Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books #3

Walter Dean Myers

In support of banned books week, I've decided to read A Mercy by Toni Morrison. Ms. Morrison has several titles that regularly show up on 'challenged' book lists. I've also decided to read one of the young adult titles, probably one that's shelved in my local branch since I need to go down there to pick up a title I ordered via ILL to do research on for a term paper. The branch is little, but I'm hoping to find a book by Walter Dean Myers, who has several titles that show up in challenge lists.

Audiobook image found at Barnes & Noble. Image of Walter Dean Myers found on Random House

Friday, September 25, 2009

Most Challenged Books by Authors of Color

From the ALA list (link in title above):

3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

17. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

34. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

36. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

45. Beloved by Toni Morrison

69. Native Son by Richard Wright

73. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

78. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

84. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

85. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez

Also written by authors of color & challenged frequently:

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

American Indian Myths and Legends by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Banned Books Week

Banned books week rolls around again. This year it will be 26 Sept. through 3 Oct. Every year I promise myself I'll read one of the books on the list & post a review. I've yet to do that. :( This year isn't looking terribly promising for accomplishing that goal either. However, once again I will attempt this. I've not picked one yet, but I plan to read one of the most challenged books of

Banned Classics, top 50, according to the ALA, link at bottom of list:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
23. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
41. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

To see the entire list click here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

YAY for Free Library of Philly!!

Victory is at hand for those in Philadelphia who love libraries. According to the Philadelphia libraries will be able to remain open. Verified by an article in Library Journal. Link to LJ found in Consumerist article.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Yeah, nothing new happening here re: regular 'pleasure' reading. I'm behind the scheduled readings for my Tuesday class. The Monday night class textbook won't be in until this morning, despite the fact that tonight's the second class meeting. :( Plus I've a H1N1 research project due Thursday, but this time I'm a little ahead of the curve and have actually completed more than half of the assignment already.

Tomorrow ma chere maman will visit most of the day so I'd like to be ahead of the curve if possible so I can relax and enjoy her company. :)

Off to the mines. Have a great day! :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Riddle Me This

1. Long legs, crooked thighs, little head and no eyes.

2. Black we are but much admired; men seek for us til they are tired. We tire
the horse, but comfort man: Tell me this riddle if you can.

3. Flour of England, fruit of Spain, Met together in a shower of rain, put in a bag and tied round with a string, if you tell me this riddle I’ll give you a ring.

4. Old Mother Twitchett had but one eye, and long tail, which she let fly; and everytime she went over a gap she left a bit of her tail in a trap.

5. I’ve seen you where you never were, and where you never will be, and you in that same place, may still be seen by me.

6. As I went through the garden gap, who should I meet but Dick Red-Cap! A stick in his hand, a stone in his throat, if you tell me this riddle, I’ll give you a groat.


yrrech.6 rorrim ni noitcelfer .5 daerht dna eldeen .4 gniddup mulp .3 slaoc .2
sgnot .1

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Midnight Secretary; Tomu Ohmi

I first found Midnight Secretary via Smart Bitches. The author's name may also be found spelled Oumi and Oomi.Click title above for link to wiki page talking about this series. This is a josei manga (aimed at women)- click here for wiki page detailing what josei manga is and who it’s marketed towards. Originally published in Petit Comic magazine in Japan starting in 2006 and finishing in May of 2009, with 34 chapters and a few extras. It was serialized. I’m very grateful I found it near the end of its serialization. It would’ve been torture to wait weeks and months between chapters. This is the first manga I read and as a ‘newbie’ genre reader I had to get my daughter to explain some of the background and symbolism the genre comes with. If you are a new reader there are lots of resources out there on the internet to help you along.

Kaya Satozuka is what I think we here in the U.S. would call an executive secretary. She’s in her mid twenties and works for the Touma company. In the opening section Kaya has just been assigned to CEO Kyouhei Touma’s office as his only secretary. Not a prospect to be relished, since he goes through secretaries as others might use tissues. However, Kaya is no ordinary secretary either. Preternaturally organized and efficient, Kaya soon makes herself indispensible.

Kaya is a total workaholic, with little or no personal time. The only sticking point is that she’s frumpy. Dresses conservatively, wears glasses despite not needing them. Why this would be a problem given her competence otherwise I didn’t understand. Kyouhei complains about her unattractiveness at first although eventually he shuts up about it. Kyouhei is openly a womanizer, going so far as to instruct Kaya in scheduling and gifts to be given. Chasing Kaya off once in a while. He’s very open about it all- Kaya’s only his secretary after all. & really? Who cares what she thinks?

Everyone has a flaw though, and Kaya’s is curiosity. Eventually Kaya tires of juggling all these women for him. She wants to know just what the hell is going on with Kyouhei and his harem and all of the rules attached to their relationships. So what does she do? She sets him up for a fall by hiding during one of Kyouhei’s trysts. Is she prepared for what she’ll find out? What will the fallout be for her and for Kyouhei? Is everything really as it seems? Can Kaya balance work and her growing involvement with Kyouhei?

This was an eye opening introduction into the world of romantic, paranormal josei manga. The world created has unique features and Kaya has a viewpoint towards work and loyalty that I’ve never come across. Kyouhei is totally a type A dominant guy- will Kaya truly be able to tame him? Even just a little? Available to read here and here.

Image is copyrighted & is Tomu Ohmi's, from the series. This manga is currently scanlated onto these sites and is likely done illegally so far as I can tell. Yes, it's piracy and theft of copyrighted material and deprives the author of income. Yes, it's wrong. So far as I can tell it's not available in english anywhere at this time. If you have very strong feelings about supporting author's rights, fighting piracy etc. I recommend you find something else to read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Medicus; Ruth Downie

This is an historical mystery set in ancient Roman controlled Britain. Ms. Downie is a new to me author, there are two other titles in this series. The next one is Terra Incognita and the newest is Persona non Grata. The Hubby and I listened to this as we road tripped from home to mid-coast Maine and back again. Medicus was released in March 2007 by Bloomsbury.

Gaius Ruso, the eponymous medicus (doctor) has arrived in the wild and uncivilized territory called Britannica. He’s divorced, childless, originally from the south of France, and has served in the emperor’s army in rather warmer climbs. Ruso is his father’s oldest son, thus inheritor of the estate upon his father’s recent death. However, due to his father’s financial house of cards Ruso is forced to serve in the army to keep the estate afloat and to fund the upkeep of a large passel of relatives. Ruso appears to be a capable and caring physician, short tempered in the face of unyielding bureaucracy especially when it interferes with the good care of those soldiers who are injured.

Newly arrived in town, Ruso is out exploring and getting small errands done when he rescues a young female slave who is injured and being maltreated by her owner. Eventually Ruso ends up buying her with his last pocket money so that she will get treatment. Besides, he and his roommate Valens live in a filthy bachelor hovel that could use a little cleanliness. First he has to hide her & treat her and get her healthy.

Via performing an autopsy on a drowning victim, Ruso begins to poke around town asking questions about a few missing or murdered prostitutes. The prevailing attitude in the garrison, and even among some of the natives, is: “Who cares about some missing whores, really? Don’t you have better things to do?”Meanwhile, the hospital bean counter is making Ruso’s life hell, Valens is taking off at critical moments, and the female slave isn’t as grateful or compliant as Ruso thought she ought to be. Imagine that? LOL 

The critical thing to remember is that Ruso isn’t a detective, he’s a physician. That’s his worldview, his identity and the basis for all of his actions. What does this mean for the reader? It means that Ruso is slow and misses the obvious and is oblivious when suspicious things happen to him or others around him. Ms. Downie manages to find that delicate balance between shining a light on life in ancient Britain and not overwhelming the reader or the storyline.

As an audiobook, this worked quite well. The reader has a pleasant voice, although the accent made me wonder if a well traveled French military doctor would really have a British accent! Of course, I probably over think these things, so don’t mind me. Otherwise, we enjoyed this quite a bit. It’s funny, and some of the dialogue is very deft.

Image found on B & N

Monday, September 14, 2009

August Monthly Synopsis

Listed in no particular order, those that have been reviewed are hyperlinked. Those that aren’t, will be reviewed ASAP and the links will be updated early in October.

1.Death Wore White~ Jim Kelly
2.20’s Girl~ Sophie Kinsella
3.Four Wives~ Wendy Walker
4.The Enchantment Emporium~ Tanya Huff
5.Medicus~ Ruth Downie
6. The Graveyard Book~ Neil Gaiman
7.Midnight Secretary~ Tomu Ohmi (josei manga)
8. Love Cruise~ Tomu Ohmi (josei manga)


1.Prince of Midnight~ Laura Kinsale
2.Driving Like Crazy~ P.J. O’Rourke

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Last Leaf;

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I saw him once before
As he passed by the door
And Again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground
With his cane.
They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.
But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
“They are gone.”
The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.
My grandmamma has said-
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago-
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow.
But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook in his back
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.
I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!
And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let smile as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
I listened to this in the audiobook version, cover opposite. Mr. Gaiman performs his book- incredibly well I might add. It truly was a performance as opposed to a simple reading. I highly recommend borrowing this version from your library even if you’ve read it. He’s that good. You won’t be sorry, I promise you. I’m probably going to buy this for my nephew for Christmas. The Graveyard Book was originally published by Harper Collins in September of 2008.

I love Neil Gaiman’s books. I’ve read most of his sci fi alternate reality titles aimed at adults. However, I’ve avoided most of the titles aimed at children. I don’t exactly have a reason, truth be told. I’m coming around to thinking that I need to add Mr. Gaiman to my (very short) list of authors whose work I need to read no matter what the plot is supposed to be, who it’s ‘aimed’ at, what type of fiction it’s categorized as. I should’ve known better than to skip it. I read children’s fiction and young adult lit. frequently and I’m well aware that these fields are full of highly talented authors who write smart, entertaining fiction for kids.

The plot is deceptively simple. An eighteen month old toddler happens to climb out of his crib and wander off exploring on the night his parents are murdered. Purely by happenstance he wanders into the graveyard near his home, in time to simultaneously be saved from the murderers and adopted by the graveyard residents once it becomes clear that this is what his mother’s ghost wants. After that the reader follows along as Bod grows up. Makes friends with his first live human. Watch him try to cope with a teacher he doesn’t like. Cringe as he falls in with the wrong crowd- literally. Bod learns the truth about what happened on that long ago night. He meets a person who I came to believe is the embodiment of the old poem “To see a fine lady upon a white horse; Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, And she shall have music wherever she goes.”

A wonderful, unique story about a boy who survives and thrives against the fearsome odds arrayed against him from the very start of his life.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Prince of Midnight; Laura Kinsale

I'm sure there are people who won't believe this, but this is a DNF for me. PoM fell flat on its face because the plot hit a hurdle that up until now I hadn't realized I have. In this review, I will be discussing things that happen up to page 100 or so & I may reference things that are or would be spoilers. Consider yourself warned. My copy is a hardcover put out by Avon in 1990 and has Fabio on the cover. The cover pictured here is a Sourcebooks cover, according to Amazon.

Prince of Midnight is set in late 18th century France amid the revolution. Leigh Strachan is a young Englishwoman running around France disguised as young man. She's looking for a legendary highwayman whom she wants to teach her swordsmanship. Ms. Kinsale turns a typical plot on its head by making Leigh the one who burns for vengeance. S.T. Maitland, despite being disabled by severe vertigo and deafness in one ear, is the highwayman Leigh is looking for. Let's just say that Leigh is a tad surprised when she realizes that Maitland is indeed who she's looking for.

Now, I love to read about women in disguise as young men, women who seek vengeance for a wrong committed against them or those they love. I liked the topsy turvy aspect of Maitland being the one who falls head over heels in love, no matter how improbable I found it. The problem I ran up against is that Leigh's desire for revenge is based on religious persecution of her family. The abuses could have been made as a power grab or for revenge or any number of other reasons.

I did a little investigating & found out that there was religious persecution of certain individuals in England during this time period and possibly in the place mentioned. This is all fine. All fiction has grains of truth embedded within it. However, I am tired of reading books wherein the main character's personal problems are rooted in active persecution of that person or their loved ones by religious functionaries. It may well be true- I have no argument with that truth. I am simply tired of reading about it. I am tired of reading fictionalized accounts of the abuses of religious authorities. Why is it so hard to find fiction that reveals the good things faith does?

*Sigh* I chose not to finish PoM. There is already too much authentic, serious, faith based controversy in the news for me to be able to set this aside in the fiction I read.

ETA: Corrected author's name in the title. My apologies to all! :(

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Praise for M & B

The Guardian published an article discussing contemporary M&B romances- it's great stuff. Click title above to read it. The article's author also writes an extract for a romance, click here to read. Great stuff. I wish she'd write & submit it to them- I'd read it. :)

Monday, September 07, 2009

OMG- where did the time go?!

My first two weeks of classes has flown by! I can't believe it. Mostly because I also had to start prepping the kids for the beginning of school and it was our anniversary. My head is spinning so much I can barely remember my name. The kids are off for the first day tomorrow & our anniversary was this past Saturday. #22! Can you believe it? Neither can I.

That leaves school. It's intimidating to enter a classroom & realize that most of your classmates are young enough to be your children. :( Luckily for me the prof is a very genteel Southern lady who gives off what I call "nun vibes"-gentle and sweet looking on the outside yet very no nonsense when you scratch the surface. She wore the neatest raspberry colored suit the first day of class. Anyhow. The Husband bet me I couldn't keep my mouth shut even on the first day- I barely made it. What can I say? Idiots annoy me & teenagers who think they have the answer to it all are especially annoying. *shrug* I didn't have to whip out the mom voice until the second class, so I guess I won the bet. Problem is we can't remember the stakes. LOL :)

As for books I'm way way behind. What else is new? I have three books for the international relations class, one of which I'm supposed to have finished by Sept. 15th. Haven't read more than 75 pages out of 600+. LOL :) I can catch up pretty quickly- it's a Thomas Friedman, so it should go pretty fast once I really get going. Anime Queen somehow has me hooked on Fruits Basket. Why and how I really don't know, but FB has totally caught my attention. How much of a contest can there be, honestly- between T. Friedman and Fruits Basket?

So there you have it. My first two weeks of class, getting the kids prepped for school, our anniversary & remembering I have homework now. Very calm & quiet life I lead, huh?