Happy Esther Day!

Hi everybody! Happy Esther Day!

Esther Day Banner(I already said that in the title of the post, but I’m saying it again anyway. Also, I completely forgot I’d already scheduled a blog post to publish today, so that’s why there are two in one day. Oops.)

For those of you who don’t know, Esther Grace Earl was a Nerdfighter and a huge Harry Potter fan. She also became good friends with bestselling young adult author John Green, who dedicated his book The Fault in Our Stars to her. Esther greatly inspired the book, and while it is not her story, she is now a published author herself. She died of thyroid cancer on August 25, 2010, at the age of 16, but one of the many legacies she left behind is Esther Day.

Esther was a big fan of the Vlogbrothers, the YouTube duo of John Green and his brother, Hank. Before she died, John told Esther he and Hank wanted to celebrate her birthday (August 3rd) through Vlogbrothers videos as long as they were able. The videos on that day could be about whatever she wanted. Esther finally decided that she wanted those videos to celebrate love for family and friends–a Valentine’s Day for everything besides romantic love, when telling someone you love them might not be as easy.

So, in honor of Esther Day, here is a compilation of 7 books/series that feature strong love between family and friends, all of which were thoroughly enjoyable. 🙂

1. This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl, with Lori and Wayne Earl

Well. I suppose this was kind of obvious.

This Star Won’t Go Out was published just last year, and consists of excerpts from Esther’s journals, stories, and artwork. It also includes essays from her family and friends, and throughout the book, the love between Esther and those surrounding her is strikingly evident. It’s a testament to the power of love and family and friendship, and I strongly, strongly recommend you read it. Esther’s voice is intelligent and kind and completely her own, and it’s not something you want to miss out on. (Review here.)

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so this one might be ever so slightly obvious as well. Love is without a doubt one of the biggest parts of Harry Potter’s story, from the night Voldemort gave him that scar to the end of it all. Over the years, readers get to watch as he forges bonds with his friends, his teachers, and so many other people in his life. I think the Golden Trio has one of the most enduring friendships in literature, to be honest, and it’s certainly fun to read about.

3. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

Betsy and Tacy met when Tacy’s family moved onto Hill Street, and they’ve been nearly inseparable ever since. The book follows the pair as they embark on childhood adventures, including climbing the big hill by their houses and enduring the first day of school. I really enjoyed reading this when I was little, and I think I may have attempted to make some Betsy-and-Tacy-inspired paper dolls at some point. . .maybe. Either way, it’s a great story about friendship for younger readers, and maybe some older ones, too.

4. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

This series is so fun and addictive to read. Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan are all very different, very unique girls. They would never all be in the same social circle at school. But then they all get roped into joining a mother-daughter book club, and stuff gets ever so slightly crazy. The girls’ friendship grows as the series moves forward, and I remember enjoying these so much when I first read them. A lot of the books focus on the girls’ bonds with each other and with their families, and they’re a definite recommendation. (Review here.)

5. The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

This was one of my favorite book series when I was younger, and it still is. When Sabrina and Daphne Grimm’s parents are mysteriously kidnapped, they have to go live with their grandmother, a grandmother they had believed to be dead. And while they’re still reeling from this stunning change of circumstances, another bomb is dropped–they’re descended from the Brothers Grimm, whose fairytales are actually, um, true. They’re basically living in a town full of fairytale characters. A lot of the series focuses on the bond between the sisters as they deal with their new lives and attempt to find out what happened to their mother and father, leaning on each other and their new friends for support. There’s a lot of sisterly/familial love, and the series can really suck you in. And then there’s the witches. (Review here.)

6. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

The two princesses of Bamarre couldn’t be more different–Princess Addie is shy and afraid, while her sister Meryl is brave and harbors dreams of being the country’s heroine. But when illness strikes Meryl and endangers her life, Addie’s the one who has to embark on a quest to try and save her sister, before it’s too late. The book revolves around Addie and Meryl’s love for each other, and Gail Carson Levine could very well be one of the best fantasy writers around. It’s original and well-written, and I definitely recommend it. (Review here.)

7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is about a lot of things, but I think the most integral part of the book is the friendship between two young girls helping in the WWII effort. One of them has been captured by Nazis in France, and the book is partially told through her confessions to them. She tells them of how she met her best friend, Maddie, working her way through the story of their friendship to explain how she ended up where she is. “It’s like falling in love, discovering your best friend,” the narrator writes. It’s probably one of the most striking stories of friendship I’ve read in a while.

When Valentine’s Day rolls around every year, a lot of people say “I love you” to their spouses, their fiances/fiancees, and their girlfriends or boyfriends. But sometimes (or a lot of the time), saying it to your friends, or your family, isn’t nearly as easy. I think it’s become something that just isn’t done a lot of the time, for fear of awkwardness, or just because something’s holding people back. Esther Day is meant to counteract that–to encourage people to say “I love you” to the people who matter in their lives. Esther Earl lived her life with a lot of love and caring for those close to her, and I think Esther Day is a very fitting way to celebrate her, not to mention love itself.

So, happy Esther day! Thanks so much for reading and supporting this blog, and I hope you all have a lovely Sunday. 🙂 Don’t forget to be awesome!

TSWGO BannerBookish Quote of the Day: “Saying you love someone is a good thing.” –Esther Earl

P.S. If you’re curious, both banners were made with the website Pic Monkey, which is a pretty cool tool for editing photos, making designs, etc. I don’t think I managed to get the exact shade of Esther Green, but oh well.

And Now I Gush About: Fandoms!

Okay, okay, stay with me. I know it’s been a while. . .

First of all, I have two apologies. Whoot!

One: I’m sKeep Calm-Fandomorry I haven’t posted in ages. . .again. . .>meekly offers you cupcakes and Emily Dickinson poetry<

And two: I’m sorry this isn’t a book review. It is book-related (as a lot of books are the basis for fandoms), but it isn’t a review, and I realize I haven’t done one of those for a while. Unfortunately, though, I watched the finale of the second season of Sherlock yesterday, and I’m too emotionally overwrought to really focus on a review. So. . .um. . .blame the BBC? Actually, ignore my excuses. Just stop right here.

Anyway, I’m thinking this is going to be a kind of feature now, maybe, where I basically aimlessly blab about what I love about a book/author/other-writing/book-related-thing. Am I even making sense? Ergh, moving on. . .

So, I am a member of a lot of fandoms. Harry Potter, Harry Potter LoveDoctor Who, Hetalia, Sherlock (OH MY GOD SHERLOCK). . .the list goes on for a while. If I could be a Professional Fangirl, I would. If you know anyone who will pay me to look at Tumblr and YouTube and to just cry/laugh/fall over, then for the love of fanfiction, send them to me. I am serious.

One of the things I love about fandoms (there are a lot of things I love about fandoms) is that there is so much to see. There’s art, stories, GIFsets, and more, all created by people who love something unconditionally and can come together to just go nuts over it. To just celebrate it with other people and say things like, “I found the most amazing fanfic today,” and “Look at David Tennant’s hair in this!” and “THIS GIF THIS GIF THIS GIF THIS GIF ASDFGHJKL;”

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch

Of course, it’s not all just blogging picture after picture after picture after video of Martin Freeman and/or Benedict Cumberbatch. (But, again, if you’ll pay me. . .) People also talk about stuff like why something is, or how it works, or WHOA THIS TOTALLY EXPLAINS THAT THING!!!

Or, they form awesome things like the Harry Potter HPA LogoAlliance, which uses fandom-ness and love to make the world a better place. Seriously, check it out. Being in a fan community can actually lead to some pretty interesting discussions and creations. What, you think we just randomly surf the internet all the time?

I love how, if you’re in a fandom, you can just have fun and love something, with other people who love it, and do something meaningful with it.

Not to mention all the amaaaaaazing fanfictions there are out there.

And music.

And fanart.

And. . .

Literary Quote of the Day: “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” —Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling.

P.S. My school, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, has a school newspaper! It’s online, and we’re hoping to really get some traffic going to the site, so, you know, if you want. . .

P.P.S. If you require some information on how to take care of a fangirl/fanboy, this video could be very instructive (Warning: Bit of a Sherlock spoiler):

Bookette: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Hi! So this is my second Bookette, and as you can see, it’s about Harry Potter. There’s really not much else to say. Have a great day everybody!IMG_2768[1]

Literary Quote of the Day: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

Banned Books Week: They Banned WHAT?!

Well. . .here we are again. . .>clears throat awkwardly< Okay, fine, since I can FEEL you all glaring at me through your computer screens (or iPads, or whatever), I’ll just say it–I HAVEN’T POSTED IN FOREVER AND I KNOW I REALLY SHOULD HAVE BUT TIME GOT AWAY FROM ME AND I FEEL BAD!! Ahem. Okay, then. Can I get on with it now? Right.

So, I know that I’m really late talking about this, but this week is (drumroll please) Banned Books Week! So rather than blather on with all the same stuff I said last year, I’ve decided to write a bit about some books that have been banned that will probably (hopefully) make you shake your heads and mutter, “Dang idiots.” (The ones that banned the books, not the authors.) But first, a little background. . .

Banned Books Week is a celebration of the right to read. Across the US, many books have been banned (taken out of libraries, schools, etc.), mostly because they’re considered inappropriate for young readers, and are therefore made unavailable. A couple of the more frequent offenders are To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Now, personally, I see the banning of books as unfair and unconstitutional, both to the authors and their readers. And might I also add that some of the boards who ban the book have not read it, and probably don’t know their true merits? Just saying. But some of the books being banned are particularly surprising.

Harry Potter. They really tried to ban Harry Potter. I kid you not. The reason? It encourages kids to believe in Satan, you know, what with all the ghosts and witches and wizards–thank goodness people tried to protect us from this awful influence! They also believe that it sets a bad example for young children, considering all the rule-breaking Harry and his friends do. Because there are so many protagonists out there that are absolute angels.

Next up: The American Heritage Dictionary. Huh? Why would people want to ban something that can be deemed so educational? Well, the thing is, it included entries that were considered “objectionable” and inappropriate. So let’s just ban the whole darn thing! But really, I would think the good outweighs the bad where this is concerned. Why cut off a good and reliable reference for kids just because of some entries?

I, for one, definitely liked this book as a kid. It’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble! (Written by Willliam Steig.) Honestly, I think it’s an enjoyable story for kids, but twelve states objected to its subject matter. More specifically, the part that portrays police as pigs. I can see why they might be offended, but really?

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Wow. I mean. . .just wow. This book is the popular children’s story that is a collaboration between Eric Carle and Billy Martin Jr., and was removed from libraries in Texas by the Texas State Board of Education. The reason was that Billy Martin Jr. happened to have the same name as Marxist theorist who has written a book that is anti-Capitalism. Then–whoops! Wrong person. Luckily, the book was instantly made available again for the public’s enjoyment.

And, finally: The Diary of a Young Girl, the famous record of Anne Frank’s family and their confinement to an annex in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Now, it isn’t particularly surprising that this book would be banned. The subject content would definitely make some parents prefer not to have their kids read it until they’re older. I respect that, and in some cases, maybe it’s a good idea. But what I don’t agree with is having a book with such valuable insight into World War 2 being made completely unavailable when it has such an important story within it. Anyway, the surprising part of it is that there was an attempt made to ban it because people just considered it “a real downer.” Sigh. That’s all I have to say.

So, anyway, let me finish with this: I understand if a parent wants their child to hold off on reading something because they don’t think they’re old enough. But there is no guarantee that all parents are going to feel this way, so please don’t try to silence an author’s voice when it could prove beneficial (or enjoyable) to someone else. I don’t think anyone has any business doing that. Seriously, bug off.

Phew. So there you go. Now we just have to wait until next year. Oh, and in closing, if you’re feeling all depressed because so many great stories are being banned, click on this link to read some of the authors’ responses to it. I especially liked Ray Bradbury’s.

P.S. Feel free to leave your views on this issue in the comments!