Review: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

944073There are books that leave you in awe and books that leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, similar to having licked a particularly dusty boot.

In the middle of that scale, there are books that make you shrug your shoulders and utter a few vague, non-committal words like “It was decent” or “It was a pretty good story.” This is one of those stories. If we were to talk of this story in the sense of steak doneness, I would consider this medium-well. (Note: we’re not considering flavor here, but rather the actual cooked status of the steak, saying that well-done is as cooked as it can be and is therefore best.)

Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself is a journey through a fairly generic high fantasy world, where you meet several characters whose lives begin to intertwine as the story progresses. An important point to consider before reading is that Abercrombie writes using British English and style, meaning that single quotation marks are used for speech, and certain words are spelled differently. I have no issue with this, but it can be a bit awkward to get used to at first.

In general, I found the story to be entertaining. The first 50 percent of the book seemed a bit slow and almost unnecessary, though I can see the value in learning many of the things you do in that time. I was much more interested in reading the second half of the book. There are some issues with a failure to execute a “show, don’t tell” writing style (meaning that we experience the characters emotions and actions rather than being told what they feel or think). An example of this would be when we encounter Jezal at the card game he plays with his friends:

“He had a faint, mysterious smile which seemed to say, ‘I am not a nobleman, and may be your social inferior, but I won a Contest and the King’s favour on the battlefield and that makes me the better man, so you children will damn well do as I say.’”

I also felt some words and descriptors were oddly used. The men often giggle at times when it seems like a better word might have been found to describe the laughter in the sense of the scene.

The first chapter of the story was difficult for me. The halting style of writing and odd sentence structure might have been an attempt to depict the rough, hurried nature of the action throughout that chapter, but for me it just became annoying to read. In my opinion, you can convey a rushed, panicked tone without hacking away at sentence structure and using periods a bit too frequently. Some might call this creative license.

Each character can stand in his or her own right as a person of interest, and the plot and people are well-balanced. The characters mirrored many races and peoples from our own history, but vaguely enough that they stood on their own in Abercrombie’s world. I actually find it interesting to see the cultures of our own world re-worked into a fantasy tale’s world building, so I have no problems on that front. It’s fairly easy to classify Logen as someone of Norse descent, Jezal as European, and Ferro as African.

The characters are really the shining triumph of this story. I developed complex feelings toward all of them. You never truly know if they are good, bad, or just trying to blunder through life as best they can.

The story has no real closure, unfortunately. It just seems as though you’ve read a minor resolution to some things, then the pages just stop. I didn’t feel especially inclined to pursue the next book in the series. Overall, many of the issues with the story were stylistic; however, as a reader that is my prerogative. It may work for some, but to my mind the story and characters weren’t a good enough trade off for my dislike of the style.

✪✪✪ = The book was decent, but could have been better.

Threads Writing Excerpt: The Portal

Disclaimer: The following passage is an excerpt from a work of fiction I am currently writing. It is completely unedited prose, so pardon any mistakes or things that might not make sense. Though probably not the final form of the story, feel free to let me know what you think. Please do not copy or re-post this without attributing it to me. Thank you. For more information on Threads, check out this page.

As her mind lapsed back to the conversation, she managed to only sound slightly miffed in her reply. “No, I’m looking into some other options. Really, I just want to be anywhere but here.”

“I hear that! I’m sure you can do whatever it is you want to do, too.” said Shannon, and the two fell silent but for the clicking of Shannon’s heels on the concrete. Fay glanced down at her own flats and wondered if she’d feel more potent and professional if her shoes made that sound. It seemed that all the really professional, well-kept women wore noisy footwear.  Finally reaching Shannon’s car, the woman veered off and waved a few fingers in Fay’s direction while calling, “Have a good one!”

This time, Fay’s reply was genuine. She wished Shannon a good evening in turn, and walked on to her own car with a warmer feeling in her chest than when she’d left. This woman that didn’t know her that well seemed to have faith in her, and she thought that maybe that meant something. Maybe fate had something more in store for her than just typing numbers into a computer all day.

Plopping down in the driver’s seat and wrestling her bags across the steering wheel, Fay buckled her seatbelt and started the car. The engine came to life with less than a purr, but it was still sturdy and got her where she needed to go. She had a fondness for the car she’d had for a while now, and was loathe to pursue another one until the current was rendered useless. She easily dropped into the dreamlike state of the commuter, with her elbow propped on car door, her hand cradling her head as she leaned to the left.

The drive home was mercifully short, even if the scenery was beautiful as the trees were at their peak of autumn glamor. The sunset’s light on their upper branches seemed to set them ablaze, the reds and oranges glowing vibrantly. This was Fay’s favorite time of year, and the time of year that reminded her most of where she’d grown up. She’d never really left the area she was originally from, only moving to the nearby big city for college and remaining there afterward. Fall had a way of making her miss the small town of her youth, and the comforts she could find there. As she pulled into her parking space in front of her apartment, she finally snapped out of her reverie.

After climbing the stairs and fumbling with the key in the lock, Fay heard the unmistakable noises of a ecstatic canine. She opened the door carefully, smiling at the small blur of excitement that rocketed around her living room, yelping happily. Coming home to a happy dog made it hard to remain upset, and soon Fay laughed at the little animal’s antics. Setting down her bag, she scooped the warm, wriggling Chihuahua up in her arms.

“Hey there, Vy. How are you, little girl?” She cooed at the dog, who responded by licking her chin and letting loose and chirping trill. Sometimes Fay thought Violet was more a parakeet than a Chihuahua.

She put Violet down, then attatched her leash and prepared to go outside. The dog pranced happily out the door, hopping down the steps. Fay didn’t lock the door; there wasn’t a need as she’d be back in about three minutes. Plus, she figured that only the most desperate thieves would actually see any of her things as worth taking. Fay tightened her coat as she waited for Violet to sniff each individual blade of grass in order to find the perfect one to christen with her pee.

Fay laughed to herself as she thought about how often it seemed that she was the pet waiting on the master, rather than the other way around. She glanced around, shaking her head at the fact that she was standing in the middle of a grassy yard waiting for an eight pound dog to pee instead of relaxing. She glanced back at Violet, her little curly tail wagging.

A glittering shine caught the edge of Fay’s peripheral vision, and she turned to see what was there. The air seemed to shimmer for a moment, but was quickly gone. Blinking, Fay rubbed her eyes, thinking that her contact lenses must have blurred up from the chilly autumn wind. Violet had finished her business, and the two began to walk back toward the steps when she noticed the shimmer again. This time, it seemed more apparent, and as Fay watched, it formed a large, nebulous shape in the air. She looked around, wondering if anyone else was around and if they were seeing what she saw. Turning her attention back to the glimmering, Fay watched in amazement as the glittering swirls became more opaque, deepening to purples, blacks, and blues. The effect was entrancing.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below, or catch me on Twitter (@hewts). Stay tuned for more excerpts as I continue writing!

Writing Excerpt: Threads (In Progress)

Disclaimer: The following passage is an excerpt from a work of fiction I am currently writing. It is completely unedited prose, so pardon any mistakes or things that might not make sense. Though probably not the final form of the story, feel free to let me know what you think. Please do not copy or re-post this without attributing it to me. Thank you. For more information on Threads, check out this page.

mad-crow-300x260Chapter One: The Retiree

“Caw!”

Marietta did not raise her head to greet the incoming messenger that so neatly announced itself with a single, shrill cry. Instead, she focused on the table before her, delicately handling a single gossamer thread and stretching it across a silk cloth that covered a good portion of her work area. The thread was iridescent and nearly unnoticeable, but her well-trained eye saw it easily against the rich purple it lay upon.

“Caw, caw!”

Wiggling her nose and cheeks slightly, Marietta pushed her spectacles up on her nose a small, yet satisfying, amount. She exhaled softly, years of practice keeping her lungs from causing too strong a breeze to sweep across the delicate string on her desk. Without moving her gaze from her work, she spoke quietly.

“You’ll just have to wait a moment, dear.”

“Caw,” came the reluctant  reply, though she could tell the messenger crow was now perched on her elegant coat rack a few feet away.

Marietta reached to her right and sought out a large pair of shears. They gleamed in the task light that sat in the corner of her desk, its great brass base and verdant shade similar to those found in large, ancient libraries. Her fingers found the correct orientation for holding the scissors immediately, and her gloved hands did not hesitate in the retrieval. With a delicate touch, she slid the shears so that the thread lay across the sharp edge, the thumb and forefinger of her other hand holding the thin strand taught for maximum cutting efficiency. With a smooth snip, she brought the handles of the shears together and severed the thread with little ceremony.

She heard the  bird ruffle its feathers impatiently, but knew it would remain silent; it knew full well the gravity of her work. With care, she lay the end of the thread still between her fingers back on the silk and sat the shears down on the wooden table beside the square of cloth. After only a second, the delicate length seemed to shudder infinitesimally before disintegrating in a shimmering instant.. Marietta held her breath for a moment, as she always did. With a glance at the careful stack of rolled silk on her left, she finally turned her attention to the rather surly looking crow perched in her office.

The glossy-feathered bird hopped to the desk, thrusting out a leg after a bit too much feather ruffling. With a barely contained eyeroll, Marietta removed the tube that was secured to the crow’s leg. Popping a cork from the end of the small tube, she tilted it until a small, rolled bit of old parchment slid out and onto the desktop. She unrolled the missive carefully, unrolling it and placing a spherical paperweight on each end to keep it from curling. The top of the missing held the stamp of the Celestial Office, an emblem consisting of a crow in flight through  a starry night sky. Beneath that, she read the following:

Attn: Ms. Marietta Polpsianna Armbruster,

The Celestial Office Branch of Internal Affairs and Notifications wishes to inform you that your retirement is imminent. The Watch Council has secured an appropriate candidate for your position and have initiated acquisition procedures.

Within the next day, please prepare a welcome packet for your replacement and clear out any items belonging to you from your workstation. Your retirement ceremony will be held tomorrow at midday.

The only noticeable reaction that betrayed Marietta’s excitement at first was a nearly imperceptible raising of her brows. Her eyes darted along the carefully executed loops of the script on the parchment as she read again. The crow preened his wing feathers, nearly looking bored. A pervasive silence filled the room, suddenly pierced by a sharp intake of breath. Marietta threw her head back, gazing towards heaven in a reverent manner. Her mouth gaped, and it seemed she had come to the surface of some deep pool she had been desperately swimming towards. A shriek of glee started deep inside of her, burbling up through her body until she leapt from her seat, throwing her arms up in abandon and joyously shouting at the messenger crow.

“Crowy-kins! I’m done! I’m finished!”

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below, or catch me on Twitter (@hewts). Stay tuned for more excerpts as I continue writing!

Review: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Once, many years ago, I tried to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It was when The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie came out, in 2001. Never having truly read high fantasy before, I was not really sure of the genre. I wasn’t even aware of the fact that Tolkien birthed fantasy lore as we know it today. In all, though, my foray into fantasy failed as I tried to read the forward about hobbit-lore, and quickly lost interest. I never even saw the movies in completion until a couple of months ago.

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Even the guy’s signature was fantasy-esque.

Since that fateful attempt, I have broadened my horizons beyond the fare I was reading at the time (mostly contemporary and literary fiction, as well as my first forays into paranormal romance).  Having completed the high fantasy Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, as well as numerous other works in the fantasy genre, I felt it was high time that I read the Good Book of Fantasy, as it were.

91vBY26lGeL._SL1500_Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is a single book, though most consider it a trilogy consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Though published separately, these works are intended to be read as a single book, and are therefore referred to in this blog post as a singular work. The book is quite hefty, and more than once I was glad I had it in ebook form. I’m fairly certain that if I had the volume in hardcover, I could successfully fight crime with it as a bludgeon.

Both the story and characters are rich and full of life. The end of the book and parting of friends is quite sad, because after spending so much time with them, you truly don’t want to let go. It is epic in every sense of the word, and the scale of the great battles and journey itself is mind-boggling. You’re taken to dank, marshy bogs and lush, magical forests; you gallop across wind-blown grassy plains and climb craggy mountains; you delve into the depths of the earth and enter realms where light and hope are things of the imagination. It is awesome in its size, complexity, and storytelling.

That being said, there are flaws in my eyes. Much of the lore was so dense and riddled with people, places, and things of fantastical nature that it was often wearying to read an entire page. The history of a sword could span many pages, and make you forget what you were even reading about. Huge chunks of dialogue with little action are also present, where opinions are often rehashed and the reader is given information over and over. Sam, Frodo, and Gollum’s journey toward Mordor is downright boring and flat. At that point, Frodo’s character is struggling under the weight of the Ring, Sam is brooding and suspicious of Gollum, and Gollum is, well, Gollum. I found none of that part to be compelling, and was quite relieved when it was through.

There are parts that do lift your spirit and make you feel as though you’re reading enchanted words. However, there are also parts that are dull, lifeless, and could have easily been left out. Reading felt arduous at some parts, and fleetingly easy at others. Seldom does finishing a book feel like a true accomplishment, but this one was one that felt that way.

I know many people may love the very things that I found fault with, so I don’t try to say that my opinion is much better. Often, readers of high fantasy relish descriptions of sword-history that span chapters and love the intricate descriptions of everything. I, for one, do not share that love in the same intensity.

There also seemed to be a few loose ends in the story, such as the prediction of Legolas coming to trouble after hearing a gull. He most certainly hears a gull, but nothing bad ever comes of it. It didn’t really mar the story for me, but seemed a bit odd. It was weird that the Lady of Rohan, Eowyn, was portrayed as both a duty-bound shieldmaiden and flighty woman. I understand that people are complex, but I feel that the same woman that smites the King of the Ringwraiths would not pine wearily and attempt to abandon all duty in order to follow a hot guy.

Even if it was this hot guy.

Even if it was this hot guy.

All that being said, I am happy to have read the books and I would recommend them to anyone wanting to appreciate the roots of fantasy and a great, if long, story. If you’re looking for epic high fantasy, than look no further; however, I feel that many could easily be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the books.

✪✪✪✪✪

*A note about the movies versus the book: There were many parts left out and added in turn to the movies. This happened, in my mind, for two reasons: the movies couldn’t each be 19 hours long and changing certain parts was necessary to make it flow well. I don’t particularly like the dramatic amplification of the romance between Arwen and Aragorn. It seemed a bit much, but I suppose it was Hollywood’s duty to add that aspect of it. There was also some business with Sam and Gollum that was added in (the treachery and bit of breadcrumbs) that I think served little purpose. Ah well, I suppose.

Eat or Read? Seven Ways to Save on Books

If you’re an avid reader who is consequently not also a millionaire, then you’re most likely familiar with the quandary I present to you today: books cost money. Of course, not all books cost money, and not all the prices are enough to make your piggy bank squirm. In general, though, you have to cough up some cash to devour some literature.

Since I buy COPIOUS amounts of books, I thought I’d give a few tips on how I save some money and make sure there’s enough left over to buy silly little things like food, and to pay my rent.

  1. The Ereader For every reader out there, there is a separate opinion on whether or not ebooks and ereaders are a travesty or a delight. I’m not trying to sell you either way, I’m just saying that having an ereader has helped me save money (and space) in regards to books. I can read tons of books for below the $2.99 price point, which is fantastic. Plus, they only take up digital space. In a one bedroom apartment, that in itself is enough to promote sanity. There are many ebooks that are the same price as a physical mass-market paperback, or even more pricey. Personally, I think this is a bit of a scam, but there are also a lot of regulations and suits going on right now to help make ebook prices a bit more fair. In general, though, I buy ebooks that are cheaper than physical books, and that saves me money. Many local bookstores (that aren’t huge chains) have hooked themselves up with the Kobo store, and you can buy ebooks that support the small businesses. Check out the site for your local bookstore to see if they have that option available. You may be limited by your ereader in this regard, but there are also apps for tablets and phones that will let you read these formats.

  2. Buying books on Amazon I have a Kindle, so it’s a no-brainer to buy books from the Kindle Store. However, I also have an Amazon credit card, which gives me points towards purchases on Amazon for every dollar I spend. I get these points for stuff I buy on Amazon (books), and real-world things like gas and food. In short, I net at least five dollars in points a month, and I can immediately turn that five dollars into books. It works out great for me.

  3. Kindle Daily Deals Basically, Amazon discounts books every day. They feature four of them in various genres on their site as the Kindle Daily Deals. Here is where you can grab a book that normally goes for over $7 for $1.99 (an example from today). I check these daily and have purchased several books with this method. Granted, this may backfire, because I end up purchasing books many times because they ARE on sale, but given the fact that I do actually read them and am interested in them, it works out. You can subscribe to this list through email or follow them on Twitter (@AmazonKindle).

  4. Free ebook lists A lot of ebooks out there are free, or offered for free for a short amount of time. There are numerous websites that gather this data and make it easier to navigate. If you can find a mailing list to hop on, or just follow a site, you may find some stuff worth reading. Kindle always has a ton of freebies, and many authors are offering ebooks for free randomly in order to promote their work and get more readers.

  5. Reviews New authors (and established authors) need reviews. From having your own book review blog, to scanning Goodreads for forum posts, you can find a lot of people wanting to exchange a copy of their work for an honest review. Authors are also seeking beta readers, if you’re looking to be involved in the process of a book getting ready for publishing.

  6. Used Books If you’re more into physical books, I used to buy used books. There are always great little used bookstores around, and many of the books are still in wonderful condition, yet at a reduced price. I’ve snagged several excellent copies of stuff I wanted to read from used bookstores.

  7. The Library I’m one of those people that wants to own a copy of the book, even if it’s digital. You generally think of libraries for physical books, but most libraries these days have a good selection of ebooks you can borrow and read for free, which is just about as cost effective as you can get.

The majority of these methods involve ebooks and a Kindle. That’s what I use, so it’s what I’m familiar with. I’m always interested in finding more bargains, though, so let me know if you have any good ways to save a few bucks. How do you budget for books?

Calling All Book Reviewers: Fantasy Short Story

4889471879_ce34dcbd0a_zI recently edited a short story for Ben Stahl, who then self published it as his first work: Mercury, Sulfur, & Salt.

As a new author, he is on the lookout for book reviewers that might be interested in getting a copy of his ebook in exchange for an honest review. He does some book reviewing himself on his own blog (A World in Words), and also writes about self publishing and writing itself.

Here is a synopsis of Mercury, Sulfur, & Salt:

As the daughter of a powerful alchemist, Rhea resents the fact that her father refuses to teach her anything more than rudimentary alchemy. Though she understands that he is trying to protect her after her mother died in a violent alchemical accident, she still hates the secretive nature of his work. After an argument with her father, she seeks out his assistant Aurora. Instead of receiving the comfort she sought, she is asked to violate every belief she’s ever held.

Strange cloaked figures swarm the village, reducing it to cinders while they work to contain the deathly whispers floating on the scorched air. The night is red with blood and fire, filled with the screams of the dying—and something else. She must wade through the chaos of the village to try and find her father—and some answers—before everything dear to her is reduced to ash.

Worst of all, Rhea knows that it is all her fault.

How to Obtain a Review Copy

If you’re interested in providing an honest review in exchange for a copy of the Mercury, Sulfur, & Salt ebook, then please note the following:

  • Send an email to prjstahl [at] gmail [dot] com or visit www.bendstahl.wordpress.com and fill out the contact form to let the author know you’re interested in reviewing his book. Also, let him know what file type you’d prefer. At this time, only digital copies of the book are available.

  • Ask any questions you might have.

  • There isn’t a hard time limit, but getting around to the book prior to 2014 would be fantastic.

Even if you don’t want to review, please consider recommending this to anyone you know who might be interested. Not only are you supporting a new author, you’re supporting a lover of reading and writing.

Review: Dust by Hugh Howey

9781448184071-crop-325x325This book marks the conclusion to the Silo saga. I am intentionally not revealing much information regarding the books, in order to reduce spoilers.

Here’s a basic breakdown of the books so you’ll be less confused if you haven’t read them:

  • Wool: We meet the Silos and those living in them. This is the ‘present.’
  • Shift: We get background on the creation of the Silos and those involved. We delve into the past of a few characters from Wool’s ‘present.’
  • Dust: We go back to the ‘present’ and pick back up where Wool left off, including characters from Shift.

Humanity exists in a Silo; the world outside is poisoned from the mistakes of those long dead. This is the basis for Howey’s tale, and the stories delve deeply into the motivations and morals that drive people. Truth and lies are similar, if not the same, in many cases.  Dust itself details the struggles of Silo 18 from Wool and Silo 1, known from Shift. In it, we explore the efforts of certain parties that are struggling to change the direction things are headed, though this is different for every person involved.

Overall, I found Dust to be a bit disappointing. The first 48% of the book could be missing and it’d actually be a better read. I consciously recall looking down at my percent meter, seeing that 48, and going “Thank gods, this is finally picking up.” There are a few reasons why I think the first part is slow, but mainly I feel that the deviation from the characters from Wool in Shift is part of the problem. I’ve read an entire chunk of text without any of these characters in it, and frankly I don’t feel ingrained in their specific world anymore. With Dust, I’m flung back into relations with these characters, and it leaves them feeling flat and awkward. It also feels like the characters aren’t really acting like themselves, but this could be a symptom of the missing time between reading Wool and Dust

After that 48% mark, though, the story lived up more so to what I think it should be. The characters felt more at home in their skins, and the stomach churning decisions and action started happening again. A lot has been leading up to the ending of that book, and you do get a very satisfying ending.  It is predictable, but satisfying. You want the characters to end up with things working out the way they do, but you aren’t completely sure that’s how it will end. Can I be more vague? (Probably.)

I’m glad to have read and finished Dust. At the beginning of the book, I was a little wary and actually considered putting it down. It was nice to finish off the story, however. I feel like Howey could have done a bit more with the first half of the book, and there is a change in writing style that you can detect. There are also various editing issues that weren’t present before (he doesn’t use true em dashes, and he at one point refers to Lukas as Donald). All in all, though, it was a decent read. 

Hugh Howey has become extremely popular as a self published author and has written many books. I think he’s a great guy and he even helped me out by signing a copy of Wool for me to give to my boyfriend for his birthday. He has an excellent story here, and is quite good at telling it. I still think, though, that the issue with me thinking the books get less interesting goes back to the pure excellence that is the (free) first installment of Wool. It was so good, and heartbreaking, and surprising, and a genuine mind-bone. If you read nothing else of Howey’s, I highly recommend this work.

✪✪✪

Ignorance is Strength: Banned Books Week 2013

SlideshowThis week (September 22 to 28, 2013) is Banned Books Week, where the American Library Association raises awareness for the copious books that are banned from schools and libraries across the nation.

Sometimes the books that get banned are much contested, but other times they are pulled from the shelves with barely a flutter of pages. Some of these books are considered classics (Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) and some are new books that people just don’t want their kids to read for some reason (or more obvious reasons, such as with James’ 50 Shades of Grey). However subversive or innocent the book may actually be, it certainly chafes at my sense of freedom to deny an individual to read an act of free speech.

The Internet is full of information about banned books. Here you find a list of classic children’s books that were banned for various reasons. Most oddly, to me, are Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which were banned in certain places and times to protect the logging industry. The Banned Books Week website features the ten most contested books from the last year, and many bookstores and sites are featuring books that are banned in several places as well.

I’m forced to wonder why certain books are banned. Common reasons include sexuality, drugs, violence, and other adult themes. I can understand wanting to quote/unquote protect the children. But aren’t our children the ones that need to learn these lessons? Shouldn’t our teenagers read Huxley and realize that medicating to make yourself happy and focusing on hedonism is just a way to let the world go by without having any affect on it yourself? Shouldn’t our young adults learn to value knowledge, education, opinion, and the right to speak out with the way you feel?

It’s true, too, that wanting to ban certain books is a valid opinion that the banners have a right to express; however, I think it’s more that they are scratching an itch. I won’t defend every book that people want banned, mainly because I haven’t read them all. From what I’ve heard about 50 Shades of Grey, frankly I’d be more concerned that my child might mistakenly think it was a good book! (If you’re a fan of that trilogy, let me know why and I might give it a try. I’ve not heard anything good about it, though.)

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I think that a good majority of the “appropriate” books that are banned are victims simply because we as a nation find it hard to swallow the true problems that kids deal with these days. We ban these books because they deal with sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence, but then our children deal with those issues. What if an abused child was able to find solace or strength in a book? What if a kid learned a life lesson because they read something “too adult” for their age bracket?

I think a great answer to this problem comes in the form of the popularity of young adult dystopian novels these days. Things like The Hunger Games and Divergent are wildly popular, but aren’t exactly peace, love, and rainbow unicorns. I hope the trend continues (but I’m biased because I really enjoy dystopian lit).

The world is a scary place. There are things out there we want to protect our young from. If I ever have kids, I pray to any deity that will listen that they have a great time growing up and don’t have to deal with a lot of the harsher realities of being a human until they are ready. If that child comes to me and says they want a copy of 1984, I will proudly present them with my own dog-eared copy. Because in my own little corner of reality, IGNORANCE is not STRENGTH.

So, reconsider some banned books. Help fight those who want to ban them. Most of all, read them.  What are some of your favorite banned books? Are there any you are glad are banned? Let me know your position on this important issue.

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