Banned Book Week 2016

It’s Banned Book Week, guys!

Last year, I jumped into the conversation with a post about impressionable teenage readers. When Sheila at Book Journey sent a reminder about Banned Book Week 2015, I was all in. I was thinking over the next few days about what to write about, when, as if on queue, there was breaking news about a YA book banned in New Zealand. Clearly, this was a sign. I cannot resist all things New Zealand.

Let me tell you about this book: Into the River, by Ted Dawe.


In 2013, this novel, a prequel to Dawe’s earlier work Thunder Road, won a New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award.

Just recently, after complaints from a family advocacy group about the book’s “sexually explicit content, drug use and the use of a slang term for female genitalia” (The Guardian), the New Zealand Film and Literature board has placed an “interim restriction order” on the book, subject to a permanent classification sometime this month. (If you want the full scoop, go here.)

Currently, this book cannot be distributed or displayed anywhere in New Zealand.

Most of the new articles mention this being the first book banned in New Zealand in 22 years. I am not sure what book was banned 22 years ago, but according to this handy WIkipedia page, a book called The Peaceful Pill Handbook was initially banned in 2007.

The Peaceful Pill Handbook, not that I’m advocating for its banning, provides information on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Into the River is a coming-of-age story at an all-boys boarding school in Auckland, New Zealand. Te Arapa is a Maori teenager who leaves his village and family to attend a prestigious boarding school on scholarship. The early chapters, dripping with cultural references, illustrate Te Arapa’s relationship with his grandfather, and how he grows up.

And then, he goes on to school, where his name and his identity are both transformed. Devon, as he is now called, makes a lot of bad decisions, many of them related to drugs and sex. He also witnesses his best friend’s inappropriate relationship with a teacher. In the end, I found that he had become a pretty despicable person (who was also surrounded by some awful adults).

The National Director of Family First NZ, the group that sparked the ban was quoted as saying “”I’ve read it to parents, I’ve sat with a group of fathers, none of them want their children to be reading it. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be hanging around with people who have been reading it.”

I wouldn’t want my daughter to be hanging around with people who have been reading it.

Yikes. That’s a powerful statement about fear of written words. I didn’t love this book. I didn’t love the characters. However, I don’t believe that reading this book would give anyone the impression that the choices Devon made were great, logical steps forward in life.

Parents, by all means, raise questions about what your children are reading. Give input. Discuss books together. Guide them towards books that will make them smarter, more critical, more compassionate people. Please.

But let’s give the entire population of NZ a little credit, and let individuals and families make their own choices about reading material.

And, if you want to throw Ted Dawe a bone, Into the River is available on Amazon – complete with a parental advisory explicit content warning (provided you’re not in NZ).


What I’ve Been Reading

Oh, hello there, reader. My sister has done an admirable job of keeping up the book talk here at Gun In Act One, while I’ve been buried under a mountain of work, but it’s high time I reported in on what (little) I’ve been reading.

  1. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche – this book came into my life last summer.  I finally picked it up one night recently, which turned out to be perfect timing. Bertsche’s memoir is about finding that she hasn’t established a real, solid friendship in her city after two years of living there – and she chronicles her quest to change that by going on 52 friend dates over the course of the year. While I’m not about to add that challenge to my to-do list, I did come away with plenty to think about in terms of the effort it takes to make friends in your twenties thirties.
  2. mwfSome work books. Okay, I won’t go into everything I’ve read recently about workplace culture and communications, but here’s one: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. I know business books are not for everyone, but books are my go-to for just about everything. This one was recommended to me, and I dug it.advantage
  3. The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy – while Amanda has long professed her love for Beach Music, this was my first Pat Conroy novel, though it will not be my last. I started this while J & I were headed to vacation in Charleston, and I finished en route back to the midwest. I loved the parts of the book that read as a love letter to the holy city. I loved the rest of the book too – a heartbreaking and fascinating and devastating look into the friendship between four boys in a military college in the 1960s.  


What have you been reading this summer?

Library of Souls Tour and Giveaway!

Are you a peculiar reader?


Ransom Riggs’ fantastic and photographically bizarre trilogy is coming to a close next month.   I adored Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and I reviewed the sequel Hollow City here.  I can’t wait to see how this series ends!

Quirk Books wants to send YOU to see Ransom Riggs on tour!   Basically what you need to do is:

  • Snap a selfie of your most peculiar costume and send Quirk Books a link.
  • Tag your photo with the #StayPeculiar hashtag.
  • Visit the Library of Souls page for all the info!

But before you go do that Quirk is giving me this super fun #StayPeculiar tote to give away too!

StayPeculiar Tote

Enter this Rafflecopter link  and good luck Peculiar readers!


Important stuff:  US ONLY, ENDS 08/17 @ 12am/c.  Winner has 48 hours to respond to my email or I will draw another.

Retail Therapy

Oh, hi.

You may have noticed, reader, that my best-sister-friend has been holding down the fort here at Gun In Act One lately. I’ve managed to stay on top of a few things, like the posts we wrote in May for Pink for All Seasons at the Bubble Bath Reader, but there has not been a lot of reading, writing, or even proofreading Amanda’s posts in my life recently. (Let’s hope that she hasn’t posted too many comma splices while I’ve been otherwise occupied!)

Anyway, my life has been a bit bananas, but that’s a story (or six) for another day. What I’m here today to talk about is finding myself in a bookstore (The Book Cellar) while in serious need of some self-soothing (a.k.a. retail therapy). I have previously professed my preference for e-books (or the library) over acquiring new books, but don’t worry, I am a good shopper. I came up with something(s) I had to have in print form.

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh


This blog makes me laugh, and I needed to laugh. And this book cannot be read and enjoyed on my Kindle, so I had to buy it. See what I did there, with logic? #noregrets

We Should all be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Now, I had seen this book mentioned in other places, and you might think, from looking at the cover, that it’s a book. It’s really more like an edited transcript of a TED talk, consisting of 48 pages about half the size of a regular paperback. But, we should all be feminists, and I decided this would be a good addition to my bookshelf at work. And it is.

With my schedule on overdrive, picture-books and miniature books seem to be at just the right speed. What do you turn to for reading when your head has turned to mush?

Top Ten Tuesday – New TBR Finds

It IS still Tuesday, right?

I have to say, ever since we started blogging about books, I am constantly adding more books to my TBR list. Here are ten that caught our eyes recently.


Thanks to the Broke and Bookish for the topic. Click here for more Top Ten Tuesdays!


  1. The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon – I need more nonfiction like this in my life
  2. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen – because reading Persuasion was fun
  3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – I don’t know what this book is but Amanda is all about it
  4. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan – I found this one after finishing Rodin’s Lover and searching for more books in the historical-fiction-about-artists genre
  5. That Summer by Lauren Willig – I am ready to try out some more Lauren Willig because I love the Pink Carnation books!


  1. The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette.  Thanks Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness for catching my eye with this one!
  2. Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson
  3. The Witches by Stacy Schiff
  4. This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!  by Jonathon Evison.
  5. The Royal We by Heather Cocks

What great books have you heard about recently?

2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Interview

Thanks Alexa Loves Books for hosting the 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon!


  1. What’s your name?  Amanda and Holly
  2. Where in the world are you blogging from?  The frigid midwest. Complete with neverending snow and ice.
  3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?

Amanda: Our fairy blogmother is my friend Christina who was blogging at Allodoxaphobia at the  time.  Those ladies have moved on to other endeavors but thankfully Christina continues to answer all my blogging questions and always is willing to talk books with me!

Holly: Amanda made me do it!

       4. How did you come up with your blog name?

Amanda: The name is in homage to our amazing high school English teacher.  He taught us “If there’s a gun on the wall in Act One, its going to go off by Act Five.”  RIP Bro Ruhl!   If he could, Brother Ruhl would come back from beyond the grave to beat me with my inappropriate comma usage as well as my inability to correctly use “it’s” vs. “its”.  Sorry sister.

    5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

Amanda: That’s a good question-I don’t think I can answer.  I think both of us will try nearly anything.  I admit to reading much more smut and YA than my sister.  But I don’t think that’s all of what I read.

    6.  What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?

 Profound Ones.  Completely profound discussions.  And TTT when we’re in the mood!

     7.  Best blogging experience so far?

Holly: Getting a comment from a Pulitzer Prize winning author here

     8 .  Favorite thing about the blogging community?

Amanda:  That there is always someone willing to listen to me rapture about my latest read. And then chances are good they’ll point me to my next best read!

     9.  Name the 5 6 books you’re most excited for this 2015!

Amanda:  The Wrath & the Dawn; Re Jane; The Invasion of the Tearling; A God in Ruins; Pocket Apocalypse

 Which should I read first?  The first 4 are all on my floor staring at me.

   10.  What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

 Amanda: Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson.  Totally shocked me.

   11.  Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

 Holly: I really hate questions about book friends or boyfriends. Books are not people and that is okay.

Amanda: Books are not people I know sister. But it’s still fun to think about sometimes!  I will avoid picking a boyfriend lest my husband ever read this and feel offended.  But I can think of 2 BFF’s I take- 1. Elisa from Girl of Fire and Thorns.  2. Robin from The Cuckoo’s Calling.  Clearly those are very different books – but two chicks that are smart, self aware and can kick booty!

   12.  Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?

 Holly: Cooking, tennis, annoying my sister

Amanda: Chasing my 4 year-old. Daydreaming fantasy vacations. Going anywhere in Chicago I can walk-when its not freaking snowing.  Texting my sister.  Also currently obsessed with the Americans and Orphan Black.  Debating trying the 100 after the twitter obsession I see.

     13.  Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

 Holly: Plane tickets.

 Amanda: Shoes.  All the shoes.

     14.  At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?

 Holly:  Who goes to parties with DJs?

Amanda:  How do I follow that up?

    15.  Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.

Holly: The Lumatere Chronicles. Obviously.
Amanda: Obviously, I agree with my sister 100%.  On a totally different note, I think The Pink Carnation series would be totally fun.

Thanks for stopping by our Love-a-Thon post!! Please link us back to visit you!

Can we Persuade you to read with us (and the Paperback Princess!)?

We have both been working on our 2015 TBR Challenge lists, along with our friend Eva at The Paperback Princess.

We have one book that we both committed to finally reading this year: Jane Austen’s Persuasion. And because it’s a favorite of Eva’s, the three of us decided to host a little informal #persuasionreadalong in March.  So, if you’d like to join us, download a copy (you can find it for free), head to the library, or check out your favorite bookstore. Throughout March, we’ll have a few posts between Gun In Act One and The Paperback Princess as we read/reread the story of Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth.


And, speaking of TBR lists, Eva also tagged us to answer these TBR-tag questions. So, here goes:

1.   How do you keep track of your TBR Pile?

Holly: Sometimes I add books I want to read to Goodreads. Sometimes I add them to my Amazon Wish List. Sometimes Amanda yells at me to read things and overrides both those lists.

Amanda: I add everything to Goodreads that I have the slightest interest in. That’s why my TBR list is out of control-but I kind of skim through to see what I’m in the mood for.  I still have a paper list too which I add to Goodreads sometimes.

 2. Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Holly: I’m all about e-books.

Amanda: I think mostly e-books, but after ALA that might be a lie.  I love my kindle but there is nothing like picking up a new hardcover for me. Its like a gift-even when I buy it for myself!

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Holly: There is a complicated algorithm that includes Amazon sales, library availability, lunar cycles, book length, attention span, and mood. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I pick next.

Amanda:  Mood + date of publication for ARCs. Holly is clearly the more complicated sister.

4.  A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

Holly: Until recently, that was Little, Big, which was waiting on my bookshelf (in various locations) since 1996.  Next up, maybe A Vindication of the Rights of Women. I’m pretty sure I’ve been meaning to read that since Mr. Nall’s class in high school.

Amanda:  Per Goodreads, The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr has been languishing on my TBR since 2008.  I’m sure there are a few I’m forgetting though!

 5.  A book you recently added to your TBR?

Holly: The Monopolists, thanks to Shannon @ River City Reading.

Amanda:  Oh me too! But more recently, Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.  Its from 2000 and is my April book club book.

6.  A TBR on your list strictly because of it’s beautiful cover?

Holly: Not applicable. Oh, except maybe Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.

Book Cover Final three

Amanda: This took me forever!  Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black.  Pretty cover, doubt I’ll read it.

 127880617.  A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

Holly: Ha! There’s a good chance that life will be too short for me to get around to Infinite Jest.

Amanda: This is a tough one! The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.  I started it once and basically hated it.  I think I’m deleting it off my shelf now.

8. An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

Holly: The Winds of Winter. Light it up, George!

Amanda: The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev. Also, Inflict by Cora Carmack -get to writing ladies!  Last, Second Position by Katherine Locke.  Its going to be good!

 9.  A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you?

Holly: Hmmm – Eleanor & Park. The Interestings.  Unbroken.

Amanda: The Glass Castle.  Wild.  Cinder-and the rest of the Lunar Chronicles.

10.  A book on your TBR list that everyone recommends to you? 

Holly: Well, not directly, but everyone and their brother was recommending Station Eleven on their best-of-2014 lists.

Amanda: Strongest recommendation I’ve had recently has been for All the Rage by Courtney Summers which I’m about to start.  Not going to lie, I’m a little scared.  I did just get Station Eleven at the library though.  Maybe I can start pushing that on Holly too.

 11.  A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Holly: Persuasion, obviously. Starting soon!

Amanda: How long do you have?  Currently I’m debating whether to start Re Jane or The Wrath and the Dawn.  Though the second I get the Ruby Circle from the library everything else in life will be ignored.

 12.  How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

Holly: Currently, 203. I think I could probably delete some that I’m not that interested in, but that’s a project for another day.

Amanda:  Don’t judge.  1573.  DON’T JUDGE!!  I just deleted 2 off the list while writing this post.

Thanks Eva for tagging us!   If you want to play along consider yourself tagged and share your link with us!