Monthly Archives: September 2009

Banned BooksWeek Spotlight: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

What I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


Removed as required reading in Annapolis, Md. freshman English curriculum (2006) because the book’s rape scenes and other mature content are too advanced for ninth graders. The freshman English class syllabus is sent home to parents to read at the beginning of each year. It warns them of the book’s mature themes and allows parents to ask to have their children read another book instead. Source: ALA May 2006, pp. 132–33.

Thoughts:  The general synposis:

This is the first in a five volume biography series. Written in 1983, it chronicles Maya’s life from age 3 to her early teens. The details of her childhood living with her grandmother in Arkansas, her absentee parents that just flicker in and out of her life, and her incredible bond with her brother showcase the value of family, loyalty, strength and the basic human instinct of survival.
The book is challenged because of the rape scene. I remember when I was younger, one of my teachers showing us this movie in class, and fast forwarding through the rape scene in the movie. Although it is a graphic and heartbreaking part of the story, it is there as proof of Maya Angelou’s accomplishments and ability to oversome some of the worst obstacles in life. It is a shame to ban this from so many teenagers that could benefit from the role model Maya Angelou has become.

You can read my review of this title here.


Teaser Tuesday – 9/29/2009

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
# Grab your current read.
# Let the book fall open to a random page.
# Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

# You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! # Please avoid spoilers!

My Two Teasers:

He pushed the door open and gasped as he saw me, tall and angry in the flickering light of the candles. He gasped again whenhe took in the deep shadow down the front of my gown, and the saddle rack, and the hooks on the wall, an the sensuously cushioned divan and the scatter of thick skeepskin rugs.

— Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

Bookworms Carnival – Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week 2009

To jumpstart the week-long look at banned/controversial books, I’m hosting the 37th Edition of the Bookworms Carinval. The links below are broken up into 3 groups, reviews of challenged Adult and Young Adult books, challenged children’s books, and the reviews sent in to me about Like Water for Chocolate.

Reviews – Adult / Young Adult books

Yule Time Reading:  The Kite Runner

Chaotic Compendiums:  Always Running

Kinga B:   A Clockwork Orange

Lahni Rawlings:  A Handmaid’s Tale and Farhrenheit 451

Smarty Pants Know it All:  Blood and Guts in High School

Reviews – Kid books

@ Deckled Edges:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

@ Age30books: Wizardology

@ Read Space is also celebrated Banned Books Weeks by taking a look at Forgotten Books.

@ Blue Stocking Society: Girl With A Pearl Earring

Life Water For Chocolate Reviews

Rebecca Reids

The Bibliobrat

Zen Leaf


Author Interview:
Books and Movies: Literary Road Trip



I will also be posting a spotlight series on various Banned Books this week, focusing on when and why they were challenged. Titles will include:

Gossip Girl by Cecila van Ziegesar

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Its My Birthday, Book Giveaway Winner!

Our winner this week is……..

congratulations-23.gif image by Delaney_55

Lahni from Nose in a Book


Didn’t win this week? You still have one more chance to enter to win one of 8 great titles! Sign-up here for next week’s drawing.

Al Capone Shines My Shoes – Review

Spread the word

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Cholodenko
Age: Elementary
Genre: Historical Fiction
Location: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

In the sequel to Gennifer Choldenko’s New York Time’s Bestseller, Al Capone Does My Shirts, (you can read my review here), Al Capone Shines My Shoes takes the book to a whole new and exciting level.

*If you haven’t read Al Capone Does My Shirts, then there may be spoilers in this review*

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko: Book Cover

Now that Natalie Flannagan is safe and sound at the Esther P. Marinoff School, Moose can finally start to live a normal life, hanging out with his parents and friends without having to constantly worry about taking care of his autistic older sister. Just as Moose’s life seems to be on the verge of greatness, he finds a note in his laundered clothes from the most dangerous criminal, Al Capone. The cryptic message says only “your turn, then we’re square.” This single note soon sends Moose down a tailspin of events as he tries to deal with girls, friends , family and Al Capone.

As much as I loved the first book, this one is about 10x better. The characters are better developed, and the story line is much more exciting now that Moose is indebted to Al Capone, and along with the troublesome Piper, there is also Darby Trixle, whose main purpose is to make Moose’s life as cumbersome as possible. While this is still a book about youth living on Alcatraz Island during the 1930s, it is more of a book about friendship, honesty and trust. Moose goes through a lot of trouble in order to learn the tough lessons that being honest is the best away to avoid major problems. We do finally see a softer side of Piper, although I really don’t understand why Moose has such a crush on her. Moose’s devotion to keeping Natalie at the boarding school is of such high importance that he’ll go through anything to make sure she is safe and happy.

This book is ideal for the 5th to 8th grade range, covering history, politics, social commentary and most of the personal and emotional behaviors that children that age deal with regularly. The writing is witty, sharp and historically accurate, including historical trivia at the back (my favorite part!). If you loved Al Capone Does My Shirts, then this book should be next on your list.

Don’t miss your chance to win a copy of this book! Sign up here to enter my Its my Birthday, Book Giveaway contest running all this month.

Sign-up here and look for this week’s drawing!


Al Capone Shines My Shoes
by Gennifer Choldenko
Dial, 2009
274 pages

Find this book at your local library

From Miss to Mrs.

If a picture says a thousand words, then this picture says it all.

My boyfriend of 6.5 years proposed to me today in a beautiful Rose Garden Park, surrounded by sweet smelling buds, a cool breeze, and a bottle of our favorite Chardonnay to go with our picnic lunch. It has been a perfect day so far, one I’ll never forget. =)

Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same – Review

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this book when Unbridled books first sent it to me. The back cover has a fantastic one line synopsis

A seventeen-year-old gangbanger moves with his Eskimo mother from Los Angeles to the remote Alaskan village where she grew up

I’m partial to literature about ganglife, especially moving away from ganglife because a good portion of the teens in my library’s neighborhood are in a gang, or on the edge of it. Its good to have some type of literature that they can relate to and use as inspiration to step away from that path.

This book, however, is a little more philosophical and less about ganglife. It is about reincarnation, about fresh starts, guilty pasts, and regrets.

Sometimes We're Always Real Same Same by Mattox Roesch: Book CoverCaesar is a product of his environment. His other brother Wicho, is a gangbanger who shot a couple 15 year old kids and wound up with a life sentence in jail. Caesar followed in his footsteps, running with gangs, until his mother finally had enough and moved them back to her hometown in Alaska. This poses a complete 180 for Caesar. Despite knowing the ganglife, Caesar was not opposed to moving to Alaska, even though he and his cousin Go-Boy made a bet that Caesar would not move back to LA after one year.

Go-Boy is the catalyst for any and all change we see in Caesar. Go-Boy’s optimism, confidence and attitude helps shape the way Caesar see’s his role in this world. The characters are filled with faults, and regrets and that is what makes them real to me. The characters aren’t sugar coated, nor do they feel forced to be too real, as in other books I’ve read. Each person has their insecurities, their skeletons and their way of dealing with tragedies. Go-Boy has manic mood swings and believes he is part of a good world conspiracy to bring heaven to Earth. Go-Boy is the more spiritual of the two, hand-drawing an Eskimo female Jesus tattoo on his arm each day, as a reminder of his faith in God, himself and others. To me, this book is about transformations, community and love. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book that leaves you pondering many questions after each paragraph. The chronology of the book jumps around a lot, with later chapters taking place before earlier chapters. It is a good tool used to explain why Go-Boy is in a certain mood during an earlier chapter, and its a nice way to shed some background light on a scene without making a single chapter seem too long. Its also reflective of the narrator, Caesar, who is constantly struggling between his past and his present, trying to find his footing.

This is a great book for older teen males and adults in their early 20’s, although I’m sure a few girls might appreciate this book, it is aimed mostly for men.

Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same
by Mattox Roesch
Unbridled Books, 2009
ISBN 1932961874
317 pages


Find this book at your local library

Sign-up here for my month long giveaway here for a chance to win this title!

Its My Birthday-Book Giveaway Winner #2

This week’s winner for the Its My Birthday-Book Giveaway winner is Donna Smith of Literature, Lattes and Life.


To everyone else, don’t despair. I still have plenty of books to giveaway, and to spice things up, I’m going to giveaway every single book I review this month, titles include:


Al Capone Shines My Shoes.

Sign-up here and look for next week’s drawing!

Teaser Tuesday (9/15)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
# Grab your current read.
# Let the book fall open to a random page.
# Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

# You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! # Please avoid spoilers!

My Two Teasers:

By this time, the report of the accident had spread among the workmen and boatmen about the Cobb, and many were collected near them, to be useful if wanted, at any rate, to enjoy the sight of a dead young lady, nay, two dead young ladies, for it proved twice as fine as the first report. To some of the best-looking of these good people Henrietta was consigned, for, though partially revived, she was quite helpless; in this manner , Ann walking by her side, and Charles attending to his wife, they set forward, treading back with feelings unutterable, the ground which so lately, so very lately, and so light of heart, they passed along.

Persuasion by Jane Austen p. 98

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Its My Birthday, Book Giveaway contest being held all this month. The second winner will be selected tomorrow!

Its My Birthday, Book Giveaway Winner!

This week’s winner is Linda of Bookvisions.

Didn’t win this week? Don’t despair. There are still 3 chances left to win some cool books. Sign-up here and look for next week’s drawing!