Podcast Episodes

Bibliophiles Anonymous #52 – Celebrate Banned Books!

Take a listen to our podcast episode for banned books week – it turned out to be a really good discussion.

Bibliophiles Anonymous

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In this week’s episode, the show takes a slightly more serious turn as Denise and Jess talk about the issues of book banning and censorship. We have certainly discussed this topic in the past and will continue to do so whenever we can because it is a topic that we both feel very strongly about. Needless to say, we are both very much opposed to banning books. In this episode, we discuss some books that have been challenged, especially The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Each of these books takes on a very serious topic, whether it’s racism, bullying, or sexual assault, and because of the way these issues are portrayed, these books provide valuable lessons. They should not be banned – they should be celebrated, which is what we are doing today.

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WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday for September 25th

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Halfway to the weekend! My weekend is going to be crazy, since I have my daughter’s birthday party (she’s going to be 9 OMG!!!) and writer’s group. But moving on . . .

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Three simple questions, three not-so-simple answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Where She Went by Gayle Forman, the sequel to If I Stay. I’m about half through – it’s another fairly short book. It’s pretty good so far, although nothing like what I expected. To be honest though, I had no idea what to expect, since it would have to be completely different from the first book.

What did you recently finish reading?

Recently finished reading If I Stay (obviously), but also Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. We did an episode of Bibliophiles Anonymous on that book this past weekend. You can listen to it here if you’d like.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m torn on this one. I assumed that I would read Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham, but when I went back to the library to pick up Where She Went, I also picked up Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier. This one has been on my GoodReads TBR for a long time now, plus it looks very Marion Zimmer Bradley-ish, which I would really like. I guess it just depends on whether I’m in the mood for something high fantasy or more contemporary.

There are my answers! Please leave yours in comments! Also, be sure to vote for the next part of Heritage – you can do so here.

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers and Top Tens – September 24th

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the lovely MizB at “Should Be Reading.” If you would like to play along, here are the rules:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is actually the entire first paragraph of the book I will start this afternoon – so a bit more than a teaser. It just really resonated with me.

Every morning I wake up and tell myself this: It’s just one day, one twenty-four hour period to get yourself through. I don’t know when exactly I started giving myself this daily pep talk – or why. It sounds like a twelve-step mantra and I’m not in Anything Anonymous, though to read some of the crap they write about me, you’d think I should be. I have the kind of life a lot of people would probably sell a kidney to just experience a bit of. But still, I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It’s a nice little reminder that even if someone looks like they have it all together, chances are they probably don’t. We all have problems. Some of us are just better at hiding them. 🙂

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Next up is Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish.” This week’s topic was a bit problematic for me – favorite sequels. What exactly constitutes a sequel? I read a lot of series, or at least trilogies. Would a sequel be the second book in the sequence? Or would book three be considered the sequel of book two? Am I overthinking this? (answer: of course I am, it’s what I do)

So for the sake of argument, these are my favorite book twos of a series. In no particular order, and without a lot of explanation, since I am running a little short on time this morning.

1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games trilogy)

2. Shadowflame by Dianne Sylvan (the Shadow World series)

3. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (the Mortal Instruments series)

4. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (the Shades of London series)

5. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (the Iron Fey series)

6. The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman (His Dark Materials trilogy)

7. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire series)

8. Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings (the Belgariad series)

9. Deadline by Mira Grant (Newsflesh trilogy)

10. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (the Gemma Doyle trilogy)

There are probably dozens more I could add to that list, but those are all great ones. Please leave your posts in comments!

Heritage · Writing

Heritage – Part 10

A quick note – or actually, just a question. I’ve noticed a drop in participation in the polls for the Heritage posts. Has the interest in this story completely fallen off? Does anyone want me to continue with it, or find another feature to do with my Monday posts? Please give me your thoughts. In the meantime, here’s the next bit of the story.

* * * * *

Heritage Icon

Minellye was nothing like Noshli expected.

Instead of tall, elegant elven features, Minellye looked very similar to Noshli herself. Was she also a half-breed? Noshli couldn’t think of another reason. Minellye’s elven features were still prominent – pointed ears, silvery eyes that seemed to glow softly in the dim light, white blond hair that fell nearly to her waist. But instead of the usual willowy build of an elf, Minellye was nearly the same height as Noshli. Come to think of it, Gimlineth wasn’t quite as tall as a full blooded elf would be, although he was taller than his sister. Noshli wondered if their half-breed status was part of what led to their banishment, but shook her head. She didn’t want to think of her father’s people being that ruthless. It meant nothing good for her future.

A future which would include trying to calm down one very angry elf.

Minellye glared at them from the door to the apartment. Althea took a step back, but Noshli pulled her to stay with her. It was obvious that Minellye’s anger wasn’t directed at them, but at her brother. “A word,” she said, grabbing his arm and hauling him into the room. Turning back to Noshli and Althea, she said, “Please give me a moment to speak to my brother.” The door snapped shut.

“Should we try to listen?” Althea asked.

“I wouldn’t,” Noshli said. “She doesn’t seem the type to mess with.”

“You’re right about that.”

Whatever Minellye had to say to her brother, it was brief. After a few minutes, in which Noshli hadn’t heard a thing from beyond the door, the door swung open again. “Please forgive my rudeness,” Minellye said. “You are welcome here. My brother says that you are friends who might be able to help us.”

“Friends may be a bit of an exaggeration,” Noshli said, with a hard look at Gimlineth. “You have information we need, and we have skills that can assist you. A mutual partnership.”

“Of course,” Minellye said. “Have a seat. We seem to have a lot to discuss.” She stepped further into the sitting room to where a small table and chairs sat next to a fireplace. As she took a seat, the firelight illuminated her arms, which were dotted with dark bruises. Noshli looked closer, but halted at the expression on Minellye’s face. “It’s nothing,” Minellye said. “An occupational hazard, if you will. I hardly notice it anymore. And with your help, I may not have to worry about it anymore.”

“I can’t guarantee anything,” Noshli said quickly, taking a seat and gesturing for Althea to do the same. Gimlineth did not sit, but chose to stand behind his sister’s chair.

“Understood,” Minellye said. “But you agreed to try, and that’s more help than we’ve had before.” She looked closely into Noshli’s eyes. “You have a great deal of power, don’t you.”

“I . . . I guess so,” Noshli said. “I haven’t spent much time around elves, so I don’t have anything to compare it to.”

“No, I can see it,” Minellye said. “You have more than I used to, that’s for certain. And way more than Gim ever had.”

Noshli glanced up at Gimlineth to see his reaction to Minellye’s claim, but his eyes remained impassive. “I have a question for you both,” she said. “You’re both half-breeds, aren’t you?”

“We are,” Gimlineth said. “It isn’t as noticeable with me, physically anyway. It’s part of why I have next to no magic at all. Minellye inherited magic, but fewer physical elven traits, much like yourself. Trust me, if I had magic on my side, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

“And my magic has been waning ever since Nadine tricked me,” Minellye said, her face darkening. “I didn’t have that much to begin with, but then once she took the necklace . . .” Her voice trailed off. “It was all I had of my mother’s. She was sent away once they discovered that she was carrying a human’s child. Once she found out she was carrying twins, she convinced the clan to take us in. They weren’t happy about it, but they did it. We did the best we could to fit in, but it was never easy.”

“Why were you banished?” Althea asked.

“That is none of your business,” Gimlineth said quickly. “And that’s enough history for tonight. You agreed to help us in exchange for information on Naleniehl’s whereabouts, yes?”

“We did,” Noshli said. “Are you sure you know where to find him?”

“The clan travels to five different locations during the course of the year,” Minellye said. “They move with the seasons, usually twice during the summer. Always to the same places. We can tell you where they are now, and where they will be in three months.”

“Truly?” Noshli whispered. It was almost too good to be true.

“Truly,” Minellye smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She looked exhausted. “Naleniehl is your father, yes?”

“He is.”

“Then he will help you,” Minellye said. “It would be dishonorable not to. Now, to the matter at hand. We need a plan to get you into the brothel so you can retrieve the necklace. Nadine keeps it in a chest in her private chambers. The chest is locked, of course. I’ve tried to pick the lock, but nothing has worked. If I still had my magic, I would be able to open it easily, so I assume you will be able to as well.”

“Probably,” Noshli said. “I don’t make a habit of picking locks, but I could probably figure it out.” She tapped her finger on the table, tracing the grain of the wood. “The easiest way to get in would be to ask her for employment.”

“What!” Althea said. “You can’t be serious!”

“We’re not really going to do anything,” Noshli said. “You remember how much she loved your hair? And how she kept staring at me? She’ll take us on.”

“I, well, I suppose . . .”

“You can go back home if you wish,” Noshli said. “You don’t need to stay. I would understand.”

“No,” Althea said, her voice becoming stronger. “I can do this. I will stay and help.”

“Very well,” Minellye said. “Arranging to see Nadine will be easy. Once you are hired, let me know and I’ll show you where the necklace is.” She held out her hand. “Are we agreed?”

Noshli didn’t hesitate. After so long, she finally had a clear plan and a clear path to her father. “Agreed.”

Books I've Read

Book Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Another weekend book review! There’s a very good reason why I need to do better with book reviews. I read this book back in July, and because it’s been a while, I’m having a hard time thinking about what I want to say about it. I think that’s why I’ve jumped ahead with some of my other reviews (like Bitterblue, which I obviously finished way after this one). Oh well. One day I will get organized.

Yeah right. And then the world will come to an end. But I digress. 🙂

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Today’s review is on Mind Games by Kiersten White. I was very happy to pick this up on one of those Kindle weekend sales. I had seen several other blotters review it and the opinions seemed pretty mixed. Which makes sense, because my opinion was pretty mixed as well.

This is the story of two sisters, Sophia (usually just called Fia) and Annie. They were orphaned at an early age and end up living at a school for children with special abilities. Annie is blind – physically, at least, because she does have these visions that give her glimpses into the future. Fia also has paranormal abilities, but they are harder to describe. Basically, she has amazing instincts. She can look at a situation and immediately be able to see a solution to it. She can do anything from picking the correct stocks in the Stock Market, to getting away with murder.

Keane, the headmaster of the “school” wants to use Fiat’s abilities, and he isn’t willing to take no for an answer. He keeps Annie hostage, knowing that Fia will do anything to protect her sister. Fia becomes a very broken, cynical person because of this situation, until one day she is sent to kill a young man who she can’t bring herself to kill. Against her better judgment, she helps him escape.

Fia and Annie are trapped, surrounded by people with the ability to read minds or emotions. Any plans they make to get away from Keane would be immediately found out and quashed. The plot thickens when Keane’s son, James, enters the picture. He claims that he wants to help Fia, but Fia doesn’t really trust anyone anymore. Add to that an outside conspiracy trying to come after Keane and his school, and the situation gets even murkier.

The main problem that I had with this book was that I kept getting confused. The plots kept twisting and twisting. The point of view switches not just between Fia and Annie (both told in first-person), but it also jumps around time wise. There were times while reading that I wasn’t sure what was going on and I’m sure there were connections I should have made that I just missed. However, this is one that I will make time to read again, because I did really like the characters. I wanted to see how Fia and Annie were able to escape the system, if they were able to at all. Their devotion to one another is beautiful, yet complicated, especially given how psychologically broken Fia has become. Annie is the only one she is able to trust, yet at the same time, she is resentful of always having to be the strong one.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but it will definitely take at least one more reading in order for me to get everything out of it. The sequel, Perfect Lies, is scheduled to come out in February (according to GoodReads) and I will probably pick it up. I’m curious to see where this goes.

Also, if you don’t already, go ahead and follow Kiersten White on Twitter (@kierstenwhite). She’s adorable!

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King

This is the last of the ARC’s that I needed to review. Whew!  Now I can slack off for a bit (but I probably won’t – y’all know me by now!).

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A couple of things before we begin. First, I have to say that this is not the usual thing I read. Second, I did not read the first book in this series, which is called Touchstone. According to GoodReads, these are supposed to be two standalone books, but I think it probably would have been helpful to know more about the character’s back story in order to enjoy this one. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but . . . well, you’ll see.

The Bones of Paris is the story of Harris Stuyvesant, an American private detective living in Paris in the late 1920’s. He is hired to find Phillipa Crosby, a young woman who was living in Paris but hasn’t been in contact with her family. They want to make sure that she is okay. In a twist of fate, Harris had a fling with Phillipa (who he calls Pip) a few months back. He takes the job, but soon realizes that it will be a lot harder than he thought.

It is clear from the beginning that Pip did not just disappear or take a trip without telling her parents – she was murdered. As Harris investigates further, we find out that Pip was involved with a group of artists who celebrate the violent and grotesque. There’s Man Ray, a photographer who Pip modeled for, who had a fascination with the large burn scar on Pip’s side. There’s Didi Moreau, an artist who likes to use bones in his work, some of them human. And then there’s Charmentier, a patron of these forms of art, including the Grand-Guignol theater, which puts on horrific plays and comedies.

While Pip was known to have dealings with all three men, and many others who associate with them, Harris runs into dead end after dead end. Everyone seems to remember Pip, but no one knows where she has gone. The story gets even more complicated when an old lover, Sarah Gray, enters the story as the newly hired assistant to Charmentier. Sarah’s brother Bennett is soon called in to help, since he has a gift of intuition that almost seems psychic due to a near death experience in the war.

The main complaint I had with this book is that the first part moves very, very slowly. Not that it’s boring by any means, but there is a lot of plot and setting to set up. King has done her homework – the images of Paris in 1929 are very visual and very well done. It was also really nice to see people like Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter, both of whom were known to frequent Paris during this time period. It gave the book a nice sense of realism and validity. However, there is a LOT of Harris wandering around showing people a picture of Pip and not getting very far. True, a lot of private detectives have this exact same experience, but it felt like it went on for a really long time.

I will say that the last third of the book was incredibly gripping, and while the main bad guy was not a surprise, the means he uses and the reasons behind them are chilling, scary, and very well done. I would re-read this for the ending alone, because it is fabulous. I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t decided if I want to go back and read Touchstone, but I haven’t ruled it out either. It might help me understand Harris’s behavior in places and I would like to hear more of Bennett and Sarah’s stories. If I do read it, be sure that it will be reviewed here!

So if you like a creepy, thrilling mystery set in an exotic and dangerous place, be sure to check this one out.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday for September 18th

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

I’m actually taking a little bit of a break, shockingly enough. I still have a lot of reviews to catch up on and don’t really want to read anything new until I get caught up, or at least close to caught up. That doesn’t mean that I’m not reading though – I’ve decided to indulge a bit and re-read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’ve been wanting to re-read it ever since I finished it, so now is a good opportunity. 🙂

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished re-reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. As you know, I really like that book. A lot. The podcast will be talking about it this weekend, so be sure to check that out. Or you can check out the review I wrote a while back. Link is here.

I also recently finished If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Actually, I read this book in one sitting last Saturday. It’s been a while since a book has done that to me. Luckily it’s not a terribly long book. It was also really good, so expect a review at some point.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I need to go to the library, since I just found out that my library card expired. Who knew they could do that? If I can make it to the library, then I will read Where She Went by Gayle Forman, the sequel to If I Stay. If I can’t get to the library, then it will be Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. Or I might do another re-read of something while I try to get caught up. So lots of possibilities here.

Be sure to leave your WWW in comments! And don’t forget to vote for the next part of Heritage! Link is here!