Review: The sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with another review for a book I read while participating in Readathon by Zoe, which was last weekend on October 14th. This is a book I was eagerly looking forward to, and I knew it would be perfect for a readathon because it is a collection of poetry.

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Summary

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I read and reviewed Rupi Kaur’s first collection of poetry a couple months ago, and I really enjoyed it. A number of the poems resonated with me, and several others I thought would be beneficial to my mom, especially considering what she has gone through this year. So after finishing it, I passed it on to her, and then she ended up passing the book on to another person who she thought would benefit from it.

So basically knowing that Kaur’s second collection of poetry was coming out, I had expectations that it would also resonate with me, and I can say that I was not disappointed. Now, I don’t believe I had as many “wow” moments with this collection as I did with Milk and Honey, but I still definitely thought that it is a well put together selection of poems.

What is so interesting to me with Kaur’s poetry is that the ones that hit me the most powerfully are not the poems that are a page long or a couple pages long. No, it seems the ones that pack the most punch to me are the ones that are only a few lines long. The fact that she can say so much in so few words is remarkable.

Much like with Milk and Honey, I found myself bookmarking certain poems so I could read them…usually to my boyfriend. Of course those were poems that typically had to do with love, romance, relationships, etc. They were poems that in some ways made me think of him, so I had to share.

But I definitely think that Kaur is a poet worth reading. This collection continued with similar style, structure, and art as before. And it was a bit longer, which was awesome, but still read rather quickly. As I mentioned before, there are a number of poems that are only a couple lines long. I am trying to read more poetry, and I’m glad this is an author who was recommended to me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this lovely collection of poetry from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. I actually got my copy at my local grocery store so it’s basically anywhere books can be found.

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End of a Journey: Vox Machina

Hey all, Dani here.

My post today is somewhat related to books, but mostly pertains to storytelling and creativity. Stories have an impact on all of us. This is something we know as readers. We connect with these tales and these characters, and for the stories that impact us the most, it all feels completely real. Sometimes the characters in these tales, these adventures, start to feel like friends, and when the journey ends it is bittersweet. Hopefully everything worked out and they had a relatively happy ending, but we’re also sad because it is over.

This is what I have been dealing with for the past week. I have been watching the web series Critical Role for two years now. Every week I would spend 3-5 hours watching the newest episode. It is a Dungeons & Dragons show, where a group of nerdy voice actors have moved their home game into a studio at Geek & Sundry and are streaming it so we can all watch it.

Critical Role, following the journey of adventuring party Vox Machina, came into my life at the perfect time. Things were tense at my house with my ailing grandmother living with us and the tension that caused between my parents. I didn’t have any sort of social life aside from my coworker friends who I basically only saw at work. My only refuge from the negative aspects of my life was books…and then this show.

And after 115 episodes, the story of Vox Machina came to a close. For episode 114, which was the big boss fight, and then episode 115, which was the recovery from the fight and then the epilogues of the characters, I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to watch. I laughed, I cried, I worried, and I absolutely cried some more. I’m sure I could actually look up how many hours the show has run for total, but it is roughly somewhere between 350-600 hours. That is a lot of time to spend with a group of characters.

I really felt like I knew them. And of course, I have met them…twice. I went to a live show of an episode in August 2016, and then my boyfriend and I went and saw them this year at GenCon.

I own so much merchandise for the show: shirts, and dice, and Major Arcana Tarot cards, and an apron, and posters, and pencils, and the campaign setting book for the world created in the story.

This show is what really got me to talk to my friends and start playing Dungeons & Dragons. And because of playing D&D, I met my boyfriend.

So to say that Critical Role has made my life so much better, so much richer, and so much happier is truly an understatement.

Here we are a week later and I’m still watching recap videos of the final episodes. I’m still staring at the amazing fanart that other Critters have drawn. Obviously I’m also reading the new Vox Machina origin comic series–which issue #2 came out this week, and naturally I’ve already read it. I have a couple more comic mini reviews coming very soon.

I’ve also started to rewatch it all from the beginning.

I know that a new campaign will be starting soon and the cast of voice actors are creating new characters for it. I realize that the new campaign will be in the same world roughly a generation later, and so some of Vox Machina could show up in the future.

But I still feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to some dear friends. I’ll never forget their stories, their legend. I’ll never forget how much all of this means to me. Some days, though, I’ll just have moments where it hits me that the story is over (for now). I don’t like goodbyes. It is why I have several book series where I haven’t finished the final book, because I’m not ready to let go.

It all has me thinking about the stories that connected with us and impacted us the most. What book/series did that for you? Or maybe it was a movie, or a TV series, or a music album. Let me know what stories you hold near and dear to your heart.

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

Hey all, Dani here.

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and boy have I missed it. Honestly, aside from these blog posts, I have not done much writing lately, and I certainly have not done a whole lot of creative writing. And I really miss it. I’ve told myself that I need to set up a schedule and block out some time for writing every day and then I just don’t hold myself to it.

Thankfully I have the month of November to get me back into the rhythm of writing regularly.

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Okay, firstly, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event where each November participants attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel over the course of 30 days. Sounds pretty intense right? Well, honestly, sometimes it can be. Thankfully there are thousands of other writers attempting the same feat so you never really feel alone. You can even join regional forums based on where you live and you’ll be connected with other writers near you. Typically this also includes a person (or people) called Municipal Liaisons (MLs). These lovely people are the ones who organize meet-ups, a kick-off party, write-ins throughout the month, and a wrap party once it is over with.

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006, and it has just been such an enriching experience. In 2008 I became a Municipal Liaison, and I was one of the many founding donors for the Camp NaNoWriMo program, which is basically NaNoWriMo but in the summertime. I have written so many words and learned so much these past years and I’m so glad that I get to keep going.

This year would have been my tenth year as an ML, but sadly because of so much stuff happening in my real life, I missed the sign up deadline, something I never came close to missing before. So this year I get to watch as my co-ML runs the region on her own…well, officially anyway. Everyone knows that I’m not going anywhere, and am more than happy to answer questions and offer up advice and inspiration to any who need it.

But in some ways I’m actually glad that I just get to focus on my writing, instead of planning write-ins and pep talks, and spending a lot of time on the regional forums or on my region’s Facebook page.

In basically every previous NaNo, I wrote a fantasy or paranormal story, typically with just a hint of romance in it. But this year another story wants to be told, and it means a bit more of a challenge for me. See, events of my life this year have inspired me. At the beginning of this year I went to a friend’s house to start a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and there I met the amazingly wonderful and geeky man who has become my boyfriend.

So I want to write a geeky romance story, a story of two people who met while playing D&D and then bonded over board games and movies and other nerdy hobbies.

But I also know that I want the D&D campaign within the book to play a significant role too…so I plan on intertwining a fantasy story through the novel. It should be interesting at the very least.

I have basic sketches of most of the characters already finished and a general idea of the contemporary plot. I’m still thinking about the fantasy campaign story. Over the years I have learned that I can’t do a lot of writing down ideas and such because then I’ll struggle with writing the actual story in November. So I just come up with a few loose ideas and then fly by the seat of my pants the rest of the way. It works for me. Some people spend all of October drafting up elaborate outlines, and that’s fine too.

What I’m trying to do now is to come up with a good title I can use during this first draft process. I told my boyfriend that I don’t want something that is too ridiculous or cheesy, but the only thing that keeps coming to mind is “Roll for Romance.” He laughed and told me that was a perfect title and I should use it.

I guess unless something better comes along, that’s my title. I plan to draft up a quick book summary soon, and then I’ll be ready to write.

And look guys, I’m making more progress with my library/study. I should have it all finished just in time for NaNoWriMo to start, so that’ll be nice. Having a dedicated writing space can sometimes help the mind focus on the task at hand. I’ll just say here that my books aren’t fully in order yet, because I still have about half of my library to move from my mom’s house, and I still have a few more bookcases to assemble.

So are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let me know, and good luck! And if you have any suggestions for my book title (or if you really like Roll for Romance, let me know those as well.

Blogger Recognition Award

Hey all, Dani here.

I love being recognized and/or tagged to do awards and other posts by other bloggers. It is so great to make connections in the book community, and I am so thankful for all the people I have been meeting and interacting with, especially these past several months. Anyway, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the delightful Kathy over at Books & Munches. Seriously, go check out her blog because it is fantastic. I love how she recommends food to go along with each book, though I will say that reading her posts generally make me hungry.

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Rules

∞ Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
∞ Write a post to show your award
∞ Give a brief story of how your blog started
∞ Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
∞ Select a few other bloggers you want to give this award to

How Mousai Books Started

Back in 2009, I started working with my friend Signy Cullen to try and form a new sorority at our university. We went by the name Mu Psi, because the word “mousai” means muse, and we wanted to be a group that promoted the arts. It took a lot of work to figure out our colors and our mottos and beliefs and build up a membership, but we thought we had everything situated nicely. So we asked for a vote with the Greek Council, but they kept pushing it off later and later, and then some of our members graduated so we didn’t have enough to meet the criteria. Nevertheless Signy and I never stopped feeling the bonds of sisterhood. I decided to honor what we created by naming this blog Mousai Books.

I had a book blog back when I was in university, and it was problematic. Sometimes I got lazy and missed several weeks with no blog post. I didn’t try and connect with any other blogs. My book reviews were sporadic and not nearly as well formulated as they are now.

So I took this blog to be a fresh start, and I feel like I’ve mostly lived up to the ideas I had in mind when I first started. The muses stood for creativity and inspiration. I feel like sharing my love for books and for other geeky hobbies is my way of honoring the muses of old and of all those who have inspired me to be my creative and geeky self along the way.

Blogger Advice

I feel like so many of us give similar advice: be yourself, enjoy what you’re doing, be active in the community. Don’t get me wrong, that is all great advice, and you should absolutely follow it, but I’d like to try and give other helpful advice.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to adhere to a strict posting schedule. For most of us we can manage a full schedule for a short time, but then we may fall into a reading slump or a writing slump, and then we feel guilty for missing posts or not putting up as high quality posts. This can actually lead to a downward spiral and doesn’t actually end up helping anyone. So, if it becomes necessary, reduce the number of posts you release each week, take a step back, and allow yourself to breathe and relax. Then try again. Your mental health is more important than a rigorous posting schedule. Your reader friends will understand if you have to slow down a bit.

I guess the second piece of advice I’ll give is to spice things up and have a little variety. Post some book reviews, do some book tags, go to author signings or book festivals and document the experience. If you go to the movies and see a book adaptation on screen, go ahead and post a review or a compare/contrast post. If you take a day and go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, take pictures and share the experience with us. We spend a lot of time reading each other’s posts and chatting in the comment sections. It builds friendships and we like getting to know each other. You don’t have to limit yourself to one topic or one type of post.

Nominations

Jenna at J.K. I’m Exploring!

Kristin at Kristin Kraves Books

Katie at Never Not Reading

Holly at Nut Free Nerd

Maygin at Diversifying Perspective, One Book at a Time

LGBTQ+ Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with more book recommendations. Today I’m talking about books that feature characters who identify as LGBTQIAP+. Now, I know there are a large number of books that will be missing from my list, and please feel free to mention them in the comments. I’m pretty much sticking to books I’ve read in the past couple of years that really stood out to me. Obviously I will include links to reviews where I can.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. This was a recent read and I just really enjoyed it because it was cute, but I think the issues of sexuality and religion are nicely touched upon within the novel.

Dreadnought and Sovereign by April Daniels. Would you like to read about a transgender superhero? Just say yes and go pick up these books. I just enjoyed Danny’s story and seeing how everyone responded when superpowers caused her body to become the female body she had always wanted.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. Firstly, for all of my awesome classic literature nerds out there, main character Tash is creating a web series based on Anna Karenina, so that’s cool. But Tash is also asexual, and I don’t think I’ve read many ace books, if any, before this.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Waters. Even if this didn’t have any LGBTQ+ representation in it, I would recommend this graphic novel series. Plus it also has a focus on female friendship and is such a fun adventure.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. So yet another fun geeky story, this one takes place at a convention, which is awesome. Also, one of the main characters was dating a guy, but has a crush on a girl, and starts a relationship with her in the book. This was a cute read that I flew through as soon as I got my hands on it.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The diversity in this book is fantastic. Okay, yeah, so it is a science fiction novel so there are a number of alien races, but there are characters with a wide variety of sexual preferences, religious ideals, and more. I just highly recommend this book.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. I read this book last year and it is another book that revolves around characters who are transgender. It was an interesting story and I became so invested in the lives of the characters.

More Happy Than NotHistory is All You Left Me, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Any book by Adam Silvera is going to probably make you cry, but aside from that, Adam does typically have some characters who identify as bisexual or gay. I have devoured these books since I first discovered them last year.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Another set of books that have awesome diversity. I absolutely adore these books. Plus, Jesper and Wylan are just the cutest couple.

Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Okay, so it’s been a little while since I read the first book in this trilogy, but I know for sure that the second book has some LGBTQ+ representation in it. And I would recommend these books anyway because they are outstanding.

Heroes of OlympusMagnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. Man, there is so much to say about basically any Rick Riordan book. There are trans characters, gay characters, bisexual characters…the list goes on and on. And it is all handled so well, and the stories are great. If you haven’t jumped into the worlds of Rick Riordan, then where have you been?

And these two books are technically on my TBR list, but I’m going to go ahead and add them to the list as well:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Oh, and for you “Riverdale” fans out there, you can also check out the new series of Jughead comics, as Jughead is an aromantic asexual character.

As I said, I’m sure I am missing a lot of great books, so please, feel free to rattle them off down in the comments.

Finally, next week my genre for this series of recommendation posts will be Fantasy. But I still have plenty of other options, so let me know down below what you’d like to see next:

  • Contemporary
  • Science Fiction
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Classics
  • Graphic Novel
  • Diverse Reads
  • …or suggest another genre or theme that you’d like to see me include.

Banned Books Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

It is still Banned Books Week, and today I want to talk about some banned books that I think people need to read. Also, because there are some books that have been very prominent and influential in recent months, I’ll have a few of those listed at the end. I’m pretty certain that some of them will end up being on the list of 2017 Banned Books when it is released next year.

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Okay, honestly, I think that books should be read period. When it comes to books that are challenged or banned though, I feel like people are trying to lock up some idea and keep it from the public eye. This puts it on my radar even more, practically labeling the book as a must read. What concept in the book has made people so afraid that they want to prevent people from reading it?

Any of the books I mentioned in my last post are definitely worth a read, as are any and all of the other books on the lists of challenged books from the past couple decades.

  • Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group)
    • This is a graphic novel series, and yes there is nudity, offensive language, and sexual content within most issues. This is not a series targeted at youth. In fact, when I saw Saga being talked about and sold at BookExpo, the guy at the booth was sure to inform readers/consumers that it is targeted at an adult audience. The series follows a couple who just happen to be part of opposing races, and they fall in love, which causes all sorts of issues. They are hunted down by both of their people, and even by their families. But they form a new family of sorts. I think it is worth the read. I think it is about people from different places finding common ground despite the prejudices they grew up believing.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”)
    • One of the things I like to say about this book is that the movie adaptation has to be one of the best adaptations I have seen. Yes, that is because the author wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. It does not get adapted any better than having the author in such prevalent roles in the process. But I think this book is one that everyone should read. It is actually a shorter read too, so it doesn’t take that much time, and it is written in letters/journal entries. But seriously, everyone should read Charlie’s story.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (offensive language, racism)
    • Isn’t this one just a classic that basically everyone reads anyway? I remember reading it and watching the movie in school. It is one of those classics that shows us the reality of a time in the past of the USA, that actually does not feel all that different from the current reality, with the exception of a vast advancement in technology.
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence)
    • I devoured these books as a kid, and am hoping to complete a reread of them soon, but when I was a kid I didn’t pay attention to any political or religious undertones or overtones in the books. I was so wrapped up in Lyra’s adventures. I’m curious to see what I pick up now reading these as an adult.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Profanity; lurid passages about sex; statements defamatory to minorities, god, women and the disabled; violence; hopelessness; age-inappropriate; graphic sex; vulgar; offensive to Christians; violently graphic and morally corrupt.)
    • Okay, so technically I have yet to read this one, but I’m still including it on this recommendations list. With the way the world is going nowadays, this seems like a scary possibility for the future, so I think more people need to read it (myself included–I promise, I have it on my TBR)
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (sexual content)
    • Seriously, this book has been challenged and banned because at one point Anne details the fact that she is maturing and so is her body. That is the reason why people think that this book should be taken out of schools and libraries. Not because of all the historical violence by the Nazis or the treatment of Jews and others. No, because a young woman talks about puberty, this book shouldn’t be read. Wow, just wow. I have this one on my TBR again, because I feel that I need a reread.
  • 1984, by George Orwell (pro-communist, explicit sexual matter)
    • Here’s another classic book that eerily predicted how society would be in the future. But instead of focusing on the government watching and monitoring every move, no let’s challenge this book because it could be promoting the communist agenda. Both George Orwell books on this list have been challenged because people suspected the author of being a communist.
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell (political theories, pro-communist)
    • This book was also challenged because of having anthropomorphized animals in the book. I think the segregation of the animals based on what kind of animal they are is very similar to how nowadays we try and separate people by gender, or race, or religion, or sexuality. We need to have more conversation on the topic of division within the world today, and I think books like this can help get the conversation really moving

Okay, so now I’m going to include a few recommendations for books released this year, in 2017. They have not hit any challenged or banned lists (yet) but I imagine we’ll see them there when the 2017 list is released next year.

  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
  • All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Both The Hate You Give and Dear Martin deal with the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, which are issues that definitely need more discussion and time in the spotlight. Again, yes, I need to read both of these, though to be fair the novel by Nic Stone will be released on October 17th.

Moxie and The Nowhere Girls are more focused on the issues of sexism and how girls are treated even within our schools during their formative years. Whether it is the dress code, or allegations of rape, or anything of that nature, we need to be bringing these issues into the spotlight. Oh, and The Nowhere Girls will be released on October 10th.

Finally there is All Rights Reserved, which is one of my top reads of 2017. It focuses a lot on issues surrounding freedom of speech, and I cannot recommend this book enough. I have my review up here, and just order yourself a copy or borrow it from the library. Please, just read these books, and then make your voice heard.

Well, that’s all for now. But, this is sort of a start for a series I’ll be running for the next few months wherein I recommend different books based on a theme or genre. Next Thursday I will be back with a LGBTQ+ Recommendations post. But I wanted to ask all of you what list you would like to see after that. Here are the options I have right now (but if you have others suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments):

  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Classics
  • Diverse
  • Graphic Novel

TBR Purge #7

Hey all, Dani here.

So I’m starting to get more posts up, whether they are tags, reviews, or recommendations, so I’ll be reducing the number of purge posts. They will be posted only on Wednesdays now, instead of sometimes happening twice a week.

But I saw several people doing Down the TBR Rabbit Hole posts over the past couple months and I was inspired to do something similar myself. Instead of looking at 5-10 books within each post, I decided that the best way to get all the way through my Goodreads TBR list was to do 30 books with each post.

As I start with my 7th purge post, my TBR list stands at 715 books. And I’ve been telling myself that I can’t add any books to this list until I’ve finished my purge, so that is sort of motivating me to work ahead on these posts as much as I can.

Anyway, let’s just jump into this.

Death Masks, Dead Beat, Small Favor, Blood Rites, Proven Guilty, White Night, Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, and Cold Days by Jim Butcher. Yes, I know with most of the series I have on the list, I’ve been trying to only keep the next book that I need to read on the list and getting rid of the others. However, I also know without a doubt that I’ll end up reading the entire Harry Dresden series of novels so I’m just going to save myself the time and keep them all here on the list.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I don’t even remember why I added this book. I’m sure it was recommended by a fantasy or sci-fi author or blogger or something, and I’m sure it could still be an interesting read, but for now I need to stick with books that I can remember without needing to look them up.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier. A couple years ago I think I tried to read the first couple chapters of this one, but I never progressed past that point. And I don’t actually remember much of anything from what I read. So I can probably remove this one from the list for now.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly. This one does sound interesting, and I did buy it off BookOutlet, so at some point I may pick it up and read it, but for now I think I can take it off the list.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. I’ve head a lot about this one and people seem to really like it. If I remember correctly then this is also a book I bought cheap off BookOutlet, but for now I’m crossing it off the list.

Geist by Philippa Ballantine. Again, this is another one that I vaguely remember hearing about on some article recommending books or something of that nature, but I can’t really remember anything about it. Sorry book, but goodbye.

Codex Born and The Snow Queen by Jim C. Hines. I can’t believe after how much I loved Libriomancer that I didn’t read the rest of the series. Also, I read the first three books in the Princess series, so I really need to read the last one. And I adore Jim C. Hines’ books, so I am absolutely keeping this books on the list.

Caliban’s War, The Butcher of Anderson Station, Gods of Risk, and Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey. It took me such a long time to get through Leviathan’s Wake, and I did like it, but I now know I have to really be in the mood to read the next book, because they are quite sizable. I’m going to keep Caliban’s War on my list, because it is the next book in the series, but the two stories and the third book in the series will all be taken off the list (for now).

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I added this to my to-read list because I like Gena Showalter and I was considering giving this one a try. But let’s be honest, I’m not much of a fan of zombie related books/TV shows/movies so I’m going to pass on this one.

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman. I have loved every Mary Hoffman book I’ve read, and I’m sure I would love this one too. And this may be a weird reason to say farewell to this book, but I own all of her books in paperback, and this one only seems to be in hardcover.

Mind Games by Kiersten White. I’m not really interested in this one right now. Perhaps someday if the mood strikes I’ll give it a try but right now it’s a no.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I want to read this book soon. Obviously it is staying on the list–though technically soon it will be moving over to my Currently Reading list.

Elegy by Amanda Hocking. So, I read the rest of the series, and while I read it quickly and wanted to know what would happen next, I also wasn’t quite as invested as with her other series. So here I am not reading the last book in the series. At least for now.

Frey by Melissa Wright. Why did I have this one on my list? I’m sure it sounded like something I would want to read, and if the urge struck, I would probably enjoy reading it, but I have to be a bit more selective with my choices right now, so farewell.

A Soul for Chaos by Crista McHugh. I have read a large majority of books by Crista McHugh, and I read the first book in this series and it was pretty good, but I just never got around to reading this one, and I just don’t know that I’m in the mood to continue this series.

Year Zero by Rob Reid. The concept for this book is intriguing, and I do want to try and read a bit more sci-fi. Also, I already have this book on my shelves. So I’m going to keep it for a while.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams. Okay, I added this one to my list because of the Sword & Laser Book Club. And I do own it in e-book, so someday I may get around to it, but for now I’m just not really feeling like picking it up.

Well, eliminating 15 out of the 30 isn’t too bad. I still have 700 books left on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list, but I still have another 500 I need to look through and make decisions on. Sometimes it feels like this list is neverending. But I am determined to finish this purge.

Who else is participating in a TBR purge? If you are, how is it going? Are you making progress? Let me know in the comments.

Why Are Books Banned?

Hey all, Dani here.

It is Banned Books Week, and that means I’m going to have a couple of posts talking about some of these books that have been challenged and/or banned. As in, people have filed complaints suggesting that certain books be removed from libraries and/or schools for varying reasons.

Today I’m talking about those reasons, while also mentioning a few popular books that have made it on the challenge lists and banned lists in places. You may be surprised at some of these books, but then again, maybe not.

Anyway, the important part of all of this is that we need to speak out for the freedom to read and against censorship. If there is a book that has certain themes or ideas that go against your beliefs then it is your right to choose not to read them. If you are a parent and you don’t want your child to read a certain book because of what you think is contained within the pages, it is your right to make that choice for your child. What is not okay is then thinking that you need to remove the book from the shelves so that nobody can read it.

As readers we know that we have varied tastes and not all books are going to appeal to every reader. What I have experienced through all these blog posts and all the different comment conversations with so many of you, is that we are capable of accepting that someone else feels differently about a book than we do.

Which means that honestly it is up to us, as well as librarians, teachers, and other book industry professionals to speak up about the issue of banning books and to fight against those who are trying to censor what the public has access to when it comes to reading materials.

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Here is part of an infographic taken from the American Library Association (ALA). It is a nice little word cloud that talks about some of the main reasons why people file challenges against books. I find a number of these ridiculous when you consider that a great deal of these reasonings are on the television news or brought up in TV shows or movies on a consistent basis.

Violence, profanity/offensive language, racism, nudity, death, drugs, political viewpoint, abortion, sex education, excessive police force, lgbt…these are all parts of the reality of society today. It does us no good at all to try and bury our heads in the sand or put on blinders. Ignoring the reality of the world helps nobody.

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This is from that same ALA infographic and it has a list of the top ten challenged books in the year 2016, as well as why they were challenged. As you can see LGBT content is mentioned in half of the books, and half are because they are “sexually explicit.” Then you have a book by Bill Cosby that was challenged simply because of the criminal allegations against the authors.

Here are some other books that have been challenged over the years, as well as the reason for the challenge.

  • The Holy Bible (religious viewpoint)
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”)
  • Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”)
  • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence)
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group)
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (offensive language, racism)
  • Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer (religious viewpoint, violence, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence)
  • Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling (anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence)
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (offensive language, racism, violence)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (offensive language, racism)

Now, I remember discussing Banned Books during some of my library science courses, and not all that surprising is the fact that a lot of the people filing challenges about books have actually not read any of the book they are challenging. They challenge Harry Potter because the characters are witches and wizards, and they claim that the series is about the occult and Satanism, but those of us who have read the books know better.

Books like The Color PurpleTo Kill a MockingbirdOf Mice and Men, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn all detail how life was in earlier times of history, and yet people want to challenge them for offensive language and racism. The fact is that these books give us modern readers a better understanding of what life was like then. I remember in the past few years there was a big hoopla around both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, wherein new versions were being printed. These new versions were “sanitized” by removing every instance where the word “nigger” appeared. Now I admit that I am not exactly a fan of that word, but that doesn’t mean I want to try and erase it from history or the reality of society.

Obviously, the topic of banned books is one that we need to keep bringing up, and not just during Banned Books Week. If you would like more information about this week, you can go to the ALA’s page on the topic. You can even find lists of frequently challenged books here. There are numerous resources to be found on the ALA page and I highly recommend checking all of them out.

Thanks for reading and I’ll have another Banned Books Week post up in a couple days.

I Finally Got To Go To A Renaissance Festival

Hey all, Dani here.

So sometimes it’s fun to break away from the normal pattern of blog posts. I like to do this when I have to talk about some other wonderful and geeky event happens. Today I just have to talk about my adventure to the Ohio Renaissance Festival yesterday, because it was actually my first time.

To sum it up…I’m ready to go back again! I had such a lovely time.

And okay, so I started my time at Ren Fest wearing basically a peasant sundress I ordered off Amazon, but by the time I was done I had added a cloak and a staff to my outfit. Next time around I’ll skip the dress and be in pants and a tunic to continue building my ranger outfit. I can also say that it was a rather warm day, with a high of 88 degrees Fahrenheit, but surprisingly wearing a cloak did not overheat me. I may have actually felt cooler after putting on the cloak. I’m happy with my choice there anyway, because my cloak is reversible, so depending on the situation I can have either the black or the green side visible.

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My wonderful boyfriend also got me a boffer sword, a foam sword that is approved for most LARPs. Naturally he saw the Doctor Who one and had to get it for me. Then at the very end of the day he got me this really cool potion pouch that I can put on my belt.

Of course, he also built up his own outfit, though he’s going for more of rogue vibe. So he bought a shirt, pants, a cloak, a small potion case, gauntlets, and a pipe (just because it is a cool pipe–he plans to keep the pipe as decoration). We are talking about dyeing his shirt black to better fit his outfit concept. He is going for black attire with darker blue accents.

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We spent a great deal of our time exploring the shops, which were filled with wonderful hand-crafted clothes, weapons, jewelry, and more. Though, we did spend some time watching the jousting, which was really cool. Sadly, I was also eating lunch at that time so I did not manage to take any photographs of that. I will say that my bourbon chicken was delicious though. As was the giant dill pickle I bought shortly after that.

Anyway, I sadly also did not get any photos of myself or the rest of our adventuring party as we threw knives or axes. Surprisingly I actually did enjoy throwing knives, and I was pretty okay at it, though more practice will be necessary to ensure more consistency. The axes seemed a little more than what I was prepared to try. If I was going to put everything into a Dungeons & Dragons stat block, my Strength score is pretty much average, but I have a decent Dexterity score. So basically archery, knives, light swords and such are up my alley, but axes, hammers, and bigger swords are a bit out of my realm of specialization.

I did get a few photos of my boyfriend and a couple others at the archery range, which was fun.

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We only spent about six hours at the festival, but our day was a bit longer thanks to something like 4 and a half hours on the road getting to the festival and then driving home. It was a pretty long day, but I’m already planning on making the next trip to the Renaissance Festival next year a weekend trip.

Okay, one last photo to share…my boyfriend and I together in our outfits.

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All in all, it was excellent and I am already counting down until our next geeky excursion.

TBR Purge #6

Hey all, Dani here.

I promise that I am trying to up my reading count a bit more so I can start filling my posts again with reviews, but during this slow reading time I am also finding it important to declutter as much as possible.

Oh, and in other news, today my boyfriend, my mom, and I should be making a trip to the local IKEA so I can pick up the bookcases for the library/study in the apartment my boyfriend and I share. So, if all goes well and I get the bookcases assembled and filled with my books, I should be able to have a library tour post up soon. That should be pretty fun.

Okay, so at the start of this sixth TBR purge my list on Goodreads had 732 books on it. Let’s just go ahead and jump into the next 30 books of the list and see how many I can eliminate from my list.

Two Weeks’ Notice by Rachel Caine. I already got rid of the first book, and I was leery of this trilogy anyway, as it is zombie-esque, and I’m not a big zombie fan (with the exception being iZombie) so this is an easy goodbye.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I heard a lot of great buzz surrounding this book when it came out, and it sounded interesting so I added it to the list. At one point I even started to read it and got a few chapters in. But then I put it down and walked away to read other books. I honestly can’t tell you what happened in those early chapters; it didn’t hold my interest. And yes, perhaps giving it another chance would mean me actually finishing it, but right now I just have so many books I really want to read, so I can say farewell to this for now. I do own it in ebook if I ever change my mind.

Steelheart, The Alloy of Law, The Rithmatist, Words of Radiance, and Legion by Brandon Sanderson. I plan to read all things Sanderson at some point (hopefully soonish). Keep.

Forsaken, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, Dancing on the Head of a Pin, Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Hundred Words for Hate, and In the House of the Wicked by Thomas E. Sniegoski. As I pointed out in an earlier post, I’m just not really in the mood for angelic character novels. At one point I absolutely loved these books–well the YA ones, and was going to try the adult ones but then it just never happened. For now I’m still walking away.

The Old Races: Year of Miracles, The Old Races: Origins, The Old Races: Aftermath, and Mountain Echoes by C.E. Murphy. I loved the Negotiator trilogy, and the Old Races stories go along with those books, expanding the universe and detailing more tales and more beings, so I’m obviously keeping these.

A Raging Storm, A Bloody Storm, Storm Season, and Frozen Heat by Richard Castle. I have tried to read mystery/thriller novels and most of the time I just can’t do it. I tried with these ones since they tied into the show Castle and I loved the show. But now that the show is over, I’m finding my enthusiasm for attempting these books is fading.

Magic Without Mercy, Magic for a Price, and Tin Swift by Devon Monk. I already eliminated the rest of the Allie Beckstrom novels by Devon Monk so it is easy to say goodbye to these as well. However, I did enjoy reading Dead Iron and would like to keep reading on, so for now I will keep Tin Swift on my list.

Frost Burned and Fair Game by Patricia Briggs. Much like the earlier books in both of these series by Patricia Briggs, for now I’m saying farewell for now.

Dark Vow by Shona Husk. When I added this book to the list it sounded interesting and I had planned to get around to it fairly soon. But that never happened, and now my mind is focused on so many of my more recent acquisitions, so it wouldn’t be fair to keep this on the list if I’m just going to keep pushing it aside for other books.

Fool Moon, Grave Peril, and Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. I really enjoy the narrative voice of Harry Dresden, and I’d like to read the whole series, so this is an obvious keep.

Whew, another 17 books cut from the TBR list. That’s pretty good, and if I keep eliminating about half of each section I go through, I should end up with a more manageable reading list (though it will still probably be around 400 books long). I’ll just have to try and be better at working my way through the list instead of continuously getting distracted by new releases.