25 September - 1 October 2016 is Banned Books Week

What is Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week is the book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookshops and libraries.

The ALA (American Library Association) says: ‘A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported.’

More than 11 000 books have been challenged since 1982. Have a look at the most frequently banned titles of these years:  2014,  2013, 2012, 2011

The 10 most challenged titles of 2015 were:

  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, 'poorly written’, 'concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it’
  3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, 'wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints’
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, 'profanity and atheism’
  6. The Holy Bible. Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Reasons: Violence, 'graphic images’
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson. Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter. Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. Reasons: Homosexuality, 'condones public displays of affection’

If you want to find out which books were the most challenged over the past 15 years, follow this link: The Top Ten Challenged Books Lists

by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+, LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

you only kissed me with the lights off and sometimes when i opened my eyes id think i was dreaming, this was just too good to be true but when i came back to reality i heard you whispering your name. i kept going, i let you do anything you wanted because i know it eased the pain. you wanted me to go away? i ran. you wanted me closer? i become one with your bones.
—  i did everything for you, all you had to do was ask.
One day someone
will do anything
just to retrieve
all the stars she buried
under her feet,
and he’ll throw them
towards the sky,
where they will shine
brighter than—
they did before.
—  ma.c.a // Chances and Changes

“I think she was afraid to love sometimes. I think it scared her. She was the type to like things that were concrete, like the ocean. Something you could point to and know what it was. I think that’s why she always struggled… And I think that’s why she also struggled with love. She couldn’t touch it. She couldn’t hold on to it and make sure it never changed.”

- Carrie Ryan

Let me tell you about Watermelon Tourmaline!

So, eventually, I’m going to create a mini-series (as in a series of mini books) called Cripple 101, which is all about this college professor who is sort of what you would get if you mixed House, Grunkle Stan, and Ryder, only with a much bigger heart. (That’s not to say he’s a good guy; he does some pretty crappy things throughout the series.) Basically, he’s the type of guy who will go to the ends of the earth to help you if he likes you and will make your life a living hell if he doesn’t. At the risk of getting fired, he convinces the college to let him start a class for people with disabilities. (He uses a cane to walk and has a few other disabilities I know, I know, just hear me out.)

I literally have no clue what I’m going to call this guy. None whatsoever. I’ve tried multiple names but none of them seem right. It’s extremely frustrating.

But while I have absolutely no knowledge on his name, I do have knowledge (extensive knowledge) on one of the subplots:

Watermelon Tourmaline.

Watermelon is going to be…that college student. You know that college student. I know that college student. I’m friends with that college student (several of them). Hell, at times, I am that college student.

The one who wears the name SJW with pride. Who is always advocating for something. Who is always changing their identities and defending them while also defending the ones that they aren’t a part of. 

That college student.

I suppose you could call her a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but quite frankly, I don’t care if you do, because that trope is sexist in and of itself.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

So Watermelon comes up to MC and begins giving him the spiel, you know? How she’s not disabled but that he should stop using the word ‘crippled’ because it’s considered a demeaning slur. 

And he just stares at her like, “Oh my god, I’m going to hate you.”

In fact, he probably says that.

And when he asks her what her name is, she says: “Watermelon Tourmaline.”

And he’s just like, “That’s not a name.”

“Yes, it is.”

“It really isn’t.”

So at first, it looks like this girl is going to be an annoying parody and that I’m going to be a jerk who tries to mock these types of college students, right?

Well, stick with me, because those of you who know me know me well enough to know that I have big plans for this.

Fast-forward to a few days later when MC is sitting with Jack in the dining hall. Who’s Jack? Well, I’ll tell you tomorrow but let’s just say that the relationship between this nameless character and Jack is one of my favorite ones in the series so far. (Note: I only thought of this series two days ago.) And MC notices that the pea soup is just frozen peas dumped into lukewarm soup broth. Jack sort of dismisses it and implies that he’s already gotten used to the food, something that shocks the MC. And the more the MC asks around, the more he realizes that everyone is just eating this disgusting food and accepting the fact that if they get sick, they get sick. A few things happen in said dining hall but MC quickly becomes distracted by a voice.

It’s Watermelon, who is talking to the manager of the dining hall, complaining about the shoddy food. MC’s jaw drops and he looks on, first shocked, then impressed, then proud. And he walks over and helps her defend her case.

It looks like there’s a mutual sense of respect until they leave the dining hall (which is still serving the horrid food) and he asks her what her name is.

She sighs and mutters, “Sabrina Knox.”

The two get into an argument over identities and she storms off.

And he watches her leave and something dawns on him.

Cut to him teaching his first class where all of the students are highly engrossed, but he can’t help feeling like someone is missing. And as he’s walking across campus, he finds Sabrina/Watermelon at a table, trying to get people to sign a petition to increase the food quality. Only nobody’s stopping and everyone’s just sort of snorting and rolling their eyes. And she’s about to pack up when MC sharply says, “Don’t.”

And he limps over and is like, “Don’t stop fighting, all right? Look, I don’t care if you’re the only voice out there. It’s better than having no voice at all. The soup is crap. It’s about time someone pointed it out.”

And he signs the petition and adds, “See you in class, Watermelon.”

He walks away and Jack wheels up to him, wondering why he’s letting her join the class after all.

“Because,” says MC, “she’s one of us.”



“You mean because she’s crazy?”

MC chuckles and says, “No, she’s depressed.”

Jack just stares at him and is like, “She’s what?”

And MC goes into this long rant akin to, “She’s latching onto something, anything, that gives her a purpose, that gives her a reason to wake up in the morning. She needs something to fight for, she needs to know that something needs her to fight for it, she needs to know that she can make a difference, that she can change something or someone for the better, even if she can’t change herself. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

And Jack’s just staring at MC, who cheerfully says, “Plus, she wears glasses, so that’s good enough for me.”

And after that, he genuinely grows to care for Watermelon, referring to her by her strange but meaningful name, always helping her (if not exasperatedly) when she wants to fight for something, and being there on the days when she doesn’t think that anything is worth fighting for.

Bonus: One of those days occurs and she comes to the conclusion that fighting for better food is a lost cause. A few days later, a bunch of people get sick right in the dining hall. MC and Watermelon show up and the former just grins and looks down at this student because he knows that it’s her time to shine. So he offers her a hand and helps her up onto a table, watching in pride as she rallies students up and shouts that they deserve better than this.

And this is just one of his students.

This entire series starts with a guy who creates a class partially to keep his job and partially to spite the administration but quickly realizes, “Aw crap, I love every single one of these kids. I did not sign up for this.”

Just wait til you hear about Jack.

Graphic Borders: Latino Comic Books Past, Present, and Future (2016)

“From the influential work of Los Bros Hernandez in Love & Rockets, to comic strips and political cartoons, to traditional superheroes made nontraditional by means of racial and sexual identity (e.g., Miles Morales/Spider-Man), comics have become a vibrant medium to express Latino identity and culture. Indeed, Latino fiction and nonfiction narratives are rapidly proliferating in graphic media as diverse and varied in form and content as is the whole of Latino culture today.

Graphic Borders presents the most thorough exploration of comics by and about Latinos currently available. Thirteen essays and one interview by eminent and rising scholars of comics bring to life this exciting graphic genre that conveys the distinctive and wide-ranging experiences of Latinos in the United States. The contributors’ exhilarating excavations delve into the following areas: comics created by Latinos that push the boundaries of generic conventions; Latino comic book author-artists who complicate issues of race and gender through their careful reconfigurations of the body; comic strips; Latino superheroes in mainstream comics; and the complex ways that Latino superheroes are created and consumed within larger popular cultural trends. Taken as a whole, the book unveils the resplendent riches of comics by and about Latinos and proves that there are no limits to the ways in which Latinos can be represented and imagined in the world of comics.”

Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama and Christopher González

Get it  now here   

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New Grimoire/Magic Book!

This has been my project for the past few days! I have been turning part of their book into a secret compartment, and it’s going to be my magic book. This book was originally supposed to be the hold for my engagement ring - but my now husband didn’t quite know what he was doing and he said he messed it up.

So this book with a random almost ring sized hole through 1/3 of the book has been collecting dust for almost 2 years. He said I could do with it what I wanted - so I turned this half complete project into something of use! And isn’t that what cottage witchery/hearth craft if all about? Taking the mundane and making it into magic? I am very happy with how this came out and I can’t wait to start adding to my new book!