Tolkien, Special Editions, and Paper Insects: Foxy Links – July 26, 2019

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“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit or There and Back Again


You’ve probably noticed that things have been a bit slow on the blog this week, which is due to some random mysterious sickness that I’ve been dealing with. I’ve missed three out of four days of work this week which is giving me hellish anxiety. I went to the doctor halfway through this sickness and learned that they have absolutely no idea what’s going on. They gave me a generic antibiotic, which turned out to be the right call since I’m slowly starting to feel better.

This week is the Reading Rush, which I have not been keeping up with. At the time of this writing, I’ve only finished one of the seven books and am currently reading two more. I’m not going to push myself more than I need to while I’m still recovering, so I’m just looking forward to seeing what I can finish before Sunday. I might end up switching some of my TBR for the Reading Rush out for graphic novels or comic book arcs so that I can actually finish some of the challenges.

I also decided to go back to weekly wrap-ups instead of daily. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays, so on those days, it’s hard for me to wake up, get ready for work, and find time to blog. Weekly wrap-ups make more sense to me anyway.


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Tell me what you were most excited about this past week! Write any cool bookish articles or blog posts? Let me know what’s going on with you in the comments below!




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Banned Books, Part Seven

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week, a week that promotes the freedom to read. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing three banned books that you should add to your TBR lists.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

While many people remember the movie before the book, this classic novel has been challenged and banned due to its depiction of slavery and use of racial slurs. There are also references to rape.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

This book is one of the most challenged books in the United States. Challengers death being part of the plot inappropriate, and they also take offense to Paterson’s use of the word “lord” and other improper words. They also say that the book promotes occultism, New Age religion, and secular humanism.

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine

This series was challenged for reasons that are probably pretty obvious – parents and libraries believing the stories to be too scary, as well as occultism. I grew up on these books (along with Animorphs), and you better believe that if I ever have children, they’ll be reading these books too.

 

The twenty-one books I’ve shared are just the tiniest sliver of the full list. What are your favorite banned books that I didn’t include in this series? Leave your thoughts below!


Penny is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Banned Books, Part Six

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week, a week that promotes the freedom to read. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing three banned books that you should add to your TBR lists.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

 

 

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Bloom

When I was searching through lists of banned books, I was pretty shocked to see one by Judy Bloom. This middle-grade book was banned and challenged for its mentions of sex and menstruation, as well as for it’s perceived anti-Christianity.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

If you’ve read this book, then it’s probably no surprise to you that it’s been banned in many schools and libraries. Excessive violence, sexual content, anarchy, drinking, etc.; this book has it all.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

This award-winning graphic novel has been censored due to some people feeling that the content is too adult for its intended audience. It follows the story of two girls who are coming of age and exploring their sexual interests. The story also includes drug use, LGBT themes, and profanity.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?

Read Part Seven


Penny is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Banned Books, Part Five

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week, a week that promotes the freedom to read. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing three banned books that you should add to your TBR lists.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

 

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Beloved children’s authors are not exempt from having books banned. Some libraries considered the book misogynistic and sexist, feeling that it teaches boys to hate women.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

This classic novel was banned by schools and libraries for many reasons: promoting euthanasia, offensive language, racism, and being anti-business.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I remember hearing about all the controversies surrounding the Harry Potter series when I was growing up and still reading the series. Some schools and parents challenged and banned the book due to witchcraft, being anti-family and, my favorite, “setting bad examples.”

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them?

Read part six of this series
Read Part Seven


Penny is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Banned Books, Part Four

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week, a week that promotes the freedom to read. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing three banned books that you should add to your TBR lists.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

 

 

Carrie by Stephen King

Stephen King’s first published novel, Carrie was banned in some places due to people believing it to be anti-religious, as well as it’s violence and sexual content.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This incredible graphic novel received a great deal of praise when it was released, but it was also banned and challenged in places around the US, including Illinois, Oregon, and California. The schools and teachers who banned the book cited its graphic language, its depiction of violence, that it was inappropriate for the intended age group and scenes of torture.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Due to its Netflix adaptation, this book has been widely discussed lately. Some schools decided that since they weren’t sure of how students would be affected by its themes of bullying and suicide, that it should be banned or restricted in their libraries.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?

Read part five
Read part six
Read Part Seven

Banned Books: Part Three

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week, a week that promotes the freedom to read. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing three banned books that you should add to your TBR lists.

Part One
Part Two

 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

This may be one of the most well-known banned books in America. It was banned in many schools for its language, specifically, use of the n-word, and it’s depiction of racism.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I wasn’t aware this popular trilogy had ever been banned or challenged until I started doing research to prepare for this series. It was banned in some schools because teachers and parents thought it was inappropriate for the age group that it was marketed for.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

This currently-running comic book series was challenged because some people saw it as “anti-family.” Issue 12 in the series was temporarily restricted on Apple because one of the panels featured an image of two men engaging in oral sex, although after some outcry, it was made available again.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?

Read Part Four
Read Part Five
Read Part Six
Read Part Seven

Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.

The Book
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Goodreads

What It Is
This is the last novel published by Ernest Hemingway before his death in 1961. It was released in 1952, and when Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, the Nobel Committee stated that this book was one of the reasons why.

Santiago, the “old man,” is a fisherman, living in Cuba, who sleeps on newspapers and survives on the kindness of his young friend, referred to in the novel as “the boy,” who brings him bits of food and coffee, and occasionally buys him a beer at the end of the long day.

When we first meet Santiago, he’s gone eighty-four days without catching a fish. He’s lonely, and there’s a heartbreaking reference to his deceased wife.

Once there had been a tinted photograph of his wife on the wall but he had taken it down because it made him too lonely to see it…

On the eighty-fifth day, Santiago decides to go further out into the ocean, far past the point that most of the local fishermen would travel, in order to have a better shot at catching a fish.

The novel follows Santiago as he hooks an extraordinary marlin, facing immense hardships and suffering, and losing much on his way back to his island.

It’s a short book, and a simple one, but it displays courage in the face of suffering and hardship. The book is also an absolute masterpiece, and if you haven’t read it, or if you were forced to read it in school and haven’t picked it up since, now would be a great time to do so.

What I Loved
Only Hemingway could write a book about a lone fisherman trying to catch a marlin, and turn it into such a powerful work of fiction.

The novel essentially has just three characters, Santiago and the boy, and then the marlin. Both Santiago and the boy are immensely lovable characters. Although his parents won’t let him fish with Santiago anymore because they kept coming back empty-handed, he feels sorry for the old man, and feels a sense of responsibility to him, bringing him food and the daily newspaper so he can keep track of baseball and his favorite player, Joe DiMaggio.

It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around his mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

I also love the respect Santiago gives to the ocean and the marlin that he’s trying to catch.

“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

By the end of the book, you also find yourself feeling attached to the old man. Throughout everything, he remains positive and brave, and it’s a lesson we all need.

What I Disliked
About the book? Nothing. I love this book.

I read this book for the first time when I was in the tenth grade, and I feel that I wasn’t able to really appreciate it because I didn’t have enough life experience yet to actually understand it. I feel that forcing high schoolers to read it is a great disservice to this classic American novel.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. It’s a short book and a great choice for a lazy day at the beach. It’s a true American classic.

White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi

“Dear Miranda Silver,
This house is bigger than you know! There are extra floors, with lots of people in them. They are looking people. They look at you, and they never move. We do not like them. We do not like this house, and we are glad to be going away. This is the end of our letter.”

The Book
White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
Goodreads
Author’s Links: Website

What it is
Miranda Silver, her twin brother Eliot, and their father live in a haunted bed and breakfast across the street from a field of unmarked graves. The Silver House is the ancestral home to the Silver women, who appear to linger in the unseen portions of the house. Outsiders are unwelcome, particularly people of color and immigrants, and the house uses its mysterious supernatural attributes to get those people to flee.

Much of this book deals with Miranda’s mental illness. She suffers from pica, a disorder that causes her to hunger for non-food items, her favorite being chalk. She spent time at a clinic for her disorder while in high school, and we ride back with her to her home after she’s picked up by her father and brother. The scene in the car is a distinctly awkward one, and Eliot seems particularly uncomfortable and quiet.

The family is also grieving the loss of Miranda’s mother, Lily, a photo-journalist who was killed in Haiti when the twins were sixteen. Miranda wears a watch with its time set to “Haiti time,” and feels some guilt about her role in her mother’s death, despite being in Dover, England as it happened.

Miranda is accepted into Cambridge, where she meets Ore, a young woman adopted from Africa, and they find themselves in a romantic relationship. Ore tells Miranda a story about the soucouyant, a monster that leaves its body to consume the blood of the living. The folklore of the soucouyant is reflective of Miranda’s relationship with Ore, as Ore transitions from healthy to nearly anorexic while they’re together. Miranda is literally sucking the life out of Ore.

When Miranda’s father becomes aware of how bad her health has become while away at college, she is brought back home until she can get better. Ore comes to visit her, witnessing some unsettling experiences while there, and confiding in the housekeeper and cook, Sade.

Miranda grows sicker, and we then see the influence the house has on her, culminating in Miranda’s disappearance.

What I Loved
I’ve never read a book like this, and I’m honestly quite unsure how to classify it. Most often I see it listed as a horror novel, but, although it does contain many elements of the supernatural, it feels more like magical realism to me.

So many of the spooky happenings in the house are ambiguous and intentionally left unexplained. I enjoyed that aspect, as it reinforces the overall tone of the book and leads to the reader feeling unsure and a bit spooked.

One of the most unusual aspects of the book that I enjoyed is that the house itself is a narrator of the story at times. To be honest, the house is just as much a character in the story as the Silver family. It has its own personality, although that personality is a very racist and evil one.

What I Disliked
There are side stories in the book that are left hanging, and it was frustrating at times. The best example involves Kosovan immigrants that are being murdered around town, with no suspect in custody. Miranda is confronted by a classmate who accuses her of being involved in the murders, as they believe she’s been seen with the victims prior to their stabbings.

“We saw you,” the second girl said. “You and Amir, you and Farouk, you and Agim, you and whoever. Then they end up getting stabbed.”

Aside from a run-in with Agim, the attacking girl’s cousin and one of the victims who survived, we don’t learn much more about their stories. However, I feel like we’re meant to understand that their murders are related to the Silver house, as we also read in the book that Miranda greatly favors her great-grandmother, Anna Good, whose ghost or spirit is still possessing the house. Referred to as “the Goodlady” throughout the novel,  Anna Good, whose husband died in the war, loathed “outsiders” and blamed them for her husband’s death. Is it possible Anna Good is the cause of those murders?

There are also some awkward allusions to flirtings with an incestuous relationship between Miranda and Eliot. I can only remember two references, but it felt pretty unnecessary to the story.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. This is definitely a book you’ll want to read more than once.