Sep 19

Diversiverse! The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Asia, Diversiverse 7

Salutations, Bookworms!

I am SO HAPPY to be participating in A More Diverse Universe right now. It’s offered me an opportunity to FINALLY get something off my TBR pile. A few months ago, I won a copy of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan from Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. I’ve read several Amy Tan novels and enjoyed them immensely, but I felt rather ridiculous knowing that I hadn’t read her most famous work, The Joy Luck Club. I mean, you say “Amy Tan” and that’s what you think, right? I was determined to tackle this one. So determined, in fact, that I chose it for my IRL book club this month as well. I am nothing if not efficient. Well. Efficient, or lazy. One of the two.

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In case you were living under a rock like I apparently have been, The Joy Luck Club is a novel about mothers and daughters. Four Chinese women emigrate to the United States and settle in San Francisco. Each of the women goes on to have a daughter (or several) to raise in the US. The mothers and daughters struggle to understand one another through clashing cultures.

thejoyluckclubThe book is divided into four major sections, two devoted to the stories of the mothers and two devoted to the stories of the daughters. If I’m being honest (and really, when am I not honest?) I found myself flipping back and forth through the chapters to connect which mother belonged to which daughter. Learning a bit about each mother’s childhood and not realizing right away which daughters’ life they were connected to frustrated me a little bit, hence the flipping. Still, a bit of page flipping didn’t dampen what was an excellent story.

The daughters in The Joy Luck Club had a heck of a time trying to live up to the expectations of their mothers while growing up in a world with vastly different values. The mothers were desperate to impart the complexities and nuances of Chinese culture to their offspring, but communication styles differed so vastly between the two cultures that conflict was inevitable.

I can’t help but assume this book, with its emphasis on mother/daughter communication was heavily influenced by Amy Tan’s life. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Tan was raised with one foot in each of two worlds, Chinese and American. After reading her bio, I am seeing parallels all up in this piece! Here’s a little about Amy Tan written by the lady herself:

Amy was born in the United States in 1952, a few years after her parents immigrated from China. Her father, John, was an electrical engineer and also a Baptist minister. Her mother, Daisy, left behind a secret past, including three daughters in China and the ghost of her mother, who had killed herself when Daisy was nine. The Tan family belonged to a small social group called The Joy Luck Club, whose families enacted the immigrant version of the American Dream by playing the stock market. Nearly every year, the Tan family moved, from one mixed neighborhood in Oakland after another and eventually to a series of nearly all-white suburbs in the Bay Area.

Let’s chat, Bookworms. Mother/daughter clashes are certainly nothing extraordinary, as virtually every mother who has raised a daughter through her teenage years can attest. It’s time to air the dirty laundry. What is the dumbest fight your teenage self ever had with your mom? Mine involves an impassioned request for a drum set… When I’d never actually played the drums… So. Yeah. Spill!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to buy my mother a thank-you gift for, well, dealing with me. I was an especially morose teenager…*

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Sep 18

Diversiverse! Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T Wurth

Contemporary Fiction, Diversiverse 7

Greetings Bookworms!

If you’ve been floating around the book blogosphere at all, you’ve probably noticed there’s a little event going on called A More Diverse Universe. It is, in a word, awesome. The purpose of the event is to encourage readers to step out of their comfort zone (or for me, my lazypants-can’t-be-bothered-to-pay-attention-to-things zone) and pick up books written by people of color. To participate you need to read and review ONE book by a person of color. Talk about low-pressure! I’ll be the first to admit that my reading list ends up being rather, uh, Caucasian-heavy? It’s not something I do intentionally, but this event is the kick in the pants I need to PAY ATTENTION. So I am! Today we’re going to talk about a book by Native American author Erika T Wurth called Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion of the book. My integrity is more expensive than a paperback novel.*

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Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend tells the story of a mixed race Native American girl living in Colorado. Margritte’s community is poverty stricken and plagued with alcoholism, drug use, and violence. Though only 16 years old, Margritte and her cousin Jake supplement their pathetically small incomes by moonlighting as marijuana dealers. Margritte spends most of her time hustling and partying, giving her schoolwork short shrift. crazyhorsesgirlfriendShe’s just trying to survive high school so she can leave her dead-end town in the dust. Her home life leaves much to be desired as her father is an abusive alcoholic and her mother refuses to leave him despite his dangerous behavior. Margritte is often tasked with taking care of her young twin sisters and trying to keep them out of harm’s way. Jake keeps landing himself in juvie, and you never know when a meth-head is going to stab you. And because all that drama isn’t enough, let’s not forget about teenagers and their raging hormones! Margritte’s got a hot steaming pile of crap to wade through if she’s ever going to escape her circumstances.

I know this book sounds like a total downer but it is INCREDIBLE. It’s raw and gritty and intense. It gives a very realistic portrayal of poverty in Native American communities and the choices young people are forced to make. I will warn any tender-hearted readers that this book doesn’t shy away from anything. If you’re offended by profanity, sex, drug usage, or violence this book is NOT for you. If you’re on the fence, though, you need to give it a shot. It really is just THAT good. Since we’re celebrating diversity this week, I thought I’d share a little something-something from the author’s biography:

Erika T. Wurth is Apache / Chickasaw / Cherokee and was raised on the outskirts of Denver. She teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University and was a writer-in-residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including Boulevard, Fiction, Pembroke, Florida Review, Stand, Cimarron Review, The Cape Rock, Southern California Review and Drunken Boat. Her debut collection of poetry, Indian Trains, was published by The University of New Mexico’s West End Press.

Did y’all see that?! She teaches at Western Illinois University! Why, that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my cornfield. You can bet I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for author events in the area!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you typically pay much attention to the backgrounds of the authors you frequently read? Is my laziness normal?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 16

One is the Loneliest Number: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 34

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

This week the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have come up with a fabulous topic as inspiration for me to get my list on. Today we’ll be exploring authors I’ve only read one book from and I need to read ALL THE THINGS. You know how it is. You read a book, you’re totally wowed, and you vow to plunge into the author’s back list. Then LIFE gets all up in the way and thwarts the best of intentions. Here are some fabulous authors I need to read more from!

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1. Octavia Butler: I read Kindred last year (review) and LOVED it. I know I need more Octavia Butler in my life, I need to make it a higher priority.

2. J. Maarten Troost: I really had no idea what to expect going into Headhunters on My Doorstep (review), but I was pleasantly surprised. Troost is hilarious, yo. His adventures (and misadventures) amused me greatly. After checking out some other reviews of this book, I saw a lot of people complain that it wasn’t as great as his previous work. If this is mediocre, the other stuff must be INSANELY good. All the more reason for me to explore the back list!

3. Sherman Alexie: I bought Flight during a sale (review) and wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of it. I knew it wasn’t his most famous novel so I went thought it would just be “meh.” I was eating some serious crow because WOAH. I need to read more Sherman Alexie, like yesterday.

4. Markus Zusak: Oh, The Book Thief (review). I really loved this book, but maybe I’m too emotionally scarred by it to read more Zusak? I’m not really sure what the holdup is. I really need to work on this procrastination thing.

5. Kazuo Ishiguro: Funny/embarrassing story. I actually DID try to read another Kazuo Ishiguro novel after having my mind blown by Never Let Me Go. Only, there was a mishap with me being a banana head and mixing up this Japanese name with a different Japanese name. I disgust myself on a regular basis, truly.

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6. Christina Baker-Kline: I really dug Orphan Train (review). I don’t know why I haven’t read more Christina Baker-Kline. I’m running low on excuses here.

7. Anne-Marie MacDonald: I talk about Fall On Your Knees like it’s going out of style. I love that book SO much. Why, oh why have I not read any more Anne-Marie MacDonald? It’s shameful.

8. Liane Moriarty: I read What Alice Forgot (review) a while back for book club and found it enjoyable. Now that everyone and their mom is all gaga over Big Little Lies, I’m questioning my decision not to have read ALL THE MORIARTY.

9. Ursula Hegi: Stones from the River is one of those books that constantly winds up on my lists of amazing books and yet I’ve only read the one Ursula Hegi novel. What gives, Katie?! Sheesh!

10. Gabrielle Zevin: I love-love-loved The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry! I’m cutting myself a little more slack with Gabrielle Zevin because it hasn’t been all that long since I read my first of her books. Still. High up on the list. MORE ZEVIN!

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That just about does it. Tell me, Bookworms. Who are some of the authors you’ve only read one book from, but you can’t figure out WHY?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 15

The Sparrow Readalong Halfway Point

Readalong, Religion, Science 14

Take Me To Your Leader, Bookworms!

I know, I know. Cheap alien joke. I work with what I’ve got stored in the ol’ gray matter, and sometimes that ain’t much. Terrible jokes aside, today marks the halfway check in point for The Sparrow Readalong hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. I love Trish, and not just because she uses the Oxford common in her blog title (but let’s face it, that doesn’t hurt!) I’m actually on track with my reading, a fact which shocks me. So. How is it going so far?

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The Sparrow started out kind of slowly for me. I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps it was just fatigue? Once I got rolling though, I was hooked. I can’t put it down. I hit the halfway point after midnight and forced myself to get some sleep. It was a work night, for heaven’s sake!  I NEED TO KNOW what happened on the mission! I NEED TO KNOW what becomes of the crew! I NEED TO KNOW if certain romantic tensions ever boil over! I also want to have dinner with Anne and George. Anne is easily my favorite character so far. She’s spunky and fun, smart and cynical.

I’m finding all the Jesuit stuff rather fascinating, too. I typically avoid discussing religion because it always turns into A THING, but having been raised Catholic, I’m connecting with this story in ways I didn’t expect. Characters are having crises of faith all over the place and I just want to jump into the pages and give them hugs! It’s refreshing because though the religious aspects are presented with a hefty dose of skepticism, I haven’t found it to be disrespectful. Irreverent, maybe, but never mean-spirited. Some of the lines are downright cracking me up, too, especially when the characters get all philosophical. Here’s one of the many reasons I love me some Anne:

Faced with the Divine, people took refuge in the banal, as though answering a cosmic multiple-choice question: If you saw a burning bush, would you (a) call 911, (b) get the hot dogs, or (c) recognize God? A vanishingly small number of people would recognize God, Anne had decided years before, and most of them had simply missed a dose of Thorazine.

Seriously, how could I not be loving this book? I can’t wait to tackle the rest of this bad boy. I’ll be in touch with a wrap up post in a couple of weeks.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Do you ever start a book slowly only to have it grow on you like gangbusters?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 12

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A Fellowship of the Worms SHOCKER

Book Club, Coming of Age 26

How Now, Bookworms?

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300 The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session! As you know, this month we read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It occurred to me that this book title would have been equally appropriate had it been by G. Lockhart, but I can only assume he’s still chilling in St. Mungo’s thanks to his own treachery. Way to be an ass, GILDEROY. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of We Were Liars and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed We Were Liars on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up! Oh, and since the whole hook of this book is a surprise ending, please remember to issue spoiler alerts to your readers if appropriate.

1. Normally I attempt to work through these questions chronologically, but I simply can’t help myself. Was anybody well and truly shocked by the revelation at the end of this book? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Disappointment. Seriously, you guys. I wrote myself a note when I was 20% of the way through this book saying “the twist had better not be that the other three liars are dead, because that’s not much of a shocker.” I feel like I played a big part in my own disappointment though. If I hadn’t been on such high alert to suss out the shocking ending, maybe I wouldn’t have seen it coming. I mean, I probably still would have, because even hands-off parents don’t allow teenagers a house to themselves with zero family interaction on vacation, particularly if one of the teenagers has recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. Plus, even the most self absorbed youth respond to the emails and texts of their severely injured friends/cousins. Nobody’s that big a jerk. Maybe I should blame pop culture though… I’ve seen The Sixth Sense, and am now abnormally attuned to we were liarsthe details that might give away the secretly dead.

2. That said, do you think Cadence was lying about interacting with dead people? Having full on hallucinations? Or, you know, were there legit ghosts hanging around? I think she was hallucinating. Cadence was troubled, no doubt, and the Sinclairs were a hot mess, but I don’t think she was manipulative enough to have played off memory loss the way she did. And, despite my willingness to embrace the paranormal, I don’t think Cadence was being haunted. Brains do weird things when they experience trauma. Score one for hallucinations.

3. Despite the tragic end of the crime perpetrated by the Liars, did they in any way succeed in their goals? That’s tough to say. I mean, they wanted the family to quit fighting about money. They wanted their grandfather to quit pitting his daughters against each other. In some ways I suppose they were successful, since the Sinclairs were hit with a mega-dose of perspective when they compared the loss of their children to the money squabbling they’d been engaged in. Still though, they didn’t magically become the Cleavers or anything. Moral of the story? Arson is never the answer, kids!

4. Did you like the allusions to King Lear, Wuthering Heights (review), and fairy tales, or did you find them distracting? I love a good literary allusion. When Gat started explaining how he was Heathcliff to Cadence, I was all “YES! Spot on!” He also went on to talk about how Catherine and Heathcliff were horrible characters and in no way an appropriate model for romance (okay, maybe I’m projecting a little…) at which point I wanted to high five him. It made a nice change to want to high five a character instead of punch him. Way to go, Gat.

5. The Sinclairs own their own island and have named all the houses on it. Clairmont, Windmere, Red Gate, and (gag) Cuddledown. Would you ever name your home? I am neither especially wealthy nor especially pretentious, but I have been calling my home “The Gingerbread House” since the day we bought it. Of course, I’m also the sort of person who names cars, house plants, and the occasional penguin statue, so I’m not sure I’m a great case study. Seriously though, at least it’s not “Cuddledown.” I’m of the opinion “cuddle” should only be a part of something’s name if that thing is inherently fluffy. Or especially unfluffy, because irony is fun.

Talk to me Bookworms! What did y’all think of We Were Liars? If you’ve reviewed We Were Liars on your own blog or have answered the discussion questions, please link up! 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Proceeds will be put toward the “buy Katie an island” fund.*

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Sep 11

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Audio Books, Historical Fiction 12

Hello Bookworms,

Today I’m combining two of my favorite things, historical fiction and audio books! Are you tired of me raving about audio books yet? TOO BAD! I am loooving them! I am always thrilled by the fact that my library’s audio book selection isn’t as picked over as the regular digital books and I was able to snag Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks with ZERO wait. I know, right? Exciting stuff, kiddos!

calebscrossingCaleb’s Crossing takes place waaaaaaaaay back in the day. It focuses on the exploits young Bethia Mayfield, a girl living in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor in the 1600s. Her tiny band of Puritan pioneers has found a way to live (more or less) peacefully with the indigenous population. Bethia is frustrated that though she shows more of an aptitude for learning, she is restricted and not allowed tutoring the way her brother is. In a small act of rebellion, Bethia strikes up a friendship with Caleb, one of the island’s native inhabitants. An unusual series of events bring a group of students from the island to Harvard to study, and Bethia goes along to work as a housekeeper. Because, you know, teaching a girl would have been horrible. (Dramatic eye roll. Shaking fist at history!)

This is some heady historical fiction, you guys. For me, so much of the “American History” that we covered in school left out Native Americans. I mean, they were mentioned, obviously, but all the good juicy detail was left out. History is written by the “winners” as you know. I really liked getting the Native American perspective through Caleb- it made for a nice alternative viewpoint. Aside from that, two things struck me about this book.

First, it suuuucked to be a woman in the 1600s. Maybe not as much as it sucked to be a Native American, though I can’t say that for sure, but egads. I get SO MAD when I read stories in which women are discouraged from traditional learning. Shoot, if a girl wants to learn Latin and Greek, let her, for heaven’s sake! Some girls are going to be smarter than some boys, and the fact that Bethia’s intellect was continually quashed had me all riled up.

Second, Harvard, the fantastic fabulous Harvard started out laaaaame. They were literally on the brink of starvation all the time. Being out in the wilderness was a major quality of life advantage back in the day, because do you even KNOW what a city would be like without sewers and running water? Holy olfactory overload, Batman! I’m sure Harvard puts their humble beginnings in all their pamphlets and whatnot. Maybe I’m just bitter than I don’t have an Ivy League education. But seriously. From here on out, I’m going to see “Harvard” and think “stinky starvation swamp!”

Talk to me, Bookworms. I know that the majority of y’all are ladies (though I do appreciate the fellows who frequent this site!) Do you get upset when you read about women being denied the opportunity to learn? In historical settings or (incredibly sadly) current times? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 09

A Little More Love: Underrated Books

Top Ten Tuesday 36

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday again, and I’ve been a-pondering. Every so often I think about things other than penguins and flowers and how much I wish I could develop magical powers. Sometimes I think about books that don’t get as much love as I think they should, so that’s the road we’re taking today. I’m picking out some of my favorite lesser known books in a variety of genres. Because why the heck not? Thanks, as always, to the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish for the inspiration! I should probably warn you that I’ve completely made up my own genres for the purposes of this list. Rebel is my middle name. (That’s a lie. My middle name is Rose. I suck at rebellion.)

TTT a little more love

 

1.  Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi: I read this book quite a few years ago and it’s always stuck with me. Now, I really enjoyed The Book Thief (review), but it reminded me SO MUCH of Stones from the River. The Book Thiefdespite its difficult subject matter, falls into the young adult category, so if you loved it and want something a little more sophisticated, Stones from the River is your book. It’s just fantastic and I think everyone should read it. What are you waiting for?!

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2. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (review). I love me some post-apocalyptic fiction, and one that I find flies a little under the radar is Alas, Babylon. It’s an older title (released in 1959) but it TOTALLY holds up. I don’t know what the deal is but Alas, Babylon doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. Maybe people aren’t as freaked out by the prospect of nuclear war as they used to be. You know. The Cold War and all that. Still. Fabulous example of the genre. A classic, really.

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3. Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Talk about your Sweeping Family Epic! (Don’t you just love my fake genres? I know I do!) It’s been at least 10 years since I first read this novel but it wormed its way into my brain and never left me. I don’t mean to call it parasitic like it’s a BAD thing, it’s just intense and affecting and WHOA. It doesn’t deserve to fall into obscurity, y’all!

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4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Young adult novels seem to be ALL the rage these days. Heck, I can think of approximately 8 bajillion book blogs that are dedicated exclusively to YA. I like to dabble in the genre, it can be a lot of fun. It can also be incredibly powerful and be used to send important messages to young folks. I love a good dystopian romance as much as the next girl, but sometimes teenagers have some real-life ugly stuff to deal with, and it can help to know they’re not alone. The boys need to be reading this one right along with the girls.

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5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Why did I not know about this book until I was a grown up?! It’s so incredibly magical and charming. It’s like Lewis Carroll and Madeleine L’Engle defied the space/time continuum and conceived Norton Juster who went on to write this book. Punny, funny, and delightful. If you have kids, get this and read it to them. Don’t let them grow up deprived!

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6. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. Ooooh, Hist-ART-ical Fiction, how I adore thee! There are scads of novels based on famous works of art and the lives of the artists who created them. One that I simply don’t hear of often enough is Girl in Hyacinth Blue. It’s a beautiful novel that traces a supposed Vermeer portrait back in time. Can you even imagine all the things a centuries old painting would have seen? Fascinating stuff.

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7. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg. I very nearly wrote this entire post about so-called “chick lit” and how I both love and loathe the term. Unfortunately, too often I think it’s dismissive of some really fabulous books written by women. Throw them in the “chick lit” category so they won’t be taken seriously. Well. I OBJECT. And make up my own genres. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven is my favorite Fannie Flagg novel. Heartwarming doesn’t begin to describe it. This is Southern Fried Fiction at its best, you guys. Read it!

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Well kids, I am fresh out of made up genres, so I’m going to call it a day at 7 underrated books. What are some of your favorite books that just don’t get enough love? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 08

California by Edan Lepucki

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 27

Salutations, Bookworms!

I’ve been doing a little self-psychoanalysis and I think part of the reason that I like dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction so much is because it makes all my first world problems seem super petty. I mean, I might be worried about dieting or something, but that seems less critical when you read about people who are legit starving, you know? The latest venture into  post-apocalyptic fiction is California by Edan Lepucki. I saw a review of it over at The Gilmore Guide to Books and skedaddled to NetGalley to see if it was still available. Fortune smiled. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review consideration. May I be abandoned in the post-apocalyptic California wilderness if I am untruthful in my review.*

california California takes place in (would you have guessed?) California. After a peak oil crisis and increasing civil unrest rip through Los Angeles, Cal and Frida pull up stakes and head out into the wilderness. They plan to live off the land by utilizing Cal’s farming skills and live a peaceful life. Peaceful, if not comfortable. Comfort comes at a premium these days.

The wealthy have all retreated into closed “Communities.”  They maintain reliable electricity, indoor plumbing, and your major creature comforts. People live and work inside these settlements to escape the lawless streets, patchy utility coverage, and food shortages. Those without the means are left to fend for themselves in the ruins of major cities, hence Cal and Frida’s decision to get out of Dodge. All was going well, or at least they weren’t on the verge of starvation, when Frida discovers that she’s pregnant.

A lack of prenatal care wasn’t a problem the pair had anticipated when they were planning their homestead, so they decide to set off and try to find the nearest settlement. What they find is a dark and guarded camp of settlers with a whole lot of secrets… And weird taste in art.

Y’all I really dug this book. It certainly fulfilled my post-apocalyptic fiction craving. There were a few things I would have liked explained a little more fully, but I rather liked the semi-ambiguous ending. Me liking an ambiguous ending? Who’d have thunk?! If post-apocalyptic fiction is your thing, I recommend you take a trip to California

Talk to me Bookworms. Does anybody else like dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction because it reminds you that your lot in life could always be worse? Just me? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will make a small commission.*

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Sep 05

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Psychological 34

Greetings Bookworms!

Today we’re going to talk more about my new found obsession with audio books, and a book turned Oscar-winning-movie (which OF COURSE I haven’t seen, because I am the WORST at being relevant when it comes to cinema.) You guessed right. It’s time for The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick!

silverliningsplaybookAudio books typically begin with a short musical interlude. I rarely take notes while I’m reading/listening to something, but when Kenny G was chosen as the introduction, I had a rather visceral reaction. My notes: “What is WITH the Kenny G at the beginning? There’d better be a contextual reason for this. Harumph.” A little while later… “Oh there’s a reason. Thank God. My reaction isn’t as intense as Pat’s, but sheesh. I can’t handle the Kenny G.”

Okay. So. Pat Peoples is our protagonist. He’s recently been sprung from a long term care facility for people with brain injuries and/or intense psychological problems. He comes home with his eye on a single goal- to reunite with his estranged wife Nikki. Only, things are weird. Whenever he brings up Nikki, people change the subject. His relationship with his father is strained to say the least, with the only subject they can broach being the Philadelphia Eagles. To add to the weird, he’s being relentlessly pursued by the enigmatic Tiffany (who has her own cartload of baggage) and his therapist seems to think spending time with this other woman is a good idea. Oh yeah. Kenny G is a demon specter who tortures Pat. You know. As he does.

I really enjoyed this book! I went into it with tempered expectations because the movie had gotten so much hype and everyone loved it so much. I found the book charming, tender, and real. I’ve got a soft spot for broken psyches and I couldn’t help but love Pat and Tiffany.

Talk to me Bookworms! Have you read The Silver Linings PlaybookSeen the movie? How do they compare? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 04

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Contemporary Fiction, Family 11

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

Shortly after BEA, some of my blog pals who had been lucky enough to attend the conference o’ bookish goodness and starting chatting about what ARC’s they were excited to have picked up. One of these books was We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. Not one to be left out, I jumped over to NetGalley to see if I could snag myself a digital copy. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion on the book, as I am a cantankerous old mule whose opinions will not be tamed.*

wearenotourselves We Are Not Ourselves begins with a young Eileen Tumulty. The daughter of Irish immigrants, Eileen’s life is marked by family strife and alcoholism. She dreams of living a more prosperous life, and eventually meets a young scientist named Ed Leary who is refreshingly different than the other men in her neighborhood. Sadly for Eileen, she soon learns that Ed isn’t motivated by the American Dream and a desire to become a social climber.

Eileen’s obsession with bigger homes, better friends, and higher paying jobs begins to drive a wedge between her and Ed. As time passes, Eileen and her son Connell begin to notice that Ed is exhibiting some disturbing behavior, behavior that can’t be easily explained away. When confronted with a devastating diagnosis, the family tries desperately to hold together.

This book is epic in scope. It’s a bit of a chunkster (600+ pages) and covers decades of the American experience. It’s got humor, it’s got heartbreak, it’s got a little bit of everything. I find myself without the appropriate words to describe how I feel about this book, so I’m resorting to comparisons. Cool? Cool. Okay. If you liked Angela’s Ashes (review), Still Alice (review), or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (review), you should check out We Are Not OurselvesJust trust me on this one, okay?

Tell me Bookworms. Do you dig sweeping family epics?

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