Feb 11

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Friendship, Historical Fiction 3

Hello My Darling Bookworms,

I have a nasty habit of reading books about writers whose books I have not read. I mean, if you can say that two books constitute a habit… I recently finished The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin which is about Truman Capote and his gang of high class New York socialite gal pals. Having read nothing by Truman Capote, everything about this book was new territory for me (much like The Dream Lover (review) was all new to me because I knew jack about George Sand). *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects the honesty of the following review, as I am ungrateful and tacky.*

swansoffifthavenueTruman Capote, renowned author, was an odd, though charming fellow transplanted from small town Alabama to high glamour New York City. Diminutive and charismatic, he managed to collect a bevy of beautiful and impossibly wealthy Manhattan socialites as his inner circle in the 50s and 60s. Chief among them was the seemingly flawless Babe Paley, wife of CBS mogul Bill Paley. Babe and Truman had an intense friendship based on a mutual appreciation of beauty, fashion, glamour, and gossip. In a tale full of intrigue, scandal, immense wealth, and ultimate betrayal, Truman and Babe’s story will go down in infamy.

High society always boggles my mind. I am Midwestern and tacky in the extreme, I simply cannot fathom the amount of money Truman and his swans were running around with. I found the lifestyle these folks were living impossibly glamorous, and I must admit the gossip and scandal tickled the bit of me intrigued by such things. I also totally cracked up when Slim kept going on and on and on about the time she spent with Hemingway. Everyone was all “OMG Slim, shut up already.” And I was all “Haaaaaaaaa! I don’t much care for Hemingway’s writing so this is extra funny to me!” (Please, let’s not roast Katie alive for the Hemingway confession, okay?) Truman Capote was a larger than life persona, like whoa. Do I love him and empathize with him? Do I want to punch him in his smug face? Is it possible to feel all these things at the same time?! And how do I feel about Babe Paley? It’s all so complicated!

If you’d like to revisit a bygone era, Mad Men style, definitely give this book a go. If you like Truman Capote, you should totally read this. If you find yourself having difficulty rustling up sympathy for the rich and famous, maybe don’t read this. Or. No. Read this anyway. Even you cynics will find it satisfying, methinks.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do any of you follow celebrity gossip? Do you ever wonder just what goes on behind the fancy parties?

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

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Feb 09

It’s a Love Story, Baby Just Say Yes (Top Ten Tuesday)

Humor, Romance, Top Ten Tuesday 12

Helloooooo Bookworms!

Valentine’s Day is creeping up and the gals from The Broke and the Bookish have offered up a Valentine’s themed freebie topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, I’ll own up to it. I dig love stories with impossibly ridiculous premises in my movies… And in my books. Let’s talk literary rom-coms, shall we?

romcom
  1. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (review)- Suspension of disbelief is absolutely essential with this novel, but once you’ve committed to the singing telegram and the lost and found cell phone, you can’t help but enjoy yourself.
  2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (review)– How can you not love Don and Rosie? One of the most charming and quirky love stories of all time. Plus Australia. Be still my heart.
  3. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert (review)– This is a super cute romantic comedy with a foodie twist. It’s set in Milwaukee, so the Midwestern aspect had me double smitten. I mean, there are cheese curds, for heaven’s sake.
  4. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding– I read this book for the first time when I was in high school and I have adored it ever since. Bridget is the quintessential hot mess who finds love in spite of herself. Timeless. Adorable. Someone get me some vodka. And Chaka Khan.
  5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (review)- Awww yeah. Falling in love through eavesdropping, as one does. Lincoln and Beth are positively delightful.
  6. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (review)- What’s this? Another foodie rom-com? Heck yes! No cheese curds, but it’s still pretty… Delicious. (Yep, I went there.)
  7. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (review)- Holy macaroni, I laughed so dang hard reading this. Sophie Kinsella, what have you done to me? High powered lawyer goes undercover as a housekeeper. Hilarity ensues.
  8. The Royal We by Heather Cox & Jessica Morgan- I haven’t officially reviewed this one yet, but holy smokes. For a book that is basically Prince William and Kate Middleton fan fiction, it was clever, quippy, and downright charming. I unabashedly loved this book.
  9. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (review)– Awww yeah. A sweet little romance novel. Also a lot of food in this one. Apparently I find food romantic?
  10. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (review)- Yaaaaaaaaas more food! Also magic. You really can’t go wrong with Sarah Addison Allen as a general rule, but often her writing doesn’t necessarily fall into rom com territory. Rom, yes. Com? Less so. This might be a minor stretch, but it’s my list and I like breaking rules. RAWR.

In making this list, I realized I need more romantic comedies in my reading. Talk to me, Bookworms. What are some of your favorites?

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

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Feb 08

Bite Size Reviews: February 2016

Bite Size Reviews 4

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s still winter. I KNOW. Why do I live in a place where winter happens? I’m a creature of habit, I guess. That, and I’m not sure how I’d handle living in a climate of perpetual summer. It would be like in The Age of Miracles (review) where it they’d have super long stretches of sunshine and it threw off everyone’s circadian rhythms. Would I even know how to summer if I hadn’t gone through my annual bear phase? Probably not. But you can see where my head is at, right? Obviously I can’t be expected to write coherent book reviews. Today we’re going quick and dirty, folks. Let’s eat some cookies.

bitesizereviews

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen- From time to time I like to read young adult fiction of the dystopian/fantasy/science fiction variety. I’ve been kind of meh on the genre lately, though, so it took something of a catalyst to encourage me to pick up this novel. Honestly? I picked up The Queen of the Tearling solely because Emma Watson will be playing the lead role in the upcoming film version. This is what she had to say about it:

“I had kind of said I would never do a franchise again, so I was desperate to hate it,” Watson says to Wonderland. “Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep for about a week because I couldn’t put the bloody thing down. It would be fair to say I became obsessed with the role and the book. Now I am executive-producing it.” – Emma Watson in Wonderland Magazine

I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it as our erstwhile Hermione is, but I will definitely be continuing with the series. I’m interested to see how this develops.

If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers by Hannah Brencher This was a book club read, which I never would have picked up on my own, mostly because it was filed in the Christian section. It’s a memoir and not super religious, but it definitely deals with the author’s struggles with finding God. I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t really any religious angle that got to me. It was just a little overwrought for my taste. This girl was sweet, but so impossibly earnest. Every little thing turned into a deep philosophical moment. I get depressed when I get too far inside my own head, so I have a low tolerance for this sort of navel gazing. Just not a great fit for my personality. It might be a winner for you, though! (See? I feel guilty about not liking it because the girl seemed really nice. It’s not like she’s ever going to read my blog, for heaven’s sake. Ah well. In case she does, you seem lovely, Hannah. I’m sure you’ve made a difference to a lot of people who aren’t cranky, jaded, and snarky like me.)

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes- This book. Jojo Moyes has proven time and time again that she knows how to get in there and toy with my emotions. Heart wrenching and infuriating by turns, The Last Letter from Your Lover had me shrieking in anguish… In the best way. Lost love, missed connections. Gaaaah! Jojo, you saucy minx, I can’t even with you sometimes!

Alright Bookworms, tell me. Have any of you picked up a book just because of some buzz around the movie version?

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

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Feb 04

Vintage by Susan Gloss

Cozy Lady Fiction 12

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

After slogging through some pretty intense literary fiction, I decided I deserved a treat. I needed some feel good, charming lady fiction, and I needed it fast. Enter Vintage: A Novel by Susan Gloss. It was just what the doctor ordered.

vintageViolet Turner owns a small vintage clothing boutique in Madison, Wisconsin. She’s poured her heart and soul into the project and overcome all sorts of obstacles to achieve her dream of owning the shop. All is thrown into upheaval when her landlord delivers unsettling news. April Morgan is 5 months pregnant when she comes into Hourglass Vintage to purchase her wedding dress. The 18 year old returns to the shop a couple of weeks later attempting to return the dress and pick up the pieces of her broken heart. Amithi Singh is a middle aged woman who discovers her husband’s betrayal. She begins selling items to Hourglass Vintage while coming to terms with the life she thought she’d had. These three unlikely friends find each other, each in the midst of personal crisis. Their bond helps them all find hope and sort out their new realities.

You guys!!! I loved this book. I have a soft spot for books set in the Midwest anyway, but man. These charming little towns in Wisconsin are making me want to take little touristy weekend trips to eat cheese and drink beer and probably visit my baby cousins (who are now very old and not babies at all.) This is the sort of book I need to read in the middle of a long dreary winter. If you need a pick-me-up, pick up Vintage

Tell me something, Bookworms. Do you find yourself more connected to books when they’re set in your neck of the woods?

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

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Feb 02

Groundhog Day…Again? (Re-reads to Celebrate!)

Idiosyncratic Lit List 11

Okay Bookworms, rise and shine and don’t forget your booties because it’s coooooold out there!

It’s Groundhog Day, you guys can’t honestly expect me NOT to run around quoting Bill Murray movies. In the spirit of the immortal 1993 cinematic classic Groundhog Day, I’m going to list some books that I could read again and again and again and again… This really means something coming from me, because there are precious few books I’ve visited more than once. (I have no idea if the groundhog saw his or her shadow or not, but if we have another 6 weeks of hard winter? That rodent better watch it’s back!) Let’s get idiosyncratic up in this piece!

idiosyncraticlitlist
  1. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. As if you didn’t already know this, given my dozen #PotterBinge posts. In all seriousness, though, I think I’ve gone through the series maybe 5 times now, and for a dedicated Potterhead, that’s definitely on the low end. I like to leave a couple of years between re-reads so they feel fresh again, and I never fail to notice something new. They are truly magical.
  2. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. Okay, full disclosure, I’ve only made it through the entire series twice, but these books are huuuuge. I went through my first full re-read last year (actually it was a re-listen. That Davina Porter, whew. She is something special) and I picked up on so many additional details. I used Audible credits to purchase the audio books so I have no doubt I’ll be re-visiting them again. I’ll probably space re-reads the same way I do with HP, so they stay fresh. Although, the sheer volume of pages is such that you could go through all 8 books and start right over having forgot stuff. They’re so deliciously detailed.
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was about 10 when I read this book the first time, and even though I probably didn’t understand it as well as I did later in life, it wriggled its way into my soul. Then again, the fact that my BFF and I watched the Winona Ryder movie version approximately 8 zillion times throughout middle school probably assisted in my abiding love for it. It’s hard not to love something you’ll always associate with your BFF, you know? Also, interestingly, we had THE SAME copy of Little Women which was nuts because it was a huge hardcover version and there must be dozens upon dozens of editions of that book in print. Coincidence? 20 plus years of friendship thinks not.
  4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It’s easy to want to re-read a feel good holiday story year after year, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Ebenezer Scrooge’s adventures and redemption. It’s not just the whole holiday nostalgia thing that makes me love this book. I don’t really have a Pollyanna-esque view of human nature, but I do tend to believe that nobody is born rotten, you know? Delving into Scrooge’s past and seeing how and why he became the surly miser he was makes me more sympathetic to the guy. Shoot, meeting with those three spirits is like a whole lot of cognitive behavioral therapy squashed into a single night. (review)

Talk to me, Bookworms! What are some of your favorite books to re-read?

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

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Feb 01

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Audio Books, Literary Fiction 14

Greetings Bookworms!

If you pay attention to prize winners, you’ll probably already know that Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff is the toast of the literary town. It’s been shortlisted for oodles of impressive awards. If you DON’T pay attention to literary awards, you probably thoughts that a book called Fates and Furies was the latest young adult fad somehow tied in with Greek mythology. Alright, there’s a distinct possibility that I was the only person who came to that conclusion, but we already know that I am the worst at these things.

fatesandfuriesSuffice it to say that Fates and Furies is NOT a young adult novel related to Greek mythology, but literary fiction of the highest degree. It centers on the 24 year marriage of Lotto and Mathilde, married at the age of 22 caught up in a whirlwind romance.

I don’t typically get along well with award winning literary fiction. In fact, my notes while listening to the first half of the book (audio books, FTW!) include phrases like “I am not smart enough for this” and “this book is so depressing” and “for a book this full of sex, it’s not even remotely sexy” and “the main characters are dancing to Radiohead. Fitting. I feel the same way about Radiohead that I feel about this book.” The first half of the book told Lotto’s story and, for me, it was less than thrilling. I very nearly threw in the towel but stuck with it because I am extremely stubborn and it had gotten to a hate read point. I wasn’t going to let the book win!

Then Mathilde’s story started and I was captivated. The second half of the book flew by. Obviously, it couldn’t have stood on its own, part of the reason it was so fascinating was the way in which it dovetailed with the first half, but it was like night and day for my personal enjoyment. My feelings are all twisted up.

Would I recommend you read Fates and FuriesIt all depends. If you typically enjoy the type of literary fiction that typically takes home awards, by all means. If you’re into beautiful prose and aren’t bothered by gray story lines, then YES. Read this! If you read purely for enjoyment, escapism, and amusing storytelling? Maaaaaaaaaybe skip this one.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have you ever finished a book purely out of spite and found yourself pleasantly surprised?

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

 

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Jan 28

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Women's Studies 14

G’Day, Bookworms!

Man, do I ever love audio books. The last time I read a book by Liane Moriarty, I spent the first few chapters thinking the What Alice Forgot (review) was set in England only to be jarred when a mention of Sydney forced me to re-align my mental accent. I’m sure I would have remembered that Liane Moriarty is Australian and had that carry over into my reading of Big Little Lies, but if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have gotten to listen to a delicious Aussie accent for hours. That would have been tragic, I think. But, oh, this book!!!

biglittleliesBig Little Lies tracks the lives and scandals of the kindergarten class parents of Pirriwee Public, a beachfront Australian suburb. While a number of parents chime in, the story primarily follows three women. Madeline is a feisty 40 year old mother juggling a part time job, her three kids, and a complicated relationship with her ex husband (including his new yogi wife, and the teenage daughter they share.) Celeste is mother to a set of twin boys. She and her extremely wealthy husband cut an impressive figure at school functions, and appear near perfection… On the surface. Jane is a very young mother, new to the area. She does her best to fly under the radar with her son Ziggy, but circumstance renders that difficult.

Holy crap on a cracker, this book was amazing. I wouldn’t ordinarily go for a book so entrenched in the Mommy Wars and schoolyard scandal, but I could not get enough. Madeline, Celeste, and Jane contributed such compelling narratives to the story. It was fascinating and well crafted and deliciously deviant. A wicked sense of humor underscored some of the more traumatic story lines, making me laugh and gasp and sigh and scowl. This would make for brilliant book club fodder, my friends. Take note! (I’ve heard this is going to be made into a limited TV series for HBO. You can bet I’ll be watching!)

Talk to me Bookworms! Have any of you read this book? Those who have and are parents of school age kids, does the gossip mill portrayed in this book ring true to you?

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

 

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Jan 26

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Potter Binge Highlights

Top Ten Tuesday 10

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

It’s been an age since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish. Me and my lazy pants blogging haven’t been feeling up to the challenge. Today’s topic is a freebie, though, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put together my highlight reel for the Potter Binge! I’m going to list out my favorite notes from each of my eleven Potter posts. I like breaking rules, okay? And because I can’t contain myself, I’m adding additional commentary in bold.

toptentuesday
  1. If Hagrid is allergic to cats, does that mean he can’t be around Professor McGonagall? Or perhaps only when she’s a cat? Are animagi hypoallergenic? This mystery has yet to be solved. (Original Post)
  2. Who does wizard laundry if house elves can’t handle clothes? I have a hard time imagining Narcissa Malfoy scrubbing anyone’s under drawers… This has been bothering me for years. Yes, I am sure laundry spells are a thing, but so are cooking spells and cleaning spells, yet Wizarding families keep House Elves anyway. A weird tweet to JK Rowling was not answered, not that I expected it would be. I may never have closure. (Original Post)
  3. I GET that Snape hated James, but what kind of person bad mouths an orphan’s parents to their sorcerersstoneface? Seriously douchey move, Snape. Probably why I can barely muster any sympathy for the man. Ever. Besides. Everyone knows that the best revenge is making the child of your enemy think you’re cool. Duh. I stand by this statement. Making the children of your enemies think that you are awesome is, indeed, the best revenge. Way to muck it up, Snape. (Original Post)
  4. When you have to be kept alive by milking your enormous horcrux snake, you should question your life choices. (Cough, cough, VOLDEMORT.) Seriously, could your method of survival BE any grosser? (Original Post)
  5. I want the prefect’s bathroom in my house. Minus Myrtle the voyeur. The hazards of teenage ghosts, I guess. Though speaking of bathrooms, why is this one so far away? I know it’s just for the prefects, but it seems inconveniently located. They’ve got to have toilets in the dorms somewhere, don’t they? I mean, since students aren’t technically allowed out at night and all? This thought contributes to my deep and abiding concern that ghosts may be watching me shower. This is in no way helped by the very dearly departed Alan Rickman’s commentary on the subject in Dogma. (Original Post)
  6. This has been bugging me for a while now, but why all the handshaking? Like, Lupin sees Harry for the first time in a year and is all “let me shake your hand like we don’t actually have feelings.” I hug the children of my dear friends ALL THE TIME and usually give them a big fat smooch on the cheek to boot. Granted, the oldest of them is 7, but still. Prepare yourself, Jack, Crazy Aunt Katie is going to be hugging you until forever. Are British people just less huggy? Is it a guy thing? Teen angst Harry needs more hugs, guys, and Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, and Hagrid can’t be expected to do all the hugging. (So far, the only three Harry huggers I’ve noticed. But big props to Hagrid who apparently doesn’t buy into non-sentimental machismo.) So, Sirius eventually gives Harry a one-armed hug and Lupin hugs Harry when he asks him to be Teddy’s Godfather. They both die shortly thereafter. That’s enough to give anyone a complex. (Original Post)
  7. Dear Dumbledore, Sirius was many things, but he was not the closest thing to a parent Harry ever had. That honor belongs to MOLLY WEASLEY. #TeamMolly Despite any flaws Molly may have had, she was certainly the most parental figure in Harry’s life. Sirius was awesome, but he so often treated Harry like his long lost BFF James that he wasn’t especially fatherly. (Original Post)gobletoffire
  8. The tale of the Gaunts is so utterly troubling. Generations of cousins marrying cousins is never a good idea. Science affects wizard kind, too, and that concentration of genes is never a good thing. I mean, look at the royal families of Europe. We actually studied that family tree as an example of the inheritance patter of hemophelia in biology. I didn’t really want to google the consequences of inbreeding on mental health, but I’m sure it’s a terrible idea. All that aside, though, I can’t help but assume that Merope and Morfin did not attend Hogwarts. I’ve stated before that wizard kind could seriously use a social services department, but I don’t think either child would have been so thoroughly broken had they spent large swaths of their childhoods out from under the thumb of their fanatical father. They’d have had the option to stay at school during holidays and likely would have made friends that would have offered them some respite during the summer months. And even if they had to suffer through summers and holidays with the man, once they were of age they’d have been independent enough to break free, get jobs, and stop living in crazytown. Also, how would homeschooling work in the wizarding world? The reasonable restriction for underage magic was written in 1875 (I looked that up) so how would the Gaunt children have been able to perform spells outside of school? I wonder if there’s some sort of waiver… Hmmmm… I’m more than a little long winded with some of these soliloquies. SorryNotSorry. (Original Post)
  9. “You thought I would not wish to marry him, or perhaps you hoped? What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I think. All these scars show is that my husband is brave.” And with that, Fleur cements her place in my heart. And Molly’s, apparently. (Yeah, yeah, I took out the accented spelling. I was listening to the books because JIM DALE is the man and I didn’t feel like looking up Fleur’s accented speech.) Honestly, this was probably the only thing Rowling could have done to make Fleur less annoying. I’m surprised at how genial her family turns out to be when they visit for the wedding. (Original Post)HP
  10. Ugh. FIGURES Umbridge would end up with a horcrux as a friggin accessory. That woman. And stealing Mad Eye’s magical eye?! What the what? You’re grave robbing now? That’s just gross. Given the massive body count in this book, I can’t say I’m not disappointed that Umbridge wasn’t among the dead. I can’t even think of her name without scrunching up my nose in distaste. It’s involuntary. She’s just that bad! (Original Post)
  11. Voldemort had a serious case of James Bond villain syndrome. He and Harry have quite a long conversation before either attempts to cast a spell, most of it Voldemort posturing and over-explaining himself. Why don’t you just throw Harry into a tank of sharks with frickin laser beams on their foreheads? I realize that Voldemort’s speeches serve to provide some closure and explanations, but you’ve got to wonder why a dude who was so into murder would stall so dang much. (Original Post)

Alright, I promise that’s my last Potter Binge post. Probably. Thanks for bearing with me, I had the best time. I’m sure I’ll read the books again (and again, and again…) but this free form blogging thing? SO much fun.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What is your theory on wizard laundry? Apparently JK just doesn’t want us to know.

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

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Jan 25

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Audio Books, Cozy Lady Fiction, Tear Jerkers 12

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

You know what my favorite thing is? No? I don’t really know either, I have so many favorite things. One of the things I do happen to love, though, is when I pick up a book by an author I’ve not read before and upon finishing it want to add said author’s entire back list to my TBR pile. Loving new-to-me authors is a blessing and a curse, the never ending TBR list makes me shake my fist toward the heavens. I took a little road trip to visit some friends and family recently, nothing huge, just a weekend away, but as I was driving solo I simply had to have an audio book to keep me company. I was lucky in that a copy of Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson was available for immediate download from my local library. Score!

someoneelseslovestoryI’ve actually had a paper copy of Someone Else’s Love Story sitting on my shelf for a while now, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I have reasons for this. Terrible reasons, but reasons nonetheless. The big one? I do the vast majority of my reading in bed. Like, while my husband snoozes next to me. This means overhead lighting is not an option. Juggling a book light is a pain in the tush, but the light in my Kindle Paperwhite is magical and perfect. Hence, my time reading actual paper books is super limited. Of course, I don’t want to purchase a copy of a book I already own just because I’m lazy and it’s easier for me to read digitally, so it sat and floundered sadly. The cool thing about libraries? They’re free. Heck yes!

I should probably tell you about the book, shouldn’t I? Shandi Pierce is a 21 year old single mother of a precocious 3 year old with a genius level IQ. Her life consists of juggling college, motherhood, and attempting to keep her long divorced parents from all out warfare. As she’s moving from her mother’s house into a condo her father owns (much to her mother’s chagrin) Shandi finds herself in the middle of a gas station holdup. Because she obviously didn’t have enough going on.

It is inside this gas station where her path crosses with geneticist William Ashe, who, in addition to being brilliant, looks fantastic in a pair of jeans. His entire world fell spectacularly to pieces a year previously, and Shandi feels their destinies have collided for a reason. It’s a charming book full of heart, humor, and a cannily crafted plot.

Two things stick out to me about this book. First. William Ashe is on the autism spectrum. This is easily one of the best portrayals I’ve ever read about someone on the spectrum, and it seemed very authentic. I’m no expert on Asperger’s or autism, but my reading experience leads to polarized portrayals; either a quirky, humorous angle or a desperately tragic one. William Ashe had a good dose of both, he was a masterfully drawn character.

The second thing that sticks out to me is a less awesome one. Shandi came to have her son under some pretty upsetting circumstances. I don’t want to hit y’all with spoilers, buuuuuuut I think that Jackson may have done better to take a different angle on Natty’s paternity… I’m all for understanding the shades of gray in a situation, but I wasn’t super keen on how she dealt with it.

Still, that’s not enough to keep me from plowing head first into Joshilyn Jackson’s collected works. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be checking those out. In short? Someone Else’s Love Story is definitely worth your time.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have y’all read this book? Or anything else by Joshilyn Jackson? I want to talk about all the things. In code, probably, because I like to pretend I’m a spy sometimes.

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

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Jan 21

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Epistolary, Language 11

Good Day, Bookworms!

Last year I participated in a super fun book blogger Valentine gift swap and received a copy of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. It took me nearly a year to get around to reading it, of course, but you understand. The burden of an overflowing TBR list is a real struggle.  Read it, I did, though, and now I’m going to tell you all about it.

ellaminnowpeaThe titular main character of Ella Minnow Pea is a young woman living on a fictional island off the coast of South Carolina. The island nation of Nollop was named for Nevin Nollop, the man credited with creating the pangram “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” A favorite of typing students everywhere, no? (Oh my gosh, do they even teach typing and keyboarding anymore? Excuse me while I crank up my Victrola and lament my age.) All is well in the little nation of luddites until letters begin falling off Nollop’s statue. The town’s totalitarian council takes the letters falling as a sign that Nollop is sending them a message from the great beyond and they ban the usage of any letters that have fallen from the statue in both speech and writing.

As this is an epistolary novel, the entire plot unfolds via letters written by Nollop’s inhabitants. As letters are progressively removed from the alphabet, the residents are forced to get wildly creative with their vocabulary. Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory is introduced to the Life and Death Brigade and runs across a group of over privileged dudes who are speaking without the use of the letter “e”? It’s a bit like that, only it wasn’t a game and you could get yourself severely punished by slipping up. As more and more letters were removed from the alphabet, the missives got increasingly more difficult to read.

I want to take this book at face value and think of it as a quirky little book playing with language. Unfortunately, if I think about it too hard, it feels like it’s going hardcore at allegory territory and I don’t really care for any of the allegories I’m coming up with. I guess I’d better quit thinking so hard about it, huh? I’ll end up foisting all sorts of unintentional meaning upon the thing and lose all the enjoyment I got from it. That’s it. I’m turning off my brain right now. We’re done here.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you ever feel like you read too much into an author’s motives? 

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