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Happy New Year of Reading!

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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By Mirah W. (mwelday)

I hope 2016 brought you many wonderful reading experiences and that you’re already gearing up for some great reading in 2017!

I read some really great books in 2016 and I’m already looking forward to another year of discovering new stories, characters, and authors.  Here are just a few of the books on my list for 2017:

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2
by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

2016 felt like the resurgence of Harry! I got this one for Christmas and I’m looking forward to reading it since it doesn’t look like I’ll make it to London to see the stage production!

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

I’m a little late to the Miss Peregrine’s party. I should have read this book way before now!  It is on my bookshelf just waiting for me.

 

Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me
by Ron Miscavige

I read Troublemaker and Beyond Belief in 2016, both autobiographies about escaping the clutches of Scientology. I find the topic fascinating and look forward to reading more.

Where the Dead Lie
by C. S. Harris

I love the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series and the next installment comes out in April 2017. What will Sebastian and Hero get into next? I’m sure this book will be devoured quickly!

Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty

I love this author and have been making my way through her books. Big Little Lies has gotten a lot of recommendations from friends so I’m excited to get to it.

Petty: The Biography
by Warren Zanes

Tom Petty is one of my favorite musicians and I am really interested in reading this biography. I just hope I don’t learn anything that taints how I feel about Tom!

 

These are just a few of my picks for 2017.  What do you want to read in the coming year?  Share your picks in the comments and let’s share some ideas!

Happy New Year of Reading!

 

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Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 4th, 2016

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IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Read Across America Day!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

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NEA’s Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

– Dr. Seuss

 

What better day is there to share some photos from our recent Books for Schools donation campaign. Our generous PaperBackSwap Members know how important it is to share books with each other. And how important it is to share books with children.

This year, through the help of our Members, we shared 12,500 books with elementary schools across the country. From an inner-city school in Queens, NY to an rural school in Oklahoma, from a school on the Western Bank of the Hudson River in New York to West Bank of the Mississippi in Louisiana, from Texas to Georgia to New Jersey, to Florida we were able to share books with students who may not ever had had a book of their own.

Thank you PBSers for your generous donations of PBS Credits and PBS Money. You make this possible!

 

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President’s Day 2016

Monday, February 15th, 2016

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln  

 

Some President themed books available to order from other members here at PaperBackSwap

 

 

 

The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln

 

The Wit and Wisdom of the American Presidents

Profiles in Courage

Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President

The President of the United States of America

Gargoyles and Grotesques – Halloween Musings

Friday, October 30th, 2015

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Happy Hallowen by Cheryl G. (Poncer)

I have always been fascinated by Gargoyles and Grotesques, those stoic stone monuments guarding buildings and cemeteries day and night, night and day. My fondness has resulted in friends taking photos of the creatures they discover and send me the photos. Like the one above by fellow member Pat L. (PitterPat), took on a photo tour of Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

It was previously thought that gargoyles came into being in the 13th century, when Gothic Architecture was just beginning. But there is evidence that ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Egyptians used Gargoyles on buildings, too.  Originally, Gargoyles were mere water spouts, a way to divert rain water away from buildings and their foundations. So the true definition of a gargoyle is a decorative water spout. Grotesques are purely decoration, with no practical purpose but to scare away evil spirits.

It is believed the Catholic Church used gargoyles and grotesques as a way to spread their theology to the mostly illiterate pagan population. After all, a picture paints a 1000 words.

Whether a gargoyle or a grotesque, sometimes called chimera, this art form is fascinating to me.

And a quick search through books currently posted and available for swapping gave me a plethora of choices. Below are some books relating to Gargoyles.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide–for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.

A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life–and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne’s care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete–and her time on earth will be finished.
3.9 stars, based on 78 ratings of PaperBackSwap members

 

 

In the Shadow of the Gargoyle
Nancy Kilpatrick (Editor), Thomas S. Roche (Editor)

For centuries, they have watched over us. Leering from the arches and peaks of ancient cathedrals. Spreading their wings across hallowed doorways. Even decorating our homes in stony, silent elegance. Are they angels or demons? Sacred or profane? In the Shadow of the Gargoyle features fifteen original stories and two classic tales of the legendary gargoyle. The contributors range from bestselling masters to the hottest newcomers — award-winners, artists, musicians, and, yes, gargoyle collectors. Each of them experts at drawing blood from a stone… Contributors include:* Harlan Ellison * Neil Gaiman * Katherine Kurtz * Brian Lumley * Jane Yolen * Charles L. Grant * John Mason Skipp * Nancy Holder * Alan Rodgers * Lucy Taylor * Jo Clayton * Don D’Ammassa * Christa Faust * Robert J. Harris * Brian Hodge * Caitlin R. Kiernan * Marc Levinthal * Melanie Tem * Wendy Webb
3.8 stars, based on 3 PBS Member’s ratings  (this one is currently on the way to me!)

 


Song of the Gargoyle by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
A strange sound awakens thirteen-year-old Tymmon  in the dead of night. In a blink of an eye his  father, the court jester of Austerneve, is  mysteriously kidnapped and the terrified boy must slip away  secretly to avoid capture  himself. — Hiding in the dreaded forest nearby, Tymmon is adopted by a huge, furry, dog-like creature–a  gargoyle–who has the loyalty of a dog and the fearsome  powers of an enchanted  being.
Together, hungry, the two make their way to town, where Tymmon earns a living by playing his flute and learns to be happy. At least as happy as he can be  without his father. Will he ever find a way to  rescue him and be with him again?
3.7 stars, based on 3 ratings

 


St Patrick’s Gargoyle by Katherine Kurtz
From his perch high above the bustling Dublin streets, a gargoule named Padraig keeps watch over his beloved city. It was once beautifully elegant, brilliantly sacred. But now something has changed. He can feel it… — On a bitterly cold December night, vandals break into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Paddy melts into the darkness in search of revenge-but nothing could have prepared him for the evil that descends when he finds it…
3.6 stars, based on 27 ratings

 

 

 

Geis of the Gargoyle by Piers Anthony
Since Xanth began, the gargoyles of that magical place have been under a magical compulsion to protect the purity of the Swan Knee River which flows in to Xanth from dreary Mundania. But recently the pollution from the outside world has grown ever greater, and young Gary Gar, latest in a long line of gargoyle guardians, is finding it ever more difficult to fulfill his responsibilities.

So Gary does what any sensible Xanth resident with a dire dilemma would do. He goes to see the Good Magician Humfrey, who sends him on a peculiar quest–to transform himself into human shape, tutor a precocious child with more than her share of wild magical talents, and find a philter which can restore the river to its previous pristine state.
4.1 stars, based on 110 ratings

 

And then there is this adorable children’s series by Philippa Dowding, but alas, none are currently posted. The Wish Lists aren’t very long though.

 

 

So here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween, and remember to look up. You never know when a gargoyle or grotesque may be looking down at you.

 

Banned Book Week 2015

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Each year the American Library Association compiles a list of books targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools across the county. The ALA says, “Banned Book Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read”.

Below is the list of the most challenged book of 2014. How many have you read?

The Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2014:

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

(Reasons for challenges: Anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying.”)

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

(Reasons: Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”)

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

This tender tale of two male penguins raising a baby penguin together is based on actual occurrences at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Of all the penguins around, Roy and Silo choose each other and spend all their time together: swimming, walking, and singing. They even make a nest with stones for eggs, and carefully tend to it, though nothing ever hatches. A watchful zookeeper places an abandoned egg in their nest, and the two joyfully hatch and raise Tango, their very own chick.
Illustrated with delicate watercolors, this touching story focuses on the wonderful diversity that can make up a family.

(Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homo-sexual agenda.)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove — a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others — who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

(Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues.”)

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

Ages 10 and up. — When young people have questions about sex, real answers can be hard to find. Providing accurate, unbiased answers to nearly every conceivable question, from conception and puberty to birth control and AIDS, It’s Perfectly Normal offers young people the real information they need now more than ever to make responsible decisions and to stay healthy.
Frankly written with nicely done cartoon-like illustrations. Plus there is a bird and a bee who have side dialogue that is delightful.

(Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it [to be] child pornography.”)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Written by Eisner Award-winning “Best Writer” Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and drawn by Harvey Award-winning “Best Artist” Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40) Saga is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation.

(Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This powerful first novel tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. Both transform the life of Amir, the privileged young narrator, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country’s revolution and its invasion by Russian forces. But political events, even as dramatic as the ones that are presented in The Kite Runner, are only a part of this story. Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence, forces that continue to threaten them even today.

(Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Standing on the fringes of life…offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

(Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation.”)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen. — For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse. — For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.
On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.
A Stolen Life is my story — in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

(Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.)

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of SMILE, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!
(Reasons: Sexually explicit.)

Memorial Day 2015

Monday, May 25th, 2015

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As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

 – John F. Kennedy