Friday, September 30, 2011

Blog Tour: Author Guest Post - NeonSeon

NeonSeon holds a BA in English from the University of Iowa and an MA in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University. Neonseon is also the author of the Life of Shouty series.

Life of Shouty: Good Habits is the silver recipient of the Mom's Choice Awards for 2010 for Values and Life Lessons.

From NeonSeon:

I pulled my first all-nighter in third grade for a paper on Zimbabwe, which I typed on a brown and tan typewriter in our guest bedroom. I got an A. This was the beginning of a long string of all-nighters that lasted well into graduate school. I learned I could play while everyone else studied and still get the same grade or better for one night's worth of effort. What's the big deal? It's not hurting my grades, right? Well, if it was good enough for an A with little time spent, imagine how great it could've been with more time put into it. I was stifling my own potential.

Procrastination is a bad habit and just one of the many topics I address in my book Life of Shouty: Good Habits, the first in the Life of Shouty Series. The main character, Shouty, finds himself with a messy room, an overgrown lawn, and bills that are overdue.

Hmm. It doesn't look like procrastination is working for Shouty either. In fact, the main item he accomplishes on his to-do list is watching the game. Shouty keeps trying to change, but laziness gets the best of him and his lack of progress leads him to start thinking negative thoughts about himself.

But Shouty doesn't give up. When I visit schools to discuss this book, children laugh heartily at Shouty's messy room, and his head peeking over his lawn, but I know they are getting the message by their responses to my questions. The book opens with a young Shouty with bad habits, and then he becomes a grown-up Shouty with bad habits. A great lesson this book teaches is that bad habits from childhood do follow you into adulthood, unless you change them. I know because they followed me, and I'm changing them one bad habit at a time. :-)

Happy reading!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Books: My Thoughts

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit the official website. They are inviting everyone to make a video of themselves reading aloud from their favorite banned book and uploading it to a special Banned Book Weeks channel. Vloggers: do it! This is so made for you! Others: Do it! How fun would it be to get a huge group people to compile a bunch of passages from banned books? Let's make this event news-worthy, people!

Growing up, I was the weird person in the family. I read a lot. My parents never read much, and while my sisters read the occasional book, they didn't read nearly as much as I did. So when I went to the library or the bookstore, I didn't have many restrictions.

This freedom greatly influences what I feel about banned books. Even when I was little, I was able to choose for myself what I wanted to read. Nobody forbade me for reading a book because it didn't fall in line with what they thought was appropriate or it went against their beliefs.

That's the whole argument against banned books. Everyone has different opinions. Everyone has different beliefs. Taking a book off of public shelves because one person or a group of people don't agree with it is ridiculous. More than that, it should be illegal. We live in a free country that enjoys freedom of expression. This includes choosing which books we want to read.

Maybe people feel like it's too mature for their kids. Fine. They should let the supervisors know that their kids shouldn't be reading that book. They shouldn't however, remove that book from the shelves because some other kid might be ready to read that book. They might enjoy it and they might learn something from it.

The main problem I have against book banners is the arguments they use. Unless it's about religious issues, more often than not, their problems with the book are exactly the problems that the book is trying to counter. The Hunger Games has violence, but it promotes anti-violence. To Kill a Mockingbird has racial slurs, but it's anti-racism.

And if the arguments book banners are using is that it has questionable religious content, I don't think that's a good enough reason at all. One religion should not dictate what should be available to the entire society, which is comprised of multiple religions.

So celebrate Banned Book Week, people! Celebrate the issues they bring up, delve into their "filthiness" and "trashiness." And spread the word. We Read Banned Books!

Banned Books Giveaway Hop

Today officially starts Banned Books Week! This blog hop is hosted by I Read Banned Books and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. A big thank you goes out to them for putting this together. My post about why I support this week and what I think about banning books will be posted later today at 7 AM PST so be sure to check it out! For now, let's start the giveaway!

I have picked some of my favorite banned books from you to choose from. There will be 1 winner who will choose one of the following (the prize will be bought in a paperback version, unless you choose Mockingjay, which is only available in hardcover at the moment):

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (or Catching Fire or Mockingjay)

Some have issued a call to ban The Hunger Games because of its violent nature. Yes, this book is violent, but (if you've read my review, I call attention to this fact) it's not gratuitous violence. This book is actually sending a message against violence, among other things. I can understand being wary about your seven-year-old reading it, but it is very much appropriate young adult material, in my opinion. As with most books that are banned or challenged, I don't believe those who are trying to ban it really understand the message that is being portrayed.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (or The Subtle Knife or The Amber Spyglass)

This one is kind of a "duh, of course people would ban it." For those of you who have read it, you know. It's banned for its "anti-Christian content." It's been defended by many, many people, but I'm adding my two cents in. For one thing, not everyone's Christian, so it shouldn't be pulled off public shelves. For another, if you're uncomfortable with having your beliefs challenged, don't have beliefs. We all have different beliefs. Respect other people's. If you're afraid of the influence it'll have on your kids, read the book with them and talk to them about it. It'll be a nice family bonding moment and if you actually read the book (it's my opinion most book-banners don't bother to read what they're trying to ban, because their arguments are often ridiculous), you might actually sound like you know what you're talking about when you're arguing about it.

How to Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

You guys, this is still being challenged in some places. The problem most people have with it is language. (Insert disbelieving face here.) I know. It's not even all that bad. In the late '70's, it was banned for the words "whore lady" and "damn." Now, it's being banned for the word "nigger" and for racial slurs throughout the book. Again, if people bothered to read the book, they would realize that this novel is anti-racist and sends a strong message about how there should be equality between races. And yes, the word "nigger" is a horrible word that should never be said. However, people did (and do) say it. It's part of our history and we shouldn't erase that, because then we wouldn't learn from it.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

You've got to hand it to the woman -- Chopin has got some staying power. It was banned in 1899 when she wrote it, and it is still generating controversy. Go Kate!!! People don't like it because it's about sex, adultery, and suicide. I'm a fan of being open and honest with kids -- especially young adults, who are the people studying this story. Sex is a part of life and it's a topic that's going to come up. I can't imagine that this book would be any young adult's introduction to the concept of adultery, and suicide is a subject that should be taught if for no other reason than to raise awareness about it. Again, it's not as if this story is promoting adultery or suicide. For us today, it's a look into the female situation during the 19th century -- what sort of problems they had to deal with and what their status in society was.

So there you go, 4 awesome books to choose from. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below.

*NOTE* You can also choose the between the sequels for The Hunger Games and The Golden Compass.

- You must be 13 or older to enter
- Contest is open to anywhere the Book Depository ships!
- You must be a GFC follower. Please enter your GFC name in the "other info" box in the Rafflecopter. Those who do not do this will have their entries deleted.
- For 1 extra entry, you may follow me through Twitter.
- For 1 extra entry, you may like The Reader's Refuge Facebook page.
- Winner has 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. After that, I choose another.

To enter others' giveaways, check out this page!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Ashfall

This is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that
spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Pre-order from the Book Depository
Author: Mike Mullin
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Expected Publication Date: 11 October 2011
Hardcover: 466 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads) 

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.


I've heard a lot of good things about this novel and have been personally recommended it by quite a few other bloggers. Also, it sounds awesome! A supervolcano and a teen having to travel on his own and battle the elements after it just erupted? Sign me up!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon Sign Up


In a month, Bex from Kindle Fever, Amanda from Letters Inside Out, and April from My Shelf Confessions are holding a read-a-thon!

I love read-a-thons. It's not like I need an excuse to read, but I think it makes it more legitimate. Also, it's a chance to challenge yourself and socialize with other bloggers about your reading experience. Fun!

Even better, there are going to be prizes (some will be international!), and challenges throughout the weekend. The read-a-thon itself Halloween-themed, but you can read whatever books you want.

So join me in participating and go to the sign-up page! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Giveaways Spotlight (6)

1. Midnight Fume
3 winners to choose one of 6 different ARCs (really good ones!)
Open internationally. Must be a follower to enter.
Ends September 25

2. The Cait Files
2 winners to choose one of 7 different books set in London
Open to anywhere the Book Depository ships.
Ends October 7

3. Book Light Graveyard
2 winners. 1 to receive The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, 1 to receive a signed copy of Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Open to US and Canada.
Ends September 30

4. Once Upon a Time
Choose 1 of 6 fantasy books.
Open to wherever the Book Depository ships. Must be a follower to enter.
Ends TODAY! Enter now! :)

5. Book Briefs
Your choice between Fade by Lisa McMann, The Upper Class, or Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison
Open to US only. You must be a follower to enter.
Ends September 30

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Probability of Miracles

This is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that
spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Pre-order from the Book Depository
Author: Wendy Wunder
Publisher: Razorbill
Hardcover: 336 pages
Release Date: 8 December 2011
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles. 
A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.

This sounds like such a heartwarming story. I've been reading urban fantasy after urban fantasy lately, with lots of fighting and magic and such, and I need a break! I think reading a sweet story like this will be a nice change. Also, I like books that make me cry. :P

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

October Challenge: 2011 Spooktacular Paranormal Reading Challenge

Hey everyone! Marie at Ramblings of a Daydreamer is hosting a really fun challenge for October. Here are the details from her page:

For every paranormal book you read and review in the month of October, you’ll be entered in the giveaway to win one of the paranormal books below. All you have to do is sign up between now and October 7th, then starting October 1st, whenever you read and review a paranormal book, come back here and post a link to the review in the Mr. Linky. This post that you’re reading is just for sign-ups - starting October 1st, there will be a new post where people can leave their review links. Each review is an entry in the giveaway, and on November 1st, one winner will be chosen. All reviews must be posted for the first time between October 1st and October 31st, 2011. 

The challenge part: you have to read and review a minimum of THREE paranormal books during October. You don’t have to choose them ahead of time, but you have to read at least three. For many of you, this will be no problem at all. If you don't think it's possible, don't sign up for the challenge.

*The challenge says paranormal, but I’m going to go with a loose definition: basically, if it has any 'otherworldly'  element to it, I’ll accept it, which means that I’m not going to say no to books that may fall into the category of fantasy or urban fantasy. Think faeries, vampires, werewolves, shifters, mermaids, angels, demons, witches, sirens, banshees, etc.

*If this challenge crosses over into other challenges you're doing, that’s fine.

I'm definitely participating! There are some great prizes to choose from, so I hope you all will join me! :) If you want to sign up visit the sign-up page!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Giveaways Spotlight (5)

1. Book Bite Reviews
Paperback copy of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Open to US and Canada. Must be a follower to enter
Ends September 17

2. For Those About to Read...
A copy of Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer
Open to US.
Ends September 16

3. Goldilox and the Three Weres
A hardcover copy of Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
(No mention of what countries it's open to)
Must be a follower to enter.
Ends September 20

4. Lauren's Blog (Blog of Lauren DeStefano)
1 of 12 signed book jackets of Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Open internationally
Ends September 19 at 12:01 AM EST

5. The Secret Life of Books
2 winners for a book of their choice (15-20 Euro limit) from the Book Depository
Must be a follower to enter. Open to anywhere the Book Depository ships.
Winners will be posted on September 26, so enter before then!