Posts Categorized: Book Talk

You May NOT Read . . .

September 25, 2016 Book Talk, OHH! 13

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.


The Fault in our Stars, The Kite Runner, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or even For Every Child a Better World by Jim Henson {yes, THAT Jim Henson}.

Did you know that this year alone 45 books have been challenged and banned across the country from early childhood all the way through college-age children. This week we celebrate all books but especially those books which have been banned.

The rights and protections of the First Amendment extend to children and teens as well as adults. While parents have the right—and the responsibility—to guide their own children’s reading, that right does not extend to other people’s children. Similarly, each adult has the right to choose his or her own reading materials, along with the responsibility to acknowledge and respect the right of others to do the same.  When we speak up to protect the right to read, we not only defend our individual right to free expression, we demonstrate tolerance and respect for opposing points of view. -American Library Association

To give you a small taste of the literature you are being denied access, here’s a few quotes from challenged and banned books during this past year:

Challenged/Banned Meridian, Idaho; Wilmington, North Carolina and Highland Park, Texas

the absolutely true diary of a part-time indian

Challenged/Banned in Wesley Chapel, Florida

paper towns

Challenged/Banned in Cleveland, Texas


Challenged but retained in Waukesha, Wisconsin

looking for alaska

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Challenged/Banned in Waukesha, Wisconsin

chinese handcuffs

Banned Wilson County, Tennessee

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Challenged/Banned in 2 Districts in California

the fault in our stars

Banned/Challenged in Lewes, Delaware

brave new world

Banned/Challenged in Pensacola, Florida

little brother
Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.


What are your thoughts on banned books? Have you ever had someone deny you access to a book you wanted to read?



25+ Mixtapes for Books

September 20, 2016 Book Talk 1

25 mixtapes for books

A few years ago I listened to Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly {review here}. Throughout the book there were numerous references to songs and bands both from the present and during the French Revolution. Of course, I had to find out if there was a list anywhere on the web with all of the titles mentioned which is when I discovered mixtapes for books! What an awesome idea!

Since that discovery about four years ago, I’ve made a habit of checking on books and authors I’m especially fond of to see if there’s a ‘mixtape.’ Below is a list of just a few I’ve been able to curate for you. I hope you enjoy!

Most of the links are to Spotify. No purchase necessary and these are not affiliate links {not even sure Spotify has those?}. You may have to open a free account if you do not have one already.

Mixtapes for Books

Carlos Ruiz Zafón The Shadow of the Wind | The Angel’s Game | The Prisoner of Heaven

Stephen King Dr. Sleep | The Dark Tower

Rainbow Rowell  Landline | Fangirl | Eleanor and Park

JoJo Moyes One Plus One | Me Before You

Deb Harkness   A Discovery of Witches | Shadow of Night | The Book of Life

Luanne Rice The Lemon Orchard | The Night Before

John Green Looking for Alaska | Paper Towns | All the Bright Places

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Music for Book People created by Gayle Forman

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

A Little Life by Hanya

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Sarah J. Maas has a playlist for each book written! this link takes you to her page with links to each book’s playlist {most of her books have multiple playlists}

Alexandra Bracken  also has a playlist for each book written! this link takes you to her page with links to each book’s playlist {most of her books have multiple playlists}

[Tweet “25+ books with mixtapes, most curated by the author!”]

I’ve started a Pinterest board and would love to add any mixtape you’ve found for a book to this list. Leave me a link in the comments and I’ll put together a giant resource for us fanatical music AND book lovers 😉

*linking to The Broke and The Bookish Top Ten Tuesday









R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI

September 17, 2016 Book Talk 1



In its 11th year, one of the most popular online book events is now upon us ~ R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. A righteously grand time, especially for readers who love a good scare! Part of the fun in participating in R.I.P. is the planning and deciding which books to read, movies to view and seeing what other bloggers have in store!

R.I.P. officially begins September 1 and ends October 31.  Two full months of ghouls, goblins, ghosts, zombies, etc. etc.  For a suspense/thriller/mystery genre lover like myself, these two months are pure heaven! Although I am just a bit late joining the party. . .

There is one good thing about being late ~ I’m able to pull recommendations for books and movies from my fellow book bloggers!

This year I plan to complete Peril the First, Peril of the Short Story and Peril on the Screen.  What books and movies are in store for me {and you!}?

The reading lineup

The Elementals by Michael McDowell {recommended by Jenn’s Bookshelves}
The Letterbox by Layton Green
The Penguin Book of Witches by Katherine Howe
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather {recommended by Bookish Things and More}

The movie lineup

Don’t Bother to Knock starring Marilyn Monroe {recommended by Coffee and a Book Chick}
The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart

The short story lineup

The Reaper’s Game by Layton Green
Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories by authors curated by Dahl himself

Happy Reading Dear Friends!



7 Valuable Life Lessons from Roald Dahl

September 15, 2016 Book Talk, Giveaway, Spotlight Author 4



There has rarely been an author to make as much a difference in the lives of children and adults than Roald Dahl. Although Dahl’s word creations like oompa loompa, whizzpopper and splendiferous are all instantly recognizable, his life lessons are what we truly remember. Here’s a round-up of 7 messages Roald Dahl delivers in his books:

Kindness matters

I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else. . .  Kindness – that simple word. To be kind – it covers everything, to my mind.
If you’re kind that’s it. ~Roald Dahl

roald dahl books

Beauty comes from the inside.

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. ~The Twits

You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I’ve also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It’s sure to be a phony. ~Danny the Champion of the World


Girls are heroes too

In Matilda you’ve got Ms. Honey and Matilda herself;
In The BFG, Sophie is a remarkable heroine;
In The Witches the Grandmother is said to be based on Dahl’s amazing mother

Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world. ~Matilda

The fact that I am still here and able to speak to you (however peculiar I may look) is due entirely to my wonderful grandmother. ~The Witches

Reading is a great cure for loneliness

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone. ~ Matilda

All you do is to look, At a page in this book, Because that’s where we always will be. No book ever ends, When it’s full of your friends.  ~ The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

roald dahl

Find the whimsy and fun in life

“A whizzpopper!” cried the BFG, beaming at her. “Us giants is making whizzpoppers all the time! Whizzpopping is a sign of happiness. It is music in our ears! You surely is not telling me that a little whizzpopping if forbidden among human beans?”  ~The BFG

“The matter with human beans,” the BFG went on, “is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.” ~The BFG

Family is most important

My darling,’ she said at last, ‘are you sure you don’t mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?’ ‘I don’t mind at all,’ I said. ‘It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you.  ~ The Witches

But as soon as they heard the door opening, and heard Charlie’s voice saying, “Good evening, Grandpa Joe and Grandpa Josephine, and Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina,” then all four of them would suddenly sit up, and their old wrinkled faces would light up with smiles of pleasure. ~Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

roald dahl

Friends are needed and come in all shapes and sizes

“He is a good giant, Your Majesty,” Sophie said. “You need not be frightened of him.” “I’m delighted to hear it,” said the Queen, still smiling. “He is my best friend, Your Majesty” ~The BFG

And James Henry Trotter, who once, if you remember, had been the saddest and loneliest little boy that you could find, now had all the friends and playmates in the world. ~James and the Giant Peach

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roald dahl

Enter to win

The paperback collection of fifteen titles and a special edition Roald Dahl tote bag provided by Penguin Young Readers/Puffin.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author


(c) RDNL 2016

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.

Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: the first charity, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, created in 1991, focuses on making life better for seriously ill children through the funding of specialist nurses, innovative medical training, hospitals, and individual families across the UK.

The second charity, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of income from Roald Dahl books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.

Many thanks to Wunderkind PR and Penguin Young Readers/Puffin for including The Novel Life in the Roald Dahl 100 Tour

Roald Dahl has touched countless lives through his novels. His stories still resonate today. It’s difficult to choose one favorite Dahl book or character, so instead, I’d love to know which ones have stayed with you the longest! or that you have had the most fun reading aloud?!?

Happy 100th Roald Dahl!




30Authors: Julie Cantrell Recommends

September 11, 2016 Book Talk, Guest Post, Spotlight Author 2

30 authors image

#30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit or follow along on Twitter @30Authors.

Oh my dear friends are you in for a treat! I’ve been following Julie Cantrell’s writing career since I fell in love with Into the Free when it was shortlisted for the Inspy’s. Since then I’ve read all three of her books: Into the Free, When Mountains Move and The Feathered Bone. Julie weaves social justice issues throughout her novels. Into the Free {my review here} tackles child abuse and neglect along with parental depression in a time where these things were hidden under the proverbial rug. When Mountains Move is a testament to faith while dealing with breaking the abuse cycle, the aftermath of rape, and learning to trust . The Feathered Bone: human trafficking, emotional abuse, depression and again, faith that moves mountains.

When Allison at The Book Wheel asked me if I’d like to host Julie for #30Authors, I believe she might have heard me all the way across the country being all fan-girlish and shouting, “yes! yes! please!” Discovering the books favorite authors read and enjoy makes me feel like I’m getting an inside look. I hope you enjoy Julie’s review of Trials of the Earth as much as I did!

Julie Cantrell Recommends

trials of the earthWhen asked to review my “favorite recent read” for 30 Authors, I struggled to choose one title. An avid reader, I always find the task as impossible as naming my favorite child. There simply is no favorite. (Y’all can relate, can’t you?!)

Given the challenge, I snapped up some of the latest, greatest novels on my bedside table. I tore through the pages determined to find the perfect recommendation, but none shaped my soul the way some older releases had managed to do. Flustered, I turned to memoirs, my lifelong true love (truth be told).

As a last resort, I walked into a bookstore on the very day this review was due (ever the slacker). An eye-level book on the front shelf was Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton (Oh, to have that placement someday!). With its earth-toned landscape and contrasting stark-white silhouette, the cover called to me, and upon reading the description, I was hooked: “The powerful, only known first-person account of one woman’s struggles and triumphs taming the Mississippi Delta.”

“This is it,” I said to my friend who had been made aware of my hunt for the ideal book.

“Wanna look around a bit?” he suggested. “You might find something better.”

Two hours later, we returned to that front shelf and snagged Trials of the Earth, laughing as he claimed he would never doubt me again.

It was no surprise I selected this title. I’m a Louisiana native who lived in various parts of The States before relocating to Mississippi in 2004. My debut novel was set in the Delta and I am drawn to memoirs of strong women, particularly those who stray from expected social norms.

Mary’s story intrigued me for many reasons, so I read the preface and discovered it had been written in 1933 when a friend encouraged the narrator to pen her tale merely three years before her death. Unpublished for more than fifty years, the memoir eventually came to shelves through the University Press of Mississippi but was recently republished by Little, Brown and Company, finding its way to my hands and drawing a patter of my heart.

This story is a simple read, free of literary descriptions or detailed character development. In fact, the blunt plainness of the text is part of the appeal. It flows with an authentic, almost dry style that makes me want to peel the layers off and dig deeper into Mary’s heart. A tough survivor, she does not dwell on emotional details, even when she describes the loss of her father, brother, mother, sister, and four children. Life was hard. She accepted it as such and weathered each trauma with a grit reserved only for the most steadfast of spirits.

While I was interested in the day-to-day requirements necessary to navigate the countless perils of 19th-century Mississippi wilderness—particularly a scene in which the riverbanks began sloughing with rapid intensity forcing the homesteaders to frantically save their tent, raft, and gear from the encroaching waters as well as descriptive trials with mosquitoes, mill accidents, archaic medical practices, and a plethora of predators—it was Mary’s way of viewing the world that fascinated me most. I appreciate a book that allows me to experience life through a different lens, especially when that lens offers direct contrast to my way of seeing things. For example, while blatant prejudice was not displayed, it was clear from undertones that Mary considered “Negro” and Jewish people to be of little worth, and that she had a particular distaste for Baptists. These blanket criticisms were disturbing to read, but I appreciate that the history was preserved, revealing an uncensored portrayal of one woman’s mindset during that particular time period.

Equally interesting was Mary’s marriage. Time and again she wrote that she wasn’t sure if what she felt for her husband was “love.” In fact, she seemed to be co-dependent in the sense she was happiest when she felt needed, even if that required her husband to be ill, drunk, or broken. This was what Mary knew of love, and this is how she lived her life, serving and caring for the men and children while cooking for upwards to 120 boarders and millworkers and going through nearly “a barrel of flour” a day as the laborers cleared the land. She knew her strengths, and she was determined to provide for those under her care.

Mary was a hard worker, a practical minded housekeeper, and a family matriarch who took great pride in keeping up appearances. She didn’t mind if her husband drank too much, as long as he did it in the privacy of their own home. It seemed she was imprisoned at times by her own insecurities and felt most free when the family left the constraints of mainstream society to camp in the backwoods of the Mississippi swamplands. There she could be most herself, without as much worry about what other townsfolk thought of her. This speaks volumes about the pressures women felt both then, and now, as a result of social expectations.

Ultimately, this story is one that shines a positive light on a woman who accepted a different kind of normal. She was never afraid to stand up for herself or for those she loved, exhibiting a fierceness that saved her own life and the lives of countless others, no doubt. By following her husband into the rough country, Mary Mann Hamilton thrived, leaving a legacy for her descendants and continuing to give the family heirs reason to exalt her today.

A spunky, brave, and resilient pioneer, Mary Mann Hamilton gives us a window into a world that is at once distant and near, unique yet universal, ancient yet timeless. But above all else, she tells the story of one woman’s will to endure life’s greatest hurts, and that, my friends, is a story to which we can all relate.

Here’s to Mary Mann Hamilton and the women who came before us. Let’s share a toast to the strong ones.

Happy Reading!


About the Author

Julie CantrellJulie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, a debut novel that earned both the Christy Award Book of the Year (2013) and the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. The sequel, When Mountains Move, was named a 2013 Best Read by LifeWay, was shortlisted for several awards, and won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, released January 2016, earning a starred review by Library Journal.

Learn more about Julie on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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