Thursday, October 29, 2015

Getting in the Spirit!

Hello everyone, I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a million skeletons tangoing to The Monster Mash.

Tomorrow is the best holiday of them all, Halloween!!!

In honor of this holiday here are some of the best books to read for Halloween!

Elizabeth Gaskell's Gothic Tales

If you want some classically creepy stories, then the Victorian horrors written by Gaskell are an excellent choice. The stories are haunting and memorable and just terrifying enough to leave you with some chills.

Stephen King's The Cell

A haunting tale and modern metaphor for what technology is doing to us, this lesser read book of Stephen King's prolific career will not only scare the living daylights out of you, but it will make you think.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

It's a classic, but if you haven't read it yet, it needs to be added to your reading list stat! You will sleep with the lights on for a while.

Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

If you saw the awful movie, then erase it from your mind with the original book. One of Alan Moore's less celebrated graphic novels, this Steampunk and sci-fi influenced book is a fabulous adventure. Fair warning: It may be a comic book, but it is definitely not for children.

Charissa Dufour's Sucked In

If you're looking for something a little more on the humor side and a less on the terrifying side, Charissa Dufour's Sucked In is for you. The first book of three in the series follows vampire author Ashley Hawn as she goes from writing about vampires to being one. It's a fun read perfect for this time of year.  

As the nights get chillier, grab a book, put your feet up and enjoy the goosebumps from both the cold and some creepy stories!

In other news, every year during the months of November and December, I choose a non-profit to donate half of my book proceeds to. This year, that non-profit is the Sun Valley Animal Shelter.

The Sun Valley Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter located in the Phoenix area and they treat their animals the best I have ever seen a shelter treat animals. I am happy to help them and their cause as they find animals their forever homes. So grab a book and help an animal!

As always, you can follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn).

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Graduate School Experience

Hello everyone, I hope you're all having a wonderful day full of rainbows and cheer and coffee (which is what I am 99% powered by right now, the other 1% is coffee fumes).

Well I have now been a graduate student for a little over two months now. The number one question I have received during that time is, "What is it like?"

So here, to answer your questions, is what graduate school is like.

Imagine you're floating down a river on a log. Why you chose to put yourself in the middle of the river on a log is anyone's guess, but there you are.

Luckily, you have learned a little about how to stay balanced on a log in a previous water-bound adventure, but this time the river is flowing a bit faster and you're noticing a lot more rocks in your path.

As you float along you begin to realize that your simple log is going to be insufficient to transport you safely, which is what the river guides/professors walking along the banks are for. From the safe tenured banks of the body of water, the professors throw you tools while shouting helpful hints like, "Build a canoe, it will be easier to steer and stay on!"

"But I've never built a canoe!"

In response they lug a five hundred page canoe building manual at you and say, "I think if you pay really close attention to every single page you should be able to manage building a canoe just fine!"

So, while balanced on the log, rushing down a never slowing river, you read the manual. Only to find that the information you needed on how to build the canoe is on page 489 of 500. The first 488 pages were actually a history of canoes. With this new knowledge you start to carve out the inside of your canoe, a bit exhausted at this point from trying to stay balanced, continuing to avoid the rocks and reading and retaining information you did not actually need.

You somehow manage to dig out a little divot inside the log to sit in, and you start feeling more confident about your little river adventure. Then another voice from the banks says, "Oh no, that's not going to work, you need at least one paddle..."

More tools and another manual, this time 600 pages in length is lobbed at you as the water surrounding you becomes even more choppy.

"Is there a simpler manual or any hints you can give me!?"

"Nope, that is the only manual in existence that will teach you how to make a paddle the right way. As for advice, just don't let the alligators eat you!"

Now you not only have to make a paddle, but you have to keep your eyes open for a new threat to your existence that you, up until this moment, had no idea even existed.

You furiously read the manual, which spends approximately 500 pages talking about how many different uses for paddles exist in both the first and third worlds, and finally reach a chapter about making a paddle. Using some of the wood from your dugout canoe you start to make a paddle, only to nearly get hit in the head by a chunk of wood thrown at you from the bank.

Yet another voice calls, "You can't use THAT wood, use the stuff I threw you instead."

"But I only know how to carve this type of wood..." you say with a sigh, "Can't I just use the wood I've been using all along?"

"Nope! But don't worry, there's a manual on how to work with the wood I just tossed you, don't worry it's only 800 pages long. And the part about how many trees that wood is related to is really fascinating stuff, make sure you don't skip that! Hey, did you notice the leech on your arm? Don't worry, there's a manual for that too..."

This is pretty much what graduate school is like, folks.

Feel free to follow my continued adventures, and see if I fall off the log, on Facebook and Twitter and don't forget to check out my books!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Ban Illiteracy

Hello everyone, I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a wombat version of the X-Men!

Well, in case you missed this tidbit of news in the world of books, this week is Banned Book Week!

This is a magical time of year when authors, readers, librarians and bibliophiles get together to promote a world free from book censorship. In honor of that I have collected a few of my favorite banned books for your perusal.

 Hop on Pop - Dr. Seuss

That's right, Dr. Seuss was banned.

The violent images of violence perpetuated by children against their long-suffering father prompted quite a few complaints up in Canada forcing several libraries to pull the book from their shelves.

Of course, we all know Dr. Seuss, that warped man, was really just promoting patricide, not literacy.

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Technically The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and the Silmarillion have all been banned at one time or another. Though, if anyone who recommended the Silmarillion be banned had actually read it I would eat my nonexistent hat.

All three of these were banned because they possessed an obvious connection to Satanism.  After all, who hasn't actually opened a portal to the underworld just by reading about Hobbits? Oh, did that just happen to me? Okay then.

Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein

Yep, your favorite childhood poet was secretly poisoning your mind.

How? Well, obviously the book promoted cannibalism, naughty behavior by children and mass plate breaking.

No, seriously, there was a group that freaked out because this book displayed children breaking multiple plates instead of washing them, which obviously was encouraging child-based anarchy.

Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh

This spunky little girl was actually an insidious, clandestine plan to encourage children to spy!

Well, I guess it is in the title, so you know, it wasn't very secret...

As an author and bibliophile, I strongly encourage everyone to go out, find a "Banned Book" and read it! That's right, do something dangerous, buck the censorship system and read!

Let me know what your favorite banned book is in the comments below! 

As always you can find me in Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and find my books here!