatonic and in the end it is revealed why he is screwed up and ends up in the hospital for awhile. As his friends and sister get ready to go to college "Charlie" starts to get it together and understand himself.

I liked this book, I would not say I loved it. But was good. I love letter fiction. It was rambling and almost incoherent sometimes but I think that was awesome because that is how 15 year old tripping on acid would sound. I can understand "Charlie" even if he did not really understand himself he started figuring himself out as well all had to do at the age. It was a solid book, heartbreaking in parts, funny in parts, silly and a bit over the top but it was good read for the teen and up crowd.

I give it 3.5 out of 5.

Up Next - The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things By Carolyn Mackler

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Banned Books Challenge

So I decided to do this banned book challenge so I need to make a list of what I am going to read. I few years ago I decided to read my way through the ALA banned and/or challenged book list so I have read quite a few in the list but I am sure I can some up with some to read now.

Details on the challenge. Between September 1 and October 15 Steph Su (of Steph Su Reads) will be hosting a Banned Books Reading Challenge. The goal of the challenge is for participants to pledge to read a self-determined number of banned or challenged books for the months of September and October. 

As I read them I will post a little about why the book was banned or challenged and then a review. I will also probably post a bit about some on the list I have already read. 

The Anastasia books by Lois Lowry are challenged and the last time i was reading through banned books I read the whole series. They were cute, funny and very witty books. All the books in there series were challenged but Anastasia Again! was actually banned. The book was written in 1981 and was banned due to a reference to beer (she actually sucks the foam off her dad's beer), playboy magazines and Anastasia making light of wanting to kill herself according to the parent that wanted it banned. It one sentence that most kids probably did not even recall. The Giver was also banned because it dealt with a Utopian society that used euthanasia and suicide to maintain the society. It was a beautifully written book and I think should be a must read for everyone. I sometimes wonder if the people wanting books banned really read the whole book or if they see something and start banning. Things are taken out of context or they just do not bother to figure it out. 

Anyway on to the challenge.  

I will challenge myself to read six. Seems like a good number. In no particular order and I may add more as I go along.

1. Taming the Star Runner, by S.E. Hinton (I Love her books and I have not read this one)

2.“The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Alexie Sherman (my husband has been begging me to read this)

4.  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier By Alan Moore (Banned just up the street)

5. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler 

6. Marked By Kristin and PC Cast (cause I have it here) 

A book blog?

So I am sure if you are reading this then you are thinking really another book blog? But mainly I made this one because I want to participate in the Banned Book Challenge. Banned Books have always been a huge interested to me. Why do books get challenged or banned? What was so horrific in the book that people were scared of it? Maybe it is the naughty aspect of it. Oh this book is bad or so they say. Some of the best books I have ever read are challenged or banned. The Giver by Lois Lowry or Harry Potter for that matter. So that is why I am not the proud owner of a book blog. I will post my reviews here as I read books. Or random book rants will go here.