Year Zero by Rob Reid: Book Review

Year ZeroYear Zero by Rob Reid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Year Zero is about a lawyer named Nick Carter who is having an average day when two not so average people show up at his office. It turns out the two people are in fact aliens who are very concerned about music copyright laws. Apparently, Earth music is very popular in the universe, and every single alien in the universe has a complete playlist of all Earth music. They are a bit concerned about the Earth music industry suing them.

I am struggling a bit with describing how I feel about Year Zero. I enjoyed the book; however, I think my enjoyment of the book came from the audio book read John Hodgman. He read the book with such passion and flavor. Each character felt fresh and quirky. I am not sure I would have felt the same way, if I had read the book on the page.

Although I know the book built its foundation on copyright law, the law aspect of the book got a bit tedious at times. It felt like there was an imbalance between world building (and technical details) with action. Even though Hodgman did a great job reading the book, I definitely noticed a bit of exposition at times.

Publication Date: 2012
Number of Pages: 364
Series Notes: Stand alone
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Reason for Discovery: I saw the author interviewed on Sword & Laser, and the book plot seemed interesting.

Sunday Update!

Photo by VancityAllie
I cannot believe it is almost the end of September! Fall is most certainly upon us. This is the first real Fall that I have experienced in a long time, and I am starting to get worried about the drop in temperature that will start to happen. Hopefully, I can pump out some more knitted items, so I can stay toasty warm.


I am still reading Battle Magic and Year Zero. Battle Magic isn't my cup of tea, but it is interesting enough that I am going to push through. I feel that it is going to get more interesting very soon (the characters have just traveled to a new city, so the adventure hook is in sight).

I am less that 1.5 hours from completing Year Zero, I am planning on finishing that tonight, while my husband is watching the Breaking Bad finale on television tonight. I am extra motivated tonight to finish the book, because I want to return to the land of vampires and Sookie Stackhouse. I am a sucker for the Sookie Stackhouse audio books, and now that I am so close to finishing Year Zero, nothing can stop me from getting back to Sookie.

Blogging Tips

This weekend I have started to work on my two blogs a bit. As a reader, you probably haven't noticed much of a change; however, on my end, there have been lots of changes! I purchased my blogs' domain names, so I don't need to have blogspot in the address anymore. I love the professional look of just having .com at the end of my website name.

Plus, I got email addresses for my blogs, so I am slowly moving my contact information to those email addresses. I love this, because now if a domain email address starts getting lots of spam, I can just turn off the email address, and I still have full use of my original gmail address. As an added bonus, I can have a ton of domain email addresses, so I can see exactly where people are contacting me from.

Finally, I got Google+ pages for both Reading Is Fun Again and Silver Arrow Knits! There isn't much on there now, but they will start to get filled up soon, so if you are a Google+ fan, check them out!

Persepolis: Banned Books Week

Photo by Jim Rettig
A few days ago, I read Persepolis: A Story of a Childhood as my banned/challenged book for Banned Books Week.

According to the Banned Books Week website:
[Persepolis was] [r]emoved, via a district directive, from all Chicago, Ill. public schools (2013) due to “graphic illustrations and language” and concerns about “developmental preparedness” and “student readiness.” Seventh- and eleventh-grade students study the graphic novel about the author’s experience growing up in Iran during the Iranian revolution as part of Chicago Public Schools’ Literacy Content Framework. As the news spread of the directive, students mobilized a media campaign in opposition to “banning a book that’s all about the freedom of speech.” Students took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, checked out all library copies of the book, wrote blogs, sent e-mails, wrote investigative articles for the student newspaper, contacted the author, staged protests, and appeared on local radio and television programs. Eventually, the school issued a letter telling high school principals to disregard the earlier order to pull the book.
Like I wrote in my review, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the author did a good job of balancing the horrible memories of her childhood with memories of love and hope. This book gave me a glimpse of a childhood that was very different from my own. It saddens me 7th graders in Chicago are not "developmentally prepared" to read a story about a fellow 7th grader in Iran. More importantly, however, was my concern regarding the following statement by Chicago public schools general counsel James L. Bebley (Chicago Public Schools’ Ban of ‘Persepolis’ Continues to Face Challenge from Anti-Censorship Alliance):
CPS [Chicago public schools] administrators are in the process of considering whether Persepolis is appropriate for the eighth through tenth grade curricula, with appropriate teacher training. 
So, this book is not okay for 7th through 10th graders? Who is developmentally prepared to read a story about a child in Iran? The idea that the book is not okay for  10th graders really scares me, because it suggests that we are not preparing our children to emotionally handle difficult subjects. Maybe it is my therapist spidey sense going off, but the idea that we are telling kids to avoid certain topics, because they can't handle them worries me. I don't like the idea we are having kids graduating from high school without being able to read a book about a difficult subject.

I hope that you enjoyed Banned Books Week and read some good books.

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi: Book Review

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the story of what happens to Marjane Satrapie after she goes to Austria at the end of Persepolis 1: The Story of a Childhood. This book focuses on Marjane's rebellious teenage years in Austria and her early 20s after she returns to Iran.

This book was much harder for me to read than the first volume of this series. Unlike The Story of a Childhood, Marjane does not mention very many memories containing love and hope. Due to being away from her social support network, Marjane's years in Austria are very challenging. In addition, once she returned home to Iran, Marjane has difficulty reconnecting due to culture shock and embarrassment about how she lived her life in Austria.

I am not sure how I feel about this book. I did not really enjoy it; however, the metamorphosis that Marjane goes through in the book is not surprising and makes sense given who she is and what makes her tick. If life had been a fairy tale for Marjane, I would have been upset that the book was not more realistic. I guess in the end, I want characters that I have grown to care for stay sheltered. I will admit that I am curious about Marjane's life post-The Story of a Return, and I want to read more about the author now.

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Better Watch Out for Captain Underpants!: Banned Books Week

Copyright Dav Pilkey
So Friday has been a fairly busy day and that is why I am posting this at 1:30 AM on Saturday. I feel it is not technically Saturday until I go to bed. Yep, that is my logic, and I am sticking to it. It is kind of late, so let's make this a short but fun post!

According to the Banned Books website, the following were the most challenged books in the past year:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
If you didn't notice, Captain Underpants beat out Fifty Shades of Grey, which was banned at the public library in my home state for a brief time. My brother and I are too old for Captain Underpants, so I had to go to the Internet to find out what all the fuss is about. Business Insider (surprising!) wrote a fairly in depth article about Why "Captain Underpants" Is the Most Banned Book in America. In the article, the writer explains what some of the concerns are including partial nudity, language, and bad behavior. The writer ends the article noting that she is concerned that we are banning/challenging books that are enticing to certain hard-to-reach demographics. I must admit that I have this concern as well. Are we going to end up challenging all the books that are relate-able to kids (and adults)? Gosh, that seems like we are going to be left with a lot of boring books. How many times can you read See Spot?

Uncle John's Funniest Ever Bathroom Reader by Bathroom Reader's Institute: Book Review

Uncle John's Funniest Ever Bathroom Reader
Uncle John's Funniest Ever Bathroom Reader by Bathroom Readers' Institute

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads giveaway program.

This is a collection of 1-2 page stories that are considered the best of the Bathroom Reader books.

This book was really funny. It is filled with short stories, fun facts, and quotations. It is an enjoyable read whether you are in the bathroom or not.

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My Little Pony Mane Tales Volume 1 by Thom Zahler: Book Review

My Little Pony Mane Tales Volume 1
My Little Pony Mane Tales Volume 1 by Thom Zahler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by Diamond Book Distributors.

This book is a collection of six short stories. Each one focuses on one of the ponies (Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy, Apple Jack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie). The whole gang does not make an appearance in all of the stories. In each story, one of the ponies learns about the importance of friendship.

I am a big fan of The Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic television show. The ponies between the pages of this book are the same as the ponies on the television show. I was a bit disappointed that the whole gang was not in all of the stories. Each individual story was very adorable; however, they were a bit predictable. My favorite story was the Pinkie Pie tale; however, that is not surprising, because I am a Pinkie Pie fan. Although any pony fan will enjoy these stories, I feel that these stories are best for the younger pony fan set.

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Banned & Challenged Authors: Banned Books Week

Photo by DML Branch
As part of Banned Books Week, Google did a series of Google Hangouts with banned and challenged authors. Kurt Vonnegut's son and Erica Jong both did Hangouts.

I just found these. I am going to check some of these out tomorrow. I am curious to hear what banned and challenged authors have to say about Banned Books Week.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas: Book Review

The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When d'Artagnan goes to Paris to become a Musketeer, he didn't know that he was going to go on an exciting adventure filled with intrigue, swordplay, and love.

This is one of my favorite books. I only decided to read it, because I had seen the movie with Chris O'Donnell. I had a crush on him back in the day. I remember thinking that I thought it was going to be a dull and boring book; however, I was so wrong. The book is so much better than the movie versions. It is very readable. It is an action-packed book but with the intrigue and both sweet and tragic love too. It has something for everyone. d'Artagnan, Porthos, Athos, and Aramis are interesting characters who I would love to meet. If I recall, when I read this book in high school, I wrote some fan fiction about the three Musketeers and d'Artagnan.

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Wednesday Update!

Photo by Moriza
Woo hoo! Most of my favorite television shows are airing this week! My husband and I watched Agents of SHIELD yesterday, and it was quite good. It was your typical opening episode in which you meet all the characters, so it was not the most riveting show; however, it definitely has potential. I look forward to watching next week's episode.


I have been listening to Year Zero by Rob Reid. It is read by John Hodgman (the PC guy from the old Apple commercials). The story is fun, but John Hodgman really pluses the book. The story is about aliens considering blowing up the Earth, because they realize that they owe a ton of money due to music copyright laws (aliens have their own personal Napster accounts). The protagonist is a lawyer whose law firm represents most of the music industry and is trying to help figure out a compromise.

I also started Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce. It is the third book in a series which is the second or third series in a particular universe. I received it through the GoodReads First Reads giveaway program. I have been a bit slow to warm up to the book, because it has been hard understanding all of these characters. This is because the author is not spending any time giving background. She is assuming that you are reading this book, because you have read her other books. I did some background reading on wikipedia; however, it is still a bit confusing.

Finally, I am reading Uncle John's Funniest Ever Bathroom Reader by the Bathroom Readers' Institute. I won this through the GoodReads First Reads giveaway program. I have always liked these Uncle John's books, but I had never purchased one. I am so excited about this book. It is just filled with lots of short funny stories and fun facts. It is simply fun times.

Fun! Entertainment! Randomness!

Audible is having a sale on Brave New World. It is only $2.95 until 11:59 PM. You do not need a subscription to get this deal.

Banned and Challenged Romance Books: Banned Books Week

Photo by Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Many books are banned or challenged because they contain sexually explicit material. Sexually explicit is a broad term that can mean anything from partial nudity to S&M. Maya Rodale wrote a great article on NPR Books entitled Banned Romance: What's So Bad About Happily Ever After? In the article, she discusses that many books that are banned or challenged for sexually explicit themes have a female protagonist that enjoys sexual pleasure.

Funny story about a banned romance book. I used to be a part of an online book and knitting club. Every month, we would read a book and knit a project about it. One month, I got the name of the book wrong with humorous results. I thought the book was Fanny Hill: Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. Granted, at the time I just thought the book was entitled Fanny Hill. Like I had done for previous books, I went on Librivox, started streaming the book, and started doing some brainless data entry at work. Luckily, I was wearing headphones. Oh my!

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: Book Review

The Republic of Thieves
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

This book was kindly donated by Random House Publishing Group -- Del Rey Spectra for review.

Locke and Jean are in over their heads and causing mischief again in the third book in the Gentlemen Bastards series. This time they are asked to rig an election for the amusement of the bondsmagi (yes, those bondsmagi). Of course, Locke and Jean would have this election in the bag, if the upper management for the opposing political party wasn't the one and only Sabetha (yes, that Sabetha). In this exciting, dangerous, and curse-filled jaunt through Karthain, Locke and Jean need to keep one step ahead of a growing number of people who want them dead.

Sabetha! Sabetha is in this book! The Lady Bastard herself! I was quite excited to learn all about her and how she left the Gentlemen Bastards in the dust. Where shall I begin? Well, I loved her in the beginning (both in the present day story and the interlude); however, as the stories came to an end, I feel that her character got a bit muddled. For example, in the beginning, Sabetha had very clear reasons why she did not want to be linked romantically to Locke. I thought the reasons were great; and I applauded them. Later, however, the reasons changed and then there were no reasons, then there were reasons again, but I was confused as to what they were. In a nutshell, it seems like a decision was made to change Sabetha's character and someone didn't reread the whole book during the editing process.

OK, now that Sabetha is off my chest, let's discuss the book, plot, etc. First, has anyone noticed that these books keep getting longer? I feel that Lynch wanted to write two separate books and his publisher said that he could only write one, so he squeezed these two books into a super long book. Not that I mind, both stories were interesting; it is just that I would have preferred the interlude (flashback) to be shorter, you know, an interlude to the main story. I guess I am mainly grumpy, because I was more interested in the main story (or should I say present day story?) than the interlude.

In regards to Locke and Jean antics, they are up to no good again, and they do a good deal of conspiring and outwitting. There is less violence in this book than in previous ones, but there is still a decent amount of swearing, so I was happy. I also felt that the plot to this book was less complicated than Red Skies over Red Seas, so I was a happy camper. I felt that the previous Lamora book got a wee bit over the top at times (granted, I was listening to the audiobook, so maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention). At the same time, this book felt like a buildup for the next Gentlemen Bastards book, which I felt was a bit frustrating.

Alright, so what am I trying to say in my rambling post-read? This book was a lot of fun. I am a sucker for a conman story; and Locke and Jean are my go to guys! They are fun, they swear, and they get into tons of scrapes. I am also really happy to see Sabetha, because I like seeing Locked get flustered by (1) a woman and (2) a smart and resourceful opponent. I hope that we see her in future books (with her character a bit less muddled). At the same time, I hope that the next book is not two books smashed together but one (slightly shorter) book.

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Banned and Challenged Books List: Banned Books Week

Photo by Jennerally
Here is a list of just some of the banned and challenged books that I have read over the years. Some of them I liked, some of them I didn't for both literary reasons and subject matter reasons. Maybe you will discover some that will interest you!

  1. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
  2. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  5. America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin, & Davie Javerbaum
  6. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  8. Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh
  9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
  10. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
  12. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  13. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  14. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  15. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  16. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt & Stephen J Dubner
  17. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  18. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
  19. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  20. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  21. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
  22. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story by John Berendt
  23. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
  24. Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
  25. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  26. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  27. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  28. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
  29. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  30. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  31. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  32. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  33. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: Book Review

Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a memoir of Marjane's life in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This book is composed of her story from the age of six to fourteen. In the form of a graphic novel, Marjane gives the reader a brief history of her country and explains what it is like to live in a war-torn country. Although the book is a memoir and is looking back on her life, the narrative is told from a child's perspective.

This graphic novel was really, really good. I need to pick up Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return ASAP. The story that Marjane is horrible and sad at times. Some of her family members were sent to jail for opposing the current government; some of her family members were killed in jail. Marjane lived in fear sometimes that her parents were killed during a protest or by a bomb. At the same time, there is so much hope and love in this book. Marjane's parents continue to live in Iran, because they hope that their country will improve. Although her parents worry for her, Marjane's parents continue to let her live a free life, because they don't want her to live in fear.

This book briefly discusses some awful things like torture and rape; however, it is only mentioned in a panel or two. Also, these heavy subjects are being told from a child's perspective, so the "heavy" subjects don't seem too heavy. It is hard to explain, but suffice it to say, I can imagine that the book's protagonist Marjane could be talking with a fellow 12-year old. This entire book could be too overwhelming to a reader; however, the child narrator makes it manageable. It is overwhelming to a reader, because you don't want these horrible things to be happening to a child. However, you feel that you can get through it and learn from it, because of Marjane's braveness. Marjane makes you feel a bit braver.

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My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Volume 2 by Heather Nuhfer: Book Review

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Volume 2
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Volume 2 by Heather Nuhfer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by Diamond Book Distributors for review.

In this cute My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comic, Twilight Sparkle and the gang have started having horrible nightmares. Pinkie Pie decides to have a slumber party, because ponies can't have bad dreams at slumber parties. The ponies soon discover that you can have nightmares at slumber parties, and Rarity's nightmares carry her off to the moon! Twilight Sparkle and the rest of Rarity's friends go to Princesses Celestia and Luna to discover how to get their friend back. Luna, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Spike have to journey to the moon to rescue their friend and stop the nightmares!

This was a cute comic. I felt all the characters were true to their cartoon counterparts. I thought the comic had good pacing was quite enjoyable. I feel both adult and child fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic will enjoy this story.

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Harry Potter - Banned Books Week 2013

I don't think we can talk about banned and challenged book without at least mentioning Harry Potter. Personally, I love the Harry Potter books. They are so much fun, and the characters are endearing. Although there are some world building problems, I love the world of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and the rest of the magical community. Now, if I just loved Harry Potter for personal reasons, I wouldn't be mentioning it here. I think Harry Potter is important, because he and JK Rowling got people who weren't reading to read and got families reading together. Harry Potter and JK Rowling made reading cool.

Let me tell you a few Harry Potter related stories.

I used to babysit a very rambunctious child. We will call him Frank. Frank was very hyperactive and always in trouble. He had so much energy and never seemed to sit still. Frank was not a reader. Granted, there are lots of energetic kids who like to read; however, Frank was not a reader. When Frank discovered Harry Potter, he started reading. I would see him at the community pool sitting on a chair and reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was so wonderful to see a kid who used to have no books in his bedroom become a kid who loved to read and carried a 500+ page book around with him. He did go swimming later, just in case you were wondering. Frank didn't stop reading after Harry Potter, Harry Potter instilled a love of reading in him.

My friend's grad school adviser listened to the Harry Potter audio books with her family. Harry Potter brought parents and children together. They were all so excited to find out what happened in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but the four of them listened to the audio book together. No one bought the physical book and read it privately. I love the idea of a family listening to a book together. This gives the family an opportunity to pause the book and discuss any questions or concerns in the moment. Granted, the parents took a gamble that the book would be age-appropriate; however, it apparently turned out okay.

Finally, we need to discuss midnight book releases. Do you remember midnight book releases prior to the Harry Potter craze? I don't. I went to a midnight book release for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was filled with adults, teenagers, and families. It was so great to see such different people getting together and bonding over Harry Potter.

So, why does Harry Potter get banned and challenged all the time? There are a lot of reasons; however, the main ones tend to be child abuse (Harry lives in a closet in the first book) and magic. These are facts in these books, and I can't change them. I would like to point out that there are a ton of positive themes in these books including friendship and learning to believe in yourself.

I know I can't change people's minds about Harry Potter. People have all sorts of reasons that they don't like Harry Potter, and I know that I can't change people's minds. I just want to share some of the positive stories that have come out of Harry Potter.

Sunday Update! Banned Books Week 2013 Edition

Today marks the start of Banned Books Week 2013. According to the Banned Books Week website

"Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982....According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported."

What are banned and challenged books?

Challenged books are those that people want to have removed from libraries, school curricula, etc, while banned books are those that are removed from these places. 

Books are banned and challenged for lots of reasons including language, sexual situations, violence, positive portrayal of homosexuality, and not appropriate for certain ages. 

For more information check out this link on the ALA website.

Why do I think it is important to read challenged and banned books?

Do I think all books are classics? No. There are a lot of books out there that I think are bad and/or poorly written; and there are a lot of books out there that are just not my cup of tea. Do I think all books are appropriate for all age groups? Of course not. I wouldn't hand an 8-year old Fifty Shades of Grey.At the same time, I think people should be allowed to read what they want and have access to those books. Every time my husband and I discuss banned books, we always end up agreeing that books can be a great way for kids (and adults) to experience new situations safely. 

Banned and challenged books have let me experience the life of a young Jewish girl fearing for her life (Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl), the life of a soldier in the Vietnam War (The Things They Carried), and the life of a young, black woman in the South in the 1930s (The Color Purple). Each of these books impacted me in different ways. I can't say that these books made me feel happy and wonderful inside (The Color Purple has love in it but so much pain as well); however, they gave me experiences that I can't have and some I don't want to have. These are experiences that taught me something about people and about me.

Although banned and challenged books have given me important experiences, I feel that they need to be couched with education, especially when the readers are kids. For example, I read The Things They Carried and The Color Purple in school. My teachers helped me understand what was happening in these books and how to process it. It saddens me when books are banned from school curricula, because school is the best place for discussing these books! Teachers can give kids the framework for understanding these books. Of course, not all books can be taught in school, so I also think it is important for parents to discuss these books with their kids. I am watching Mad Men right now, and in one of the episodes Sally reads a news story about a man who murdered several women. She spends several hours frightened until she talks with her grandmother about what she read. Although her grandmother purposely frightens her a bit, she does take the time to explain what was happening. In that moment, the news story goes from something scandalous to a teachable moment. This is ultimately what bothers me about banning and challenging books. We are hiding books instead of discussing the difficult subject matter. 

Okay, I think I have rambled enough for the day. I will be blogging every day this week regarding Banned Books Week. 

Go forth and read a banned book! Here are a few lists to keep you busy.

Review: Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest

Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest
Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review copy was kindly donated by Orbit Books.

Helen and Troy are just two regular teenagers. Okay, well Helen is a Minotaur and Troy is as close to a hero as you can get (he doesn't like dogs). Anyway, Helen and Troy are just two regular teenagers who almost get eaten by a god and then are forced to go on an epic road quest to get an unknown number of unknown relics in an unknown period of time. As you can imagine, Helen and Troy aren't so excited about this quest. Luckily, the National Questing Bureau and Achilles, Helen and Troy's trusty sidekick dog, help them along the way. Because the other gods are not sure that the questing adventures aren't going to kill Helen and Troy, they also send a band of orcs after them. Helen and Troy probably wish that they called in sick to work right now and never started on this merry adventure.

This book is so much fun. Once I started reading it, I could not stop. Helen and Troy are quirky but fairly calm about this whole situation. I guess when Minotaurs, orcs, and gods are real, you just have to go with the flow. The writing is fantastic, the characters are charming, and the plot is entertaining. This book is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

The book lost one star, because I feel like the book was a bit tidy with the climax at the end; however, I am willing to look past the ending, because the rest of the book was just a rollicking good time.

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Review: Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A young woman meets a debonair, rich man. She marries him and returns to his family estate. The new Mrs. de Winter quickly finds herself being judged by the housekeeper. The housekeeper is still very devoted to the first Mrs. de Winter. The housekeeper keeps taunting the new Mrs. de Winter and continues to suggest that Mr. de Winter doesn't truly love her.

I loved this haunting, Gothic tale. The nameless protagonist (the new Mrs. de Winter) is out of her element in this rich and lavish house. She doesn't know how to be a lady, just a lady's companion. The only woman that can be kind to her, the housekeeper, ignores her and taunts her while continuing to keep a torch for the first Mrs. de Winter. This stressful situation combined with the constant questions of why and how did the first Mrs. de Winter die make this book a real page turner.

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Wednesday Update!

It has been a busy couple of days. My husband's birthday was yesterday, so we went out to dinner. Because it was a work day, we didn't have too much time to celebrate. This weekend we are going to have friends over and play some board games.


I can't believe it. I am currently reading zero books. I finished up a review on the last book that I was reading a few minutes ago. This doesn't mean that I have run out of books to read though. I just received Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce in the mail yesterday (GoodReads First Reads giveaway). I also have Helen and Troy's Epic Road QuestThe Path to the Sun, and a book of fairy tales to review. Hmmm, four books sounds like a lot. I better get reading!

Fun! Entertainment! Randomness!

Need writing prompts? Geek & Sundry Vlogs on YouTube has got some great videos on writing and literature. Check out Nika Harper's vlog on writing!

Review: One Enchanted Evening: A Fairy Tale for Real People

One Enchanted Evening: A Fairy Tale for Real People
One Enchanted Evening: A Fairy Tale for Real People by Kate Zeng

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads giveaway program.

A single mom with a dead end but with a good heart finds a Prada bag filled with money. This discovery leads her to her dreams.

This book started off with so much promise. It starts off with the main character I (I don't think we ever learn her name) having a hum drum day and then she discovers a huge bag of money! Unlike a typical chick lit book, she spends about $2000 on frivolous things and then feels bad about it. She then decides to invest the money in CDs and...well, I will leave that as a surprise. She also spends the book worried about where the money came from. Sounds exciting, right? I don't read books for this much realism.

The back of the book clearly states that this book is not a romantic fairy tale. This is a book about a woman who gets the money to solve her problems, not a guy. The problem is that money can't solve all your problems either. Money can definitely solve a lot of problems, but driving off into the sunset with a stack of cash works just as well as driving off with the guy (both can run out on you).

One last concern about this book: the typos. Throughout the book there are typos. They mainly involve using the wrong verb tense or the wrong preposition. This book did not appear to be a galley, but it may be.

Let's end this review on a positive note. One thing that I enjoyed was the protagonist's voice. It was fun and sounded like a real person.

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Review: Fool Moon

Fool Moon
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dresden has got some problems. Large numbers of people are being mauled during the full moon. Werewolves. Why does it have to be werewolves? Dresden has got to deal with the werewolves and not annoy Murphy to the point that she arrests him (again).

Fool Moon is another fun book in the Dresden series. I am enjoying the series and the stories Jim Butcher is telling. The only beef that I have with the books is that I find Dresden to be so self-righteous. He feels that no one can handle knowing the whole truth. I also find his sexism frustrating, especially when he couches it in being an "old-fashioned gentleman." One can argue that these weaknesses in character make him more real, and it does, but I still find it really annoying. Most of the time I want to hit him on the back of the head. After the events of this book, however, Dresden may start to work on these character flaws before they get him into more trouble.

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Sunday Update!

My Birthday Weekend is slowly coming to an end. It has been lots of fun. I received Forbidden Desert, and my husband and I played lots of board games. I wasn't a big board game as a kid, but I am really enjoying cooperative board games as an adult.


I am pushing through my to read list. I got some GoodReads First Reads books reviewed, and now I just need to focus on some NetGalley books that I recently agreed to review. I sadly did not receive an ARC of Parasite by Mira Grant. This just gives me time to finish the Newsflesh trilogy and the accompanying novellas.

I am listening to Fool Moon by Jim Butcher right now, and I am liking it okay. Harry Dresden annoys me at times, but I am warming up to him a bit. I think he is finally learning to trust other people and give other people information that they need. I think once he learns this lesson, I won't hate him as much. James Marsters does the readings, and I love it. I think it is why I keep listening to the books.

Fun! Randomness! Entertainment!

Here is a link to all the cute animals that you would ever want to see.

Review: The Writer's Legal Guide: An Authors Guild Desk Reference

The Writer's Legal Guide: An Authors Guild Desk Reference
The Writer's Legal Guide: An Authors Guild Desk Reference by Tad Crawford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads giveaway.

Before I review this book, I should say that I am not a professional and nowhere near publishing a book. For this reason, I cannot speak to whether the information is correct. Of course, with books that discuss legal matters, it is always a good idea to check out sources too (laws have a habit of changing). The book discusses a variety of important topics for writers including ebooks, copyright, and taxes; however, because the book is less than 350 pages and not a massive tome, he does not go into substantial detail on each subject (again, a good reason to check other sources). One last thing to know is that the book is a bit dense (lots of law to squeeze into a short book!). Overall, this is a great go to book for writers who need some legal help.

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Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth. The story begins during their childhood at a boarding school in the countryside and how they met. During the course of the book, you follow Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth through the rough teenage years and their 20s. There is more to this haunting tale, but in the end, it is a story of three childhood friends trying to find themselves in a complicated world.

What if you knew what your life was going to hold for you? This book really captured me when I read it. I loved how Ishiguro balanced philosophical and ethical questions about what it means to be a person with Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth's quest to experience life.

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Review: The Writer's Tune-up Manual: 35 Exercises That Will Scrape the Rust Off Your Writing

The Writer's Tune-up Manual: 35 Exercises That Will Scrape the Rust Off Your Writing
The Writer's Tune-up Manual: 35 Exercises That Will Scrape the Rust Off Your Writing by Craig A. Hart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review copy was generously donated by the author.

The Writer's Tune-Up Manual is a collection of 35 writing exercises to help jump start your writing. The exercises focus on one of five areas: character, POV, dialogue, description and setting, and plot. The exercises are varied and will help you think about each of the above five areas in lots of different ways. Please keep in mind that this book is a collection of exercises and is fairly short. If you don't know how to string words together, this is not the book for you. If you want to try your hand at writing or writer's block is setting in and you need a kick in the rear, this book might be a good fit.

I have not written for fun, since I was in high school; however, I have never stopped thinking that it might be fun to try my hand at writing. These exercises seem to be the perfect starting place for me. The idea of writing a book or even a novelette seems overwhelming, but I think I could write 500 words on a subject. Who knows, maybe this is the jump start that I need to start a novelette. Hmmm, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is only a few months away...

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Review: Lullaby Knits: Over 20 Knitting Patterns for 0-2 Year Olds

Lullaby Knits: Over 20 Knitting Patterns for 0-2 Year Olds
Lullaby Knits: Over 20 Knitting Patterns for 0-2 Year Olds by Vibe Ulrik Sondergaard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review copy was generously donated by Anova Books.

First Impressions: Oooh! A knitting book with baby patterns! Everything is so cute and tiny! Ooooh, the patterns aren't pages and pages long; I could actually knit these items. There is no colorwork and limited finishing required (i.e., sewing buttons). This could be promising. Look! These patterns can be used for boys and girls!

The Details: According to the book, there are "over 20 knitting patterns for 0-2 year olds." There are 7 sweaters (the Slip Stitch Sweater is cute), 7 cardigans and jackets (I love the Wide Collar Jacket), 3 vests (the vests are cute, but I am not a vest person), 6 accessories including a lace scarf for mom (the Little Dolphin Sleeping Bag is is a mermaid tale for your baby!).

The patterns are written in metric, but there is conversion information for needles, weights, and lengths. Also, although the patterns are cable and lace heavy, there are no charts. This doesn't bother me, because I am not a chart person (heresy, I know); however, I know this is a deal breaker for some. Almost all of the patterns have a good picture of the front of the finished product (either the item flat or on a child with a clear view). Now, not all of the patterns have this (Wide Collar Jacket, I am looking at you); however, this book does a better job than other pattern books. Finally, the items are knit in Debbie Bliss, Malabrigo, MillaMia, and Rowan.

Knitter Level: Although the book is cable and lace heavy, I feel that an advanced beginner could knit these items. The designs are super simple (e.g., knit 2 sleeves, 1 front, and 1 back).

Final Thoughts: This is a cute baby pattern book with a lot of variety in types of items. The book really focuses on cables and lace, so if these are not your bag, this book won't be to your liking. At the same time, there is no colorwork and there is limited finishing required once you sew up the pieces (e.g., no sewing buttons), so many of these patterns may be the next for a newer knitter.

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Review: The Demolished Man

The Demolished Man
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ben Reich's company is failing and the only way out is for him to join with Craye D'Courtney's company. When D'Courtney refuses, Reich's only other option is to kill D'Courtney and take over his company. A murder may seem like a banal affair; however, in Reich and D'Courtney's world, a premeditated murder has not happened in over 70 years. A portion of the population are telepaths and can tell if people are going to murder someone in advance. Reich not only has to commit a murder but then also hide it for the rest of his life. Also, he keeps having dreams about a Man With No Face. What does it all mean?

The Demolished Man is a very interesting book. It is a little bit Colombo, a little bit Dirty Harry, and a little bit Freud. No, I am not kidding. The book is predominately a cat and mouse game between Reich and Powell, a telepath police officer. When the book focuses on the crime, I love it. I grew up watching crime/mystery shows both from the criminal and from the detective's POV, so this plot is right up my alley. When the book starts to focus on Freud, rebirthing, and other psychological theories, I just smile and am amused. As a psychologist, I find the use of Freud's theories as a foundation for a book to be amusing. Yes, it gets a bit weird at times, but it is overall amusing. The only thing that I found frustrating was the attitude towards women. The ladies were either virgins or "not at all virgins" (if you catch my meaning). The majority of the women seemed to be in love with Powell. The fact that Powell who is quite a catch according to the book falls in love is by meeting a young woman who has suddenly become an infant (long story). Heaven forbid, he likes a woman who can string a full sentence together.

Anyway, the criminal aspect to this book is great, the psychological aspect is entertaining, and the feminist aspect is nonexistent.

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Wednesday Update!

I have been going on a reading binge recently. I am currently reading 6 books. I wish I could say I don't know how this happened, but I do. I am not monogamous when it comes to reading or knitting projects. If I see a new and enticing book/knitting pattern, I go for it.


I am a little more than halfway through The Demolished Man. I am really enjoying it. It is a Colombo/Dirty Harry sci-fi crime novel. I am also happy the book is short. My copy is only 183 pages. After reading several books that are 500+ pages, it is refreshing to have a short book. There is no rambling in this book. The women's roles in this book are lacking. I am just rolling at my eyes at those scenes and reminding me of the age of the book. I can handle a book like this every so often, but I don't think I would read a stack of books by Alfred Bester in a row.

I also started Fool Moon by Jim Butcher. This is one of my audiobooks. Although Dresden and Murphy's relationship annoys me at times (and Murphy's character in general), I do like the book. Plus, I hear that the series gets better with time, so I am hoping that the series will get better in time.

Fun! Entertainment! Randomness!

Last year (or so), Patrick Rothfuss did a a series of Google Hangouts through the Geek & Sundry youtube channel. I watched a stack of them, and I found them to be interesting.

Review: Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace

Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace
Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace by Judith Durant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by Storey Publishing for review.

First Impressions: So many pretty patterns! I really love these 101 one-skein knitting pattern books. There are so many patterns for that random skein of yarn that you picked up that little yarn boutique or that extra ball of yarn for the shawl that you made last year. As a super extra bonus, the book is less than $20.

The Details: This book contains 101 lace designs. There are 12 hat and cap patterns, 9 mitten, glove, and cuff patterns, 7 sock patterns, 11 baby wear patterns, 2 blanket patterns, 2 toy patterns, 19 scarf patterns (I loved the Butterflies Are Free pattern), 9 cowl patterns, 15 shawl and stole patterns, 8 miscellaneous lacy accessories, and 7 miscellaneous home accessories. The patterns are not just for lace weight yarns; there are a variety of yarn weights for the patterns. Unsurprisingly, the patterns are not geared towards men. Please note that if you love charts, not all of the patterns have them.

Final Impressions: This is another great 101 One-Skein Wonder books. You can't go wrong with so many patterns for such little money. This is a great book for knitters who like me picks up a skein of yarn every once in a while (or more often) without a pattern in mind and doesn't know what to do with the skein later.

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Review: My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest PlacesMy Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review copy was kindly donated by Reader's Digest.

My Planet is the complete collection of Mary Roach's Reader's Digest column. In this column Roach discusses "the wonder of the everyday." Each column is about 2-3 pages.

I have read two of Mary Roach's books, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and I really enjoyed them. Roach does a great job of balancing humor with science. Anyway, like I noted earlier, this book focuses on "the wonder of everyday." What does this mean? She talks a lot about the mundane like cleaning the house, car repairs, family vacations, and the like but with a humorous edge. I found myself laughing out loud during almost every story. There was so much I found myself relating to in the stories. This is a book that I can see myself rereading on a rainy day.

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Sunday Update!

I must admit that I have been feeling quite productive on the reading and blogging side of things. Have you been enjoying the regular blogging? How about the new template? I am not totally wild about the headers, but I like that book on the top of the page. We will have to see, if I continue to feel cozy with the template.

I had been doing good with reading down my galleys and ARCs, but I was a bit silly recently and requested a few new books. Don't get me wrong, I don't request galleys that I don't think I have the time to read or the interest to read; however, galley reading can sometimes keep me from the long list of books I have been meaning to read. Newsflesh trilogy (I loved Feed, and I need to finish the series), Abbadon's Gate, and the Kingkiller Chronicles, I am looking at you! Of course, one of the galleys that I am hoping to get my hands on is a Mira Grant book, so the world of reading and reviewing is somewhat balanced.


Since I have moved, I don't listen to audiobooks constantly. I am trying to incorporate them into my new life with cable television. ;) I started the third Sookie Stackhouse book (Club Dead) while getting ready for bed, and I got hooked. I found myself choosing listening to the audiobook over watching television the next day. I finished the book in about a day. I think the novelty of cable television is wearing off, and I am finding myself pulled back into the world of books. I must admit that Sookie Stackhouse is a bit more entertaining that HGTV.

Since returning from vacation, my reading of The Republic of Thieves has slowed down. The book is a bit on the long side at over 800 pages, and my eagerness is starting to fade. I am really enjoying the "present day" story, but the flashback (as usual) is not holding my interest. The flashback is interesting, but because I know vaguely everything is going to work out (there would be no present story otherwise), my interest wanes when I read those sections.

I also just picked up My Planet by the fabulous Mary Roach. I have read two of Roach's books (Stiff! and Bonk!), and when I saw this book I just had to pick it up. Roach has a great writer's voice and makes me laugh out about the must mundane things.

Fun! Randomness! Entertainment!

Review: Club Dead

Club Dead
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The vampires are causing headaches for Sookie again in book 3 of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Bill has gone missing, so Sookie is recruited by Eric to find him.

I must admit that I am surprised that I am enjoying this series as much as I am. I blame the audiobooks. I don't notice how silly the writing is, because the reader is fantastic. I also really enjoy Sookie's character. She reads like a real person. She has her strengths (she is brave, polite, and is a telepath), but she also has her weaknesses (she gets jealous and lets her anger fester at times). Granted, Sookie gets beat up a lot and loses tons of blood, but she can hold her own. I think Buffy would be cool with her.

One random note, there was at least one sentence that was exactly the same as in a previous Sookie book. Maybe this is normal in this series, but I hadn't noticed it before this one sentence popped up. It was three-quarters of the way through the book, so it took me by surprise.

Note: For those who are sensitive to rape, there is a very brief rape scene.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meet Harry Potter, an average kid, whose parents died when he was a baby. He now lives with his aunt, uncle, and cousin who treat him more like a servant than family. One day an owl delivers a letter to Harry Potter. Instead of being surprised, Harry' family freaks out and tries to get Harry away from the owls and letters (as more and more start to come). This little adventure leads Harry to discover that he is a wizard, his parents were wizards, and there is a whole new world for him to discover.

I didn't discover the Harry Potter books until I was in college. I am sad that it took me so long to discover them; however, it was a happy situation, because I was able to read the first four books in one weekend. The world of Harry Potter is so much fun and the adventure is so great that you can't stop reading the books. The world building is a bit inconsistent; however, you don't really notice it when you are reading. If you haven't started this series, do not stop, do not pass go, go straight to your local bookstore or library.

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Review: The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers

The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers
The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers by Carol Ekarius

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was generously donated by Storey Publishing for review.

Are you a spinner? Do you find yourself buying fleece and only realize after you return home that it isn't right for your project or it doesn't dye how you want? Well, The Field Guide to Fleece is for you! This book is written by the same people who brought you The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. This book focuses on 100 of the sheep/fleece that you are going to run into when you are about and about fleece shopping. The book is 6.9 x 5 x 0.5 inches, so you could bring the book with you on your fleece travels.

For each sheep, the authors give some basic information, explain the effects of dye, and explain the best uses of its fleece. Additionally, the fleece weight, staple length, fiber diameter, and natural colors for each wool is listed. Finally, there is a cute picture of the associated sheep!

This is a fantastic book for hitting sheep and fiber festivals and other places when you are not sure what sort of fleece you are going to come across.

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Wednesday Update!

I just got back from a lovely vacation in Cape Cod. It was super relaxing, and I got to eat tons of fresh seafood. A bonus to the trip was that I got to finish The Curse of Chalion, which I loved. I also started The Republic of Thieves (more below). I also was very excited to find out that I won two books through the GoodReads First Reads program. I now have a stack of galleys that need to get done ASAP, not that I am complaining mind you. :)


I am currently reading The Republic of Thieves, and I am loving it. I don't want to say too much just yet, but in this book, we find our trusty thieves Locke and Jean are squaring off against Sabetha! I am enjoying this story much more than Red Seas under Red Skies.

Fun! Entertainment! Randomness!

Have you checked out your public library? If you haven't been there in a while, I want to encourage you to check it out. Your library may have DVDs, Blu Ray DVDs, video games, and audiobooks. Also, many libraries now offer ebooks and mp3 and wma audiobooks that you can download onto your favorite electronic toy. If your library uses overdrive for its ebooks and audiobooks, you can download the app onto your phone or tablet and download books any time you want! I love being able to listen to audiobooks from my phone.

Review: The Curse of Chalion

The Curse of Chalion
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Curse of Chalion is about a soldier named Cazaril who has fallen on hard times due to political machinations. A previous employer within the royal family gives him a job as her granddaughter's secretary/tutor. Everything is going fine until his charge and his charge's brother are asked to return to court. Court is filled with villains who want to use the young royals to gain power and line their pockets with gold. These political intrigues would be potentially manageable for Cazaril, if this world did not also contain magic and fickle gods.

I really enjoyed this book. I did not know what to expect when I picked up this book, and I was pleasantly surprised. Although this book is in a fantastical realm, the crux of the book is political intrigue. I honestly did not know how everything was going to work out at times. I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the series.

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Sunday Update!

Because I am still on vacation, I don't have an update (no Internet = no blog). To feed the posting need, here is part 1 and 2 of the fabulous Bee and PuppyCat series on Cartoon Hangover. You are welcome. :)

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