Thursday, 25 October 2012

My Pledge

As any followers of the blog may have noticed, my blogging and review-posting has become a little erratic with large periods of time (well like a week) between reviews and a lack of anything else. For instance, when entering Blogger just to write this post, I spent 10 minutes catching up on days and days worth of posts.

I'm not closing up shop, that I am definite about. However, I don't think I will ever really go back to the dedication and amount of blogging I used to do before. I literally just do not have the time that I used to have. I don't think some people appreciate the amount of time blogging takes up on top of everything else and it is this really that is becoming an issue. Blogging is starting to frustrate me and this is bad, I don't want blogging to be stressful on top of the other stress I have to deal with.

I am in my last year of college (or in my 'senior' year if I was in America) finishing my A levels. A lot of teachers, past pupils, friends have told me how much time your studies in your last year takes and after a month of being in Year 13, it's taking it's toll. Last week, I ended the week with six pieces of work, most of them being essays. I am not the best essay writer, it doesn't come naturally so I do have to spent a significant time on essays in general. I actually ended the week in tears because of the pressure, stress and amount of work they are piling on already. If they're doing this now after a month, what about nearer the exams next May?
Because of the arrangement of my days during the week, I do have a small window of reading time. I like to read on the 20 minute train journey to college but more often than not, I see someone I know and talk to them on the train so it's a little rude to just pull a book out and start reading. Most of the time, I read at the weekends and in the mornings if I'm going in later. In the evenings, I'm becoming increasingly too tired and that is kind of what's gone wrong since coming back to college.
So that is my reason for my lack of reading. I love reading and want a career in books so I will continue reading, just at an even slower pace than before. I really do admire these bloggers who mention they read 3 books a week. HOW? WHERE DO YOU FIND THE TIME? I would love to know! I'm not a slow reader, but I do like to take time over reading, not hurrying it like some of my friends do.

So, where is this post going then?
Well, I have a proposition, or a pledge really.

I pledge to keep reading and blogging as much as I can. But my studies will always come first. I read for me, not for anyone else so I will read the books I want to read and when I want. I'm always up for up and coming releases and I will read them within a deadline if needed to (and I am dying to read the book) but I want it to be okay for me to read a book published a while ago.

I pledge write reviews that aren't full of rambles. That are actually decent and useful to any reader or reviewer. I know my reviews aren't actually that amazing, but I do try and show what I felt about the book in some way. If you have any problems or suggestions about my reviews, let me know! Really, I'm always up for advice.

I pledge to keep the blog going. I don't want my blog to die in a small corner of the blogosphere, abandoned and alone. I want my blog to be running, a post every week at least. I have worked hard for the last two years to create Rebecca-Books and I don't want that to be worthless

I pledge to not care about follower counts and comments. This is what frustrates me the most about blogging. I have been working on Rebecca-Books with all my time, sweat and a few tears for two whole years. What annoys me if a blogger comes along and after a few months has a 1000 followers. What am I doing wrong? If there some 'anti-follow' thing about me? I just feel sometimes that the effort I put in is completely worthless.
So I will not care about my follower count or get upset if no-one comments. Like I said, I'm doing this for me, and only me. And I would love some more followers and as many comments as anyone wants to give, but I will not let that become the main focus of my blogging experience. I want my followers to be loyal, get excited when they see that I've posted.

So recap of those pledges:

  • I pledge to keep reading and blogging as frequent as I can.
  • I pledge to write reviews as well and as less rambley as I can
  • I pledge just to simply keep the blog going
  • I pledge to not care about follower counts and comments. Let this blog be all about showcasing some of the best books I have read for authors, publishers and readers everywhere. 

So I'll see you next week maybe. Or week after that. Keep up to date with me through Twitter (@rebeccabooks) - I am ALWAYS on there (it's an app on my phone!). 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Author Interview: Emily Mah Tippetts (E.M. Tippetts)



Launched in February 2012, this is a special feature on Rebecca-Books where I ask 5 of the same question to different authors on their new books to get an insight into what they are about and what it was like writing them. To check out past and future authors for this feature, click here

~ ~ ~

When it comes to a Young Adult contemporary romance, this is one combination of genres I thoroughly enjoy. Think Sarah Dessen, older followers of the blog will know HOW much I love Sarah Dessen. So when I got an email from Emily with a synopsis of her book, I was completely intrigued. A brother coming into the picture? Secrets? Lies? Ah, this sounds pretty good.
So I asked Emily if she would like to participate in The 5 Questions. Over to Emily...


Synopsis: Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She's not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget. In love, she's lucky if she has any offers and will take what she can get. John Britton has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents' divorce. She is beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art. Few, if any, men are worthy of her. When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he's got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can't possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?

1) What made you write CASTLES ON THE SAND?

Well, I'm always writing something, and Castles was the next idea I had in mind. A sixteen year old girl thinks her absent, uncaring mother is the only family she has in the world until a Mormon missionary knocks on her door and reveals he's her older brother. The concept just seemed like a great bombshell to start a story. Partway into the first draft I realized I was grieving for a childhood friend who'd recently passed away from a brain tumour. The novel became a tribute to the kind of impact a good man can make on the lives of others, even if he can't be as involved as he wants to be. In the book, it's the protagonist's older brother who wants to be there for her, but he's been gone most of her life and she doesn't know or trust him. It's sort of a mirror image of my friend Jared, who had to leave his children long before he wanted to. In the end, I was able to dedicate the book to Jared and his widow even let me use one of his poems in the dedication, which sets up the story far better than I ever could.


2) What did you enjoy the most about writing it?

Feeling like I could do something, however trivial, for Jared's family. I wasn't able to get to his funeral, because I live in London now and have two small children. A lot of people wrote such touching tributes and shared memories of him online, especially on Facebook. I don't feel like I'm good at that sort of thing, so the novel was my best attempt to capture a little of my memories of him and what I'll always miss about him.


3) Describe the book in a sentence

Madison Lukas knows she's boring, unattractive, and lucky if she has any offers for love, but her nosy, overbearing older brother insists she's amazing, gorgeous, and should hold out for the man of her dreams.


4) What advice would you give to future writers - both in the writing and publishing process?

Take the time to work on your craft. I've been writing one to two thousand words a day for almost twelve years now, and I'm still learning. While it may be frustrating to work so hard for so long and not necessarily see success, every page you write puts you a page ahead of where you were yesterday. Keep going. Eventually it will pay off. Nowadays I can feel how much easier it is to write description, set up scenes exactly how I want them, and have a feel for what kinds of stories produce the reactions I want from readers. When I was a teenager, I'd have despaired at the thought of working this long, but some processes do not have shortcuts. I'd also recommend getting training and doing this as early as possible. I didn't go to a professional workshop until I was twenty-five, and it took me five years after that to sell my first short story. I think I could have achieved this benchmark younger if I'd taken classes or workshops in my teens.


5) Are you working on anything else? 

Right now I'm writing a novel called Nobody's Damsel, which is the sequel to my Amazon bestseller, Someone Else's Fairytale. These books are about Chloe, a forensic scientist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who turns the head of Jason Vanderholt, a Hollywood A-lister. The plot has that element of escapist absurdity that is a lot of fun, but aside from the setup, these aren't farcical books. They're a real look at "what if", and pairing a real life hero with a guy who plays them for a living makes for some great chemistry.

Thank you Emily!


On the 24th OCTOBER (TOMORROW!), CASTLES ON THE SAND will be free on Amazon for 24 hours. Check it out!

Contact: 
Trailer:

Monday, 22 October 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan

This book has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for a while now and I decided that now was the time to read this after hearing some lovely reviews from both bloggers and friends. One of my friends even mentioned it was 'the best John Green novel they had read' which is recommendation enough, hey?
I am a big fan of both John Green and David Levithan in their own rights, both of which have written books which are some of my favourites so I was anticipating something amazing in this book. Something extraordinary with two such talented authors.

Synopsis: One night in Chicago, on a unusual corner, Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. The two teens are completely different apart from sharing the same name. As their worlds collide, the two Will's start doing new things, moving in different directions discovering romance and themselves all leading up to the biggest, most epic musical of all time.

Review: This book was neither OHMYGODSOGOOD or I hate this book. It was one of those middle books. Nothing too shabby, nothing terrible. I think part of my conclusion for this book is all down to timing.
The last books I have read by these authors were serious stuff. John Green, it was The Fault in Our Stars (the BEST book ever) and for David Levithan, The Lover's Dictionary. For those that have read both or at least one of these books, you'll see what I mean by seriousness.
So then I am presented with this book. A book full of light hearted humour, a lot of gay references and just overall, quite entertaining. This isn't a book with deep psychological meaning, no way. But it is a book that made me think, laugh, smile and be sad, all in one 200-odd page book.

The two Will Grayson's are narrated in alternating chapters. It's clear from the start which one is which author. I have to say I much preferred John Green's Will Grayson. I found him sarcastic, funny and altogether charming, the kind of person and character I like and as usual reminded me of the whole cast of John Green characters. I just felt he was easier to get into.
David Levithan's Will Grayson. Well. I have nothing against this character. But I found him a little too moody, rude and just a little annoying. I felt for him at many times, I really did. But I always anticipated John Green's chapters over David Levithan's. And David? The whole lower-case thing? So infuriating for someone who does English Literature! I liked why you did it (there was an interview between you and John at the back of the book explaining your reasoning) but seriously, there should be a warning on the front 'inappropriate grammar used'. Whoa.

The thing that confused me a little about this book was that is what the synopsis and title implies - the book doesn't do or live up to it. It implies this will be all about the two Will Grayson's. The two Will's and how they interact, maybe like they do something to ruin each other's lives or whatever. Maybe this is just my own synopsis but yeah, that doesn't happen.
The main character for me of this book is Tiny Cooper. Yep. THAT is his name. Tiny is an, erm, unique character. He is rather tall, large and incredibly strong (yeah haha, called Tiny...) but he is also incredibly...gay. Tiny for me did gel the book together, make this book much more entertaining than if it was just the two Grayson's. The book charters the lead up to the staging of Tiny's musical, Tiny Dancer about, you've guessed it, him! Tiny is QUITE a character and someone who had me smiling throughout reading.
This books is all about Tiny, truly. But I think this is because he is the common link between the Will Grayson - he links them together therefore, he features in both sides of narration.

Moving away from the characters, this book works with the blend of David Levithan and John Green's styles, which I have to admit I think are quite similar. This book is not only for entertainment value. It is also about relationships, people - how to deal with both. The issue of people being gay and the different reactions to that. The book deals with lots of different things within the subject of friendships and relationships; I have to admit I did take some things away from the book.

This book was purely entertainment for me. There are some lovely messages that you could get from the end but ultimately, I enjoyed this because of the humour and the antics of the characters within the book. It was very different from what I expected and due to having read serious books by these authors, I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I could of. This book was okay, nothing terrible, nothing amazing.
Tiny Cooper makes this book (even though he was a little annoying at times). And John Green's Will Grayson. And Jane. (ohwillgraysonandjanearethebestcouple!). Basically, the characters make this book unique and interesting. Very good and clever idea, David and John.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Authors Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/ and http://www.davidlevithan.com/
Pages: 304
Publisher: Dutton
Challenges: None

Related Posts:
Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Review: The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan

Review: The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Review: Looking for Alaska - John Green
Review: Paper Towns - John Green

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (#3)

**There may be some spoilers if you have not read the first two books in the Hunger Games series - The Hunger Games #1 (review) or Catching Fire #2 (review)**


So I finally read Mockingjay and finished off The Hunger Games series. I was off college ill yesterday so I literally sat in bed all day reading this, I was so hooked. Even by 6pm, I was still reading! I'm kind of sad it's all finished now. Because when I was reading, I literally had NO IDEA what would happen at the end and now I do know, I wish I could read the series all over again like the first time. And I wish I read it slower. Oh well. 
I finished it!

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains--except Katniss.The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.
(From Goodreads.com)


Review: Oh my lord (sorry). OH MY GOSH. 

That was my reaction when I closed this book for the last time this morning. Out loud. To an empty house. 
Why such a reaction? THIS BOOK IS JUST...EPIC. That is literally the only word I can describe it as. Epic. So much happens. So much action. So much heartbreak. So much sadness and so many lovely things too. I felt so drained after reading this book, I felt so many things. Thank you, Suzanne Collins. Just, thank YOU. 

So this is probably going to be a fan girly rant. Let's go.

This is how my reading of this book went:

First I started like 'WHAAAT?'. I mean I've read Catching Fire but that was in April! Although I thought I remembered everything that happened in that book, I was totally wrong. At first I didn't know who all these people were etc. Then I re-read the end of Catching Fire AND IT ALL MADE SENSE. 
So Top Tip: re-read Catching Fire or read this soon after Catching Fire to understand what is happening. And also Catching Fire is the best one in the series. Everyone thinks so (okay, everyone being the 10 people that I have asked). 

A large part of the beginning is set in the underground world of District 13 and for some, they may find it a little boring as Katniss adjusts. Looking back now, this did seem to go on for a while but I liked learning about this different place. I mean, it's not exactly like we have read about this setting before. When we started the series, a reader wouldn't know it existed until Book 2. 
Then the action started and I was horrified, disgusted and waving a 'Go Katniss!' sign all at the same time. Readers by now will hate the Capitol, especially after Book 2. But by this point, I was with Katniss the whole way. Talk about empowerment of women...I still can't believe Katniss goes through all this and she's only 17!
So I'm feeling GO KATNISS and BOO SNOW. 
Then, Peeta comes and something so unusual, unexpected and just so surprising happens between Katniss and Peeta that I was just in a state of shock. I actually sat there for a few minutes thinking WHAT JUST HAPPENED. WHAT? WHEN? HOW? 
Nothing seems to be looking up, at all. And at this point, there's like 40% of the book left and I had no idea what to expect. Ever in a million years would I have been able to guess.

Then, this girl called Delly appears who was apparently mentioned in The Hunger Games. Don't remember that part...

Without going into too much detail (sorry for the extreme vagueness), a big event/mission happens that includes Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Finnick amongst others. Now. That was epic. Again, so many unexpected things, twists and turns that left me surprised, upset and relieved in so many ways. 
And then the ending. Well, for me there's kind of two endings. The first, EPIC ending where you're left in shock, surprise and dismay over what just happened. And then the calmer 'epilogue' ending, set 20 years later. In all honesty, the epilogue was disappointing, so disappointing after such a great book and series. The person Katniss chooses, well the 'other' is not mentioned at all. THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE SERIES SINCE BOOK 1 AND YOU DON'T EVEN MENTION THEM? I would have liked to know what the other major characters still alive were doing twenty years on. Were they okay? Did they move on? WHAT HAPPENED?
So yeah. Lovely ending. Just the bit right at the end was severely disappointing. It did feel like Suzanne Collins just wanted this book over, done. 

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So that's how the whole book went for me overall. It may make sense, it may not. That is literally my thoughts being put into a jumbled mess. 

I have to admit that this book was good. Very good. But I think Catching Fire is slightly better than this. This is an entirely different type of 'Games'. I just felt this book had its best moments in the middle of the book. 

I enjoyed Katniss again as a character. Although I agree with others that she does lose some of her spirit at the beginning of Mockingjay, she sure makes up for it as she realises how much impact she has in Panem. I liked that Gale was more prominent in this book compared to the other two, he came across as a character, before reading Mockingjay, that was kind of 'there' and only a main character because he was Katniss' friend. But in this book, he's more prominent and it was nice to see that. I like Peeta but I wanted some more Gale. 

There is a whole cast of characters featured in this book, which I think is going to be interesting to film for the movie. There are some in it from the beginning, some introduced in Catching Fire and some completely new. Although most of the time I wasn't confused by this host of characters, at the beginning of Mockingjay, I was a little bewildered by the names Katniss mentions, a Dale dropped in here, another name there. I was like 'Who are these people?!' Gladly, the characters you need to know are explained. 

Collins' writing was as engaging as ever and I was hooked most of the way. I was off college ill and I spent the whole day reading this book because I just NEEDED to know what happened in the end, and soon. And that's always great to have when you're feeling down. Collins' is the master of creating twists and turns throughout her novels that leave you so shocked by what just happened. It is a true skill that only some authors I think can do really really well. 

On the subject of the movie, I know this is being made into two films and I can certainly see why. I was a little sceptical when I first heard that but after reading this, there is just too much action and intensity to fit in one film - you would be exhausted after it finished. I think I know where they will finish the first movie but I'm so looking forward to see this come to life on the big screen!

This series is one of the best I have had the pleasure to read and I can't believe it took me SO long to read this series. It really is as good as everything says (and the movie is brilliant too!). For those that have made it through the first two books, definitely read this, for sure. It is a brilliant conclusion and I was not expecting half of what happened. At all. Go, read it!

I give it a 5 out of 5


The adaptation of The Hunger Games (Book 1) is out now. Catching Fire (Book 2) will be out in 2013 and the first instalment of Mockingjay will be out in 2014 with the last instalment being released in 2015. Oh my, so long!


Pages: 390
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Challenges: None

Related Posts:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

On My Bookshelf (29)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea

I haven't received any physical books this week but I have had a lot of books approved on Netgalley (which is very nice) so I thought I'd showcase what's hanging around on my Kindle recently waiting for me to remember they are on there.


Netgalley:

- Speechless by Hannah Harrington - I read Saving June (review) last year and loved Harrington's writing a lot, she really caught the feeling of being on a road trip. When I discovered she had written another book, I wanted to read it straight away. This sounds incredibly interesting, something I'm looking forward to reading soon. And has had such great reviews!

- The Madness Underneath (#2) by Maureen Johnson - Any book blogger should know of Maureen Johnson and her witty tweets (and books). She is a constantly feature on my Twitter feed. This is actually the second book in the Shades of London series. The first is The Name of the Star which I do own a copy of - but haven't read it. Johnson is one of my favourite people on the internet and I liked the first book I read by her, 13 Little Blue Envelopes (review), so looking forward to this one. This is for a read around Halloween methinks. 

- Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole - This is going to be a holiday read eventually for sure. Or when I just need some light reading. Although I'm cringing at the cover right now, I have to admit this sounded interesting and I've seen some lovely reviews for it. 

- Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls by Tellulah Darling - The title made me laugh so much when I saw it on Netgalley. It sounds like a lovely, funny read so I thought I'd give it a go really. 



Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Emma Hearts LA - Keris Stainton

I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Jess from Jess Hearts Books (Thank You!) where I won  a triple of books set in the past, present and future. This was the book I received for the present.
I have to admit I was always just intrigued about Keris Stainton's writing after seeing various reviews for her books around the blogosphere. I was interesting in her books but I never wanted to actually buy the book (again my weird thing with buying books I'm not sure I'll enjoy...). So it's probably a good thing I won this.

After being in the magical, intense world of The Night Circus (review), I needed a light relief. Something to bring me back to the present and away from a world of magicians, dreams and plot twists. This seemed like a good choice to satisfy that.

Synopsis: When Emma is told by her mother that they will be moving to LA, Emma isn't too keen. However after Emma accompanies her younger sister, Bex on an audition, makes a chance meeting with teenage TV star, Alex Hall (think Justin Bieber) and is reunited with her childhood friend, Oscar, the LA lifestyle seems to be appealing to Emma. However, soon Emma is caught in a mix between two guys - old and new - and she needs to reconsider her future life in Los Angeles.

Review: This is the third YA book by Keris Stainton and a sort of sequel to Jess Hearts NYC. The link? Jess and Emma are best friends and a year before Emma moves to LA, Jess moved to New York. Jess' story is mentioned in this book but it is explained, making it unnecessary to have read Jess Hearts NYC, which is good. Jess does appear in this book, and vice versa. The next book in the series I have heard is Rebecca Hearts Paris - which I'm guessing is going to be about Emma's sister who has that name.

So I opened Emma Hearts LA, not really caring whether this was going to good or not. And actually I was quite pulled into the narrative.
I have to admit, this book is no Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, but it has some delightful moments and a narrative you don't have to think about in depth too much. I can see this as a perfect summer read, especially if you were in America. Or one to snuggle down with on a winter's day and forget about the rain for a while. I devoured this book within a few days (which is a slight record for me).

The characters I both liked and hated, especially Emma. Emma came across very whiny and snobby. Although, I can understand her reluctance. However, once they arrived in LA, Emma improved for me. I think she handles the situations well throughout the novel and her ultimate choice is rational and totally what I would have gone for.
I loved Oscar the most, as many people have agreed in other reviews. I loved his quirkiness, his comments and just overall, what he added to the story. He seems like someone I would get on with because of his cute dorkiness. I also liked Bex's determination and drive to get what she wanted even at such a young age.
Apart from those characters, the other main characters didn't really do much for me. I found some of the characters very fake at times as well as saying things that I was cringing at. This is one of those books where exclamation marks are USED. But that's what made it a fun read. I didn't have to think too hard!
The whole Alex/Oscar thing was probably the thing that left me reading to the end. I wanted to see Alex reveal himself as a total jerk and lovely little Oscar come out on top (yeah, I liked him okay...). For me, Emma handled the situation well, and not so well. I did feel for her, I have to admit.

One reason for me wanting to read this novel was because the setting was Los Angeles. I went to LA last year with a friend after finishing my GCSEs so I remember LA well. I could have done with some more detail into the iconic landmarks they visited as well as just more places that people that have visited LA would know.
Regardless, it was lovely to get Emma's view of Venice Beach (a place I disliked). The description of the changes from each end of the beach - weightlifting to henna stalls in a few steps - really worked and reminded me myself of when I visited there. There is also mentioned of Hollywood Boulevard and Santa Monica. This book will leave you either wanting to go back to LA or to visit there for the first time - whatever, I had serious nostalgia for LA reading this, making me want to jump of the next plane there.

Although this book had some parts which I disliked, I did enjoy reading this book. It kept me engrossed in the story and this is the perfect book for a flight (to LA perhaps?), sitting in on a rainy afternoon or just to read in the summer when going on your holidays. I flipped through the pages and the ending is quite lovely for those that liked a certain person in this book...
Altogether a great little book where you don't have to think about much that left me wanting to get a plane to LA. Like, erm, now? *looks at rain outside*

I give this a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.keris-stainton.com/
Pages: 256
Publisher: Orchard
Challenges: BBC


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Let's Talk about Banned Books

Adolf Hitler, Stephanie Meyer and J.K.Rowling are all part of this elite group. What group? I hear you say, and how can I join? Well, to be a part of it, you need to write a seriously controversial or taboo novel first. Yes, Mein KampfTwilight and Harry Potter are just some of the thousands of banned books.

Last year, I became all too acutely aware of the issue of banning books. It is a topic that people don't talk about often, even may not even know about, but it happens everyday. Every minute, to everyone. Even if you don't realise.

This weeks is Banned Books Week, a week long celebration of the freedom of literature and reading. It is held every year on the last week of September, hosted by the ALA (American Library Association). Although it is more of an American thing, this event is for the world to celebrate. Not only celebrate the freedom to read, but also just the idea of freedom.
While also celebrating books, this also raises awareness of recent problems of censorship of books that have been banned throughout the world. An issue that had and probably always be a problem.

So what did I mean by my first paragraph?
Well, last year, when I joined the college newspaper, I decided to write my first article on Banned Books Week. When researching the event for my article, I became aware of how many classic books are banned, what problems people find with them and just how often they are banned throughout the world, not just America, or England, or wherever.
Soon after writing this article, I got my current job at my local bookshop. Sometimes I work in the children's department, mostly cleaning up books that a little 5 year-old decided was a good frisbee (I have witnessed this with my own eyes). Repeatedly, I am asked to recommend books for their 12 year-old advanced reader or their 9 year-old who loves dinosaurs or once a 10 year-old whose grandmother thought he was gay so 'nothing too girly'. Every time I am in shock, in a way, of how some parents or adults are very dismissive of books I show them, perhaps because of the cover. A man brought a YA book back once, I think it was Gone by Michael Grant, because it mentioned on the back 'Lots of violence'.
Okay, so we're hardly banning books left right and centre, but I felt a little broken that people are THAT worried about what their child will see. As Patrick Ness once said, 'Children will find another way' (or something to that effect).

I've read many books that I think my mother would faint if she knew the content. Thankfully, my parents really don't care. They aren't readers, I obviously am. They're just happy that I'm cool with sitting reading a book. And I think that's the best kind of parent. One that lets YOU choose, not themselves choosing.
   I read Before I Die by Jenny Downham when I was in Year 7. So, 11 years-old. An innocent Year 7 kid. For those that don't know, the book is about a 16 year-old girl who is about to die, so writes a list of things to do before that time comes. One of those is...sex.
From what I can remember, the book doesn't hold back much. But because I didn't understand what was happening, I don't think I really enjoyed it because I didn't understand. There are so many re-reads from when I was a kid that I've read and enjoyed so much more! I think if a child reads a book that is far above it's reading age, then, they just don't enjoy it. They don't understand it.
So I came out reading many books like Before I Die, not being a freaky, sex-addict. I don't smoke or do drugs, like you see in many YA books. I drink, but I don't think I've ever got drunk, like many contemporary novels. I think by making banning books for issues such as that makes it even more of an issue that children are more inclined to go after that certain book. After reading some articles about Banned Books Week, I really want to read Catcher in the Rye!


Last year I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for Banned Books Week (you can see my review here). This deals with sex, drugs, alcohol, suicide - lots of 'dodgy' topics. I was surprised how this was banned, yet many other books I have read that deal with sex even more are not. I've never read it but Just in Case by Meg Rosoff is an example. After a couple of my friends reading it and being so surprised by how that issue is not mentioned on the outside at all. At least, Perks gives you a slight warning.

This year, I read Alice in Wonderland - the movie tie-in edition (purchased unknowingly). The story line is changed slightly but the key issues for the banning of Alice in Wonderland is still there. So why was the lovely whimsical world of Wonderland banned? Because of references to sexual fantasies, the whole Caterpillar smoking thing and, wait for it, 'animals should not be allowed to use human language'. I hope I'm not the only one shaking their head in disbelief right now.

I hope I've made it clear that I am completely against the banning of books. We live in a world of free speech, which includes books. Books are a beautiful, creative vehicle that every child grows up with, be it on a Kindle or with a physical paperback book. Books should be celebrated and allowed by anyone to read. I just think by preventing a child from doing something, even if you feel it is for their own good, is wrong. They may not be able to speak for themselves, vote, drink, marry or be able to work. But they should at least have the freedom to read whatever they wish. Because for children, that is sometimes the only way to express themselves.

Some Books that have been Banned/Challenged:

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen
Synopsis: A girl starts high school after being raped over the summer
Banned: soft pornography, immoral values, glorification of drinking, cursing and pre-marital sex

2. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Synopsis: True diary of a young Jewish girl hiding in Nazi territory during WWII
Banned: too depressing, sexually offensive, thought as pro-Jewish propaganda, pornographic, homosexual 

3. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
Synopsis: Nick Carraway moves to New York and adopts an opulent lifestyle
Banned: language and sexual references (interestingly, not banned from Tom's racist comments, the issue of infidelity or the amount of drinking included)

4. Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling
Synopsis: Series of books charting a young wizard's time at a Wizardry and Witches school, Hogwarts.
Banned: Goes against Bible teachings, too much death and an action of drinking animal's blood

5. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Synopsis: Twelve girl and boy teenagers are sent every year to fight to the death
Banned: Anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitive, offensive language, satanic violence, sexually explicit (erm, where?)


If you want to find out more, have a look here

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Looking back on SEPTEMBER

Previous months: 
February
March
April
May
June

July

August

It's October already? This month has flown by along with the rest of the year!
September has been full of new things. I started back at college and although I've been there already for a year, I've had to cope with new classes, new timetable, new teachers and new people that I spent my day with. I hardly ever see some of my closest friends which is a bit upsetting as it's my last year before university. I just hope this year goes well.

Reviews:


It was so hard to choose a favourite book this month, there were so many! I think the huge surprise was The Night Circus. So good despite my apprehension. I also read Emma Hearts LA, but the review is still to be started completed. 


Memes:



Other:
Media Research Survey (I still need more!)

Top Ten Tuesday: Older Books that Shouldn't be Forgotten

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. 

This is a little bit of a quickie post, I've just got back from lunch and before that, this pointless assembly thing at college. Thankfully it only lasted over an hour instead of two. 
So I have a lot of work I want to get done. However, I couldn't ignore this topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday. It's a real thinker and I am concerned at times that bloggers nowadays in the book blogging community only care about the future or present releases. I once saw a blogger moan about how many review boos they had and that they had no time to finish a series because they needed to stay recent. Maybe that's the key to a successful book blogger - I don't know.
Anyway, here are my top five books I hope will still be around when my niece (I WILL HAVE A NIECE SO I CAN BE THE COOL AUNT)/children are my age. 

1. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne - This book introduced me in a way to the world of Nazi Germany, a period of time I know a lot about now. I really hope these kind of books are still around in 2030. It's a classic. (review)

2. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - Merely because recently this has impacted my life a lot. Also, it makes my name a tad more interesting in my own opinion. Although I wasn't named after this book, it's nice to think it may have helped make my name popular of the 90's. And also, this is a great book. (review)

3. The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen - This series renewed my love for historical fiction, romance, the YA genre and reading more in general in like Year 8 before I started the blog. Just a great series that I think everyone I know who has read them enjoyed. (review for #4)

4. The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence - One reason for this. These books were my childhood books. I've read all them as I've grown up and loved them. And made a love for mythology and boy, did some of the facts I learnt from this series of books help me in last year's Classics exam. Also Lawrence is lovely too! (review for #17)

5. Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld - I feel this series helped shape modern dystopian writing as after reading this series, I keep noting similarities in more recent dystopian. And also this series is amazing, so well thought of, it would be a shame to be forgotten. (review for #1)