Banned Books Week Sept 30-Oct 6, 2012

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read: September 30-October 6, 2012

Every year, the ALA, the ABA, and book lovers everywhere dedicate a week to highlighting the never ending struggle between intellectual freedom and those who try to curtail that freedom via censorship and book challenges.

Although the US does not have outright bans in the same way found in other countries, there are frequent attempts to limit access to material in public libraries, school libraries, and classrooms. Most often, these are well meaning, if misguided, attempts to "protect" children from potentially disturbing ideas or language.

Many of our most celebrated classics have been challenged and removed from school and classroom libraries based upon their content. This happens every year and all over the country. Some of the states where challenges and removals have occurred may surprise you.

Celebrate your freedom to read this week by spreading the word, writing a letter to the editor to your local paper, or reading a banned book.


Firing of the Anvils

I know I tend to go on (and on) about where I live, but I love it here. The idiosyncrasies that make this area home for me are immeasurable. And the firing of the anvils is one of those quirky, WTF?! things that make this area so awesome.

If you've never heard of anvil firing, you're not alone. Before I moved up here, I hadn't either. It's a Southern thing, apparently. Which makes it extremely unusual to find out west.  And here, instead of replacing fireworks, we use it to signal the start of our annual County Fair Parade. I've blogged about this before, but this year, I GOT VIDEO!

This is a scaled down, "safer" version of the process, but it gives you an idea of what it would be like when people aren't gathered close to the anvils.

My favorite part of the process is when you get tourists. And they have this confuzzled look on their face.  It closely resembles the WTF you see at Heather Graham RT events. Old men haul these heavy anvils into the middle of the road. O...K... Then they do something you can't see, stack them on top of each other, and approach the anvils with a very long stick.

These same tourists are looking around, wondering what is going on, as the locals are plugging their ears.

Because this is what it sounds like when those things go off:

And even though I know the noise is coming, I still jump like a big sissy. (You'll see the camera shake. Feel free to mock me as my family did).

TBR Challenge Review: No Mercy by Lori Armstrong

Format: Mass market paperback
Pub Date: Dec 2010
Publisher: Pocket (Simon and Schuster)
Length: 379
FTC: picked up for free at RT 12

This month's theme is "something other than romance." And since I originally started the blog as a romance AND MYSTERY blog, I thought it was time to review a mystery. Most of my TBR pile is still in boxes from some room switching we did this spring, but I had my RT Convention books handy. And in that pile was No Mercy by Lori Armstrong.

I've read Lori Armstrong in her Lorelei James persona, but wasn't really sure what to expect of her writing as a mystery author. For starters, the styles are nothing at all alike. There are those authors whose books you would recognize regardless of who they are writing as or in whatever genre: Armstrong is not one of them. If I didn't *know* these were written by the same person, I'd never connect the two. Honestly? I prefer the James stories. And not just because they're filled with sexy cowboys and happily ever after.


Recipe: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I discovered this recipe via the lovely food blog, Full Fork Ahead. They have adapted it from a Kitchen Aid recipe. My only change is to use a combination of milk chocolate chips and Nestlé semi sweet chunks. These cookies are soft, chewy, don't spread everywhere, and you can't bite into one without getting some chocolate! Imagine kick-ass Keebler Soft Batch without that chemical preservative taste. Mmmm...

You really need a sturdy stand mixer to make these. If you don't have one, you'll have to do these as you normally would,  adding the last of the flour by hand.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use 1 teaspoon to cut down on saltiness)
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks (about 1 cup)
6 ounces milk chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla in mixer bowl. Attach flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 (just above "stir") and mix about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl with spatula. Turn to speed four (about medium) and beat about 30 seconds more. Stop and scrape bowl with spatula.

Turn to Stir (low) Speed. Gradually add in baking soda, salt and flour to sugar mixture and mix about 2 minutes. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds more. Stop mixer, scrape bowl again. Add in chocolate chips and mix on Stir Speed for 15 seconds.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, or roll into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookie have just started to turn golden brown. Leave on baking sheet for about a minute after removing from oven, then put them on wire cooling racks.

Keep an eagle eye on the cookies because they'll lose their chewy, soft texture if you overbake them.