Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.
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Friday, October 2, 2015

Banned Books Week- The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

"It's Omri's birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?"- summary from Amazon

I'm so honored that Random House emailed me about participating in their Banned Books Week blog tour, spotlighting some of their own banned books. There was only one book that I'd actually read and was surprised to see it there because I could not remember anything wrong with it when I read it as a child. So while I waited for my copy to arrive, I did some research. What I found were claims about racism in the book, and alleged condoning of white superiority.

First off, the book was written in 1985. Times have changed since then and we've become more of a PC world, where everyone has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending anybody for any reason. Secondly, when Little Bear and Boone are brought to life, BOTH speak in a stereotypical manner, but Omri is also shown over the course of the novel to think past the stereotypes that he's seen in books and movies and therefore learns more about each respective culture. He realizes that they're not so different from him and sees them as equals rather than just toys. We're all just people with the same wants, needs, emotions, etc.

The white superiority claim doesn't really make much sense when reading the book. It does start off with Omri thinking of all the fun he'll have with a live Indian toy, but that is quickly dismissed once Omri realizes that he has to take care of Little Bear (providing food, shelter, and other things). And honestly, with the way Little Bear takes over Omri's life, it's almost the other way around; Omri is actually very subservient to Little Bear in the beginning when they are first getting to know each other. As the book progresses, they (and Boone too) come to a friendship and understanding. Perhaps the claim would also have more legs to it if Omri didn't also turn Boone (the cowboy) and Tommy (a WWII medic) into live people too. He's not just owning an Indian or playing with an Indian; he is equal opportunity with the magical cupboard.

I'm honestly glad that I read the reasons why it has been banned before reading the book because it was hilarious to see those claims demolished with every page I read. I don't know which book those people read (if they read it at all), but it was certainly not the same one I read, which was one of friendship, loyalty (for everyone involved- Omri, his friend Patrick, Little Bear, and Boone), understanding, and respect for all people, no matter the race (or size).

Have any of you read The Indian in the Cupboard, either recently or as a kid? What did you think about it?

I also have a copy to give away of The Indian in the Cupboard as well as a Banned Books Week poster, all courtesy of Random House. The contest is open to US residents. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, October 9 at 9pm EST, along with your email address.

Check out the rest of the tour-

Sunday, September 27- Good Books and Good Wine + Live to Read0
Monday, September 28- All About Romance + Bookie Moji
Tuesday, September 29- Word Spelunking + The Eater of Books
Wednesday, September 30- The Mod Podge Bookshelf + Curling Up with a Good Book
Thursday, October 1- ExLibris + Alice Marvels
Friday, October 2- Book Chic + Words Sweetheart
Saturday, October 3- YA Bibliophile + The Irish Banana

FTC: Received copy from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored this book; it's such a powerful and poignant debut. It's a compelling read and Mim is a character that I really enjoyed spending time with and watching her journey (both figurative and literal) throughout the book was great. The book at times could be a bit stream-of-consciousness, which I always enjoy, and I liked Mim's letters to her mom that she writes on her journey (along with some illustrations). Arnold's characterization of everyone is impeccable and even through short times with the secondary characters she meets on her trip, I really got a sense of who they were as a person and wanted to spend time with them and read their interactions with Mim.

Overall, a fantastically written debut and I am so excited to read what Arnold writes next!

FTC: Borrowed hardcover from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec

My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec
"Oliver is an independent kitty. He has his run of the neighborhood and looks at his animal friends with their fussing humans with pity. But when a freckle-faced girl moves into town, Oliver sees the opportunity to train a human to provide him with a few creature comforts. And if he can help her adjust to her life and make a new friend, that's just all in a day's work. The real surprise comes, however, when Oliver needs Freckles just as much as she needs him."- summary from Amazon

This was THE CUTEST BOOK EVER. I loved it- Oliver reminded me so much of one of my cats Samson (both are tuxedo cats) and it made for a much more fun read. I will pretty much read any Yasmine Surovec book from here on out; she totally gets cats and what it means to own one (or several). It's nice to read books about cats from a cat lover, as it's one of my favorite subjects. There's a lot of humor, heart, and cuteness in this book. I highly recommend it.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
"Abram and Juliette know each other. They've lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don't really know each other--at least, not until Juliette's mom and Abram's dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don't speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a year later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite Juliette to Taco Bell.

To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins."- summary from Amazon

This was such an interesting book, and a great concept to begin the novel at. I loved reading about these two characters (the story is told in a dual narrative, which I always love) as they grow closer, help each other out with their personal issues and the issue of what happened between their families, and eventually come to fall in love. It's a very well-written book.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hold Me Closer by David Levithan

Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
"Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say—and he’s going to say it in song.

Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan.

Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage . . . and the world will never be the same again."- summary from Amazon

Tiny Cooper was one of my most favorite parts of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which Levithan co-wrote with John Green, as he was for a lot of people. So I was extremely excited to see that he was getting a spin-off book of sorts. I checked the book out from my local library and promptly read it in one afternoon. The book is written as the musical that we see glimpses of in WGWG, which makes for a quick, fun and interesting read. It's a fantastic glimpse into Tiny's life growing up and being himself. I highly recommend the book regardless of if you've read WGWG previously. It's good as a stand-alone, though there are some spoilers from WGWG toward the end so be aware of that if you plan on reading WGWG at some point.

FTC: Borrowed hardcover from local library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.