May 22

Flattered and Flummoxed: How I Became a Resource

Blogging, Personal, Uncategorized 18

Hidey Ho, Bookworms.

By some internet witchery, it seems I have become an expert resource on all essay questions regarding Lois Lowry’s The Giver Quartet as well as an opponent of book banning worthy of quotation. My search terms recently have included an awful lot of “what is the symbolism of XYZ in The Giver/Gathering Blue/Messenger/Son” and “why was XYZ book banned?” I can only assume these searches are being performed by students, because I’ve yet to meet another casual reader who is overly concerned with the underlying themes of middle-grade novels, though, in fairness, I’ve been known to google the reasons for book banning. Sometimes they’re hilarious. People are weird.

I’m both flattered and flummoxed. I’m stoked to think that my blog has managed to gain so much traction as to come up in searches like this, but I have some concerns. First, it seems to me that kids who are googling essay questions are kids who haven’t read the book. I’m having serious guilt over the idea that I might be helping some kid out there skate out of doing their reading. It’s the stuff of nightmares, I assure you. Kids, if you’re reading this, READ THE BOOK. Especially if it’s anything written by Lois Lowry. She’s awesome. (If it’s Moby Dick, you have my permission to use Cliff’s Notes. Shhhh, don’t tell you mom. Or your teacher.)

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A few months ago, I got an email from a student asking my permission to quote my blog in a research paper regarding banned books. I suppose an opinion piece is simply that, opinion, so it’s not entirely necessary to have credentials to be quoted, but it all seems so weird to me! When I was a wee one writing research papers (particularly in middle school and high school) the internet wasn’t typically an accepted resource. I was expected to sift through encyclopedias and scholarly journals. Made of paper! You know, stuff written by PHD’s, not random weirdos. I have zero credentials that qualify me to write literary criticism. None! I’ve only got a Bachelor’s degree, and it sure as heck isn’t in English Literature. I’m literate and enthusiastic. That’s it. And yet. I’m now a source! This is some Twilight Zone level weirdness, y’all. I can’t even.

What do you think, Bookworms? Has my blog turned into a cheat sheet helping kids ditch their reading, or am I just THAT awesome? (Don’t answer that honestly. I probably can’t handle the truth.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Since I’m an expert and all, I’ll use the proceeds to buy more books. Because that’s not what I already do with all my proceeds or anything. Wait…*

 

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May 21

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Audio Books, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Mythology 13

Dearest Bookworms,

Have you ever heard people claim they’d love to have Morgan Freeman narrate their lives? Morgan Freeman is a whole lot of wonderful, I’ll grant you (March of the Penguins, holla!) However. I’m convinced people find the decision to nominate Morgan Freeman as their life’s narrator such a simple one is because they’ve yet to listen to Neil Gaiman read one of his books aloud. Thanks to Scribd, I’ve been audio-booking more than ever and one of my first selections was Stardust by the man himself. (Neil Gaiman, not Morgan Freeman. I don’t know if Morgan Freeman writes books. He might, he’s probably good at everything and spends his free time teaching poverty stricken children how to play the violin, but I digress…)

stardustStardust is a whimsical fairy tale following a young Tristran Thorne. He lives in the town of Wall, England which lies on the border between this world and Faerie. Tristran spends his time going about his daily life all Victorian style and pining for the town beauty, Victoria Forester. One evening Tristran and Victoria see a shooting star. Victoria tells Tristran she will marry him if he retrieves the star for her, and so he sets out on a quest to find it. Unbeknownst to Tristran, his visit to Faerie will be something of a homecoming, as he’s the product of a tryst between his mortal father and an enslaved faerie princess. His adventures beyond the wall include battling witches, elf lords, curses, magic, and mayhem of the best kind.

I have heard tell that the movie version of Stardust is better than the book (blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s been known to happen.) Clearly I need to see this movie, because the book was utterly charming with just the right amount of Gaiman-style darkness. Fans of Neil Gaiman, fairy tales, and good old fashioned quests ought to pick this up. And then probably see the movie, because it’s apparently awesome.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have any of you seen a shooting star? Meteor shower? A plane you pretended was a shooting star just so you could make a wish? (Seriously, I cannot be the only one to have done that plane thing…)

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

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May 19

Celestial Reads: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 14

G’Day Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday and it’s (sadly) been a while since I  made you a glorious list o’ books. This week the folks of The Broke and the Bookish have left the blogosphere to our own devices and declared this week a free for all topic-wise. My head has been in the clouds lately, so a list of books with celestial titles seemed fitting.

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1. The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls (review)- Jeanette Walls writes a novel. Emus happen. It is glorious. And it has “star” in the title.

2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry- This book! It’s one that I read as a kid and it never let me go. It’s about two little girls living in Denmark during WWII, one Jewish, one not. Families helping families, courage in the face of terror. It’s all the good things, I’m telling you.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (review)- I cried all the tears reading this book and I’m not afraid to admit it. A couple of months ago I thought I’d watch the movie. During my sob-fest, my husband looked at me and said, “You know these aren’t real people, right?!” Sigh. Some people just don’t get it.

4. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller- I’m still in the middle of this book so I hesitated to include it, but whatever. Post apocalyptic novels are my jam, and “stars”, you know?

5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman- Hot diggity dog, Neil Gaiman narrating his own audio books makes me outrageously happy. So do his stories. Utterly charming fairy tales for grown ups- that’s the stuff Stardust is made of.

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6. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen (review)- Is SAA not the best? I adore her and her weird brand of magical charm. The moon is most mysterious. I’m still not entirely convinced it’s not made of cheese. (Actually, I am, but dude. The moon would be so much cooler if it were made of cheese.)

7. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. My inner 13 year old adored the Twilight books (whenever my inner grown up would shut up long enough.) I acknowledge that the books have many, many problems. Actually, this was my least favorite of the books because I was firmly in the stalker vampire camp (I KNOW. I AM AWFUL.) Still.

8. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (review Cinder, Scarlet, Cress)- Technically it’s the name of a series, not a single book, but whatever. These fractured fairy tales are the most fun. Which reminds me. I’m behind. I haven’t tackled Fairest yet. I need to get on that.

9. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg- Heaven is celestial, no? This is probably my favorite Fannie Flagg novel, I absolutely adore it. It’s a warm fuzzies book; read it when you’re feeling down.

10. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway- If I’m being honest (and I always am) I must admit I didn’t care for this book. I read it one summer in high school and remember very little beyond the fact that there was a massive amount of wine being drunk and that everyone was bored and cranky. Also bull fights. I’ve never gotten along well with Hemingway. I just felt like the sun needed to be represented on the list.

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And there we have it. Ten books with some sort of celestial aspect to their titles. I rather like this game. I’ve no doubt there are zillions more, what are some of your favorite books with sun, moon, and stars connections, Bookworms?

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

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May 18

And We’re Back!

Personal 21

Howdy Bookworms!

Soooo, I just got back from vacation… Again. I KNOW we were just at Disney World in March, but shortly after we got back my parents called. They had a two bedroom condo booked in Orlando for May and offered to let us stay with them. I mean, how can you turn down free accommodations?! (We are, in fact, grown ups, though, so we ponied up for our own airfare, food, and park tickets.) Plus, this time we not only went to Disney, but also to Universal, which means… HARRY POTTER!

hpphotosI drank a lot of butterbeer (YUM), rocked a Ravenclaw top and a time turner necklace (#housepride), and generally nerded the frick out. If you’re unfamiliar with the Universal theme parks, there are two: Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. Islands of Adventure houses Hogsmeade and Universal Studios houses Diagon Alley. (Sorry to disappoint y’all, but neither is an entire HP theme park. Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are each a segment of larger parks.) I had fun at both parks, but if you only have one day to set aside for a Harry Potter park, Universal Studios is where it’s at. Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure is cool and Hogwarts Castle is certainly something to see, but it is cramped as all heck in those shops. Authentic maybe, but the park was pretty dead overall and you couldn’t even walk in the Hogsmeade shops. Apparently the good folks at Universal learned their lesson though, because Diagon Alley is three times the size of Hogsmeade and the shops (though perfectly charming) are much more equipped to deal with a large, nerdy crowd. Sometimes it’s just NECESSARY to procure a Ravenclaw bookmark without being jostled.

disney1I don’t care how old I am, I will NEVER be too old for mouse ears and Disney ridiculousness. I bought myself a Minnie Mouse headband only to later see the world’s most glorious Alice in Wonderland ears. My mom bought me the Alice ears because apparently she likes me. Also, Cheshire Cat candy now exists, and if you’ve got a spare $700 you can buy the killer painting in the corner. (I do not have a spare $700 dollars, so it stayed in the shop, but it’s so pretty!)

miscHere are just some oddball photos. You can see where I got my capacity for being adorable in mouse ears. Also, DESSERT. And cocktails. And flowers. And my name because it’s two first names and it amuses me endlessly. Oh yes, and that’s Chilly Willy the Penguin hanging out in the middle there. So, other than pining for my theme park homeland(s), things are great. What were y’all up to last week? Catch me up, Bookworms!

 

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May 14

Ten Bookish Questions

Q&A 12

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

It seems I’m perpetually out of blogging juice these days. I hope it’s a temporary condition. I’ve got all these ideas, just no time to get them out of my brain. In any case, I saw this bookish survey on Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity a few weeks back and it sounded like fun, so we’re going to play the survey game. Wahoo!

I borrowed the graphic from Trish too.

I borrowed the graphic from Trish too.

1. What time of day do you typically read/do you prefer to read?

I do the vast majority of my reading in bed before I go to sleep. Audio books I’ll listen to whenever I have a chance throughout the day or on my commute. You can tell how busy I am by the ratio of eyeball reading to ear reading… Eyeballs have been losing the battle lately. Multitasking is where it’s at for me right now.

2. What is your strangest book related obsession?

I don’t feel like any of my book obsessions are particularly strange. I mean, yeah, I’ll have an animated conversation about all things Harry Potter with, well, just about anyone anywhere, but that’s not strange so much as enthusiastic. Plus, there are tons of Potterheads. Same goes for Outlander. And Alice in Wonderland. It’s not weird. My ultimate nerd out book passions all have pretty big fan bases, so at least I’m in good company.

3. Like which author do you wish you wrote?

I admire anybody who can write fiction well. I just don’t have it in me to create a cohesive story, which is part of why I love fiction so much. As far as non fiction, I love David Sedaris and Cheryl Strayed.

4. Who do you think is the most over-rated author?

I really just don’t get Nicholas Sparks. I read one of his books once and it just wasn’t very good. I don’t get how he got so ultra famous. Wait. Yes I do. Ryan Gosling. It’s all about the Gosling. Mmmmmm….

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5. What do you think is the most over-rated book?

Dude. Moby Dick is the worst. I know, I know. Classic, genius, blah blah blah. I had to read it in high school and I hated every second of it. Not a fan, Ishmael. Not a fan.

6. Which two authors would you like to see go head to head in a word-off (like a dance-off)?

Oh my gosh. This is the best! The problem is that if I picked two of my favorites I’d be super torn about who I wanted to win. I think it would be HILARIOUS to listen to Jenny Lawson and David Sedaris have a slam poetry battle, though.

7. I’ve always wanted to read The Lord of the Rings in a cabin in the mountains or Nora Roberts in an Irish inn or The Woman in White in an abandoned asylum. What book-location pairing do you wish for?

Dude. I wouldn’t want anything to do with an abandoned asylum. That is how ghosts happen, yo. I’d love to crack open a copy of Outlander while lounging in a circle of standing stones in the Scottish highlands. Hubs and I have a “sucked back in time” loophole.

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8. Describe your bookish self in three words.

Enthusiastic, voracious, nerdalicious. (Nobody said they had to be REAL words.)

9. Name one of your favorite characters and what you would do with him/her if you had one day together.

Hermione Granger. Hands down. She would show me all sorts of fun magic things and we’d talk about books. Then she’d have to wipe my memory, of course, but it would be the best day I’d never remember.

10. If you had one extra day in the week, that nobody knew about and didn’t count, what would you with it?

Ooooh! A secret day! I waaaaaaaaaant it. I’d spend it riding my unicorn, chatting up my penguin pals, and apparating to ALL THE PLACES. An imaginary day deserves imaginary activities, no?

Talk to me Bookworms! Answer some questions. I want to know all about you!

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

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May 11

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Audio Books, Chick Lit, Supernatural 7

Hello Bookworms!

Remember that time when I gushed all over the internet about Scribd? Well, the very first book I decided to listen to with my new subscription was a Sarah Addison Allen. Anybody surprised? You shouldn’t be. My ears devoured The Sugar Queen.

thesugarqueenJosie Cirrini’s life is in a holding pattern. Though she’s 27, she’s never moved out of her childhood home and her social life revolves around chauffering her elderly mother to her various society engagements in their small North Carolina town. Josey is so firmly under her mother’s thumb that she takes solace in snacks and sweet treats she keeps hidden in her closet. Josey’s life looks like it’ll be over before it starts when one evening she finds the rather scandalous town barfly Della Lee Baker hiding out in her closet amongst her guilty pleasures. The arrival of Della Lee sets off a series of events that changes the way Josey views her life and her family’s legacy.

Of course, as a Sarah Addison Allen, there’s a bit of magic involved (in the most whimsical and charming ways, naturally.) I’ve always said that red is my cosmic color of power, but Josey’s claim on that statement might actually be legit. And Josey’s gal pal Chloe has the BEST power/affliction. Books literally find her when she needs them. Where can I sign up for that?!

I’ve mentioned before that I have a hard time reading books where overweight and/or obese people are described by authors in an unsympathetic tone. Sarah Addison Allen is very sympathetic to Josey, who is described as “plump,” but in exploring her addiction to food and comfort eating I found myself getting downright sad. It hit a nerve, I guess. I mean, I’ll probably never truly understand what drives someone to shoot heroin, but mainlining cookies? That is something I can relate to. Ooooh the feelings. Fans of Sarah Addison Allen, whimsy, and baked goods should definitely check out The Sugar Queen

Tell me something, Bookworms. Do you ever get an unexpected punch in the feels while reading? When was the last time it happened? 

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

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May 07

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Audio Books, Science, Science Fiction 7

Howdy Howdy, Bookworms!

I’ve been on a bit of a sci/fi kick lately, haven’t I? I hope you’re not sick of it yet, because a few weeks ago I saw that Ray Bradbury’s classic The Martian Chronicles was available on audio through my library. Since I’d just listened to The Martian (review) and Packing for Mars (review), I thought it would be fun to compare their depictions of Mars. Ooooh the entertainment!

martianchroniclesIn fairness to Ray Bradbury, he wrote The Martian Chronicles in the late 1940s. Man had not yet landed on the moon, let alone poked around on Mars. I can’t be tooooo hard on him for his depiction of a Mars full ‘o Martians, can I? Plus, it kind of reminded me of a bunch of old school Twilight Zone episodes. Still, though. Some of the things that happen in this book from a scientific perspective are kind of laughable. I mean, humans are fine to breathe Martian air, it’s just “a bit thin.” After hearing Mary Roach’s glorious explanations of all things science and Mark Watney’s misadventures, I had a hard time imagining Martian air as roughly equivalent to hanging out at high altitudes. Also amusing is the unabashed speediness of travel between Earth and Mars in this novel. It’s not QUITE a commuter flight, but it’s getting there.

Of course, as usual, I’ve digressed. Bradbury had some very cool and very creepy ideas of how alien life would react to earthly invaders. The book is actually a collection of short stories, so it’s difficult for me to discuss it without spoiling any one of them. I will say that NOBODY likes chicken pox, telepathy is kind of freaky, and people can be awful to each other regardless of their planetary address.

The Martian Chronicles is a good, entertaining read, particularly if you’re in a Mars mood. Your snarky inner armchair scientist will get a chuckle out of it, too!

Tell me something, Bookworms. If colonizing another planet were a legit possibility, do you think you’d ever consider making the big move? (Can you even IMAGINE what your mother would say?! LOL)

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

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May 05

Scribd: A Love Story

Audio Books 18

Greetings Bookworms!

I feel like I ought to preface this post by saying that nobody is paying me to write it. Not one red cent. They should be, honestly, because I’m about to go all fangirl, but I’m getting no dough. I’m probably not doing blogging right. Whatever. You know how much I love audio books. The problem I have is that they get pricey. They typically cost a good deal more than a print or digital copy of a book and I chew through them at an alarming rate.

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Audible is a great service that I’ve used and enjoyed. It costs $14.95 a month and you get one book credit a month. You get to keep and access these digital downloads forever and ever which is FABULOUS for books you plan to revisit. (I bought the entire Outlander series on audio through Audible so that I can hang out with glorious Scottish accents whenever I deem it necessary.) However. The majority of audio books I enjoy (like the vast majority of my digital and print collections) are one and done.

For a while I was feeding my aural fixation with titles from my local library, which is a great option too. Unfortunately, library books (even digital ones) are available to only a certain number of patrons at any given time. Also, I go through these books much more quickly than my library adds new ones and I’m starting to run low on books that interest me.

Enter Scribd. Scribd is a subscription service that offers unlimited digital books, audio books, and comic books for $8.99 a month. Now, you don’t get to keep the books, but they’ve got a monstrous selection and oh my word. It is the answer to my conundrum. Less expensive than a single paperback and all the stories my ears can handle? It is magical.

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Have any of you Bookworms tried Scribd? What about Audible? Your library? Bottom line: how do y’all get your book fix?

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May 04

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Psychological, Zombies 20

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Got a case of the Mondays? Perhaps you’re feeling a bit… zombie-like? You’re in luck, because today we’re going to talk about Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One (yes, there are zombies!) As with any number of the books I read, I was recommended this book by the brilliant Sarah Says Read. That girl never steers me wrong.

zoneoneZone One is set in the post zombie-apocalyptic world. The US government is a bit rag tag at this point, but the remaining population is pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and trying to take back some of their cities. Mark Spitz is on a team of sweepers tasked with clearing the zombiefied remnants out of Manhattan.

In a rather novel approach to zombie trope, Whitehead focuses on the aftermath of the event rather than the gory horror of the apocalypse itself. (There still is some gore, though, so it will satisfy your blood lust.) What is more interesting to me is the psychological cost of survival. A MASSIVE portion of the remaining population suffers from a condition known as PASD (Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, natch.) How can your brain possibly reconcile having watched your zombified mother feast upon your father’s entrails? That’ll leave a scar, yo!

I’ll admit that Whitehead’s prose was a little stodgy for my taste. It felt a little like he was trying to overcompensate for the subject matter of the novel by burying it in elaborate turns of phrase. Of course, I’m desperately plebeian when it comes to language, so take the criticism for what it’s worth. All in all, though, Zone One is definitely a book zombie fans should check out.

Talk to me, Bookworms! When reading genre fiction, do you prefer authors stick to an established mythology or do you like it when they step outside the box (or coffin, or re-animated corpse. Whatever.)

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

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Apr 30

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Audio Books, Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction 23

Good Day Bookworms,

It’s always a good day when you’ve got an audio book to hand, I think. I don’t typically read/listen to a whole lot of YA literature, but several years ago I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and it was intense and amazing and fabulous. When I saw that another of her books was on sale via Audible, I snatched it up. Good books, good deals: my vices are few but powerful. And thus, I embarked on my listening journey with The Impossible Knife of Memory.

impossibleknifeOoooh you guys. Laurie Halse Anderson doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff, no siree. The Impossible Knife of Memory tells Hayley Kincain’s story. She’s a teenage girl living alone with her father, an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD. They’ve been on the road the last few years, trucking and home schooling, when Andy (AKA Dad) decides they ought to settle down in his hometown so that Hayley can have a more “normal” life.

Hayley’s transition into “normal” isn’t without some bumps in the road, though she does meet a hottie named Finn who has his own bag o’ secrets. Because, you know. It’s not enough to be a teenager and deal with hormones and school and boys. Dealing with the fallout from major psychological trauma on top of all that? It’s enough to make me want to jump through the pages and give the girl a hug!

Thank heaven for Laurie Halse Anderson. I mean, YA literature needs voices that tackle life’s difficult issues. It’s not that I don’t love me some YA dystopian novels, but someone’s got to talk about REAL things. Katniss rocks, but realistically? Nobody’s putting kids in an arena and making them fight to the death. However, there are a lot of REAL veterans out there that are REALLY struggling and a lot of them have REAL families. A book like this can do actual good. Teens going through similar challenges will read it and feel less alone. Teens who aren’t will gain some empathy. Plus, teens reading books? Yep. That right there is a win-win-win situation.

Talk to me Bookworms. Are any of you big into the YA scene? Are there more authors who take on these types of topics, or shall I simply crown Laurie Halse Anderson the queen of awesome? 

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

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