July 29, 2013

Freedom to Read

I have always taken for granted the fact that I could read anything I have wanted. My reading has never been censored in any way.  I have always had the luxury of finding the books I wanted to read.  I can thank my mother for fostering my love of reading and encouraging me to appreciate a wide variety of books and genres from a very young age. 
Much to my chagrin I discovered that certain books are banned books. Can you believe that? Here in 21st century America there really is a banned book list. Yes, you can be told by a bookstore, library or a school that a book is banned and you can’t read it. I’m an only child. I always get what I want. I’ll find it somewhere, somehow -- STUFF IT PRUDISH LIBRARIAN!!

I have mentioned before that I belong to a book club called Books & Beer. It’s the perfect combination. I love to read and I love beer! The heaven’s opened up and the angels sang the day I found this book club (um, er, the day the love of my life found it and told me about it). Since attending for about a year and a half now, we have never really had a theme of any kind. Folks discuss the book they want to read for the next month, a list is made and it’s put to a vote. Easy peasy! Until the cool book you found and thought everyone would like was called garbage! Yes, garbage! No offense to anyone who has read it, but the garbage caller even compared it to Twilight! Sob!

Calm down Ravenous Reader authors – it was not any of your books. I tend to keep my book-loving, ravenous reading split personalities separate. Plus, my Books & Beer persona gives me an opportunity to read some of the more mainstream stuff that’s out there without any real obligation. This persona, my ravenous one, is more what I’m really about, but people want popular, they want the new shiny, they want what everyone else is reading -- they want the NY Times Bestseller List. I really prefer the beer - honestly!!

So, the club came up with the idea of having the “Summer of Banned Books” theme.. We picked 4 books from the official banned books list and will culminate the final book with the official Banned Books Week in September. The four banned books are as follows: Slaughterhouse 5, Catch 22, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Catcher in the Rye. Before this summer I had never read any of these books, much less knew they were banned. After this summer I will have read all of them but Catch 22. I just can’t get through that one for some reason. This is the second time I have tried and I can’t! I will go ahead and inflict self-punishment and skip book club drinking beer this month.

Did any of you even know there was an official banned books list let alone a banned books week? Have any of you ever read any of the books on the banned books list? What is your favorite banned book?

July 5, 2013

Winter's End

Title:  Winter's End
Author:  Clarissa Cartharn
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
When young widow, Emma Winston leaves her life in London with her two children for the quieter Breakish in the Isle of Skye, all she wants is a simple life. And for a while, she thinks she has it. 
That is until she meets the mysterious Mrs Kinnaird who suddenly feels that Emma might make the ideal bride for her wealthy playboy grandson, Chris Cameron- a man who holds his own dark secrets. 
Further still, when Emma's brother-in-law, Richard Winston follows her to Skye to tell her he loves her, Mrs Kinnaird manipulates all her power to keep Richard away from Emma. 

Will Emma finally let go of her past and learn to follow her heart?

Sometimes a girl just needs a good old-fashioned love story. Boy meets girl, girl falls in love, boy is mean to girl, boy really likes girl, girl stomps her feet and harrumphs out of the room, boy apologizes in some big over the top way that only happens in romance novels, and they live happily ever after. And the setting is somewhere way over the top and they all fly helicopters to meetings and for the occasional long weekend on an island. 

Winter's End isn't exactly like I described above although there is a helicopter and there was a bit of harrumphing. It is a very well-written love story that while a bit predictable at times, I really enjoyed. It was a nice change of pace especially coming right out of reading about serial killers and a monster of a thinker for my book club (more on that soon). 

Winter's End is set in the Isle of Skye which is fascinating! There's a potential love triangle, which is always fun! There's the wealthy old woman that we all would love to be taken under her wing and doted on. There are some eccentric folks, because what's a love story without the quirky BFF?  There is some conflict and tense moments.  There's a really good back story and there's an evil villain. But as a reader, you have to pick out who the evil villain is. Is it Richard? Is is Chris?  I think you will be pleased and surprised.  Emma will surprise you also, and I can't believe I didn't see that from a mile away!  Good going Clarissa!!

I think that's what I like most about books and reading in general.  I love the escapism that reading allows me, but then when I sit down after the last chapter and put my thoughts in order, I realize that I am getting a glimpse into someone else's mind and how they think.  Which if you think about that, is utterly fascinating.  I believe that we all have a novel inside of our minds, but it really takes a special something to be creative enough to get it out of the brain, through the fingers and into a medium that can be shared. 

It's summer and it's hot out, but here in sunny Florida it's been rainy and gloomy. I think Winter's End makes a perfect companion for a day by the pool, a day at the beach or, like for me, a day hiding from the lightning bolts outside your front door. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Winter's End