Banned Books #58- We All Fall Down

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier.

We All Fall Down

We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
First published: 1991
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, sexual content.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I never usually understand any reason for a book being challenged/banned, no matter what year it was raised in. I can think of occasional books where access should perhaps be restricted in a school library setting for very young children but generally, I think people should be free to read whatever they like, particularly if there’s not a solid reason for the challenging or banning. This book was published in the early nineties and although it’s slightly dated, I feel that it could still be read right now without any difficulty. As always, I get a bit dumbfounded about the issues that were raised. I think this is meant to be a work of young adult fiction, so for the age group it’s aimed at, I do think there shouldn’t be too many problems. I don’t think there’s too many incidences of offensive language – certainly nothing I found offensive anyway but I do appreciate that people are different and may be more sensitive to those aspects.

CHRISSI: I didn’t think the language in this book was overly offensive. When it’s aimed at young adults, we really need to stop thinking that they can’t handle offensive language. I’m pretty sure most young adults use offensive language. It’s everywhere! Film, TV, books, family members and peers… why should we challenge a book due to offensive language? I do think there are some moments in the book that is quite heavy going, so I think if this book was in a school library, it should have an age range on it. It’s really down to individual discretion, I think and guidance from teachers/librarians if it’s in a school.

How about now?

BETH: The fact that this book was still on the list for 2003 blows my mind a little bit. There is a bit of sexual content (although it isn’t graphic) but could still upset readers so they should perhaps be aware of that. I find it very strange though that I always try and guess the reasons for challenging a book and more often than not, I’m usually wrong. I anticipated that people would have problems with the level of violence that is used in this novel and that isn’t mentioned at all. However, I do stand by what I said in my previous answer – it’s meant to be young adult fiction and I think it is probably okay to be read by that particular age group.

CHRISSI: I have definitely read more explicit books in the YA genre than this. Like Beth, I thought the violence would be a bit of an issue, but it’s not mentioned in the reasons for challenging this book. I don’t see why it was challenged in 2003. There’s definitely more to be worried about than a book like this. As I mentioned in my previous answer, it should be restricted access to the YA age range.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This book left me a bit surprised, to be honest. It’s only 200 pages so didn’t take me that long to read and I fairly flew through it as it was quite action-packed. I was intrigued by the story-line, the devastation that a family go through after their property is violated, leaving one of their daughters in hospital. I was also curious about the part of the plot that involved The Avenger and how that ended up being resolved, which was very much “heart in the mouth,” kind of stuff. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

CHRISSI: I flew through this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It does seem a little bit dated having being published in the 90s, but it was still highly enjoyable and so easy to read. There was a great amount of intrigue that kept me turning the pages!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

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Talking About ‘Now You See Her’ with Bibliobeth!

Now You See Her

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

NOW YOU SEE HER
She’s playing at the school fete with your children. You pull out your phone, scroll through Facebook, and look up again.
NOW YOU DON’T

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable, tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.

Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PUT THINGS RIGHT?

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions before you went into reading this book?

BETH: No, not really. I had read some excellent reviews from my fellow book bloggers and because it was on the Richard and Judy book club list for Spring, I had high hopes that we were going to be getting a great psychological thriller. However, because I feel like I’ve read a lot of books in that genre recently, I was a little bit concerned that it was going to be a bit too similar. Keeping an open mind was the best idea though because I really ended up enjoying it!

BETH: Charlotte has a really tough time in this novel when a child she is looking after goes missing. Did you sympathise with her?

CHRISSI: Oh my goodness. It is my WORST fear. As you know, I teach and I’m responsible for 31 children every week day and it would seriously be my worst nightmare. I can’t imagine the guilt you would feel if a child in your care went missing, so yes. I TOTALLY sympathised with Charlotte. I know some people would think that Charlotte should have been paying much more attention to the child, but something can happen in an instant. You can’t possibly be watching every second.

CHRISSI: The thriller genre is very populated. Do you think this book stands out enough?

BETH: It most definitely is. As I mentioned in the previous answer, there is a risk that the market has become a bit over-saturated with books that explore all the same themes and as a result, that can make them less exciting to read – especially if you can predict what’s going to happen within the story. I haven’t read any books by this author before but I do think it stands out. It was a very quick, fast-paced story that was enjoyable with some interesting characterisation and even more intriguing, tense moments.

BETH: The story illustrates the importance of a good friendship support network. Do you think if Harriet had this things might have been different?

CHRISSI: I think things would have been very different if Harriet had a good friendship support network. I also wish she had a stronger friendship with Charlotte. I feel that if she was closer to Charlotte she could have explained more to her about her life. I wish her friendship circle had been larger so she would’ve had more people to turn to and talk to. I felt like Harriet isolated herself from others.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, did you predict where this story was going to go?

BETH: I don’t think I did, which was a relief! I love to be surprised, particularly in this genre and do get a bit disappointed if I can predict what’s going to happen. This book did surprise me with the direction that it took and I particularly loved the darker aspects of the plot (which I couldn’t possibly discuss for fear of spoilers) but added something a little extra to the story in general.

BETH: This novel has also been marketed under the title Her One Mistake. What title do you prefer?

CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a tricky one because I get the reasons behind the two titles. Hmmm… I guess I do prefer Now You See Her because it makes me think ‘now you see her, now you don’t…’ and I think that’s quite a creepy feel which fits with the novel. I feel like there were more mistakes made in this novel than just one and not all by females…

CHRISSI: Discuss the pacing of this novel.

BETH: The pacing of this novel was excellent. It was fast-paced but not so fast-paced that you find yourself struggling to keep up with everything that’s going on. I also appreciated that it was slow enough where you got a real sense of the characters i.e. their personalities, their past experiences and their motives and in that way, it made me feel a deeper connection and care about them a bit more individually.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I definitely would. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I read so many books like this that it takes quite a lot to impress me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Daisy Jones & The Six *Buddy review with Bibliobeth*

Daisy Jones and The Six

How did I get it?:

I bought it!

Synopsis:

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed. Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

Thoughts:

When I recently got a copy of Daisy Jones & The Six Beth suggested that we buddy read it. We usually don’t buddy read, but I thought I’d go for it this time, especially as it was during my 2 week break. I had time to commit to reading which is just fabulous. I enjoyed my buddy reading experience. Whilst I don’t think I could read our books like this all the time (hoorah for Talking About, Kid-Lit and Banned Books- our other features!) buddy reading will be happening again.

We wanted something different to differentiate this review from the others that we do. Beth came up with the idea to describe the book using the first letters of Daisy Jones… I thought that sounded fun and unique, so here it is!

Drug dabbling- (look at that alliteration!)- This book is based in an era where drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were definitely a think. Be prepared to read about a lot of drug use.

Absorbing- the way in which the story is told completely pulls you in. It’s very unique.

Immortal- I feel like Daisy felt she was immortal. The music of the band will always keep them alive, but I always felt like she was dabbling with her mortality with every drug binge.

Savage- Without spoilers, I felt like some of the characters’ actions were savage although sometimes necessary… Ooh intriguing!

Young- I felt for Daisy all through the book. I think the lack of love she had from a young age contributed to her troubles.

Jealous- Initially, I thought there might be a lot of jealousy in the story. I think there’s elements of jealousy, but I was surprised at how accommodating some of the characters were… No spoilers 😉 Sorry!

Obvious- Beth and I were texting at various stop points and although we partly guessed what might happen, we didn’t fully get it right. I like that the story isn’t that obvious. I think because there was such a twist on Evelyn Hugo we expected the unexpected?

Notable- This book felt like it was real. It did feel like this band existed and were reading an expose.

Effortless- Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing seems effortless, (even though I’m sure she puts lots of effort into writing beautifully!) it’s just so seamless and easy to devour.

Satisfying- I’ve ended both Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six feeling very satisfied. I’m now sure I want to read more from this author!

Please go and check Beth’s take on this book by visiting her blog, HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Without a doubt!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #3)

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s not everyday you find yourself in combat with a half-lion, half-human.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

Thoughts:

I am late to the party with Percy Jackson but it’s a series that I’m pleased that we’re reading for this kid-lit feature. I have to admit, I don’t quite ‘get’ the love as much as some super fans do. Please don’t get me wrong. There’s no denying that it’s an excellent adventure series and I adore the Greek mythology, it’s just not a series that I see myself re-reading. That said, I am enjoying my step into Percy Jackson and I thought The Titan’s Curse was an excellent addition to the series so far.

In this book, we follow Percy, Annabeth and Thaila as they try to help Grover sneak two half-bloods out from a military style school. As you can imagine, things go wrong and they come across another problem. Annabeth is kidnapped during a battle. It’s another mission for Percy. Another chance to save someone!

There are some really intriguing characters in this instalment. I always love to meet the Gods and Goddesses and they are there in abundance in this tale. I also enjoyed the character Zoe. She’s prickly and a bit of a brat but I thought she was interesting. I think you learn more about why she is the way she is as the story progresses.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this story continues. I adore how the author incorporates Greek mythology so seamlessly. It certainly keeps things interesting for me. Rick Riordan is a fantastic writer and its his writing that keeps me glued to the pages. He’s effortlessly funny and keeps the story moving at a great pace.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (April):
Demon Dentist- David Walliams

Talking About ‘The Last Thing She Told Me’ with Bibliobeth!

The Last Thing She Told Me

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too far-fetched?

BETH: This might not be the same answer for everyone who reads it but unfortunately for me at points, I found it difficult to connect with. Not necessarily unbelievable but there were points when I thought the way certain characters reacted to circumstances weren’t how I imagined they would in a real-life situation. However, I don’t have any personal experience similar enough to what some of the women suffer through in this book so who can say for certain how someone would/should react? I have plenty of experience with grief and it certainly does crazy things to a person, emotionally and psychologically speaking. Also, the part with the fairy bone and Maisie being allowed to keep it for a night according to the police – I really don’t think that would actually happen.

BETH: What did you think of the relationship between the women, primarily Nicola and her mother Irene? Did you find any similarities between Nicola’s relationship to her oldest daughter, Ruby?

CHRISSI: I felt like the relationships between women in this story were quite fractured. Nicola and Irene definitely had a difficult time within this story, mainly down to what had happened to Irene in the past. Nicola may not have realised this. I feel like Nicola tried to be more open and honest with her own daughter although she hid a major secret from her. There were so many secrets in this story that affected all of the female relationships.

CHRISSI: What purpose did William’s letters to Betty serve throughout the book?

BETH: I thought they served as a nice little addition to the narrative. I really enjoy the inclusion of letters in a novel, it gives such a fascinating insight into a character’s life and personality but the danger with them is that if you’re only hearing from one person’s point of view, it gives only one side of the story. With the different threads going on throughout this book, I couldn’t help but be slightly suspicious of William’s character and motives and it was interesting to read how it all panned out in the end.

BETH: Did you predict what would happen at any point in this novel?

CHRISSI: I don’t think so. I had some ideas along the way but nothing that was particularly solid. I think it could have gone in any direction really… it was that sort of book!

CHRISSI: Without spoilers. why do you think Nicola finally acknowledges what happened to her at age 20?

BETH: I think Nicola goes through so much inner turmoil as she relives her own personal experiences through that of her mother and grandmother. It reminds her how different life was for women just a generation or two ago and how little power or control they seemed to have over their own destiny. As a result, it makes her think again about how times have changed. She now has the perfect opportunity to break her silence and speak out whilst arriving at the realisation that telling her family the truth is better than hiding terrible secrets.

BETH: Why do you think Betty mentioned the babies to Nicola before she died?

CHRISSI: In my opinion, Betty wanted her family to be able to move on. If she told Nicola then the secrets would be out in the open. I think it somewhat took a weight off Betty’s mind and she could die knowing that she had done the right thing.

CHRISSI: What significance do the fairy statues have throughout the story?

BETH: I love the addition of the fairy statues (and I’m sure you did too, I know you have a fondness for fairies!). However, they do represent something a lot darker and more saddening than you would normally associate them with. I believe they represent childhood, innocence and how these things can be permanently altered through traumatic experiences.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I haven’t read this author before, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy her writing was to read.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Banned Books #57- Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen.

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Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
First published: 2008
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: No, no and no some more. I get so wound up when a book as sweet and inoffensive like this is challenged on grounds of homosexuality. I don’t understand it that as recently as ten years ago (which still feels to me like yesterday!) that individuals were challenging books for children because it featured gay characters. I think I would understand (but definitely NOT accept) the challenging if it was in less enlightened times when homosexuality was illegal and a lot of people had a problem with it. But to use it as a reason to restrict access to a book in the 2000’s. Really?

CHRISSI: What Beth said. I actually find it offensive that this book was even challenged! It is such a sweet story and it’s told in such a gentle way. What message does it send young children if a book like this is challenged/banned? That’s it wrong to have a homosexual in your family? Argh, it makes me so cross. I know a lot of children who do have two mothers and my heart hurts to think that they would believe it’s ‘wrong’. Children should see a representation of every type of family to open their minds and address stereotypes.

How about now?

BETH: I think you can already see from my previous answer that I very much disagree. Since 2008, I would have loved to believe we are becoming more accepting of individuals beliefs and desires but sadly, although I think there has been a lot of progress, there is still a lot more work to do. There will always be people who have quite extreme ideas about what is right and what is wrong and they’re entitled to their own opinion but when they use it to try and change other people’s minds/hurt the target individuals that they have a problem with, that’s when I have a problem too.

CHRISSI: I think there’s so much work to be done. Children are so much more accepting than adults and I wonder when that acceptance starts to get lost, or why it gets lost. When is it that we begin to judge so much? I know children don’t. When I get asked why a certain person has two mothers/fathers in class, the children accept it without questioning. Books like this NEED to be about so children know that it’s not abnormal to have a different family set up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I found this book to be a very adorable and informative read, especially for younger children. It’s a fantastic way of introducing children to LGBT issues and the fact that people should be free to love/marry whomever they want. I would be happy to read it with any children I come across and would be delighted to see it in schools, available for children to enjoy.

CHRISSI: It’s adorable and I’d be happy to read it to any child in my school!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Talking About ‘The House On Half Moon Street’ with Bibliobeth!

The House on Half Moon Street (Leo Stanhope, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Everyone has a secret… Only some lead to murder.

Leo Stanhope. Assistant to a London coroner; in love with Maria; and hiding a very big secret. 

For Leo was born Charlotte, but knowing he was meant to be a man – despite the evidence of his body – he fled his family home at just fifteen, and has been living as Leo ever since: his original identity known only to a few trusted people.

But then Maria is found dead and Leo is accused of her murder. Desperate to find her killer and under suspicion from all those around him, he stands to lose not just the woman he loves, but his freedom and, ultimately, his life.

CHRISSI: I told you when I started reading this book that it wasn’t what I had expected. Did you have any preconceptions of this book? Did it live up to your expectations?

BETH: I know you weren’t super keen on this one when we originally looked at it and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect myself. I’m desperately trying to step away from judging books too much before I give them a chance so I went into it with an open and intrigued mind. Also, even though I usually read the synopsis before I get stuck in, I tried to go into this book a little blind so that I could find out all about it myself without making any pre-judgements. In the end, I’m glad I did this as it made the story and the character of Leo more exciting for me and I was curious to see how it would continue.

BETH: What do you think you anticipated from this novel? How did your opinion change as you began and then finished it?

CHRISSI: I was NOT keen at all on reading this book. I did a you (hee hee) and judged it by its cover and the crime genre. I’m not a massive fan of the genre because it doesn’t always capture my attention. I personally feel that the genre is overpopulated and there are so many similar books. However, my opinion completely changed. I was pleasantly surprised and I feel like Alex Reeve brought something new to the genre.

CHRISSI: We’ve read books set in Victorian London before. How do you think the setting is compared to other books set in the same era?

BETH: I think the setting was definitely very evocative. Victorian London is one of my favourite settings to read about and I especially enjoy crime set in this era. However, because a lot of different works of fiction have been set within this time period, there is always a chance it can feel a bit stale. Luckily, I don’t believe this is the case with Half Moon Street. The author drops you expertly into the Victorian era with a lot of vivid descriptions of the streets and the people that walked them at this time in history. It took me right back in time, like I wanted and sits perfectly alongside other books set in this period.

BETH: Who was your favourite supporting character and why?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure it’s a ‘favourite’ as such but I was intrigued by Rosie Flowers. Yes, that really was her name. I wanted to know whether I could trust her or not and I was very interested in her history. It’s hard to pick a favourite as the characters are incredibly well rounded and developed. I think I could have easily picked a few. Maria herself intrigued me throughout, even though she had died (not a spoiler) early on in the story!

CHRISSI: Did this book capture your attention all the way through? What was it about the story that kept you reading?

BETH: I can say with complete confidence that my reason for turning the pages was most definitely the character of Leo. From the very beginning, you understand what an extraordinarily difficult life he has had and this could have made a story all of its own. When a murder is thrown into the mixture, Leo (turned amateur detective) becomes an even more endearing character who you find yourself rooting for constantly.

BETH: How do you think the author manages to capture the dark side of Victorian London?

CHRISSI: I felt like Alex Reeve really captured the dark side of Victorian London well. I definitely felt the atmosphere that I can imagine was around Victorian London. There were many elements that portrayed Victorian London effectively. The prostitution, the murders, the gore (especially the talk of the innards at the start!) the role of the men and women. It was all there in all it’s glory gory. It really struck a chord with me, that Leo knew he’d be put in an asylum if it was found that he dressed as a man.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, what did you make of the ending? Can you see this becoming a long series?

BETH: I liked the ending! I thought I had it all figured out but not quite. Things are resolved to an extent but the reader is definitely left hanging in one respect as to what might happen next (generally speaking) in the life of our main character, Leo. It absolutely has the potential to run as quite a long series because of the strength of Leo’s character and the potential adventures that he could become embroiled in.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. As long as the series doesn’t go on for too long. I think it’s my problem with some crime fiction. It seems to go on for many books and my interest wanes. A trilogy is enough for my attention span! 😉

Would WE recommend it?

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!