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Friday, September 30, 2016

Banned Books Week Flash Giveaway

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

As Banned Books Week comes to an end, I wanted to give one lucky reader three highly challenged books to continue reading dangerously (open only to US residents)!

The books include:

  • William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which has been challenged for being "demoralizing," containing "offensive language and excessive violence," "racist," and "inappropriate."  

  • Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which was challenged for "offensive language."

  • Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, which was challenged for being "obscene."

There are multiple ways to enter to increase your chances of winning!

  • Like my Facebook page That's What She's Reading and leave a comment on the post telling me the book(s) you read during Banned Books Week

This giveaway is sponsored by That's What She's Reading and is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, or Blogger.  Giveaway is open from Friday, September 30, 2016 until October 1, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. CST.  One winner will be selected at random and will be announced and tagged in another post on Sunday, October 2.  Due to shipping, this giveaway is only open to US residents.  

I hope you have enjoyed this week celebrating the freedom to read!

Good luck to you all!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

T5W: Gateway Books to Your Favorite Genre

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Gateway Books to Your Favorite Genre!  These are the books that I think would be great introductions into the genres that I love, which include mystery/thriller and fantasy.  In no particular order, here are my selections.

1.  Written in Red by Anne Bishop

This is the first in a series following a young woman caught in the middle between a world inhabited by The Others (vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, etc) who rule the Earth while humans are considered prey.  The story is highly imaginative with great world building and well defined and developed characters.  There's a little bit of everything that makes it a great introduction to fantasy.  And while there's a lot going on, the tension and pacing is great, making it almost read like a mystery or thriller.  

2.  Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton

This one is great for those wanting to dip their feet into more gritty, psychological thrillers.  This series follows Lacey Flint, a detective constable in London, as she trys to solve the case of a copy cat Jack the Ripper serial killer.  While the descriptions of the murders can be graphic, the author doesn't dwell on them to make you uncomfortable.  The horror is there for a reason and comes with the territory of reading a police procedural.  

3.  A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Do yourself a favor and get the second book in this series, A Court of Mist and Fury, at the same time you pick this one up.  Trust me!  When you reach the end, you'll want to immediately start the second book only to be left with the biggest book hangover when you finish that one because the series isn't finished!  It has the perfect balance of fantasy and action, while providing a great introduction to more mature romance.  This first book follows Feyre in a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in the faerie world.   As her feelings for her captor, Tamlin, shift from loathing to lust, she begins to realize that she may be able to play a role in stopping the evil that threatens to destroy the dangerous and beautiful world of the Fae.  

4.  The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

This is also a great introduction into psychological thrillers and the only standalone on this list!  Also in my humble opinion, the most underrated book that calls back classic thrillers like Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, Agatha Christie, or watching a Hitchcock film.  The story follows Ted who on a flight back to Boston from London meets Lily.  As the two strangers begin to talk, they casually reveal intimate details about their lives.  Ted admits that his marriage has gone stale, that he caught his wife in a betrayal, and wants to kill her.  Lily surprises him by saying she wants to help.  What follows is a reading experience with twists and turns that will have you guessing until the very end.  

5.  Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is a professional wizard who consults with the Chicago police on a murder that seems to involve black magic.  The supernatural elements are imposed on this modern world in a compelling way so as to make this a fascinating mystery set in a rich alternate reality universe.  Harry's sense of humor, his attitude, and his deeply held personal code of honor constantly put him at dangerous odds with both the paranormal forces preying on the city and the authorities trying to protect it.  There are currently 15 books in the series, so while it is a investment, it's an immensely fun commitment!

So those are the gateway books into my favorite genre.  Do you have any?  Let me know in the comments.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Review: Eleanor and Park (Spoiler Free)

photo credit: @bookishteacher

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Genre:  Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Released:  2013


Two misfits.  One extraordinary love.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen year olds - smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


Because I had heard so much about Rainbow Rowell and the this book, I was really hesitant to read it due to all the hype.  It also seemed to be a mixed bag.  Either people really loved it or they couldn't stand it.  Not to mention that I am not that fond of young adult contemporaries and the romanticism that is presented in them, so let's not get me started on Anna and the French Kiss or Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, mkay!  However, this book totally reminded me of what it was like to fall in love for the first time and I'm so glad that I finally gave it a chance!

Now, I'm not saying that this book made me feel completely "nostalgic" because there are some really heavy topics that these kids have to deal with that I just can't speak to in my own life.  But the story's ability to let you step back in time and remember that moment when you discovered the possibility that there might be someone out there who understood you was amazing.  There is a scene in the book when the main characters are in an English class discussing Romeo and Juliet and the teacher asks Park why that particular play of Shakespeare's has resonated with so many for over 400 years.  Park responds, "[B]ecause people what to remember what it's like to be young?  And in love?"  While he's unsure about his answer, the teacher agrees, replying, "Truer words never spoken."  Experience gives adults the ability to confidently know that this is the case, and I saw this conversation as a casual acknowledgement towards the older audience like myself who are reading this book, which ultimately helped to make the storytelling so timeless.  I didn't have to completely suspend my adult thinking to appreciate what Eleanor and Park had found with each other, while at the same time, I was also keenly aware that my teenage self would have absolutely adored these two characters, hoping they would carve out a place for me alongside them even if it would be third wheel status.  This is totally heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time, but definitely worth the emotional investment.  I'm now adding three of her other books, Fangirl, Attachments, and Landline, to my TBR pile because it's probably safe to say that I'm now on the Rainbow Rowell bandwagon.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Friendship

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

We wrapped up our second week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids with Should I Share My Ice Cream by Mo Willems and it was definitely a great time!  This week was all about friends, sharing, and ice cream!

We set up an ice cream parlor using pom poms and Maddox loved scooping the ice cream into everyone's bowls!  Jackson wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation, but he enjoyed feeling the pom poms.  

One for you, two for me!

Where's the real stuff?

I love using our flannel board for storytelling, so I borrowed Totschooling's name recognition idea, but cut out bigger pieces using felt so that Maddox would have an easier time manipulating the letters.  The ice cream template can be found at Sunflower Storytime as well as a great rhyme that I chanted while Maddox placed the pieces on the board.


Ice Cream Scoop
First we need a cone, nice and crunchy.
Then we need some ice cream, sweet and yummy.
Scoop ’em up, stack ’em on, up to the sky.
We love ice cream; my, oh my!
First comes vanilla, cold and sweet.
Then comes chocolate, a delicious treat.
Here’s some strawberry with sprinkles and a cherry too!
A super-duper scooper cone Just for you!
One scoop, two scoops,
Three scoops, four.
We love ice cream Let’s have some more!

Source: Kid ‘n’ Kaboodle

Another day we got out the Play doh and Maddox played ice cream parlor using a mat from This Reading Mama.  He didn't use it too much, but he enjoyed having it there to look at and we talked about the letter 'I.'

Perhaps the highlight of the week besides reading the book over and over again was using this great printable from The Measured Mom to reinforce counting and number recognition.  He really enjoyed how colorful these were and played with it multiple times throughout the week.  I'll definitely be laminating this to extend its life, especially since Jax has such a desire to tear and crunch anything that is paper!

Another activity that took no time to throw together included this great sharing game that increases fine motor skills from Views from a Step Stool.  I ended up using small pom poms instead of the water beads because it's what I had on hand.  This was highly useful while cooking dinner one night and everyone was getting under my feet or whining about something.  Maddox was distracted for a bit and I got food on the table!  I will definitely keep this around for future use as a busy activity for restaurants, doctor's visits, and other patience testing moments!

And finally to cap off the week, it just so happened that my book club was meeting at a cafe that also sold frozen yogurt!  For an afternoon mother and first son date day, we went to the library and he accompanied me to book club for some frozen treats!

These are some of the other books that we read during the week to continue the friendship theme:

This week was a lot of fun!  What kinds of activities did you do?  Please share in the comments because I love new ideas!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Banned Bookathon 2016!

Defend the First Amendment

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

I'm excited to announce that in support of Banned Books Week (September 25 to October 1), I will be participating in the Banned Bookathon hosted by Little Book Owl and would love for you to join in!  During this week, pick up a frequently banned or challenged book or two and read that during the week.  I will have discussion prompts and some challenges that you can participate in as well, so follow my blog to participate!  As a librarian, this is a week very near and dear to my heart, and I hope that you can join me in celebrating this extraordinary event!

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read, highlighting the value of free and open access to information.  This week brings the entire book community together in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those that some consider unorthodox or unpopular.  And by focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, this week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, libraries, and bookstores.  Each year the American Library Association (ALA) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted voluntarily by librarians and teachers across the country.  According to the ALA, there have been more than 11,300 books challenged since 1982, which by their own estimations does not include the more than 70% of books that are never reported!

The top ten books challenged in 2015 included:

1.  Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reason:  Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

2.  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Reason:  sexually explicit, unsutied to age group, other ("poorly written")

3.  I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reason:  Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group

Reason:  Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, other ("remove from collection to ward off complaints")

Reason:  Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, other ("profanity and atheism")

Reason:  Religious viewpoint

7.  Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Reason:  Violence, other ("graphic images")

8.  Habibi by Craig Thompson
Reason:  Nudity, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

Reason:  Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, violence

10.  Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Reason:  Homosexuality, other ("condones public displays of affection")

You can check out the top ten lists from previous years here as well as frequently challenged classics, children's books, young adult books, and books featuring diverse content.

So start putting together your TBR and join us on Sunday, September 25 to begin reading and celebrating banned books!  I'll be reading Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and because I love getting my children involved, we'll be reading In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak and a retelling of Little Black Sambo called Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester.

What book(s) do you plan on reading?  Let me know in the comments!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

T5W: Characters You Wouldn't Want to Trade Places With

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Characters You Wouldn't Want to Trade Places With!  Very self-explanatory, so in no particular order here are my picks.

1.  Alice Howland from Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice is an extremely accomplished professor at Harvard with three grown children and a successful husband; however, her life is forever changed when she receives a tragic diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's.  It was so heartbreaking and frightening to watch her question what was going on with her mind and knowing that finding out the answer would be just as painful.  She was still fairly young and there were so many life experiences waiting for her and her family that it just tears you up knowing that she will ultimately have no memory or control over her own body.  This book really puts life in perspective, and quite honestly, you'll never look at Alzheimer's the same way nor will you ever forget it!  What irony!

2.  Mark Watney from The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark's personality and sense of humor all while facing such insurmountable odds are what made me fall in love with this character; however, I also quickly realized that I would never survive the same situation!  We may never know how we truly would react until we are tested, but SCIENCE! and I just don't get along.  Quick thinking is also not my forte, so that would definitely be a problem!  I quit scuba diving lessons because I just knew that in a panicked situation such as drowning, I probably couldn't trust myself to do something as simple as drop the weight belt!  I'd freak out and flail around until it was too late.  Granted, the fight for survival would definitely push me towards some form of action, but the thought of being millions of miles away from anyone and alone on another planet just blows my mind!

3.  Mia Dennett from The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

I can't really say much about this one because I don't want to spoil anything, especially because the ending is why I chose this character!  This book is a very suspenseful story with great pacing and tension and to use an old cliche, you quickly realize that the grass really isn't always greener on the other side!

4.  Archie Sheridan from Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Archie is a detective who spent years tracking down Gretchen, a beautiful and brutal serial killer; however, she ultimately caught him, tortured him, let him go, and then turned herself in.  Survivor's guilt plagues him, but he's also torn about the feelings he continues to have for her.  As much as you want Archie to get over it and forget about Gretchen and turn his life around, his character embodies the idea that the heart wants what the heart wants even though these types of relationships are so destructive to everyone involved.

5.  Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister by JohnnyClark
source:  http://johnnyclark.deviantart.com/art/Queen-Regent-Cersei-Lannister-440437112

One of Cersei's famous lines is included in the picture above:  "When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die."  And let's just say that I know if I was trapped in the horrible world of Westeros, I'd die!  Cersei is a character I love to hate for all the horrible things that she does and says, but at the same time, I can understand her motivations and I love her for continuing to fight everyday.  There are times even today when it's hard to be a woman, but imagining the idea of being a woman in this world is absolutely frightening to me!  And when you're a tough, resilient in her own way, and strong woman like Cersei living in such a brutal place, it's no wonder she wasn't driven to madness long before her current situation!  I truly enjoy reading about this place, but never let me end up there even in my dreams because it never ends well!

So those are the characters I wouldn't want to trade places with.  Do you have any?  Let me know in the comments.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Apples

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

This past week we began the Virtual Book Club with Dr. Seuss's Ten Apples Up on Top!  We did not get nearly as many activities completed as I had initially planned since it was a busy week getting ready for Jackson's first birthday.  Fortunately, I have used the this book and the apple theme previously with Maddox in our Tot School, so it was nice to be able to recycle some of those activities and surprisingly, he still had a good time!

Obviously, we read the book and more than a couple of times, which is always great fun!  Two years ago when Maddox was about 17 months old, I made felt apples to use on our flannel storyboard so he could see the apples on his own head as I read the story.  This year he placed the apples on top of his picture as we read the story and then counted the apples as they were progressively added.  And of course at the end, when the apples go flying everywhere, he thoroughly enjoyed swiping them off the board!  He also still loved seeing himself in the picture on the storyboard, although it's probably time for an updated picture!  

The next activity was using apple number cards that I hole-punched to create worm holes.  We made "worms" out of pipe cleaners and then he stuck the worms through each hole.  It was so funny listening to him sing his own version of "The Farmer in the Dell" as he poked them through the apple:  "The worm's sticking out, the worm's sticking out.  High ho the dairy oh, the worm's sticking out!"  How precious, as I like to say!  

Ultimately, I had grander plans that included play-doh and painting with apples, but it was not to be this time around.  We still had fun using these activities again and it's great to see that with only slight tweaking to account for his development, we can keep using them!  

Now we begin a week of friendship with Should I Share My Ice Cream by Mo Willems!  It's never to late to join us!  Please see my previous post for more information.

Did you do any apple activities?  Please share in the comments.  I always love new ideas!

Happy Reading!

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