Minecraft Snowflakes!

Minecraft + Christmas. An odd combination, right? With so many Minecraft programs at my library, I’ve been trying to come up with a little something different for each one. Since my next one is the Saturday before Christmas, I needed something…festive.

How about some Minecraft snowflakes?

Have yourself a creeperish little Christmas just doesn’t sound quite right, but it works for kids.

If you do an internet search, Star Wars snowflakes abound. But Minecraft? I found one. And it was challenging for me to cut it out, so leading 50+ five to twelve-year-olds through the tricky cuts wouldn’t be feasible.

So I designed my own.

Minecraft Snowflakes

I think they turned out pretty cool!

If you’d like to make these, the pdf templates are below:

Easy Minecraft Snowflake

Minecraft Snowflake


-You don’t have to cut it all out in one continuous cut. You’ll get much cleaner outlines if you cut straight lines, bit by bit.

-The mouth is right along the fold, so it’s pretty easy (especially when you heed above advice). The eye is attached to the nose/mouth, so make a straight cut from the nose to get into that square eye.

Have fun, impress you kids/students/patrons with your knowledge of Minecraft, and get your craft on!


5 Things I Learned During an Evening with Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan

An Evening with Rainbow Rowell and Devid LevithanWriters are my rock stars. I am not afraid to admit I am an unabashed Rainbow Rowel fangirl. And when the Orange County Public Library hosted An Evening with Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan, over four hundred writer-groupies drove from across the state to get up close and personal with two of the hottest names in YA fiction.

Rainbow is on tour for her latest release, Carry On, a Potter-eque/Twilight mashup story that delves into the fanfic world Cath created in the novel Fangirl. (Read both. Love both. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READS.)  David is promoting Another Day, a retelling of his previous bestseller Every Day told from Rhainnon’s point of view. Both novels are considered “companion” stories opposed to sequels, made to stand alone (though I recommend reading Fangirl before Carry On).

The dynamic duo entertained the crowd of booksworms with an hour of engaging conversation and readings from their new releases, followed an hour of Q&A.

rainbow rowell and david levithan at Orange County Public Library

Then came the book signings. Previously, the longest line I’d ever seen for a book singing had been for Queen of Romance Nora Roberts at the RWA Literacy Signing. This one beat it by a mile, but Rainbow and David stayed as long as it took to sign every books. (One public school librarian hauled a bag filled with every book by Rainbow and David in her school’s collection to autograph!)

rainbow rowell book signingThis fuzzy pic shows the people ahead of me when I finally made it to the line. There were just as many people behind me. And they’d been signing for at least 45 minutes.


 5 Things I Learned During an Evening with Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan

1. Rainbow’s voice in real life is as funny, quirky,  and accessible as her voice is in her books. Seriously. I wanted to beg her to move next door so we could sip wine after a day of writing and I could stealthily siphon some of her literary juju. Rainbow and David bantered like best friends hanging out, who just happened to have an audience of hundreds hanging on their every word. Oh, and neither mind swearing.

2. Fangirl was a NANO book. Rainbow wrote the first chunk of that favorite during November’s National Novel Writing Month. She still uses daily word counts to get her shit done. She and David disagreed on this one. He’s all quality, not quantity.

3. Rainbow is a semi-plotter. She starts with a basic 1 1/2 page outline, whereas David is a total panster, letting the characters lead him where they want to go.

4. Eleanor & Park was not intended to be a YA novel, but her publisher marketed it that way in the U.S. When writing her first novel, Rainbow wanted to explore a first love story set in a place she held deep in her memory. As she commented during the program, no one else knew Omaha in the mid-eighties like she did: the neighborhoods, the hangouts, the music. She wanted to capture that unique place and time before she forgot. In a high school that was either black or white, she’d always wondered what it would be like to be one of the four Asian kids in her school. She’d looked back to that one cool Asian kid on her bus, and tried to imagine his life.

5. Rainbow, admittedly, writes better than she reads aloud. (Don’t we all?) The pair funked things up by switching gender rolls when reading from David’s Another Day. Rainbow read as Soul A (a boy), while David read as Rhiannon. This gender-bending was deliberate, not just for laughs. Both authors write gay characters indiscriminately, reflecting a fresh perspective for teens and adults alike. The laughs came when they read from Rainbow’s Carry On. David read chosen-boy Simon’s role and Rainbow voiced brooding possible-vampire Gaz. Sound effects and flubbed lines ensued. The selected passage contained an actual sword.Yet when read aloud, both authors and audience picked up on some “swordplay” of another variety as the characters attempted to outsmart each other with witty remarks and counter-moves, while fighting their growing romantic feelings for each other. Everyone laughed, and Rainbow swore that Simon’s sheathing and unsheathing of his blade had not been written with ulterior motives.

Rainbow rowell


david levithan
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
#1 New York Times best seller!

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Another Day by David Levithan

The eagerly anticipated companion to David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller Every Day

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all


Thanks to the Orange County Public Library for a delightful evening!

She Reads Books of Fall

she reads newThough the calendar page announced fall’s entrance well over a month ago, the upper-eighties temperatures here in the Sunshine State have left me thinking it’s still summer. But now that holiday decorations have started taunting me from every store, I’ll accede to the truth: fall has arrived. In all of its blazing hot glory. (Seriously, I’ll need beach towels, on Thanksgiving Day!)

That means it’s time for the She Reads Books of Fall. Drop by She Reads for posts from all of the Books of Fall authors to get a glimpse into their writing processes and their writing spaces and discover how these diverse stories came to life. And, as always, gain access to the dozens of reviews from other She Reads book bloggers. You can find your new favorite Fall read!

And now, with out further ado, the Books of Fall:

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore

The Hawthorne family has it all. Supposedly. Great jobs, a fancy house, and three charming kids with perfectly straight teeth.

Only their lives take place inside a pressure cooker. (From an appropriately upscale store like Williams-Sonoma or such.) And untended pressure cookers have been known to explode.

It’s firstborn Angela’s senior year of high school. Her valedictorian status is under attack, her legs have started turning to led during track meets, and her extracurriculars and hours of AP class homework have left the perfect girl needing an extra edge to stay ahead. She’s set her sights on Harvard, her father’s alma mater, but her early admissions application is not going to write itself.

Angela’s mother, Nora, is similarly stretched to the limit, juggling parent-teacher meetings, carpool, and a real-estate career where she caters to the mega rich and super-picky buyers and sellers of the Bay Area. The youngest daughter, Maya, still can’t read at the age of eight; the middle-child, Cecily, is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid she once was; and the dad, Gabe, seems oblivious to the mounting pressures at home because a devastating secret of his own might be exposed. A few rash choices crank up the heat on their pressure cooker lives, and the resulting mess is both achingly real and delightfully entertaining.

I zipped through this this almost satirical cautionary tale, both cringing and cheering as the Hawthorne family struggled with the thoroughly modern vices of over-scheduling, over-working, and under-appreciating each other while striving to achieve the perfect life. Recommended read.


The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks

Most of us have a ghost from our past who still haunts us: a bully, a back-stabbing best friend, or some person who forever altered your place in the world. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of some ultimate confrontation when you finally stand up for yourself and made that person pay (I know I have!). So when meek mom Caroline Jacobs decides to take her childhood demon on—cashmere twin set and all—readers can’t help but root for her on her quirky and heartfelt comeback tour.

Caroline is a wife, mother (to a tattooed teenage daughter she avoids), Sears Portrait Studio photographer, and wimp. Asserting herself, taking the reins, or facing life head-on are not in her repertoire. So when Caroline suddenly cracks and screams (the F-bomb, no less!) at the PTA president, she is shocked. So is her husband. So is the PTA president. So is everyone. But Caroline soon realizes the true cause of her outburst can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, a scarring betrayal by her best friend Emily. This act changed Caroline’s life forever. So, with a little bit of bravery flowing through her veins, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and confront Emily. She busts her daughter Polly out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback, which is twenty-five years in the making. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets begin to rise to the surface, and Caroline will have to face much more than one old, bad best friend.

A heartwarming story told with Matthew Dicks’ signature wit, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is a deceptively simple novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives, and the bravery of one woman trying to change her life and finds true understanding of her daughter, and herself, along the way. Short but sweet recommended read.


::hanging head::  I haven’t squeezed in the last two She Reads Books of Fall, but they are on my TBR list. They’ve earned five-star reviews and accolades from many writers and reviewers I respect, so they are certainly worth a mention.  Both have elements of mystery and suspense, and both look like books to add to your TBR list.

A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

The Last September by Nina de Gramont

Brett has been in love with Charlie ever since he took her skiing on a lovely Colorado night fourteen years ago. And now, living in a seaside cottage on Cape Cod with their young daughter, it looks as if they have settled into the life they desired. However, Brett and Charlie’s marriage has been tenuous for quite some time. When Charlie’s unstable younger brother plans to move in with them, the tension simmering under the surface of their marriage boils over.

But what happened to Charlie next was unfathomable. Charlie was the golden boy so charismatic that he charmed everyone who crossed his path; who never shied away from a challenge; who saw life as one big adventure; who could always rescue his troubled brother, no matter how unpredictable the situation.

So who is to blame for the tragic turn of events? And why does Brett feel responsible?


Have any favorite fall reads yet?

The Thankful Tree

Give thanks.

A simple sentiment so many of us forget to practice now that Thanksgiving has become lost in the shuffle of modern life.

The holiday was once a time for communities to unite, sharing tales of strength, hope, and gratitude among the generations while humbly reflecting upon the abundance in their lives.

For many of us, Thanksgiving had become a day of manic shopping, football, and family drama.

How about we put a little “thanks” back in Thanksgiving?

The Thankful Tree – a great fall library display/passive program. Perfect for classrooms or Thanksgiving table centerpieces, too!

The table had been covered in colorful fall leaves. This was after all my leaves and most of the display books had been taken. (Nice back-lighting and fluorescent lighting, right?)

I’d found these Thankful Trees via Better Homes and Gardens a few years back.

BHG Thanksgiving treeBHG Thanksgiving tree bare branches


It would be easy enough to set up our own library Thankful Tree, right?

If patrons took part, it could be considered a passive program, bringing the community  together and sharing in the reason for the oft neglected season. (And we could gauge which resources our patrons valued. Win-win, right?)

Using an old McCoy jug, a few branches snipped from my yard, and colored printer paper leaves, I set up a Grateful Tree on the library’s main display table last year. I didn’t have high hopes. Even  fellow staffers rolled their eyes when I asked them to share the love on their own leaves.

Fall library display  "Leaf a note and share which library books and services you are thankful for"

And then something beautiful happened.

thankful leaf 2

One leaf…

thankful leaf 1

led to another…


and another…


leaves 2

  And within days the bare branches displayed a bounty
of thanks and gratitude that made our hearts swell.

thankful leaves library

This library display/passive program was a win for all. It would also work in a classroom
or as a centerpiece for a holiday gathering.

We all need to express the gratitude in our hearts.
Let your patrons, students, or family “leaf” a note to express what really matters in their lives.

The Book that Scared the Bejesus Out of Me: IT

To get in the Halloween spirit, I’m sharing a bookish spine-tingler from the past.

It was a dark and stormy night. . .

No. Wait—

It came from a dark and stormy drain. . .

A week or so ago, the illustrious Chuck Wendig asked his readers to discuss their favorite Stephen King story. That’s a tough one. I could rattle off at least a dozen of Scary Stevie’s stories that continue to haunt my dreams and spur irrational fears twenty-five years after reading.

By far, IT scared the crap out of me more than any other book ever— 1100+ pages of pure horrific terror. For those of you too chicken to delve into the pages of the classic nightmare in print, a quick summary: 1958. Derry, Maine. Something is preying upon children, hunting them, devouring them. This something trawls children’s nightmares, shape-shifting into whatever will terrify them most. But its signature is that of Pennywise the clown, a fanged Ronald McDonald/Bozo lurking in the storm drains, clutching festive balloons. The seven kids comprising The Loser’s Club discover the monster, confront it, and kill it…or so they think. Thirty years later, the murders start again, and the group’s members return to Derry, to the horror they’d blacked out, to stop it once and for all.

Maybe because I read IT when I was thirteen (what the hell were my parents thinking?) and the unlikely heroes of the story were around my age. I was already plagued by an overactive imagination, and IT crawled into kid’s brains and dragged their worst fears and phobias into reality.  I’d been creeped out by clowns since watching Poltergeist at eight (again, thanks Mom & Dad). Or maybe IT was just a damn good (though occasionally wordy) tale.

IT preyed upon my irrational phobias. When I was six, I was stuck in the hospital for two long weeks. After my parents left to get some much needed sleep, the sadistic nurses allowed me to watch two movies that tormented me for decades: Piranha and Jaws. Picture it: an already frightened little girl, alone in a dark hospital room, eyes wide in horror as Jaws chomped on Quint and piranhas devoured kids in inner tubes. In the dark hospital room, evil fish baring razor-sharp teeth swam around my bed, waiting for me to dangle a toe in the blood-drenched water.

I saw them for years.

Once I read IT, I became terrified of my swimming pool. The pool had a drain. IT came through drains. IT would appear as a swarm of piranha, stripping my pale flesh with razor-sharp teeth. IT would shift into a shark, pulling me under the turquoise water, swallowing me whole.

I stayed out of the deep end. And I barely swam alone until I was seventeen.

Oh, and there was the little episode of the balloons. . .

My wonderful Dad had read IT before I did. Prankster that he is, he decided to traumatize his child play a prank. The drain in our shower had been loose for weeks. Though I was a mature thirteen, I placed an oversized bottle of shampoo on top of the metal grate, just in case (as I wrote—overactive, occasionally irrational imagination). That evening, I’d dropped my towel in the bathroom. One of my parents called me away, made me do a chore or something before I could turn on the water. When I returned, I pulled back the flowered curtain to find the shower drain tossed against the wall. . . and a bunch of balloons bobbing against the harvest gold tile directly above the open pipe. My parent’s laughter couldn’t drown out my screams. ***

pennywise in shower

Explains a lot about me, right?

In the spirit of this spooky time of year, which book(s) scared the bejesus out of you?

***Please note: after digging though our respective memories, my mom and I have realized that she bears no responsibility for said “Balloon Incident.” My father admits nothing.



#Friday Reads: Mary Kubica, Taylor Jenkins Reid, & Jane Graves

friday reads 2

I read too much. Wait, no, I retract that statement. You can NEVER read TOO MUCH. Though I work at a library fondling handling books all day, I never have an opportunity to crack open a cover while on the clock. And in my “spare time” at home I’m bouncing on my yoga ball while attempting to coax words onto the computer screen. So reading is saved for work breaks and nighttime relaxation. Usually.  I still manage to squeeze it in. Priorities.

My time to write glowing reviews is zilch, yet I’m still reading SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS! Friday Reads is my quick way to share a short snippet of the books that keep me reading well past my bedtime and urge me to continue on my own writing journey. If I include a book, I’m recommending it to friends. (And you, my dear readers.)

This Friday Reads highlights books I read in August. Though this post disappeared in my draft folder for a few months, these are books I thoroughly enjoyed, so I still want to share the love.  (See, I told you I’ve been short on time!)

Pretty Baby
by Mary Kubica

When a compassionate Chicago wife and mother sees a teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms, she is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.


Genre: thriller
Print Length: 381 pages
Publication Date: July 28, 2015


Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Aimless wanderer Hannah Martin’s fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame one night in L.A. Uniquely told in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results. As the two alternate realities run their course, we’re left to wonder if  anything is meant to be? How much in life is determined by chance? And is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Print Length: 353 pages
Pub Date: July 7, 2015


Baby, It’s You (Rainbow Valley #2) by Jane Graves

Runaway bride Kari escapes to the Texas Hill country and lands on a tall, dark, and gorgeous winery owner’s doorstep. All she needs is a job and a place to live until she can get back on her feet. Marc has devoted his life to managing the family wine business and being a single dad. Now with his daughter away at college and his brother taking over the winery, Marc is ready to enjoy his freedom, but when irresistible passion turns into something more, will Marc give up his future to take a chance on love?

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Pub Date: May 27, 2014

What’s your Friday Read?


MINECRAFT MADNESS: Crafts for parties, classrooms, or libraries

Minecraft parties are all the rage now. From toddlers to tweens, just say the word “Minecraft” and you are bound to have a houseful of party-goers or a library program with sky-high attendance numbers.

I’ve hosted several Minecraft library programs and birthday parties over the last few years, and these crafts and activities have all been hits! With proper prep work, you can run your event with one or all of these actives simultaneously. I break it down into craft tables/stations, each with a (printable) instruction sign, so kids can craft with minimal assistance.

Right click on the signs and templates (if applicable) to save and print them out for your own party or event.


Minecraft Creeper Magnets

Super Easy (& cheap!) Minecraft Magnets -- great party favor or craft

This is E.A.S.Y. and appropriate for any age group.  All you need are Glass Gems
(about 3/4-1 inch glass marbles that are flat on one side & found in the floral section of the Dollar Tree or  any craft store), small magnets (I used a roll of adhesive backed Magnet Tape
, but you can use small round magnets also), good old Elmer’s glue, and the faces printed out from the template below. Note: the template is black ink only.

Prep work: Print template on whatever colored printer paper you like. (I find colored paper far cheaper than colored ink!) Cut into squares, then have kids cut to fit their clear gem marble. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’re using magnetic tape, cut into marble-sized pieces.

creper magnet template


super easy MINECRAFT Creeper Magnets


Minecraft Sticker Block Craft

Minecraft printable stickers


I found this idea on Frugal Family TImes. There you can find the printable templates for grass blocks, trees (trunks and leaves), stone, TNT, and iron/clouds.

minecraft sticker art 2





If this is enough variety for you—awsomesauce. But I wanted more. Inspired by my resident Minecraft expert, I created more block templates to give my crafters more building choices.

Printable Minecraft stickers – LIBRARY AND CROPS
Printable Minecraft stickers – STONE AND ORE

Printable Minecraft stickers – LAVA and WATER

minecraft craft, mincraft activity

Prep Work:

  • Get yourself some Avery 5161/8161 label sheets. (Avery Easy Peel 1 x 4 Inch White Mailing Labels 500 Count (5261)
  • Print a combo of the templates linked above.
  • Cut. They print eight columns of stickers. I left them in long strips. They’re easy to peel and make (somewhat) less of a mess.
  • Offer colored pencils or markers so kids can draw their favorite characters/skins/creatures.

But unless all the kids are neat freaks, you’re still going to end up with somewhat of a mess.

Minecraft Stickers

And some really cool pics.

Minecraft stickers for parties or classroom


Printable Minecraft stickers for crafting

 Minecraft Construction Paper Pixel Art

Minecraft craft table pixel art


Cut 1×1 inch construction paper squares. Use a paper cutter to cut the long strips if you have one, then scissors and a ruler/guide to make the final short square snips. Depending on the size of your group, you’ll need dozens of papers sliced into squares. (I lost count how many I used, but I had hundreds of kids!)  Start prepping this activity well ahead of time–days, even weeks if you have the time. Or even better: enlist volunteers!

Next, print out the grid templates:


Minecraft crafts, minecraft pixel grid


Suggest kids lay out the page first, then go back and glue down their design. Elmer’s or craft glue applied to the paper works best. Provide them with some template ideas like these:

Minecraft mob faces


Look—it’s me!


Minecraft construction paper pixel masks

Using this same idea, you can have kids make Minecraft Mob Masks!

Print the grid paper on card stock instead of regular printer paper. (Or you can just glue the regular paper printed grids to a sturdy construction paper baking ahead of time.) Trim the card stock grid to 8 squares by 8 squares. Cut out 2-block eye holes. Have kids design masks as described above. When finished, glue a Jumbo Popsicle stick (tongue depressor) to the back, and voila, you have a Mob Mask!


How to make Minecraft construction paper masks

Do you have any favorite Minecraft crafts?  Share or link below!


#FridayReads — Dangerous Books for Girls

Dangerous books for girls - the bad rep of romance explained


Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels ExplainedThe Book:

Long before clinch covers and bodice rippers, romance novels have had a bad reputation as the lowbrow lit of desperate housewives and hopeless spinsters. But in fact, romance novels—the escape and entertainment of choice for millions of women—might prove to be the most revolutionary writing ever produced.

Dangerous Books for Girls examines the origins of the genre’s bad reputation—from the “damned mob of scribbling women” in the nineteenth century to the sexy mass-market paperbacks of the twentieth century—and shows how these books have inspired and empowered generations of women to dream big, refuse to settle, and believe they’re worth it.

For every woman who has ever hidden the cover of a romance—and for every woman who has been curious about those “Fabio books”—Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained shows why there’s no room for guilt when reading for pleasure.

The Author:

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence, and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. She has received her BA and MA from New York University. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

 Dangerous Books for Girls Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Good Stuff:

Face it: romance gets a bad rap. Thanks to the Kindle, its selling hotter than every, but some say that’s because women can read romance in public without having to face embarrassment while discretely hiding that  classic clinch cover. They can read without being looked down upon.

Buy why does romance have such a bad reputation?

Everything you wanted to know about the romance genre and readers (but were afraid to ask) is stuffed inside the matte black covers of this book. If you write romance or you are considering it, read this book. It’s chock full of  insights about what the intelligent and affluent readers want. If you read romance, read this book. You will get a validation high. If you think you’re above those cheap paperback bodice-rippers (as I once believed I was), read this book. You will be proven wrong about everything.

The book is eye-opening, to say the least. As a new romance writer, I’ve been devouring every text about the genre I can find. Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained is well researched—it started as the author’s master’s thesis, then she added “a decade’s worth of” reading, studying, writing, surveying, and interviewing. There are stats (and really cool infographics) on the romance novel industry, the readers, it’s reputation and what readers want to see in heroes, heroines and yes, sex scenes.

It explains how romance provides more than a fluffy escape and actually should be considered feminist. Think about it: the industry is controlled by women, and the modern novels feature strong women who always get their way…and their pleasure. So, that infamous happy ending might not always happen in real life, but that’s one of the reasons romances are perfect nuggets of delicious escapism. When we’re drowning in stress from constantly taking care of our busy careers, needy families, messy households, and hectic lives, sometimes it’s a thrill to dive into a story where someone’s greatest desire is to take care of us. In every way imaginable. But only if we want them to.

I can’t remember how I heard about this book. When I noticed that it wasn’t in my library’s collection,  I requested the system order it. (BTW, this is a FABULOUS way for anyone to gain access to books and make sure others discover them.) And once I had the book in my hands, I could barely set it down.
Dangerous Books for Girls - The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels ExplainedThe Details:
Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels
by Maya Rodale
Release date: May 6, 2015

And if you’re looking for another article about How Romance Novelists Got Such a Silly, Sappy Rap, check out this one by Kelly Faircloth on Jezebel.

(not so) Trivial Tuesday: Banned Books Week Quiz

Banned Books Week take two!

For those of you who checked out this week’s earlier post on this book loving celebration of our freedom to read, this quiz should be easy!  (For those of you who somehow missed it, click here and check out 2014’s Most Challenged Books and the Most Challenged Classics.)

How much do you know about banned and challenged books?



Banned Books Week quiz


READ BANNED BOOKS – Top Ten Banned Books 2014

Censorship is wrong. Period.

If a person doesn’t like something in a book, than THEY don’t have to read it.  But they have no right to restrict another person’s access to information and ideas.

Banned Books Week (September 27−October 3, 2015) is an annual event celebrating open access to information and the freedom to read. During Banned Books Week, the entire book community— librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—join in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some may consider unorthodox or unpopular. (Those are usually the best ones!)

Banned Book Week 2015 graphic

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions.
It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

-Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

We all have the freedom to choose what we read and the freedom to express our opinions even if that opinion might be considered risque, or dare I say wrong. Want to learn about history? Read about it, even the dirty little subversive parts. Schoolbooks often gloss over our “glorious” past and humans have been known to be a nasty, blood-thirsty race. Those who don’t learn about all parts of our history are doomed to repeat it. (Sorry, I’ll get down off my pulpit. Oh, wait, I have the freedom of speech and this is my blog, so I can write whatever I want.)

Banned Books Week often makes me think of a button I pinned to my backpack in college days:

minds are like parachutes

So why do people “challenge” books, and try to keep others from reading them? Often challenges are motivated by a “desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language”. Sorry, but as a parent, you can decide what your kids read, but not mine.

According to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, the top three reasons reported for challenging books:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

By whose standards and authority?

Certainly not the First Amendment.

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment,
it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply
because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” 

-Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Texas v. Johnson 

Below is the ALA’s list of the top ten challenged books last year. It’s a bizarre mix of children’s picture books, graphic novels, and powerful novels that will make you laugh, cry, and, heaven forbid, THINK.

And you know what I find pee-in-your-pants funny?  None of the graphic and sexually explicit best-sellers of the last few years (hello Fifty Shades!) are on the list. Ahem. I guess if you’re reading it under the covers, it’s okay, bondage and all. No double-standards around here.

Anyway, check these horribly inappropriate books your library. Buy them at your local bookstore or even Amazon. Tell those closed-minded tight-asses that they will not take away your rights just because a passage in a book may conflict their beliefs.



The top ten challenged books for 2014:

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, this book chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”


2) Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s powerful memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions #1 Best Seller n Literary Graphic Novels


3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

The heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family. (Narrated by award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris in this book and CD package!)  Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”


4) The Bluest Eye , by Toni Morrison

A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”


5) It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health , by Robie Harris

For two decades, this universally acclaimed book on sexuality has been the most trusted and accessible resource for kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone else who cares about the well-being of tweens and teens. Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”


6) Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Winner of the 2013 Hugo award for Best Graphic Story. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.


7) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, this beautifully crafted novel is set in a country in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence


8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

One of my recently read favorites, this cult-favorite coming of age story takes a sometimes heartbreaking, often hysterical, and always honest look at high school in all its agonizing glory. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”


9) A Stolen Life: A Memoir, Jaycee Dugard

Kidnapped at age eleven and held captive for eighteen years, Jaycee tells her story in an unblinking and harrowing narrative. Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group



10) Drama by Raina Telgemeier

When drama and romance—both onstage and off—cause problems, middle schooler Callie finds that set design may be the easiest part of putting on a play. – Reasons: sexually explicit



Check out this cool infographic provided by the American Library Association. (And visit their website for tons of Banned Book Week information and goodies.)

Most challenged books 2014 #BannedBooksWeek



And just for fun, here’s another ALA list of subversive and inappropriate books (according to some schmucks, not the ALA). According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts. (Those omitted have not been officially challenged.)  Find the ridiculous reasons here.

How many have you read?


Banned and Challenged Classics

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Banned Books Week Social Media Channels:
Connect with us on Facebook
See what others are saying about #bannedbooksweek on Twitter
Watch and upload Banned Books Week videos on YouTube
Banned Books Week Pinterest