Banned Books Week 2015

Young Adult books are the focus of Banned Books Week in 2015. Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will run from September 27 through October 3, 2015, and will be observed in libraries, schools, bookstores and other community settings across the nation and the world.

“Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. “These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.”

In recent years, the majority of the most frequently challenged books in libraries have been Young Adult (YA) titles. Six YA titles were on the list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2014, according to the American Library Association. Attempted bans on books of all kinds also frequently occur under the guise of protecting younger audiences.

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read by encouraging read-outs, displays, and community activities that raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Last year, tens of thousands of people participated in Banned Books Week online. More than 500 videos were posted in a virtual read-out, and thousands participated in hundreds of events in bookstores, libraries, and schools and universities across the country.

BannedBooksWeek.org is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can get involved. The website also includes resources and activities provided by event sponsors.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, People For the American Way Foundation, PEN American Center, and Project Censored. (via the American Library Association website)

So what are the top challenged Young Adult* books of 2014-2015?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

Data courtesy of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. 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.

* Young Adult literature is generally written for an audience between the ages of about eleven or twelve to about seventeen or eighteen. This is not a steadfast rule, but rather a general parameter. For the purpose of this list, the sponsors of Banned Books Week have defined Young Adult as books that have been taught in middle and high schools, and/or are located in the teen collections of public and/or school libraries.

Curious as to what the full list of banned and challenged books were for 2014-2015? Check it out here.

Report challenges to books to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom! And remember to read!

Looking for a Young Adult book to read? Buzzfeed lists 37 Books Every YA Fan Needs To Read Before They Die (According to Goodreads Users).

The King and I

By Angela Kaufman

I have worked with valuable coaches who have helped me grow. Yet one stands out above the rest.

He doesn’t mind when I call seek his guidance at odd hours. He is available via the written and spoken word, and when all else fails I can watch his videos on YouTube.

His advice has been priceless both in my personal life and in adding to my understanding of humanity and relationships. As an Intuitive Relationship Coach, I reference his work frequently. Even when I worked in the clinical field I encouraged my clients to seek out his books.

I have paid him very little over the years for the wisdom he has given me, and perhaps even more strange, he does not even know I exist, and I am ok with that.

My long-distance-Mentor is Stephen King.

Once considered the Master of Suspense, King has emerged into something more, at least in my view. Yes, we typecast, and titles are deceiving. Stephen King is the Master of Social Commentary. He has a brilliant knack for reflecting the conflicts of his time.

The first Life Lesson from the King is that we all are on a path of evolution and must allow each other space and time to grow without judgment. Contrast one of the early works written under the pen name Richard Bachman with a more recent and “sober” work like 11/22/63 and the growth is evident.

Not only are there significant shifts in the tone, attitude and depth of King’s works as time goes on, but his characters seem to “grow up” as well. Thus we are reminded not to judge a person by their struggles, but to give them space to grow, or falter, on their path.

Life Lesson 2- Each Individual Possesses a Dual Nature.

King’s characters are, for the most part, complex. He is a master of illustrating the depth of humanity. Very few of his characters are outright evil and even the bad-ass bullies (Ace and his crew from “The Body”, the greaser youths from “It”, and the kids from “Carrie” for example) illustrate social injustices and are products of their culture and times. This is also apparent in King’s characterization of historical figure Lee Harvey Oswald in his fictional depiction for 11/22/63. By portraying the connection between cultural context, early upbringing (domestic violence, alcoholism, incest, poverty, racism to name a few) with antisocial and cruel behavior later on, King provides a psychological framework for characters who have a dirty job which someone has to do. That job is to hold a mirror up to society and individuals and reveal the Shadow side within us all and the dark side of our culture. The “monster” within comes alive in the obsessive, deranged killers of his stories.

Of course his stories seldom feature the bad guy acting alone. There is typically a supernatural element, an abstract “Hand of Fate” which serves to tempt (or push) a fundamentally wounded character over the edge. In It it is the entity Pennywise, representation of the corruption and denial of small town America, which corrupts the mind of the already desperate and unstable, tempting them with seduction of fame, power, revenge etc. A similar phenomenon occurs in The Stand. In this story as well, the battle lines between the righteous and the depraved is a fine line carved by a combination of free will and the failing nature of human desire. The insecurities that would tempt some characters to betray their morals, and each other, to serve the entity personifying evil (Randall Flagg) while other characters, while obviously flawed, find the will to follow a higher calling and follow the path of light, embodied by Mother Abigail.

This brings us to the 3rd Life Lesson from Stephen King. We all have choice and free will and at any given moment we have access to a number of guides who will serve our higher purpose, if only we will occasionally quiet the ego to listen.

King’s characters repeatedly encounter special mentors, guides and teachers. Danny Torrence from the Shining is serendipitously connected to Dick Halloran (the hotel Cook) who recognizes his ability to “shine” and in the sequel, Dr. Sleep, Danny himself becomes mentor to another youth named Abra. King’s characters often don’t realize they are seeking a special kind of assistance until their talents, or needs are met by those they encounter synchronistically. The same occurs in reality and when we open to intuitive guidance and attraction dynamics, we allow powerful connections to be made without the cumbersome presence of ego to get in the way. The examples of this are too numerous to list individually, so pick your favorite Stephen King story and this pattern will be evident.

Life Lesson: Suspense can be a good thing….

More Life Lessons from the King to come as this series continues.

About Angela Kaufman:
Angela Kaufman is Your 21st Century Relationship Psychic. As an Intuitive Relationship and Empowerment Coach Angela is passionate about helping modern women interpret their lives and world through a more intuitive, Spiritual lens. While recognizing that Spirit speaks to us in many ways, even through the writing of a novelist from Maine.
For more information on Intuitive Relationship Coaching and other practical, spiritual soul-utions, visit intuitiveangela.com or contact Angela at intuitiveangela@gmail.com.

Geek Month in Review: August 2015

By JB Sanders

Not as hot as expected August…

Roomba Makers Exploring Autonomous Lawn Mower
Yup, robotic lawn mowers, just trimming away on their own. What could go wrong?

HyperLoop Actually Happening
Remember that crazy scifi pneumatic tube train that Elon Musk (super villain in training) was talking about a while ago? Sounded like a crazy, looney-tunes idea, right? Super-high-speed trains, running in tubes with little or no air, and getting places in an hour that normally require six. Yeah, that. They’re starting construction in 2016. Really.

Oldest Message-in-a-Bottle Found
At over 100 years old, this bottle has been floating around for a long, long time.

Real Locked Room Puzzle
Apparently, there’s a craze spreading around where people build real locked-room puzzles. Remember those things in video games where you find yourself locked in a room, and have to solve a variety of mechanical (or magical!) puzzles to unlock the door. Well, now people are doing that in real life.

Integrated Space Plan
Originally conceived by scientist Ron Jones, the “wildly detailed” plan to map how humans will expand into space has recently been updated. It sets out milestones and technology we’ll need to do things like permanently settle Mars, create a self-sustaining Moon base, and other fun items. Plus it comes in a handy poster form!

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2015

As you know, tomorrow is a one of Rebecca’s high holy days. You know what it is of course. It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day! It’s a day when you act silly and talk like a cartoony pirate, but more importantly, it’s when we can all partake in the most stereotypical of all pirate activities, rum drinking! Now if you’re not like me and don’t have this date marked on your calendar it is certainly not too late to come up with some ideas for how to celebrate.

First, and most importantly, to truly celebrate you just need to talk like a pirate. So let loose with the salty pirate speech mateys, for the occasion calls for it. If you do that, you have celebrated the day. However, if you’re looking for a little more powder in your keg, might I direct your attention to The Original Talk Like a Pirate Day website?

This site has EVERYTHING! How to talk like a pirate, pirate quizzes, pirate name generators, pirate party kit page (includes invitations, website banners, e-cards, drink recipes, and more!), and then a crazy links page. There are links to every kind of pirate related thing you could imagine: historical pirates, pirate comics, pirate themed restaurants, pirate books for adults, teens, and kids, pirate apps, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, pirate themed musical acts, pirate alcohol, and many more!

No matter how you choose to celebrate, just do so responsibly with those that you love.

And don’t call me Sunday morning.

Grace

While contemplating what to say about Paul Avgerinos new album “Grace” I decided to look up the actual definition of the word grace on Dictionary.com.

noun
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
3. favor or goodwill.
4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:
5. mercy; clemency; pardon:
6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied:

verb (used with object), graced, gracing.
14. to lend or add grace to; adorn:
15. to favor or honor:
to grace an occasion with one’s presence.

And yes, I found myself thinking, yes, I could feel most of these being evoked when listening to the album. With titles such as “Serenity”, “Guru’s Grace”, “Angelic Presence” and “Always Blessed” it’s not hard to imagine. “Grace” is a soothing, relaxing journey. What I enjoy the most is that each time I listen I’ll notice something I hadn’t heard before; a smooth drone buried in the background, or a playful twinkle flitting throughout a tune.

It should be noted that not only will listeners hear the talents of Avgerinos, but the album also features Grammy winners David Darling, Laura Sullivan and Ricky Kej!

Here is the song “Grace Is” from the album:

“Grace” from Paul Avgerinos is perfect for quiet reflection, yoga, meditation, work (I listen to it while writing), and I suspect much more. Consider giving it a try.

The Shadow Soul

“‘The Shadow Soul’ is the first part of The Trailokya Trilogy, a fantasy series that follows the rise and fall of fabled races and souls at the junction of three worlds: Zion, Earth and Jahannam. K. Williams weaves a tale that will leave you questioning long held convictions about the human legends of Heaven and Hell. Are you ready to enter the gates of Zion and learn the truth?

Captain Maiel is a duta warrior of Zion, a race of giant, winged guardians and chroniclers of the lesser souls. Maiel’s assurances are shaken when she nearly loses a young human girl to the dark forces of Jahannam, the prison realm where the lowest beings reside. To avoid answering to the leaders of her world, Maiel seeks refuge on Earth, but she is pursued by a baron of Jahannam intent on destroying her. Can she be saved before time runs out? Or will she be sacrificed to secure the borders of Zion and to hide the lie her journey uncovers?

With each step further into darkness, long held secrets are revealed and shadows rise from the past to challenge absolutes.”

We’re lucky enough to have a brief excerpt to share:

Reluctantly leaving the child to his whispers, Maiel followed the corridor to the right. A squad might be able to dislodge him, and the suggestion would go in her report. However, right then, there was someone whom she could not ignore. Dashing past the open door of a dim room, Maiel caught a glimpse of a shadowalker. She halted and took several slow steps back.

A dark cloud hovered over the bed of a young patient. The curious brown ether was what her kind called smokers. A nurse checked her pulse with great dismay. In the corner of the ceiling, a youngling was trapped in web-like bonds. Maiel grimaced at the guardian, drew her bow and aimed.

“Smoky,” Maiel called out to the shade.

The wispy figure ignored Maiel, as it crouched over the child, drooling and licking its lips as it waited for the final moment. A string of light stretched from the child’s mouth to that of the shade. The human’s heart beat much too slowly. Maiel’s eyes flicked to the shade and back. The kid didn’t have much time. If the shade drew much more energy, the bio-vessel would die and she would be returned before her time, or stolen to Jahannam.

“I’m talking to you, shit-eater.”

The figure stopped feeding, turning its blank face to look at the duta addressing it. A macabre mash of scars adorned the head. The blank face opened where a mouth should have been. Sparks of lightning flashed in the cloud, followed by a long, snake-like tongue. It sniffed the air through tiny slits and hissed.

“I’ll count to three. Give you a head start.”

The shade opened its mouth, every wisp of smoke making up its sattva tightening, and bellowed a terrible howl. Maiel loosed her arrow. It landed its mark at the back of the smoker’s throat and pressed through. She grimaced as it slumped and dripped black blood all over the bed and floor. She entered the room and freed the young guardian with her dagger.

About the K.Williams:
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she continues to reside, K.Williams embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and work in the arts.

K attended the State University of New York at Morrisville, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany (home of the New York State Writer’s Institute) gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art.

Currently, K has completed the MALS program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. K continues to write and is working on the novels of the Trailokya Trilogy, a work that deals with topics in Domestic Violence and crosses the controversial waters of organized religion and secularism. A sequel to OP-DEC is in the research phase, while the adaptation is being shopped to interested film companies. Excerpts of these and more writings can be found at: http://bluehonor.com/.

And we’re even LUCKIER because I happen to have a signed copy of “The Shadow Soul” by K. Williams to giveaway to a reader! Contest ends at midnight Eastern time Sunday Sept. 6, 2015. See the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway