Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week... A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle


It was a dark and stormy night... in the world of banned books!

How can you not just love a story that starts out with, " It was a dark and stormy night."! As part of Banned Books Week I decided I would open the beloved children's classic (and challenged book), A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and hop on board for an amazing time traveling adventure with Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace. And what an adventure it was! I met three unearthly strangers (Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which), traveled to Uriel where I took a ride on a beautiful centaur with wings up to the tallest mountains that disappeared into the clouds, I took a terrifying trip to Camazotz, a dark planet, where the dark force there wanted to take away my individuality, but who was finally defeated by love, and I met other strange creatures that were as curious about me as I was about them (tentacles and all) Oh, and I almost forgot... I learned about a tesseract, which of course is a wrinkle in time.

The story centers around the Murry family, whose parents are scientists. Mr. Murry has disappeared after a government experiment, which we later find out has to do with time travel. Mrs. Murry and her 4 children, Meg, Charles Wallace, Denny and Sandy, and faithful dog Fortinbras continue with their lives while waiting to hear from Mr. Murry. It's been a year with no word, rumors abound, and Meg is getting ever so impatient. When one dark and stormy night a stranger enters their lives, Meg learns that there is a way to find her father and hopefully bring him home. With the help of her younger brother Charles Wallace and soon to be best friend Calvin, they are whisked off through time and space to places unknown...

A classic story of the battle between good and evil, Madeline L'Engle has created a wonderful fantasy world, with a perfect protagonist in Meg that any young girl of a certain age can relate to, who struggles with being "different" from the other kids she goes to school with (awkward AND with glasses), but who eventually comes to appreciate her own uniqueness. The writing is wonderful, with passages that seem to be a feast for the eyes...

"They left the great granite plain and flew over a garden even more beautiful than anything in a dream. In it were gathered many of the creatures like the one Mrs. Whatsit had become, some lying among the flowers some swimming in a broad, crystal river that flowed through the garden, some flying in what Meg was sure must be a kind of dance, moving in and out abover the trees. They were making music, music that came not only from their throats but from the movement of their great wings as well."

Why has A Wrinkle in Time been repeatedly challenged? It was first challenged, but retained, in 1985 by a parent of a Polk City, Fl. Elementary School student contending that the story promoted witchcraft, crystal balls and demons. Then it was challenged in 1990 in the Anniston, Alabama schools because someone felt that the book sends a mixed signal to children about good and evil. The complaint also objected to listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to defenders of Earth against evil. In 1996 it was also challenged, but retained, by the Catawba County School Board in Newton, N.C. A parent requested the book be pulled from the school libraries because it allegedly undermines religious beliefs.

"What a child doesn’t realize until he is grown is that in responding to fantasy, fairly tale, and myth he is responding to what Erich Fromm calls the one universal language, the one and only language in the world that cuts across all barriers of time, place, race, and culture. Many Newbery books are from this realm, beginning with Dr. Dolittle; books on Hindu myth, Chinese folklore, the life of Buddha, tales of American Indians, books that lead our children beyond all boundaries and into the one language of all mankind." ...From Madeline L'Engle Newbery Award acceptance speech

If you haven't read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, I highly recommend it! It was 190 pages of pure pleasure. And the adventures don't stop there either- Madeline L'Engle wrote a series of books about the Murry family called The Time Quartet, which includes A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. Did you read this challenged book as a child?! I wish I had! *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Book Week and Guest Post by Author Carrie Ryan

As readers our freedom to read is without question important to us. But how do authors view banning and censorship?! YA author Carrie Ryan shares her thoughts with this important piece that really hits home the reason why we need to fight against the banning and removal of books from our schools and libraries for ourselves and most importantly for our children...

Won't someone please think of the children?
I'm so proud and pleased to live in a world where young girls are never sexually abused. Where women in high school or middle school aren't raped. Where teen boys never contemplate suicide (or, heaven forfend, actually attempt and accomplish it). I'm blessed to live in a world where there's no bullying, no cyberbullying, no eating disorders or emotional abuse. Where girls don't stick fingers down their throats and slide knives or blades over their skin intentionally. Where teachers don't sleep with students, where fathers don't sleep with daughters, where no one under consenting age has sex, thinks about sex, comes close to having sex, gets pregnant, gets a disease, has an abortion or has a child when they're still in their tweens. How lovely that all girls and boys are virgins throughout middle and high school. That nary a drop of alcohol or a whiff of drugs passes their lips, their noses, their veins.

Surely each child at every school is well loved, well nourished, well cared for. Well clothed and well mannered with bright futures ahead that don't involve peer pressure and binge drinking and drugs and gangs.

Clearly none of those terrible things ever happens in the lives of REAL teens. So why would we ever need books about such horrid and odious happenings? Why would we allow such texts to enter the hallowed halls of our children's schools? Or, worse, to actually be offered on a list of recommended reading? Or even more awful to contemplate, used in a classroom? Forget that such books may have won awards or received starred reviews or been included list after list. Forget that teens have written to authors in tears, in gratitude, in awe that some of those books have changed their lives. That some of those books have saved them.

We don't need those books anymore! Therefore, we don't need them in our classes, in our schools or in our libraries. Hasn't anyone ever wondered what would happen if we let our perfect, pure, untouched and untarnished teen minds read such smut? They might contemplate drugs or sex or suicide. Clearly, all it would take is one page - one paragraph - of Laurie Halse Anderson's book Wintergirls to change even the healthiest girl anorexic! No girl today would ever have such thoughts otherwise!

Won't someone please think of the children? What are we teaching them with these books?

Unless... unless we've somehow failed. Unless we missed something. Unless there are teens out there that are in trouble. That have faced obstacles that their parents don't know about. Unless there are teens out there with secrets -- secret pains and secret fears -- that they can't take to their mother or father or sister or priest or teacher. Maybe they're ashamed. Maybe they're afraid.

Maybe they need to be shown that they're not alone. That you can survive abuse. That you can overcome bullying and peer pressure. That your friends could be facing these issues. That you can find help. Or even, what happens when you don't.

Maybe we need to have more faith in teens that reading a book won't brainwash them. That maybe instead it will expand their horizons. And maybe as the adults of the world that's our job - to show them the world and be there to answer questions and support them.

I get it. I understand that its easier to keep teens in the dark. It's easier to believe that teens aren't dealing with these difficult issues. What parents want to introduce their precious child to all the bad things in this world? What father wants to explain what rape is?

But I need to make this clear, and this comes from my experience and from my friends experiences and from the teens I've talked to: this stuff happens. And it happens to teens and tweens far younger than any of us would ever want to contemplate. They deal with these issues whether we want them to or not. This is life and life can really suck and it can be messy and dangerous and sad. And hiding from it doesn't make it go away.

So whenever someone screams "Won't someone please think of the children" and then they propose banning books or removing them from the classroom or the library, I want to ask them what they think it accomplishes. Because not talking about the difficult issues in this world doesn't make them not exist. Not letting teens read about them doesn't mean teens are somehow not going to face them.

We're not protecting anyone by keeping them ignorant. And banning books or pretending this stuff doesn't happen is the height of ignorance.

Thank you to the authors who write about these difficult topics and to those who fight to keep them in schools.

Carrie Ryan is the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves and the soon to be released The Dark and Hollow Places. You can learn more about Carrie and her books at www.Carrieryan.com. And you can read Carrie's original post on her blog, Carries Procrastinatory Outlet.

I want to thank Carrie Ryan for permission to share her wonderfully written article! This post really resonated with me and I can only hope that it reaches out to many other readers in the same way.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week... What Kind of Reader are YOU?


It's Banned Books Week and inquiring minds want to know - what kind of reader are you? Not sure? Take the ACLU's Banned Book Quiz to find out...
Below is a list of 20 of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. Check the box next to every book you've read to find out if you're a rebellious reader.

c Any book in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
c I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
c The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
c The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
c To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
c James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
c Native Son by Richard Wright
c Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
c The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
c The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
c A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
c The Pigman by Paul Zindel
c Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
c The Dead Zone by Stephen King
c A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
c Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
c Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
c Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
c Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
c Lord of the Flies by William Golding

What Kind of Reader Are You?
How many books did you check off above?

18 - 20: Totally Banned Bookworm

14 - 17: I'll Take Mine in a Plain Brown Wrapper

9 - 13: Brave New Reader

5 - 8: A Little Forbidden Reading Never Hurt Anybody

1 - 4: My Teacher Made Me Read It

0: Literary Lightweight

Monday, September 27, 2010

Memoir Monday, Banned Books Week and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annex" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Why was it banned? From the American Library Association... Challenged at the Culpeper County, Va. public school (2010) by a parent requesting that her daughter not be required to read the book aloud. Initially, it was reported that officials have decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank’s diary,one of the most enduring symbols of the atrocities of the Nazi regime, due to the complaint that the book includes sexual material and homosexual themes. The director of instruction announced the edition, published on the fi ftieth anniversary of Frank’s death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future despite the fact the school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints. The remarks set off a hailstorm of criticism online and brought international attention to the 7,600-student school system in rural Virginia. The superintendent said, however, that the book will remain a part of the English classes, although it may be taught at a different grade level.

You can learn more about Anne Frank at the Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam. While you're there you can read about the final fate of the chestnut tree that Anne Frank wrote about in her diary, and take a virtual tour of the hiding place where Anne and her family lived.

*P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready! AND it's a bargain at $5.69 right now!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon and Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same!



Welcome to the Sunday Salon! AND Banned Books Week! That's right, it's that time of year again to celebrate YOUR freedom to read! This years theme is Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same! And this week at Chick with Books we're going to highlight books that were banned or challenged.

Held during the last week of September, this year that means Sept. 25th - Oct. 2nd, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

It's important to note that the American Library Association does welcome parents who care about what their child is reading, and their involvement in overseeing what they deem appropriate or inappropriate. But not wanting YOUR child or teen to read something and trying to BAN any particular book from other children or teens (or adults!) is where the first amendment comes into play. Think for Yourself! And Let ME make MY own choices! This is particularly important when it comes to public libraries, which is sometimes the only resource people have to reading books! How do you feel about the banning of books?! Here are the top 10 challenged books of 2009 as reported to the OIF, or the Office of Intellectual Freedom...

Out of 460 challenges ...

1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series)", by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality
3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

I can't imagine not being able to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee! What a great book! In my opinion, the book challenges racism, not encourages it. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult was a favorite among my reading group bringing up the issues of a person's right to choose, not advocating suicide. Charlotte's Web, Little Red Riding Hood, In the Night Kitchen all challenged?! Check out the ALA's list of top 100 Banned/Challenged Books of the decade! And then tell me what books you were surprised to see on the list!

Last year I highlighted 2 of my all time favorite "banned books", The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, met Holden Caulfield as I read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, featured I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou for Memoir Monday, and featured a often times forgotten author and her book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Where will this year take us? This week we'll meet a young girl from the Holocaust, see why someone felt a 1963 Newbery Medal Winner should be banned, and why a Snowy book that won the PEN/Faulkner award and was named 1995 book of the year by the American Booksellers Association was challenged, barred from the curriculum, but finally returned to the school library.

This year my Banned Book reading challenge read will be The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Written like a diary, I'll be thrown back into high school and trying to survive those years all over again. What are YOU reading for Banned Book Week?! Need some Banned Book Suggestions? Here are some suggestions...

A Time To Kill by John Grisham... John Grisham wrote this riveting story of retribution and justice — at last it’s available in a Doubleday hardcover edition. In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence…as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town…Clanton, Mississippi. The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle — and takes justice into his own outraged hands. For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life…and then his own…

This Book was challenged but retained in a Fargo, ND high school advanced English class "despite the novels graphic rape and murder scenes." Although I've never read this particular John Grisham novel, there was a time where I couldn't get enough of his courtroom thrillers. I've never been disappointed when picking up a John Grisham novel because his writing has always been consistently good. Have you read this one yet?

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx... Brokeback Mountain was originally a short story in Annie Proulx's collection of short stories called Close Range. These stories are "reflections on the lives of a handful of characters striving to define themselves against the unforgiving landscapes of Wyoming." After the success of the movie of the same name, Brokeback Mountain was reprinted as its own stand alone novel. What's interesting in this case of a challenged book is how far the school in question went to protect its freedom to read... St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin, Tx. (a private school) returned a three million dollar donation rather than submit to the donor's request that the short story be removed from the school's list of optional reading for twelfth graders. This is a wonderful collection of short stories and if you enjoyed the movie and want to read the actual story, and the movie was true to the actual story, I would pick up Close Range to be able to read more than just Brokeback Mountain.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier... One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. Who is the model and why has she been painted? It is the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter's attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings - the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings. In contrast to her work in her master's studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer's volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should. As Griet becomes part of her master's work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even - as the scandal seeps out - ripples in the world beyond.

This book was banned in Iran in 2006. In a statement, "The new government intends to take positive steps for reviving neglected values and considering religious teachings in the cultural field."

I hope I've stirred your desire to read a banned book! Let me know if you'll be reading anything challenged and banned! And share what you think about banning books!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg... A Review

Two eleven-year-0ld girls... go into the woods... Only one comes out

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg isn't so much a story as to what happened to eleven-year-old Djuna Pearson when she never came back from that fateful day when she and 4 other eleven-year-old girls walked the twisted dangerous road to the woods, as it is a journey of self discovery as Celia Durst retraces those steps 20 years later after a flashback sends her running back to her hometown to find the truth. The truth about what happened to Djuna, but also the truth about Celia & Djuna two best friends who were cruel & bullies and what long term consequences their cruelty had on themselves and the other girls in their clique...

From the Book Jacket...
Celia and Djuna were the ringleaders of a highly competitive quintet of girls, caught in an escalating cycle of test, reward and punishment that peaked the afternoon they all walked home along a forbidden woodland road. Celia blocked out what happened, but everyone else in Jensenville assumed that Djuna was abducted that day, though neither Djuna nor her abductor was ever found.


Twenty years later, Celia and her boyfriend Huck are professionally successful, but their relationship has fallen into a stasis that Celia feels helpless to change. When Celia’s memory of that terrible afternoon suddenly returns, she is forced to confront the part she played in her best friend’s disappearance, and returns to Jensenville to confess.

In a hometown defined by what it was and can no longer be, Celia discovers that her unconscious avoidance of what really happened so long ago has had lasting repercussions. Her aging parents—their love handicapped by a lifetime of reserve—insist that she is innocent. Celia’s childhood friends not only don’t believe her, but insist that she should be apologizing for a completely different offense. Huck wants to be supportive, but can neither ignore all that contradicts Celia’s version of the past, nor the damage it has inflicted on their shared life. Celia’s search for the truth has startling and powerful consequences, resulting in a story that persists in the mind long after the last page has been turned.

Deeply resonant and emotionally charged, The False Friend explores the complexities of moral judgment, the fallibility of memory, and the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, and the lies to which we ultimately succumb.

The False Friend opens with Celia walking to work, and something she sees jars a long forgotten memory. It's 21 years before, and she's just meeting Djuna in fifth grade. Djuna will become the friend that will replace all others. But her other friends, Josie, Leanne and Becky will make up part of the circle that surrounds her. As she remembers Djuna, loving & hating her, she remembers a lie. A lie that may have had dire consequences for Djuna in the woods that day... Little girls are passionate, especially when it comes to friendships. They can be cruel, love, hate, and can be your BFF at a moments notice. Myla Goldberg captures those feeling perfectly in The False Friend. That is what really makes you turn the pages of The False Friend- Celia's introspective look at her childhood relationships. The dynamics of these 5 girls is so interesting. And the intensity of the friendship between Celia and Djuna reverberates off the page. As Celia tracks down those 3 childhood friends from twenty years ago, not only is she surprised at what she learns, but you will be too. I really enjoyed The False Friend. Myla Goldberg's writing was compelling and slowly drew me in. The relationships she portrayed, from the friendships between the girls to the relationships between the parents and the girls was so authentic. And I think that all these parts of the story, all these relationships, added the richness to the story that kept me reading well into the night... My only complaint with The False Friend is the very ending- it fell a little flat at the very last page, but all in all a very good read, realistic portrayal of bullying, and an interesting reflection on what we perceive of ourselves growing up.

* I want to thank Liz of Doubleday for sending me a copy to review!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guest Post with M.J. Rose author of The Reincarnationist Series

Today Chick with Books welcomes author M.J. Rose, international best selling author of 11 novels, and a founding member of the International Thrill Writers. I know author M.J. Rose for her Reincarnationist Series which includes The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, and her newest novel in the series, The Hypnotist! Today M.J. Rose shares a glimpse into what inspires her writing. Join me in a warm welcome to M.J.!

A Writers Inspiration...
Inspiration is a crazy thing. I don't know where it comes from but I'm thankful it does come.

My characters are very elusive. They arrive like wisps of smoke. My first inkling about a new character comes as a question. A "what if".

"What if" a man was in an accident and woke up with memories that don't belong to him.

Then I start thinking of what kind of man would that be a conflict for. Who would hate that and fight it.

Slowly a person starts to emerge.

Then I work on their names - for a main character it can take me a month to come up with the right name. And all too often I think I have the right name - then start working on the book and realize I have the wrong name. In The Memorist I wrote the whole book with Meer's name being something else and she was wooden on the page. Then I changed her name and she came alive.

My real work with the characters is an evolution. For three months I don't write a word. Rather I do research and work on my main character's scrapbook. The very process of collecting her preferred poems, swatches of her favorite colors, and petals from the flowers she grows gives me time to find her.

I collect the ticket stubs for a performance of the Metropolitan Opera that she went to, a postcard from her mother's first trip to Europe, a piece of the red and white string on the pastry box from her grandmother's apartment: it's all in the scrapbook.

And only when I've found all the knickknacks of her life and I've done a fair amount of procrastinating do I even think about sitting down to write. And by then, I can't wait!

You can find out more about M.J.Rose and all her books, at M.J.Rose.com. You can also read an excerpt of her latest novel, TheHypnotist, her most mesmerizing novel yet. "It's an adventure, a love story, a clash of cultures, a spiritual quest, it is above all a thrilling capstone to her unique Reincarnation novels, The Reincarnationist and The Memorist."

Thank you M.J. for guest posting on Chick with Books today and sharing a little bit of yourself with us!



Monday, September 20, 2010

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World... A Review

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

A small kitten is thrown away in a book deposit on one of the coldest nights of the year in a mid western town in Iowa and is found the next morning by the library director Vicky Myron. With a great will to live that small kitten hobbled on frostbitten paws to thank Vicki for his rescue and in doing so won her heart and all the hearts of that small town called Spencer. Dewey, as he would be officially named later on by the town, wasn't just any cat- he was truly special. And in this charming book we come to find out what it's like to live in a small farming community as well as how Dewey captured the hearts of not just Spencer, but people all over the world.

In telling the story of Dewey, Vicki also tells us her story and how she was saved in part by the love she shared with him. It's a story of hope and courage. And quoting Vicki from her book:
"The most important thing is having someone there to scoop you up, to hold you tight, and to tell you everything is all right." (and this is exactly what Dewey did for everyone who met him).
In the day where there are so many "animal" stories out there, this story is sure to win the affection of many. My only warning before reading this book is that is interspersed with Vicki's story, which is interesting, but if someone is expecting the book to be wholly about Dewey they may get impatient with the story in between. I think Vicki's story is important as it shows us that even though Dewey is a charming guy, his real job was to bring people like Vicki at least a small amount of happiness in what otherwise would be trying times.

*The Publisher, Hachette Books, are gearing up for the Holidays with a special release of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat! Check back to see how Chick with Books is celebrating!

*Hey, I'm sharing this with Cym Lowell's Book Review Party!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Sunday Salon... Books with Buzz, a new Sony eReader, and Recap of the Week

Welcome to Sunday! And the Sunday Salon! I was "literally" feeling under the weather last week and missed Sunday, but I'm back on the mend and chomping at the bit to talk books! This week's big buzz was the "Oprah" Book Club selection. Of course like all good secrets, her Book Club choice leaked out a little early and we found out that her 64th choice was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen! There was a bit of animosity between the author and Oprah after she picked The Corrections by Franzen to be one of her Book Club picks. Franzen thought that her choosing the book would limit its being read by a broader audience (aka MEN) and didn't want the endorsement. He also called some of her picks "shmaltzy" and didn't want to be included for that reason as well. But all seems forgiven and Jonathan Franzen will appear on Oprah sometime in November. I'm not usually one to follow the Oprah selections, but there was so much hype about this one, I couldn't resist tuning in. And Freedom by Jonathan Franzen has gotten so much hype without Oprah's endorsement, it's been on my TBR list for a while. So, are you an Oprah Book Club fan?

Well, if you're an eReader fan, Sony's much anticipated updated eReaders were shipping and in the hands of readers this week. I've been trying out the updated Sony Pocket Edition eReader and like it, but am not blown out of the park by it. It's design is beautiful. Slim, small and nice controls (no keyboard, which helps in keeping the size so petite), but size isn't everything! The new eInk display is nice. More contrast than the old screen... but not that significant. The Kindle or Nook Screen is definitely better. And the font size choices of the Sony (there are no font choices period) could use some help. The "small" font is a bit too small, and the "medium" font is a bit too large. In this updated version, the screen is a touch screen, nice, but not really necessary, and you have a stylus to be able to draw right on the screen for notes etc. I'd have to say that the new Pocket Edition is an improvement in size and a slightly better screen, but for the price, the Nook would have to be my choice for ePub books. And that's what I've always had my Sony Pocket reader for- ePub books. (love my Kindle, but no ePub capability!)

Books with Buzz this week... There was plenty of talk on books, but these three books stood out from the crowd. A little of everything here today...

The Wave by Susan Casey... an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out. For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis missed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet. As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of people as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100 foot wave. In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

Lot's of Buzz for this book! I saw Susan Casey in an interview and this book sounded so interesting. Not just the people who seek these monster waves out, but the waves themselves. Incidentally, while Susan was researching the book, one of the surfers was killed in one of these terrifying waves. This seems to be the perfect fit for anyone who enjoys surfing the waves or paddling the water! *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass... In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love. One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches—and begins to practice—an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs. Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.

This is one of those books with lots of meat for a good book club discussion. Lots of press promoting it too. Glass is known for her books with good family drama. *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Reckless by Cornelia Funke... Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, Funke twists fairy lore into a dark incarnation. A prologue introduces Jacob Reckless, 12, heartsick over his father's disappearance. The story then jumps ahead 12 years; Jacob, having figured out how to follow his father through a mirror, has made a name as a finder of magical items--seven-league boots, locks of "Rapunzel-hair"--in war-torn Mirrorworld, ruled by fairies and "Goyl," humans whose skin has turned to stone. Jacob's brother, Will, however, is mauled by a Goyl, and his skin begins to turn to jade; the plot is a race for a cure.

I really enjoyed Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and I'm willing to always give her YA titles a try. This is book #1 in what appears to be a fun new series. This has gotten rave reviews from early adult reviews. Although, it seems a little knowledge of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales is in order to fully appreciate the value of this book. *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Recap of the past week... Memoir Monday started out with a little black kitten named Cleo. Cleo: The Cat Who Healed a Family by Helen Brown is a heartfelt book of loss, love and healing, here's the REVIEW if you missed it. Shobhan Bantwal stopped by this week to guest post! She is an amazing writer with stories set in India. Her post, Going Commercial or Literary? lets us sneak a peek at her writing process. I reviewed her latest book, The Unexpected Son, this week and loved it! "The story is rich with Indian culture, the voice of a young girls heart, and a mothers sense of duty..." I also reviewed the charming book, GoD and DoG by Wendy Francisco. If you missed it, along with the review I've included the very popular YouTube video that preceded the actual book, that will bring tears to any animal lovers eyes!

And how could I not mention the very successful "New Blog Look, New Giveaway!" Giveaway. Thank you so much for helping test out all the links, tweets features and tags! And Congrats to Debbie (dasuzuki) who won the $15 Amazon eGift card when I randomly selected the winner out of 91 helpers!!

Next week... I'm listening to a new audiobook this weekend, will have a review and giveaway! Plus, it's not too early for holiday shopping is it?! Well, book publishers don't think so and Dewey, The Library Cat is coming out with a special holiday cover and I'l be having a giveaway for a few books for that!

What books are you reading this week?! Share what's kept you up at night... reading! To test out that new Sony eReader, I've been re-reading Pride and Prejudice! What a great classic! I don't think you can ever tire of Elizabeth Bennett!

Happy reading... Suzanne

GoD And DoG by Wendy J Francisco... A Review


Wendy Francisco's sweet little book, GoD and DoG, is a testament to the unconditional love of both God and our furry four legged companions. If you are fortunate to share your love with a dog, you will not be able to resist this book! If you are an animal lover, you will understand the special relationship Wendy illustrates here. I wouldn't characterize Wendy's book as "religious" because of her references to God, but inspirational. With sparse, but heartfelt words, GoD and DoG is charming and expresses what every dog lover knows...

"I take it hard... each time I fail. but God forgives... Dog wags his tail."

Originally a YouTube Video of Wendy's cute animated illustrations and accompanied by her original song,
GoD and DoG became a huge sensation with over 2 million views! Now, Wendy's song and illustrations are put down on paper, along with the sheet music for the song, and we can all be thankful, because it is simply wonderful. I just love this book! 48 pages that will swell your heart with happiness.

I want to thank Anna of
Hachette Book Group for sending along a review copy to me of GoD and DoG, which is available now from your local book seller! A perfect gift for someone special or just for yourself! Enjoy the YouTube Video of GoD and DoG and let me know what YOU think!


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