General · reading

Banned Books Week 2012

Banned books week starts tomorrow, September 30 2012. It ends next Saturday on October 6, 2012.

There is even a youtube channel:

The point is to celebrate books that people want to ban. This year that list includes:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language; racism

The Hunger Games, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Brave New World and What My Mother Doesn’t Know appear on last year’s list, too. I suppose people felt threatened by them two years running.

I have only read Brave New World and The Hunger Games. For Hunger Games, the only reason I can understand is violence. The other reasons – anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic – baffle me. Occult? Satanic? I must have missed the occult and the satanic. Offensive language? I don’t remember any. At least not a lot. Anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity? I am baffled.

Also, as an aside, last year Hunger Games was challenged for: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence. Sexually explicit and unsuited to age group are no longer on the reasons list. I wonder if people suddenly decided it is suited to the age group? A little confusing . . .

People want to challenge Brave New World because of insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint and sexually explicit. There is probably a certain amount of nudity in the book and I remember sex, too . . . but that’s doesn’t explain why people have banned it! If that was enough, the whole romance genre would be banned. And as for the others – insensitivity, racism, religious viewpoint – I don’t understand them at all.

The plan was to read a banned book this week, but I don’t know which. Truthfully, none of these books appeal. Anyway. Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a classic; I should probably read it at some point.

Book Review · reading

Book Review: Catching Fire

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. I read the first book a while ago, than read most of the third book and skipped the second entirely. Last week, I finished reading the second book.

In the aftermath of the first hunger games, Katniss and Peeta are both suffering from post-traumatic stress. Which only makes sense. Katniss is slowly realizing she’ll have to wed Peeta to stay alive and she doesn’t like the idea. Actually, I think she doesn’t like the idea of being forced to do something she hadn’t decided on doing.

There are lots of memorable parts in Catching Fire. The part where she learns she has to fight in the Hunger Games again. The part where she hangs a likeness of the evil president of the Capitol. (That was really good. LOL) The part where her wedding gown turns into a mockingjay bird’s plumage. See, that is something I would love see on the screen. The movie better not skip that scene. Watching Katniss and Peeta really fall in love. The speech she gives on tour to Rue’s people.

But the part that shocked was when Cinna was murdered. I don’t know why that hit me so hard. I wasn’t expecting him to die. Her family, yes, her friends, yes, I figured them to be fair game.

One of most often quoted rules of writing is to murder your darlings and nothing could hurt Katniss worse than to watch her family die. Her sister, Prim, in particular. Rue’s death in the first book was like a foreshadowing of Prim’s death, IMO. I mean, the number of times Katniss compared Rue and Prim, the number of times Rue reminded Katniss of Prim. I half-expected Prim to die in this book or at least come close to death.

Cinna, on the other hand, is a minor character. His death makes sense in the books. But it shocked me. Shocked me more on anything else in the books. But he turned her into the Girl On Fire. He turned her into the symbol of the rebellion. His death devastated me.

But Catching Fire was good. Really good. Catching Fire was better than both the first and second books. I read it faster than the Hunger Games, faster than Mockingjay. It is the best book in the whole series. That’s odd, because it is also a middle book and middle books are usually the weakest in a series.

It has a cliff hanger ending, but I didn’t mind since I had the next one at hand. Otherwise, I think I might have been a little upset. LOL


Changing Character’s History

So I just realized the major I’d chosen for my character’s college years was entirely wrong. Oh, it never felt right in that bone deep where you just know something is correct. It was the Romance Language program at Harvard, in case anyone was wondering. But I thought it would suit.

I realize now that it really doesn’t. I know more about his life and his passions than when I decided that (a year ago). Now I know a degree in the fine arts will suit him much better. It won’t affect his job much. But I thinking it will be a much better match for the rest of his life. In fact, it might make his work easier (it involves a fair amount of art-ish stuff.)

This is the third time I changed his major on him (first was lit and than law). But it feels right now. Really it does. It feels right in a way it didn’t before.

Fortunately, I haven’t mention it too many places, so changing it will be easier. Working other mentions of it in the text should be relatively straightforward, too.


Do you take notes while you read?

I just read this post on Should Be Reading where MizB says she takes notes while reading. Me, I don’t understand that at all. At least not while reading fiction and most non-fiction. I only ever took notes when I read books for class. Once, I was even inspired to highlight when reading a historical/economy/business book for the book-club. (But the book was on my kindle, so nothing was damaged.)

You see this book? I could never markup a book like this. Never.

I’ve never written in a book itself, not even for school. I took notes in my notebook and stuck them in between the books’ pages. It feels a bit sacrilegious to actually make notes in the book itself. I rarely even highlight anything and when I do, it’s only as a last resort.

It’s different with books on the kindle. There, I don’t mind if I highlight passages – doing so makes finding certain paragraphs easier. Faster than using the search function. Truthfully, I feel freer to highlight books in the kindle.  I feel like it damages the book less.

Which may be a silly reaction. Maybe not. Definitely not when it comes to library books and textbooks I intended to sell after the semester. But otherwise? Maybe being unwilling to mark up my books is silly.

The other thing I only took notes on books for school. It’s not something that comes naturally to me for pleasure reading. Never, for fiction books. Only occasionally for non-fiction. I suppose I associate all note-taking with school, which casts an unpleasant pallor over books I mean to read for fun.

fantasy · General · Writing

Perfect Way to Describe Clothing

I am reading Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh. It takes place in India. What part of India, I am not sure. But somewhere in India, somewhere close to the desert.

I am overjoyed. Nalini Singh has Indian characters, but I don’t think she’s ever set almost all of one story in India before.

I particularly enjoyed this line describing the traditional salwar gurta:

Though styles varied, the pants sometimes loose and sometimes tight; the tunics high-necked scooped, flaring out in a full skirt or cut neatly to the body; and most often worn with long, gauzy scarf, it was attire he’d seen many a time in this land, as common on laborers and servants as it was on courtiers. The difference was in the fabrics, the cut, and the depth of embellishment. It wasn’t unusual to see one of the court butterflies in a piece hand beaded with tiny pearls or where the embroidery had been created using fine threads of pure silver and gold.

This describes the salwar kurta pretty perfectly. This description is clearly meant for non-Indians. See, I read this and thought: perfect way to describe ethnic clothing. It references fashion, while also mentioning similarities across fashion and differences in price. And it does all that in three sentences.  Personally, I think that’s fantastic.

One reason it works because the POV character is not Indian; the scarf description, well, yeah, that’s how you would describe it for non-Indians. But that’s okay. It’s short and clear and fairly accurate. Plus, considering the location of the book and the female main character, it was necessary.

It’s stuff to keep in mind when I am writing – or rewriting, as the case may be – my own descriptions of clothes. I mean, in the fantasy worlds I make up, odds are good the clothes don’t actually exist anywhere. I will be making it up out of whole cloth, unlike here, but still. Something to keep in mind.


Writing Again


I am writing again. It feels good.

I finally seem to have exhausted the reading urge. Not completely; I am going to get the new Nalini Singh book soon. It came out today. (Sadly, it doesn’t star Bluebell. He’s a fiercely beautiful angel, if anyone cares.) But I don’t want to read to the exclusion of everything else.

So yesterday I opened the work in progress, read some dialogue and realized immediately that it could be better. Shorter. Sharper. I realized I didn’t actually need all the words I was using. It was a freeing discovery. Makes me feel like my weeks of non-writing weren’t a complete waste of time. Maybe I needed to absorb how other writers – writers I like! – do stuff.

Plus, my TBR list is a lot shorter.



Free Reads on Google Play


So I was searching through the books in Google Play. I went through various menus, Featured, Top Selling, New Arrivals in Fiction, New Arrivals in Non-Fiction, until I arrived at Top Free.

I expected this section to be filled with classics. That is, books whose copyright had expired, along with a few other, more recently published books. I was wrong.

Well, not completely. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells topped free books the list. There were a few other titles, too, that I didn’t recognize and could possibly be classics. (I am not an expert on the classics.)

No, mostly it was bonus stories from writers I’ve heard of. Patterson, Christine Warren, Jenna Black and others. Which surprises me. I didn’t get any and I suppose they are complete stories, just short. I usually go looking for those bonus short stories on the author’s website. A couple were more novella sized – around 100 pages. Google Play is probably a pretty good outlet for them, too.

Plus! There was also a whole free book by Jayne Ann Krentz.

I didn’t see a lot of a self-published books, which surprised me. At least none I recognized.