Thursday, September 30, 2010

More on Banned Books

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This is a pretty interesting article detailing some of the most contested banned books in recent years, recommended to us by the article's author, Tim Handorf.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry

This book will be available in October!

Grade: High A


In a secluded village, magic sparkles on the edges of the forest. There, a young girl named Evie possesses unusually strong powers as a healer And a gypsy's charms--no more than trinkets when worn by others--are remarkably potent when Evie ties them around her neck. Her talents, and charms, have not escaped the notice of the shy stonemason's son. But Evie's wants more than a quiet village and the boy-next-door. When the prince's entourage arrives one day, and his footman has fallen ill, Evie might just get her chance after ....But this young girl's destiny is no mere romantic fairytale. Her fate, and the journey she is about to embark upon, will take her far from her tiny village, uncovering serpentine powers and a legacy she never dreamed possible.


Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 7/10
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Total Score: 56/70

Obtained: Free ARC provided by publisher (BLOOMSBURY USA)

Age Appropriate? PG

Cursing: Not much, if any
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Perhaps some references to alcohol, poison, and some drugging, if I remember correctly.
Sexual Content: Mild references only
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some blood and murder, but not too much


At first, I thought this book would be predictable and boring, but it quickly became both creative and atypical for this kind of novel. The writing was flat at times; however, the interesting, original plot more than made up for it. It's just what you would expect from a fantasy--adventure, magic, romance. There are some very vivid characters, and the magic itself if fascinating, odd, and new. With wild ups and downs, Secondhand Charm will never leave you bored.

The setting as well is quite attractive. From the lowly village of Maundley to the high seas to the royal life of the capital city, it spans a wide range of equally well-developed and colorful places, each more exciting than the last. Intrigue tags along through the whole book, tying together each separate locale.

I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy; it's nothing too heavy, but with lots of color and heart. It was a pleasurable read, and if there's more to come, I will definitely be keeping up.


Julie Berry

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Author's Response to Book Banning...

This is what YA author Janet S. Fox (author of Faithful) has to say about book banning...

The banning of books is, I think, the gut response of a group to a threat and is motivated by fear. The "group" (read: society, library, community, school district, what-have-you) feels that the content of the book is threatening to the group structure and thus that content must not be permitted to contaminate the group. It doesn't matter why the content is provocative. Provocative is "bad." And thus "forbidden."

What saddens me is that most book banning is directed by adults and impacts children.

Fear limits a society's growth.  A society governed by fear cannot develop. Children not exposed to a wide variety of ideas, and who grow up controlled by adult fears, perpetuate the societal limits. Or they become extreme rebels because they do not fit the strict norms. 

Books that break barriers about sexuality, drugs, beliefs, ideology - those books actually liberate society because they permit the individual to "see" him/herself reflected in heroic/mythic story structure. And a liberated society is one that will grow beyond bounds and - who knows? Create a world where there is no poverty? No exploitation? Reverse environmental damage? Without full and free thought, we are no better than animals - caged by our fears, by the threats to our social structure, doomed to live out our meagre existence with little sustenance to our souls.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Trailers

Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Available September 28, 2010

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Available October 12, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Available September 21, 2010

It's that time of year again...

With another September comes another Banned Books Week (Sept 25 - Oct 2). In the blogosphere, this really means another Banned Books Month

In celebration (protest?), Donna at Bites is hosting Ban This! 2010


Here at Reading Rocks, we would are going to participate by putting together a selection of Banned Books information, essays, guest blogs, articles, photos, and general awesomeness for your viewing/reading pleasure, starting with this awesome button...

Enjoy your week, everybody!
Read something forbidden this month!

PS - if you or someone you know has something you want to say about banned books, banning books, or censorship, email us at! Thanks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Available in stores this month!

Grade: A+


Lucy Sexton is stunned when her mother's identical twin sister shows up at the family's front door one day. Separated at birth, the two sisters have had dramatically different upbringings--and have never known of the other's existence. Lucy''s mother soon becomes determined to transform her sister Helen into the kind of lady that all o society will admire. And the change in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But is it just Lucy's imagination, or does Aunt Helen seem to delight in being mistaken for Lucy's mother...especially where Lucy's father is concerned? Then one day Lucy is horrified to stumble upon a scene of brutal murder in her own house. Who is behind the vicious slaying--and who has been left alive?


Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 64/70

Obtained: Free ARC provided by publisher.

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Language: None that I recall.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some drinking and drunkenness; mild references to drugs of the age, I think I remember.
Sexual Content: Alludes to sex; some erotic scenes.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Very graphic, very bloody murder.


The Twin's Daughter is a book unlike anything I have read before. Wildly fascinating, it is a very intimate look at life during this period, a time when girls were sheltered and ignored in equal parts. Lucy was a wonderful heroine. When she's younger, she's slightly irritating, but still very much a strong-willed, charming child. As she grows, she becomes an intelligent, determined woman that I loved reading about.

This book is intriguing like many Gothic-style novels, perfectly blending mystery and romance in a slow-paced, chilling way. From the start, it is clear that something larger is afoot, but the exact nature of the thing is never fully revealed. Even now, I'm not entirely satisfied with the ending. There's something so unsettling about a pair of identical women who may or may not have ulterior motives as they go about their daily tasks. Add in a gruesome murder, and it becomes downright bizarre.

An alluring, suspenseful novel that is sure to leave you second guessing yourself. It will not disappoint.


Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Showcase: The Lucifer Code

"Brokaw follows up his debut with an equally exciting and fast-moving adventure. This one really moves... it's Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code."

A sacred brotherhood, a cryptic language, and a terrifying possibility...

Harvard professor Dr. Thomas Lourds, the world’s foremost expert on linguistics, almost died trying to find the lost city of Atlantis. Now, in The Lucifer Code, Lourds sets out to find an ancient manuscript and decode its secret, a manuscript that may prove the existence of Satan—who may have already risen to exact vengeance on Earth.

Lourds ventures to the rich, culturally complex city of Istanbul, where he's invited to give a series of university lectures. But barely off the plane, he's suddenly kidnapped by ruthless killers who leave a string of dead bodies in their wake. They want Lourds to translate coded writings that will lead them to a lost scroll authored by John of Patmos — the same John who wrote the Book of Revelations in the Bible.

Meanwhile, the top branches of US government are also extremely interested in the scroll, and tracking the unknowing Lourds very carefully. But why? A charming, powerful White House official with ties to the Saudi oil industry is watching Lourds' every move from a computer monitor – but his motives are far from benevolent.

Before he knows it, Thomas Lourds is in over his head, dodging spies, crooks, and bullets. He needs help to stay alive – and he has it in the form of a beautiful but deadly Irish Republican Army operative, and in his old flame Olympia Adnan. Can they navigate the secrets hidden in ancient Istanbul's most secret depths before they are killed? Or will they be too late to stop the terrible workings of the Devil himself before he can bring the world down around their heads?

-A Forge Hardcover
-Went on-sale: August 31, 2010
-Price: $25.99
-ISBN: 978-0765320933

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Grade: High A+ (naturally)


Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. there are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.


Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 9.5/10
Voice: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 69.5/70

Obtained: Library.

Age Appropriate? R

Cussing: None that I recall...
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Yes. Alcoholism and drunkenness, discussions of both; drug addiction, withdrawal, etc.
Sexual Content: None really, but gently implied between married couples.
Disturbing Images/Violence: It is fraught with both. Graphic death, murder, killings, execution, politics, more death by the scores. War. Involuntary prostitution. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. Graphic imagery. Injury. Manipulation and violence against children. War-time drama. For mature audiences only.


Does this book really need a review? I ask myself. Indeed, I hardly have the words for it. Sweeping. Riveting. Masterfully executed. It moved me to tears. It defied expectations. It spoke volumes about the nature of humanity -- our past, our present...our future.

A tale that should not -- will not -- be forgotten.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Couple Trailers

'Radiance' by Alyson Noƫl

Alexandra Adornetto's 'HALO'