Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty... A Review

A smart, addictive treat! It's not just "The Husband's Secret" we are pining for, it's all the secret's Liane Moriarty dangles in front of us that we want to discover! And it's the fabulous way Liane brings what seems to be three separate stories to a crashing halt together! 

One of my reading group members chose this book for us to read this month. I assumed that it was going to be a chick lit book, and that the premise of Cecelia Fitzpatrick finding a letter addressed to her, written by her husband and to be read upon his death sounded interesting... especially since her husband was "very much alive" when she found it. It seemed that the story would revolve around the question of whether Cecelia should "open the letter or not" now that she's found it and the results of that decision. Ah, yes, the letter... What deep dark secrets does that hold? But that "secret" is just the beginning! Yes, there is the letter and the "moral" decision, and that delicious dark secret, but the story takes such a turn from there that I absolutely could not put this book down. I was sucked into this story from say page 20 on... EVERYone has secrets! There is a murder, a mystery, jealousy, infidelity, and secrets, secrets, secrets!

I don't want to spoil all the fun, so let me just give you a little bit of the layout of the story... There are three "stories" here. First, Cecelia Fitzpatrick, the "perfect" wife, right down to her arrangement of Tupperware in the pantry, who married the wonderful John-Paul, from one of the wealthiest families in town and they have 3 wonderful children. Second, there is Tess, Will and Felicity. Tess and Will are married with a little boy and Felicity is Tess's cousin and closet friend. And lastly, there's Rachel, Grandmother of Jacob, and the mother of Rob who is married to Lauren. All three families have ties to the same town, all three families have an interesting story, and all three of these families are going to experience life altering changes because of one another. And just when you think that the story has reached its' climax, you'll be saying to yourself, "OMG!"

Liane Moriarty's writing is kind of light and airy, like you'd find in a good "Chick Lit" book. (I haven't really heard much about 'Chick lit' these days either, does it still exist?!). BUT, just when you think that the story will be a "light" read, the story teasing you along to a place you THINK it's going, Liane pulls the rug right from under you, and she doesn't stop there. This "light" read turns into such a great read with twists and turns that you wouldn't expect. A story much more complex then you'd think at its humble beginning. Definitely a book I would recommend to almost anyone who enjoys their fiction with a mystery and a bit of Tupperware mixed in! I will now be reading more of Liane Moriarty! This book was her debut novel, which became a #1 hit in the UK back in 2013. She now has 6 more books under her belt, one of which, Truly Madly Guilty, was published this year. Just make sure you put The Husband's Secret on your TBR list!!! 5 stars from this Chick!

*P.S. Something to keep in mind when reading The Husband's Secret... there are a lot of characters that Liane throws at you right from the start. With out any "formal" introductions, early chapters seem to jump right into the middle of a story that you don't know anything about, or the people that are involved. At first, I found it confusing and was trying to sort out who these people were. Eventually you'll see that there are three separate families and it will not seem confusing any longer. You'll be able to follow these "separate" stories seamlessly. Keep a list of characters if you need to at first, but don't let this "complication" deter you from the story. READ IT!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Banned Books Week... #1 Banned Book in 2006, 2007, 2008, & 2010... And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson...

Why was And Tango Makes Three Challenged?
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group.

What the story is about... It's the true story about 2 male penguins at the Central Park Zoo in NYC who enjoyed doing everything together, and when the time came they built a nest just like all the other Penguin couples, but they couldn't lay an egg. Eventually they are given an abandoned egg and raise this as their own. The chick that hatches is named Tango, because "it takes two to make a Tango". This book is one of the top banned books of all time, and it really makes me scratch my head. Can reading this book really change your child's sexuality? I view this book as a cute book about the love between the two penguins, and I'm not really viewing this as a book about homosexuality. Am I wrong?! It could teach children about tolerance. My library does carry the book, but I could not find it in any of my bookstores.

Sherri Machlin of the Mulberry Street Library wrote a wonderful post about the book being banned on the New York Public Library's Blog on September 23, 2013. Here is part of that post...

"Despite the happy ending to the tuxedo-adorned creatures tale, Tango challenged some Americans' ideas and assumptions about homosexuality, age-appropriateness of the material, and raised the thorny question about what makes a family. Since its publication by Simon and Shuster in 2005, And Tango Makes Three has topped the ALA's 10 Most Challenged Books List between 2006 and 2010.

Re-shelving the book was one way that libraries tried to get around the "problem" with Tango. Rolling Hills (Mo.) Library Director Barbara Read moved the book from the popular picture book section to the less-browsed non-fiction area when parents complained about the gay themes in the title. School Superintendent Edgar Hatrick III of Loudon, VA made a decision to move Tango from the Sugarland Elementary School to an area only accessible by parents and teachers after a parent complained about gay themes in the book. What helped Tango remain available in school and public libraries in some cases was the precedent set by the decision in Island Trees School District Board of Education v. Pico in 1981, which ruled that a Board of Education's decision to ban certain books from its school libraries violated First Amendment protections. The challenges against this book have been so profligate, Dr. Marta L. Magnuson, Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recently carried out a study analyzing the motives behind these various challenges to And Tango Makes Three, published in the journal School Library Media Research in January 2011. But if penguins can survive the brutal Antarctic winter, they can surely survive the challenges of access to And Tango Makes Three."  you can read the full post HERE.

Would you like to listen to the story? Here is Tracey Lai Thom reading and Tango Makes Three...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey... A Review

Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey, winner of the 2015 Moon City Poetry Award, delivers a whimsical look at our culture’s obsession with apocalypse as well as a thoughtful reflection on our resources in the face of disasters both large and small, personal and public. Pop-culture characters—from Martha Stewart and Wile E. Coyote to zombie strippers and teen vampires—deliver humorous but insightful commentary on survival and resilience through poems that span imagined scenarios that are not entirely beyond the realm of possibility. The characters face their apocalypses in numerous ways, from strapping on rollerblades and swearing to taking notes as barns burn on the horizon. At the end of the world, the most valuable resource is human connection—someone holding our hands, reminding us “we are miraculous.”

What Did I Think? Field Guide to the End of the World is not your grandmother's book of poetry. You won't be finding it in that dusty corner in the far recesses of your local library either. Jeannine Hall Gailey's poetry is fresh, lively, and opens your mind to the possibilities all around us. Jeannine takes the idea of the end of the world and creates amazing stories that just happen to be in the form of poetry. If the world was ending, what would you do? What would it look like? Who would be on your mind? I didn't know what to expect, but quickly found myself hooked. From Martha Stewart 's Guide to Apocalypse Living, where we read about Martha stockpiling drones and lemons, to Teen Girl Vampires wanting "to be loved and fed, in that order", I couldn't help but smile, but even though her wry sense of humor is evident in some poems, other poems are thought-provoking, such as this excerpt from Notes from Before the Apocalypse, where...
There was a halo around a gibbous moon. 
The horses all lay down in their fields. 
Children died in a school holding hands. 
Tornadoes right through the city centers ripped up everything we had built...
These poems are meant to be savored and I enjoyed reading them. This is what contemporary poetry should be and I dare anyone to sit down and not enjoy these poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey! I am so glad I got a chance to experience Jeannine Hally Gailey through her poetry thanks to Poetic Book Tours! 4 stars from this poetry reader! BTW, if you enjoy dystopian fiction you should enjoy this book of poetry too! Available from Amazon now!

About the Poet:

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as second poet laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of four previous books of poetry:Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, and The Robot Scientist’s Daughter. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily and NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, and included in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Banned Books Week... Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green... #1 Banned Book 2015

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

WHY? Challenge Looking for Alaska?...

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group; offensive language

Challenged in a Wisconsin school district's libraries due to sexual content (2014). Challenged in a New Jersey high school for mature content (2013). Removed from class reading lists in two Tennessee school districts due to sexual content (2012).

Personally I haven't read Looking for Alaska, so I can't comment on what the big deal is. I did read a small paragraph leading up to the "oral sex" part that caused all the controversy and can understand why some parents may not wish their child to read this. But we are talking high school kids, who I'm sure are pretty savvy when it comes to sex and drugs, or at least know more than some parents give them credit for (or want to acknowledge)And according to the author, John Green, just looking at the "passsage" itself, with no relation to anything else is what creates the problem.

“In context, the novel is arguing really in a rather pointed way that emotionally intimate kissing can be a whole lot more fulfilling than emotionally empty oral sex.”

Sharon Browning does a great review of Looking for Alaska on Litstack, and in her closing she writes...

"I asked my daughter – who has read every single John Green book ever written to date, despite reading being difficult for her – if she felt at all compelled to be like the kids in the book when she read it at age 14, and all she did was give me “the look”.  Later she told me that she can identify with a story, or even characters in a story, without needing to be those characters.  That goes for her friends, too.  And in fact, she told me, Looking for Alaska did more to warn her off risky behavior than entice her into following their example.

Sounds to me that John Green was right.  We need to shut up and stop condescending to teenagers when it comes to making assumptions about we think they should and can read.  Thankfully, that was the decision of the Depew School Board, when they voted unanimously to reject the challenge and allow Looking for Alaska to be taught in the 11th grade English class there." You can read the full review and commentary on Litstack.

In response to the challenges to Looking for Alaska, author John Green made this video...

Though I plan to read Drama for Banned Book Week this year, I am going to pick up a copy of Looking for Alaska to read also. If I don't get a chance to read it for this years banned book... there's always next year (or next week!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BAN THIS BOOK by Grant Snider...

Artist Grant Snider drew this wonderful cartoon for Banned Books Week in 2012. What a great comic and still relevant to Banned Books Week in any year! I want to thank Grant for giving me permission to share this with everyone on Chick with Books! You can find more of his work at You can even order a copy of this as a poster, HERE!

Monday, September 26, 2016

The "Drama" about Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, a graphic novel about the joys and tribulations of a middle school drama troupe, received universal critical praise upon its publication in 2012. The book received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Media, Booklist, and School Library Journal. It also made “best of the year” or Editors’ Choice lists in Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Booklist, and School Library Journal. Finally, it was nominated for a Harvey Award and was a Stonewall Honor Book.

Although most readers of all ages found Drama to be just as endearing and authentic as Telgemeier’s other books Smile and Sisters, a small but vocal minority have objected to the inclusion of two gay characters, one of whom shares a chaste on-stage kiss with another boy. Negative online reader reviews have accused Telgemeier of literally hiding an agenda inside brightly-colored, tween-friendly covers, but in an interview with TeenReads she said that while she and her editors at Scholastic were very careful to make the book age-appropriate, they never considered omitting the gay characters because “finding your identity, whether gay or straight, is a huge part of middle school.” from the CBLDF website  (That's the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)

Every year I read at least one banned book for Banned Books week. When I visited my local Indie bookstore and discovered that Drama by Raina Telgemeier was in that category I was surprised, but also excited because I had wanted to read this for a long time and this would be the perfect time. So... I'm reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier for Banned Book Week!

My opinion is that most kids are smarter than what some adults give them credit for and most challenged books are a problem more for the adults than the kids. It's important as a parent to be involved with your children, know what they are reading, talk with them and help guide them to what is appropriate (for them). What do you think?

Are you reading a Banned Book this week?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Banned Books Week!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post (a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer)! Every Sunday we set aside a little time to chat books, and this week is no different, with the theme being Banned Books! So, grab a cup of joe, find a comfy chair and let's talk books!

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 25−October 1, 2016

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Yes, it's the 21st century and still we have book burners and censorship. I think that the point here is that parents should be involved in what their children read and help them understand what they are reading, guide them in choosing appropriate material for their curious minds. BUT, let's not infringe on the reading rights of another child, whose parent may not wish to ban a certain book. Most banning and censorship takes place in the most accessible (and free) place to check out a book - a library! Let's not make reading a privilege. What do YOU think?!

"This year's Banned Books Week is celebrating diversity. While diversity is seldom given as a reason for a challenge, it seems, in fact, to be an underlying and unspoken factor. These challenged works are often about people and issues which include LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities—people or issues that, perhaps, challengers would prefer not to consider."

Here are the top 10 banned or challenged YA books for 2014-2015:

 1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
 2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
 3. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
 4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
 5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
 6. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
 7. Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
 8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
 9. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
10. Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

It seems that Banned Books Week has been taking on a theme, instead of just promoting the reading of all banned books. Last year was YA (Young Adult) Fiction, and I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (read my review), In 2014, the theme was comic books, and I read The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (read my review), which I loved. In 2013, I read a classic, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, incredible writing and totally not what I was expecting. And I spent a week with Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in 2009.

So, for this years banned books theme diversity, I am going to be reading a book challenged because it was deemed "sexually explicit". It's a graphic novel that has gotten starred reviews, wonderful praise and has been nominated for 2 awards. What book would that be??? It's on the top 10 banned books list above... and I'm going to reveal it TOMORROW!  Please come back tomorrow to find out! In the meantime...

What Banned Book Are You Going to Read?!?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett... A Review

I didn't know what to expect from Ann Patchett. I hadn't read anything by her before this book. There seemed to be a buzz in the air about a new Ann Patchett novel, and so I decided I would open the pages of this book for a brief look. What I found was wonderous! I was swept up into the story of these two ordinary families almost immediately and spent the next 50 or so years with them. At around page 182 I had an AHA moment and appreciated this story even more if that could even happen. What have I taken away from Commonwealth? That I love Ann Patchett, and that I loved this book!

Without giving too much of the story away, because that's the fun part to discover all a novel has to offer on your own, Commonwealth begins with a simple drunken kiss at a christening party that begins an affair, causes two divorces, two broken families, the unlikely bonding of 6 children, some of whom are related and trying to survive being ripped from their normal routine and trying to survive a tragedy that touched all their lives one summer long ago. Commonwealth follows all the characters through the ups and downs of trying to navigate life. You are reading it all in a book, which you discover is a book, and you can't help but feel something for each one of them. Empathy, hate, saddness and heartbreak, it's all there.

The writing is so inviting, I found myself not being able to put the book down even though I was just going to read a small bit to get a feel for Ann Patchett's writing style. I felt I was living through the story right along with these characters that were so well developed that they could just walk off the pages. And the story was so interesting right to the end. Each character had it's own voice and shared with us their point of view.

My initial thought was that this novel would be similar to The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, about a disfunctional family dealing with the everyday lessons of life and eachother. But Commonwealth is so much more than that and so much better. I would say that if you enjoyed The Nest, which I did, you will enjoy Commonwealth even more. If you enjoy literary fiction that revolves around the story of an ordinary family, just go out a pick up a copy of Commonwealth! It is moving and beautifully written.

Pulbished by Harper and released Sept. 13th.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Memoir Monday... American Heiress by Jeffrey Tobin

“On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.” The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing—the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon.
The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade.” 
Or did she?

The 70's was a crazy period of time, and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and her "radicalization" was headline news, and actually as I remember it was almost delivered as daily updates, and drew a lot of speculation as to whether or not Patty was a willing participant. Jeffrey Toobin's book, American Heiress, not a memoir, more of a good piece of investigative reporting, has gotten a lot of great reviews. On my TBR list, published by Doubleday and available now
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