2016 Banned Books Week

So it is Banned Books Week. Every year hundreds of complaints are filed against books for a variety of reasons. Concerns about racism, political views, nudity, or homosexuality etc. are used to challenge a books status on the shelf at the library. Once a complaint is filed, a committee reviews the book then decides if the book should be banned or removed from shelves. It is that simple.  

Per the ALA.org (American Library Association) website, Banned Books Weeks is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Highlighting the value of free and open access to information. This week brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read and to express ideas that some consider unorthodox or unpopular. 

Looking for Alaska by John Green was the number one banned book of 2015. This book was banned for offensive language, being sexually explicit, and unsuited for (YA) age group. Followed by Fifty Shades of Grey at #2. Even The Holy Bible is #6 on this list for religious views. 

This is my choice to read for banned books week this year. Are you participating? If so, what banned book did you choose? 


BOOK TOUR: Until Summer Ends by Elana Johnson

**I was given an advanced copy of this book to review**

Title: Until Summer Ends
Author: Elana Johnson
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Print Length: 312 pages
Publisher: Cleis Press

Summary:Sophie Newton is determined to prove herself to her father, who insists she could never run a successful business. She opens a beachside taco stand called The Sandy Tortilla and plans to make her own way, one burrito at a time.

When she loses her summer help, Sophie rushes to find somebody to help take orders. She finds that somebody in Montgomery Winters, a struggling actor from LA. Mont takes the job; the money's useful, though he finds that his curvy boss is what really keeps him around.

As Sophie and Mont work together, they discover an intense attraction between them. But when Mont's agent calls him about a career-making audition, he decides he must pursue the opportunity, even though he can't get Sophie out of his head. Now, Sophie must choose between chasing after the man she's falling in love with and the business she's fought so hard to build.

My Review: Let me start by saying I have a love/hate relationship with romance novels. I'm way too impatient, in the background yelling, "Kiss her already!" That being said this was a very sweet book. I enjoyed every moment of it and the impatient reader in me couldn't put it down wanting to get to that moment where they finally do kiss and fall in love and live happily ever after. I was into the dramatic moments and conflicts begging the characters not to let it ruin their potential romance. To me, that makes for a great book. I was invested in their story from the beginning.

I really liked Sophie and I completely understood her, her motivations and her fears. She was coming from heartbreak and nervous about stepping in a new situation but feeling the attraction to Mont. I've been there. And Mont was lovable from the beginning. I thought something more was up with him and the whole name thing. I felt there could have been more just to give him a little more depth but he was all and all a good guy. The perfect guy to meet following a heart break. I like that the story wasn't just about romance and love but following your dreams and how much you are willing to give up for the one you love.

This book is a perfect summer read. It is set on the beach and all I could think about was how great it would be to be on the beach reading this book enjoying the sun and the surf like the characters. Not to mention, I couldn't stop thinking about tacos. 

I highly recommend this book for a light, feel good read. This is the first book I've read by Elana Johnson and I will definitely check out some of her other novels.

Buy Links:

Paperback comes out on May 9, 2017.

About Elana Johnson: Elana's work includes the young adult dystopian romance seriesPossession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster). Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available, as well as a young adult dystopian short story in the Possession world, Resist.
Her newest release is the beginning of a new adult fantasy series. ECHOES OF SILENCE came out with Amazon Publishing on May 3, 2016. See all of her books here.
Elana also writes inspirational western romances under the pen name Liz Isaacson. Check out all 5 books in the Amazon #1 Bestselling Three Rivers Ranch Romance series, and get ready for the rest of the series by the end of 2016.

Her newest release is UNTIL SUMMER ENDS, a contemporary romance novel from Cleis Press/Start Media.

Find her online:
Join her romance-only newsletter: http://eepurl.com/b9f1vv (get a free novella when you do!)

Giveaway for the blog tour: Kindle Paperwhite. Direct people to this website: http://elanajohnson.com/giveaways/paperwhite (Enter yourself too!)


BOOK TOUR: By The Stars by Lindsay B. Ferguson

**I was given an advanced copy of this book to review**

Title: By The Stars
Author: Lindsay B. Ferguson
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc

Summary: When Cal finally gets a chance with Kate, the girl he's loved since grade school, their easy friendship quickly blossoms into a meaningful romance. Spirited and independent, Kate keeps a guarded heart due to a painful past, and Cal wants nothing more than to gain her trust. But World War II soon cuts their time far too short, and Cal prepares to part from her - possibly for good. After he's gone, what Kate does next changes everything. 
In the suffocating jungles of the Philippines Cal encounters the chilling life of a soldier and deadly battles of war. With Kate's memory willing him on, Cal must put his trust in God to survive if he hopes to ever return to her. 

My Review: This book totally surprised me. The fact that is was inspired by a true story made it that much more touching. Cal's story is interesting alone, his mission work, his family farm life, his fight to survive during World War II then you add the romantic aspect with his interest in Kate. Their story was amazing. It wasn't typical. Of course, you know they have to end up together from the first introduction but their journey wasn't easy. 

I was intrigued by all the detail of Cal's time in the Philippines and serving in the war. Lindsay did a great job transporting the reader to that time and the emotions a soldier feels during war. The comradery between him and the other soldiers, reading the letters that him and Kate write back and forth make you feel like you are really there with Cal. However, I love the fact that Kate was always on his mind. From the beginning to the end, even when they weren't together. 

This book had the feel of a Nicholas Sparks novel. All the feels. It is clean so any age could enjoy this book. Overall, it is a great coming of age story dealing with young romance, strength in faith, and overcoming hardships. 

About the Author
LINDSAY FERGUSON has been immersing herself in stories since her childhood days of sneaking a flashlight into her room and staying up reading The Babysitters Club series way past her bedtime, writing spinoffs of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and imagining herself in fascinating, far-off places. She still dreams of traveling the world one day, and finds getting lost in a good book almost as absorbing as penning her own stories and experiencing them unfold. A Communication graduate from the University of Utah, she worked as a PR and marketing writer for a computer software company for several years before resigning to focus on raising her family. She has also contributed lifestyle articles to various media outlets. When she felt the itch to attempt novel writing a fascination with history created a natural inclination toward historical fiction, with a romantic flare, of course. She lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City with her husband and four children. By the Stars is her first novel.



BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Print Length: 488 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Summary: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

My Review: I LOVED LOVED LOVED (did I say LOVED) this book! I almost didn't read it. All the reviews I read on Goodreads about this book were split down the middle. It either got 5 stars or 1 star. People either LOVED LOVED it (like me) or Hated it. Personally, I enjoyed this book immensely.

First, the way Alexandra writes is beautiful. She is so descriptive. I mean, down to every detail. I could see the whole scene and characters with such detail it was more like watching a movie then reading a book. She has a poetic flow to her writing that kept me interested from page one.

Second, the story and the characters were so interesting. Like I said before I was hooked from page one. And for the first time in a while I found myself really feeling for the characters. I love Ruby's strength and attitude. In the beginning, yes she is a little soft but who wouldn't be. Anyways, Ruby and Liam and Chubs and Zu. All of them. I wanted to reach in the book and make things good right for them so bad. BTW The idea of the powers that these kids had were amazing.

There were certain areas that moved a little slow for me (her first few interactions with the Slip Kid) but as I continued reading I understood why those moments were there and the picture she was painting. Although, it was a little slow it was necessary to understand his character and how everyone saw him.

Anyways, I couldn't stop reading this book. I wanted to do nothing but read, read, read all day. Once I got to the end I slowed down because I knew I didn't have the next book and I hate to wait. I ordered the next two books. If you like YA dystopian novels you will love this book! Promise. 


Are you a speed reader?

Image from karosu-maker.deviantart.com
I just realized that my book, The Darkest Mind, is due back to the library by tomorrow and I can't renew because there is a waiting list. I am current on page 90 of 488 pages. So I need to read about 400 pages in two days.

Can I do it?

I don't think I've ever read that much that fast. Other bloggers/vloggers list the number of books they read a week, a month and I'm like how. Am I a slow reader? How do you read 100 books a year? That's like two books a week? I don't get it. Is there a trick to it?

Anyways, I really want to finish this book. I could order it or go to the store and find it but right now I am planning to try to push through 400 pages in two days. Whew! My eyes are already tired but I accept the challenge!


Abandoned Books

This picture makes me feel so sad BTW.
Did you know that there is a such thing as the most popular abandoned books list? Who knew. That's awful if you think about it. As an author I'm sure you want to be a part of a list. However, I doubt you would want to be the #1 book that people stopped reading.

Unfortunately, my shelf is littered with books I began with good intentions. Books I started reading with gusto and just knew that I would fly through this amazing book with the amazing cover and I would love love everything about it. I would feel all the feels and have a favorite new novel. Every book begins this way.

To me, there is an excitement to purchasing a novel. Oh the possibilities! So how do books go from a world waiting to be explored to a sad, abandoned book collecting dust on the shelf. Personally, I have 3 reasons why this happens to me.

1. The SLOOOOOOOW Starter:  
I have learned in my many years of reading that I have to plow through the first 50 or so pages all at once. If I start a book and read a couple of pages then set it down, it tends to stay down. By page 50 or so if I'm not totally thinking about the characters next steps or what happened in the first 50 pages, there is a chance that I will not finish the book. When I'm not reading, the characters have to be on my mind. I must look forward to the spare time I will have throughout the day to get back to the story. This is detrimental to books that start slow. I understand building the scenes and making introductions but I need to feel something immediately about the main character. Whether its love or hate or worry, just something to keep them on my mind.

2. The Line Cutter: 
Poor books sometimes get skipped in line like kids at the water fountain. I've made the mistake of picking up another book, knowing that I am completely wrapped up in this other book, just to have the new book make me forget all about the first one. The new characters start to infect my thoughts then the old characters get dusty and forgotten. This has happened several times. I just mean to read a little to get a feel for it but it takes over my mind. I'm going through this right now with Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. We all know that Mr. King is an amazing author, his stories make you grip the edge of your seat and possibly give you nightmares but in my case two books jumped right in front of Mr. Mercedes. I still think about the crazy guy driving the Mercedes, mowing people down just not at much as the little 16 year old girl who just figured out she is orange instead of green.

3. She's Just Not That Into You:
Reading is my leisure activity, my way to escape and relax. Before I rarely put stipulations on my reading (like challenges or book clubs). I never wanted to be forced to read something in my spare time, I had enough of that in high school and college. If I'm not enjoying the book, I have a very VERY hard time forcing myself to finish it. I've tried. I've said self, now, you started this and you are going to finish it, then only to be distracted by a new release or pretty cover. I rationalize that if you aren't enjoying it why waste your time. Reading should never feel like a chore.

Anywhoo, so have you abandoned any books lately? If so, why? What causes you to put down a novel never to return? Or do you plan to come back to them? 

There is now an option on Goodreads to create your own list of books you have abandoned.

Also, check out this article on Most Abandoned Books and the Psychology Behind It: Business Insider: Most Abandoned Books


BOOK REVIEW: See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Title: See Me
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Print Length: 486 pages
Publisher: Grand Central 

Summary: See me just as I see you . . .

Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he's determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. With a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria's lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria's past begin to surface.

As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria's life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they've begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?

My  Review: So I have a crush on Nicholas Sparks, have since forever. When I need to read something set in a beautiful location (**I wish I could live in Wilmington in real life) that pulls and tugs all on my little hearts strings and makes me cry some, I look to Nicholas Sparks. He crafts novels that are easy to see unfolding in front of you. I always get wrapped up in his story. However, this one is a little different. For one, I don't think I shed one tear. Nope, not a one. Which is fine. Sometimes you want a love story where none of the main characters die or get cancer. I was surprised by this though. Both of the main characters stood so well independently. Typically, when novels alternate voices I tend to lean more towards one then the other but not with this book. Colin and his side of the story kept me just as interested as Maria and her side of the story. I enjoyed all the characters in this books. 

Secondly, the drama in this book was different then the other Sparks novels I've read. This had a suspense/who-dun-it element. It was kind of a downside to me just because of who actually ended up dun-it. I feel like he still could have kept the suspense/mystery but I really would have preferred more of Colin's life in that aspect. Whew, that was hard. I was trying to give my opinion without spoiling the story. I believe I was successful. Was I? Maybe not. There were touch and go moments when I was thinking, 'who's going to die?' 'Is he going to die?' 'Or will it be her?' That part of the suspense I loved. Everyone was in danger during this story at one point in time. Oh wait I just remembered, there was death in this book. Sigh. 

Anyways,  I thoroughly enjoyed this book except for that one little personal preference part. But it's Nicholas Sparks so I expected to enjoy this novel. And since almost all of his books become movies as soon as I started reading I was deciding who should play who in the movie. These are my picks:

John Cena as Colin

Of course John Cena is Colin. No one else came to mind while reading. His face is the only face I saw in my head the whole time. He fits perfectly physically with his big, rough wrestling tough guy thing. Oh, Colin is a MMA fighter (as well as a student) who we are introduced to with healing bruises and cuts from a recent fight. I'm not sure about John Cena's range as an actor but he would be perfect physically.

Gina Rodriguez as Maria

This was a easy character choice as well. Maria is a shy woman focused on her career and her family. She's not someone you would typically see with the Colin type. Although, I severely dislike Jane, the virgin (ugh the whole premise in just stupid), I think she would be perfect for this part. She has the mannerisms and physical appearance of Maria.


Where do you read?

(image from Apartment Therapy)

Me: In Bed
I mostly read in bed which is a very bad idea. I start reading then fall asleep then wake up pick my book/tablet up off the floor then start reading again just to fall asleep again. It is a vicious cycle. It greatly hinders my productivity.

Unfortunately, right now I do not have a big comfy chair or a specific area dedicated to read in. I live vicariously through all the images of the perfect reading nooks online.

If you are like me, you love to see the pictures of these cozy spaces with couches and pillows, tons of books and maybe a fireplace. Places and spaces I wish I had in my house. P.S. I have a Pinterest page dedicated to bookish spaces I wish I had in my house. Every time I come across these images I sigh, drool a little, maybe let out a silent tear or two overwhelmed by the comfort and beauty of books and pillows. Yes, I am that dramatic.

Of all these pictures of cozy room wishes, this is the one I most drool over:
I absolutely love this space! All that is missing are bookshelves lining that brick wall from the ceiling down. Wait, I think I can create that. Hold on....*skips off to photoshop****

Eh. That's better somewhat. Ok, so my photoshop skills aren't the best but you get the idea. This space is completely perfect. Perfet number of pillows, cushions, light and the little wooden area where the tea sits perfectly balanced. Yes. I love this spot. 
Share with me your favorite reading spot. It can be an actual spot you have in your house or a spot you wish you had in your house. 


BOOK REVIEW: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Summary: The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won't now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

My Review: I’ve read several of Courtney Summers novel (Some Girls Are, Fall for Anything, Cracked Up to Be) so I love her poetic writing style. All of her characters are relatable and genuine. So as soon as I read the summary for this book I was instantly intrigued, ready to see how her normally relatable main character would deal with this situation. Unfortunately, Romy fell flat. The beginning of the book was very confusing, therefore hard for me to get into. Eventually the story started to even out and make more sense but Romy wasn’t relatable at all. I found myself annoyed by her actions and didn’t feel for her plight. It also didn’t help that not much is explained about Kellan and what exactly happened until the very end and even then didn’t make me feel.

Having just finished Fall for Anything and being so caught up in everything that Eddie was going through, I specifically sought out another Courtney Summers book. Sadly, this book disappointed me. I didn’t feel anything for the main character or her family or her situation. In fact, the most interesting part of the book was the side story/mystery about the 'not-as-mean' mean girl. Wanting to find out what happened with her kept me reading.

All and all, the book was just ok. Don’t get me wrong her words are poetic. Ms. Summers can string together some sentences that give you all the feels. The problem
with this book was the characters. Of the three Courtney books I’ve read I liked this one the least. However, I will probably pick up another one of the novels to read in the future. This one just didn’t reach me.



I can't believe it's been YEARS since I blogged. Wow. Anyways, I'M BACK! I decided that 2016 I will pick back up my previously abandoned book blog. I had the most fun when I was reading and blogging. Also, thinking about getting involved with book vlogging also. Hmmm. Decisions decisions.

Moving along, I am participating in the 2016 Reading Challenge. I have chosen my books to read.

I'm starting with the book recommended by your local librarian which is See Me by Nicholas Sparks. I borrowed the ebook from the library and I'm still in the beginning but I'm moving along. This is the second Nicholas Sparks novel that I've read. I previously read Dear John which I really liked. His books move a little slow to me but he tells a great story.

Towards the end of December I started reading All the Rage by Courtney Summers. I finished the first week of January so it will be my first book review of my newly reestablish book blog. I figure Thursday is a good day so look for that tomorrow.

Let me know if you are participating in this 2016 Reading Challenge or any other reading challenges.

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