Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall-Catch-Up-Read-a-Thon: Mini Challenge - Banned Books

I'm participating in the Fall Catch-Up-Read-a-Thon hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict.  It goes through Sunday and has no particular rules - it's just to help us get caught up on our reading.  Today Michelle offered a mini-challenge and it's one I gladly accept.  To see the challenge and read others' posts go here.

For the challenge we are to go to the ALA site and in honor of Banned Books Week, pick a book we have read, and talk about it.  So I did that - I chose the ones by decade and chose this past decade and came up with several I have read, but found the one I wanted to talk about.

By the way - I absolutely love that logo and the sentiment.  With all the craziness going on about Speak right now, I think we need to remember that we each know how to think and make our choices and we don't need others to make them for us!  My thoughts on Speak are this - I haven't read it - but I will make a point to read it and form my own opinions, I have read some of Laurie Halse-Anderson's other books and loved them and expect to do the same with Speak.  I hope others will do the same and form their own opinions as well. 

On to my choice:

Gossip Girl #1: A Novel (Gossip Girl Series) You Know You Love Me: A Gossip Girl Novel All I Want Is Everything (Gossip Girl, 3)I Like It Like That: A Gossip Girl Novel 

Pick a book - any book  - it's the Gossip Girl series.  I will quickly admit that this series is one of  my guilty pleasures. I will admit I am definitely not in the target age group for this series but I love it.  I have never been to New York, did not grow up rich, did not party like this crowd or cut class or drink as much, but I love the series.
Do I understand why it is on the ALA list?  Sure - the books are full of drinking, drug use, sex and general habits we don't want our teenagers (thinking as a parent) to have.  Do I want it banned.  No way - I believe in freedom of speech and expression and don't believe these books hurt anyone.  I think most teenagers will get how over-the-top this crowd is.  It's just meant for a pleasure reading, what I call brain candy.  It's definitely not "soft porn" either, since those seem to be the words for the day with the young adult books.  The sex happens, but there are no real details.  Does this make it morally right - no, but it's called Gossip Girl and the back blurbs make it obvious what goes on in the books, there are no surprises when you read them.

I believe all parents should be involved in what their kids read and should be aware of the content.  Do I think they should censor everything.  No - I actually think books like these make great jumping off places for conversations with kids.  What is wrong about what the kids do in this book? What makes the kids like everyday kids even though they are rich and live a different lifestyle?  These make great conversation starters with teenagers.  And finally it just goes back to the fact that this is fiction - it's not telling kids how to act - it's there for enjoyment.  The shows on tv are much worse than this book and most adults don't censor those, so why censor the books - at least the kids are reading and that is what I think is most important.  Reading gets you thinking and thinking is a great thing to do.

Have you read any of the Gossip Girl books?  Do you think they should be banned?

My Gossip Girl book reviews (I have read all but the prequel in this series but somehow fell behind on the reviews):

Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement 
The Replacement
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: September 21, 2010
Hardcover, 352 pages
Young Adult Paranormal

My Review:
Why I read this:  The cover, the blurb, the talk around the blogs, all made me want to read this, did I mention the cover?

How is the novel driven:  Since I started doing this as a part of my review, I've realized some books are really hard to decide.  This was plot-driven, yet character-driven as well since it's about Mackie learning about himself and his world.  So I would say a great balance of both.

My thoughts: Unfortunately this one did not live up to the hype for me.  I really really wanted to love it, but I come out only liking it.  I expected it to enthrall me from the beginning, but it really didn't pick up until about 100 pages in for me, then it was great for about 100 pages then it was just back to so-so.  I don't want to feel this way about the book at all - I feel it should be outstanding, but it really just fell flat for me.  And I am probably the only person out there that feels this way.

I think part of the problem for me is this was trying to be a deep book with messages, too many messages for me.  I think from the cover I just wanted a suspenseful, horror-type book.  Re-reading the back copy I see what the book was going for and the cover deceived me.  I am not faulting anyone for this - this was my own fault.

I did enjoy the book, just not as much as I expected.  Mackie was an interesting character and I enjoyed the storyline.  It's worth a try if it sounds like a good book for you, just read the cover copy and make sure  you understand what the book will be about.  I don't want to turn readers off to it at all, because I honestly think it was just me.  Others I believe will really get this book and love it.

Truthfully the story was just flat, it seemed a little bit unfinished.  It seemed like the author was trying to go somewhere with it and got there, but just didn't get there in a complete way.  I'm not really sure how to explain it.  I believe the author has great potential, the writing is well-done, there was just something lacking for me personally.

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Have you read it?  Feel differently?  Feel the same?  Please let me know.

Here are some additional reviews:
Alexia's Books and Such
Pure Imagination
YA Highway
Reading Angel
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Squeaky Books
Reading Teen

About the Book:
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

About the Author:
Brenna Yovanoff is a debut author who has published in various journals. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

Her Website
Her Blog

FTC Information: I received this book through 1-ARC Tours for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.