Sunday, September 27, 2009


"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasent facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
John F. Kennedy (20th anniversary of the Voice of America, February 26, 1962)

This is banned book week, September 26-October 3.... 
I say "Read a Banned Book!"

Whenever this week comes around I remember my experience with books that were thought improper for a school library.

When I was president of the local school board, the first Harry Potter book came out. I wasn't familar with it, but it had gotten good reviews and the kids were READING! An amazing thing, as some of us know getting some kids to read can become quite an endeavor. I had several phone calls, and a few visits from parents who were upset it was allowed in the school library, concerned it was about witchcraft. Heck, my kids were reading it..and loved it and shared what they were readng with me. I picked up the book and read it, the better to know what I was defending. I liked it: witches, magic, sorcerers, adventure, good vs. evil...what could be better for a child's imagination? It was full of so much more then...witchcraft. Some parents felt strongly that is was not a book for children, did not want their children to read the book and it shouldn't be allowed on school library shelves. Okay....simple questions, why don't you tell your kids not to read it? What about the parents who want their kids to read it? I was amazed that there was still such an uproar about certain books.

Along with Harry Potter, here is a small list of books that were banned, or have been challenged:

Winnie the Pooh--A.A. Milne

James and the Giant Peach-Roald Dahl                                                     
Separate Peace--John Knowles
The Bastard--John Jakes
Beloved--Toni Morrison
Andersonville--MacKinlay Kantor
Daddy's Roomate--Michael Willhoite
Fahrenheit 451--Ray Bradbury (This one is ironic)
American Psycho--Bret Easton Ellis
Bridge to Terabithia--Katherine Patterson
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings--Maya Angelou
The Color Purple--Alice Walker
In Cold Blood--Truman Capote
A Light in the Attic--Shel Silverstein
Captain Underpants--Dav Pilkey
Valachi Papers--Peter Maas
Carrie--Stephen King

Stephen King, Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Judy Blume have several books on this very long list. Pick up any one of these books, see if you can figure out what caused an uproar about a certain book. 

While I do believe that parents should pay attention to what their children are reading, they shouldn't be allowed to decide what other children should be allowed to read. Nobody should make the decision about what I, or anybody else, can read. It's a simple freedom, freedom of choice.

Harry Potter, and the rest of the books in the series, stayed on the school library shelves. Hard to believe, with the popularity of the books and the movies, this series remains banned in parts of the country and continues to be one of the most challenged books today.

As was said so well:

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson                   

Happy Reading!  

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Circle Trilogy

Books are the chloroform of the mind.
Robert Chambers

Nora Roberts--

The Circle Trilogy

Morrigan's Cross

Dance of the Gods

Valley of Silence

In my last post I mentioned that I had been a lazy summer reader...reading trashy novels. I would like to go on record that I meant that with the utmost respect. I love nothing more then a good novel that you can read in a weekend.

I am not a big Nora Roberts fan. I don't dislike her books, she is just an author I grab when I am in the mood for some lazy reading. However! Having read her Circle Trilogy I may have to change my thinking about her. These are just the books you want when you want to escape without thinking. We have time-travel, magic, humor, paranormal occurrences, evil, and it's Nora Roberts, we have romance.

Morrigan's Cross--Book I

A group of children are gathered around an elderly gentleman as he tells them a story about a sorcerer who, with the help of his circle of six, saved the world from evil....

We meet Hoyt Mac Cionaith, a sorcerer in 1128 Ireland. The Goddess Morrigan has chosen Hoyt to battle Lilith, the queen of the vampires, who is...well, she's the queen of the vampires, she's evil. Hoyt is more then ready to go after Lilith because she turned his brother, Cian, into a vampire. It seems that Lilith has decided it's time to take over the world and is gathering her hoards to prepare for battle. Morrigan explains all this to Hoyt and informs him that she is placing the fate of the world in his hands. Yes, he will have help, he is to complete a circle of six. Morrigan tells him "some will seek him, some he will have to find." Hoyt needs to find a witch, a warrior, a scholar, one who has many forms, and the one lost to him to complete the circle. He also doesn't have much time, he has a month to find his circle, a month to "learn," and a month to "know," and be ready to save the world.

Next thing you know, Hoyt is in New York City, the 21th century! Not only that, he is in Cian's very popular nightclub. Hoyt is a little worried because Cian being a vampire, is this how he feels his blood lust? He also has to convince Cian to join his circle to stop Lilith, as Cian is the "one lost to him." There could be a problem with this, as Lilith is Cian's "maker." The good news is that Cian takes blood from the bottle, not humans, and the fact he's been around for some 900 years...he is a very wealthy guy, which will come in very handy. While in New York, Hoyt meets Glenna, who is a witch. Seems Glenna has been dreaming about an "ancient sorcerer" so she isn't to surprised to find Hoyt and join the group.
Hoyt has a reluctant Cian, and Glenna, and himself so he has half of his circle--the witch, and the "one who was lost to him." Off they head to Ireland, in Cian's private plane, since Hoyt doesn't have a passport or identification, is a good thing to have. They go to the Mac Cionaoith ancestral home, which is for sale so Cian buys it. Soon they are joined by Moira, a princess from the mystical kingdom of Geall, who is also a scholar, and Larkin, her cousin, who is the "one with many forms," a shape-shifter. The circle is up to five.

Hoyt and Glenna try to resist the sparks between them, but even when faced with the saving of the world, and the 900 year age difference, romance can always find a way.

The final person to complete the circle shows up toward the end of the book one, Blair, the warrior...the vampire slayer.

With the circle of six complete, the month to "learn" begins.

We get to know Hoyt and Glenna very well in this book, the others are on the fringes of the story...but there are two more books to come.

Dance of the Gods--Book II

The circle of six are getting to know each other, but learning to trust each other is a little harder. When you have a vampire among as an ally, that makes it a little hard. You have the past and present colliding to save the future, and each one has there own idea on how to do things. Training together, adjusting to each other and continually fighting off the vampires that Lilith keeps sending to battle them puts them all on edge. Interestingly, Blair turns out to be Hoyt and Cian many times removed niece..which adds more of a family affair to the upcoming battle.

While Hoyt and Glenna practice the magic that will be needed for the battle, Larkin uses his shape-shafting abilities to enter the vampire nests and report back to the others. Larkin is also trying to impress Blair with his talents, but it doesn't work. Blair is used to working alone, it seems being a vampire slayer doesn't make it easy to make friends, or have boyfriends. Learning to trust the others, work with them, train them how to fight vampires and how to become friends in two months, doesn't come easy to her.

Lilith, the vampire queen, meanwhile, is adding more vampires to her army, and the six, to their shock, learn they can't take some of their friends at face value. As a little side note, Larkin, in his undercover shape-shifting operations, discovers that there are people in cages for the vampires to feast on, or play with. We are in modern day Ireland right now, how come nobody is noticing that these people are missing? Heaven sakes, some of these captured people are tourists!

We also meet queen Lilith's favorite, little Davy. He looks like a ten year old angel, but he is the devil in disguise.......

As the month and book two draws to a close, Larkin and Blair realize that being a shape shifter and a vampire slayer makes for having a lot in common. Ah, romance hits again in the mist of danger!

I did laugh out loud reading the part where Cian is muttering to himself about being " I'm a vampire for God's sake. Creature of the night, drinker of blood. And here I am playing butler to some erstwhile Geallian queen. Mortifying is what it is....." as he takes a tray of tea and cookies to Moira in the library. Love it!

At the end of book two, the six are ready to enter the "circle" that will take them to Geall, where the battle for mankind will take place. As they get ready to enter the "circle" Lilith tries once again to prevent them from fulfilling their distention by having the vampires attack. Will they make it to Geall? Will it work when the magic words are said? Where will they be when the smoke clears?
Poof...onto book three.

Valley of Silence-Book III

The circle of six have arrived in Geall! First, Moira ascends the throne as the new queen. The first order of business is to mold an army made out of farmers, craftsmen and housewives. Explaining to the people of Geall that they are in for not only the fight of their lives but that they stand between the vampires and the fate of the world takes time they don't have. Convincing them that an army of vampires is heading their way and has been increasing steadily as Lilith "recuits," that they must be behind the castle gates or in their homes by nightfall with their doors locked...and don't invite anybody inside, even if you think you know them. (With Lilith and her army making more vampires, you can never be sure of who you think it is, or what it is.) Unfortunately, one family didn't get the message, and young Davy shows up at their door crying that the vampires killed his family, and remember I told you Davy looks like an angel.......

Moira, meanwhile, besides being queen and rallying the troops, realizes she has strong feelings for Cian! Better yet, the feelings are mutual. How does a vampire have feelings when they don't have a heartbeat? How does a queen and a vampire work this out? Cian will never age while Moira will. Does he watch her grow old....or is it better to deny what they feel? What happens if they don't survive the upcoming battle with Lilith? Do they take a chance? Is it better to focus on the battle ahead, or give in to strong feelings for each other? Romance...

As the moment arrives for the battle between good and evil, I leave you here and let the elderly gentleman continue his tale to the young children.....

I enjoyed this trilogy so much, and writing about it I think I might just have to read it again! The characters, the dialogue, the interaction between all the characters, even the ones that just "pop in and out," all will keep you turning the pages. We have a fairy tale interwoven with modern fiction. By book three, all the characters have been fleshed out, you know their history, including Lilith's.

If you like paranormal, fantasy, and/or books about vampires, these are for you. Yes, you have to start with book one, and yes, you have to read all three. I strongly suggest you get all three books at once because you will want to keep going.

These are just the kind of books that the mind needs, and enjoys....the best kind of chloroform for the mind. Remember, just go with the story, you 'll be glad you did.

Keep the lights on...

Happy Reading!