The Major’s Daughter by JP Francis

Greetings Bookworms,

I don’t know what’s going on with me lately, but I feel like Grumpy Pants McGee. I’m not sure if it’s just a bit of a summer slump or if I’m slowly morphing into an old man who yells at kids to get off his lawn. Probably the latter, if only I had a cane…. In any case, I kind of feel bad for the books I’m reading right now. I can’t say for sure my feelings aren’t tainted by my inner curmudgeon. I would like y’all to keep that in mind with today’s review. *I received a complimentary copy of The Major’s Daughter by JP Francis from the publisher for review consideration.*

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The Major’s Daughter takes place during WWII. A group of German prisoners of war were brought to New Hampshire to work in the logging industry for the duration of the war. Heck, young men were a premium commodity, with all the able bodied fellows putting on uniforms and heading to the front. Collie’s father is the Major in charge of the logging POW camp. She’s using her school girl German to help facilitate communication between the prisoners and the guards.

OF COURSE, there’s a super studly German POW who catches her eye. August is a gentle soul, exhausted and mortified by the Nazi cause, but bound by circumstance to serve his country. He’s young and handsome. Collie is young and beautiful. They can speak to each other in two languages. Anybody have a guess as to where this is going???

I had a heck of a time getting into this book. It must be my jaded cranky inner old person coming out, but I’ve lost my taste for star crossed lovers. It wasn’t just Collie and August. Collie’s BFF Estelle finds herself in a similar situation, though her forbidden love is of Indian descent. He’s actually a perfectly respectable citizen, he just lacks the right connections and complexion to be accepted into Estelle’s world.

The situations presented in the book were compelling enough, despite my reticence to give creedence to insta-love. What I really struggled with is the book’s outcome… And I can’t even tell you about that because SPOILERS. Still. If you like historical fiction, novels set during WWII, and/or tales of star crossed lovers, you might really enjoy The Major’s Daughter

Tell me something, Bookworms. Do you ever feel like love is a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” proposition? Let’s discuss.

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

 

 

My Very First Author Event: Jo Baker

Happy Friday Bookworms!

You’ll recall that last week I was raving about Longbourn by Jo Baker (review). It’s essentially Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective, and it’s pretty great. A couple of months ago, I was hunting down digital books on my library’s website (as I am wont to do) and I saw that we were having an author event. With JO BAKER. In my town! I live in the middle of Illinois, y’all. We’re halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, which seriously limits our chances of being a book tour stop. I mean, who’s going to come to Peoria when CHICAGO and ST. LOUIS exist? Actually, my erroneous assumption that nobody cool ever came through Peoria kept me from monitoring these things. No more, I tell you. High five to the Peoria Public Library!

I was SUPER excited, as I’ve never been to an author event before. I was also rather nervous, because I loved the book and, well, I’m not very good at playing it cool. At all. I vacillate wildly between tongue tied silence and giddy over-enthusiasm in such situations. Neither is a particularly attractive reaction, believe you me. Giddy enthusiasm won the night, as I wasn’t a few feet in the door before asking a costumed member of the Jane Austen Society of Chicago to pose for a photo with me.

I'm not pregnant, just a bit on the chubby side. Actually, I'm going to blame the camera angle.

I’m going to blame an unflattering camera angle for my gut, not my sweet tooth.

I managed to talk a friend into joining me at the event, and we were easily among the youngest attendees, which surprised the heck out of me. I guess I’m too used to my internet bookish peer group and expected a room full of 20 and 30 somethings, as opposed to the bus load of senior citizens from a local assisted living facility. (Not that I don’t adore any of my readers who are out of their 30s. I mean, certainly I wouldn’t have known, you all look so YOUNG, you gorgeous bookworms, you!) It was kind of funny though, when Jo Baker took the stage, I heard several people around me muttering “that can’t be her, she’s too young!”

I’m not sure how old Ms. Baker is, but she is quite adorable. An Austen fan to the core, Ms. Baker always loved the world of Georgian balls and social events, but felt a disconnect. She understood that if she’d been born in that time period, she’d have been far more likely to have been washing the Bennets’ underthings than dancing and cavorting at a ball. I struggle with this ALL THE TIME when reading historical fiction! Much of what I read focuses on the wealthy or the ultra wealthy or friggin royalty. I’m with Lorde, here, y’all, I’ll never be royal. Extra fun tidbit? While researching the book, Ms. Baker tested out some old school cleaning method. Turns out cold tea is excellent for cleaning wood floors. The more you know.

Immediately after the talk, I got in line to have two books signed. One was the galley I received (thanks Kelly!) and one I bought at the event so I could get a present for YOU! When I got up to the table, I stammered out some ridiculousness about being a book blogger, handing Jo Baker a Words for Worms bookmark, and asked if she’d pose for a photo. Even though she claimed that she typically looks like “a gargoyle” in photos, she gamely posed. I think she found me amusing. At least I hope she did…

It's a look that says either "I'm amused" or "I'm glad I live on another continent."

It’s a look that says either “I’m amused” or “I’m glad I live on another continent.” Possibly both.

Definitely NOT the face of a gargoyle!

Definitely NOT the face of a gargoyle!

All in all, I had THE MOST FUN! Austen enthusiasts in full costume? Authors who don’t call security on me? Brilliant! Ah, but you’ve heard already that I didn’t forget about you. Someone out there is going to WIN an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Longbourn!!! The only rule is that you have to live in the continental US to win, because shipping costs. Yikes. You want to win and have a US address for me to mail your winnings to? Enter here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Just Your Typical Prototype (Prototype by MD Waters)

Greetings, Bookworms!

If you’re not singing No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” right now based on the title of this post, please, by all means, put it on as background music. Now that I’m done foisting 90s ear worms on you, we can get down to business. Earlier this year I read and really enjoyed Archetype by MD Waters. I was overjoyed when I was offered a complimentary copy of the sequel, Prototype, by the publisher for review consideration. *The manner in which this book was received in no way influences the honesty of the following review.*

PrototypeI can’t really accurately describe much about this book without giving away at least a few spoilers for the preceding novel. I’m going to try REALLY hard to be good, but if you’re really sensitive about such things, maybe come back after you’ve read Archetype just to be on the safe side. SPOILER ALERT! You still here? Excellent. Prototype begins about a year after Archetype‘s close. During the course of Archetype our heroine Emma learns through a series of unfortunate events that she was sold into slavery as a young girl, as fertile women have become an extremely valuable commodity. Her life is not at all what’s been presented to her during her recovery from a mysterious “accident.” Emma is, in fact, not who she thinks she is at all. Well. She is. And she isn’t. It’s COMPLICATED.

Anyhow, not everyone in the world is thrilled with the idea that women be sold as breeding stock, so there’s a big underground resistance operation that occasionally raids the training camps where they keep the girls and generally work to undermine the system. SUBVERT THE PATRIARCHY. Wooo! Emma learned of her own ties to the resistance, but because of REASONS, she chooses to leave on a quest to find her parents. Parents she can’t remember. Who sold her into slavery. Because that makes sense, Emma! Fictional characters can be terribly illogical.

In any case, adventures ensue, battles commence, and love threatens to unravel everything (as love is wont to do.) I liked this book, but some of the characters who were fairly complex in the first book took a decidedly Bond villain turn in this one. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good villain, but it seemed like a bit of a ploy to wrap up some complicated emotional baggage in a neat little bow. (To be clear, I wasn’t bothered by the tidy ending, just the Bond villains. I like my bad guys with layers.) While I didn’t love Prototype as much as Archetype, I thought it was a strong sequel and wrapped up the story in a satisfying manner. If you read and enjoyed ArchetypePrototype will give you the closure you crave.

Alright Bookworms. Time to sound off. Do like neatly packaged book conclusions, or do you prefer something a bit messier and open ended?

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

Fictional Castaways: Top Ten Tuesday

Ahoy, Bookworms!

It’s time for some Tuesday fun, and today I’m making a list with the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish. Today we’ve been tasked with listing the book characters we’d like to bring with us on a deserted island. I mean if you HAVE to be stranded somewhere, you might as well make it interesting, right?

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1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter : Ain’t no such thing as “stuck” on a deserted island when you’ve got the cleverest witch of her age on your side. There’s sidelong apparation, right? Plus, I’m sure she could whip up a port key in no time flat. Even if we WERE to be trapped, Hermione and her wand would be dead useful. Fire? Water purification? There’s a spell for that!

2. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games : I can’t have a witch or a wizard accompany me on my island because I’m a muggle? Well. That’s rude. But if I must take another muggle with me, I may as well bring one with some survival skills. Katniss knows all sorts of stuff about foraging for food. She might be a little moody, but girl’s got baggage okay?

3. Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser from Outlander: What? You cut your foot while hunting for firewood? No biggie, our girl Claire has a penicillin home brew cooking. She’ll stitch you up and send you home with a tot of whiskey.

4. Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind: She’s a pretty terrible human being most of the time, but girl’s got GUMPTION. She was never more admirable than when she was scratching out a living post war on Tara. If you needed someone to pick cotton while acting snooty and superior, Scarlett is your lady. Beware, though, she might try to steal your beaux. (review)

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5. Cinder from CinderCyborgs, yo! Cinder is like 40% computer or something. She can do just about anything you might need, except, perhaps, resist Prince Charming. (review)

6. Mary Poppins from Mary Poppins: Side Note: I want to have a book named after me. Really though, Mary Poppins has a bit of magic here and there. We could hop into a chalk painting for a nice spot of tea when things got too harsh. (review)

7. J Maarten Troost author of Headhunters on My Doorstep: A little bit of cheating, because he’s a real dude, but hear me out.  He’s lived on or visited all the mostly deserted islands left on earth. He’d have to have some useful tips. (review)

8. Jon Snow from A Game of Thrones: They never said it was a WARM island we’d be deserted on, and if it happened to be a post apocalyptic Greenland, Jon Snow would come in mighty handy. Plus, you know. Since this is an imaginary scenario and all, I might just be able to show Jon Snow that about which he knows nothing. #dirtyoldwoman

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Alright Bookworms, what fictional (or not so fictional) book character would you bring with you on a deserted island? 

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

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Zdravsvtvuyte Bookworms!
That was a Russian greeting, because I’m all about setting the scene, and I recently finished reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not hugely into YA fiction, but I read an article on Book Riot last year and the series landed on my radar. Kit Steckliener wrote the piece, and I typically trust her opinion. I figured if anyone was going to steer me toward YA that I’d enjoy, Kit would be a good bet.

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024 Shadow and Bone is set in Ravka, which has a Russian vibe about it. The country has been divide in half by something called a Shadow Fold, which is dark and full of man-eating creatures who take large chunks out of those who would try to pass. Alina Starkov is a bit of a misfit- an orphan with no discernible talents. She’s serving in the army with her BFF (who happens to be a super handsome boy she’s a little bit in love with) when she’s required to cross the Fold. In the midst of the chaos, she busts out with some magical skills she was unaware she had, and is swept into the world of the mysterious Grisha. The Grisha are people with magical talents who get to wear these sweet robes and live in a castle. Swank digs and duds aside, Alina has to navigate this new world and, you know, try to save the world while she’s at it.

There were some elements of Shadow and Bone I really liked. I thought the whole Grisha concept was pretty cool. I don’t run into a lot with a Russian folklore twist to it (though, I really have no idea if this is based on folklore at all, being unfamiliar with Slavic mythology, but it feels sort of fairy tale-ish.) I’m down with magic. I like dark and mysterious. I like cool outfits. I wish I could keep it positive, but I had some issues with this book, too…

The way the Grisha do magic reminded me a LOT of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (review). Only… The Name of the Wind did it better. Plus there was a love triangle, and now that I am a grumpy, jaded old person, I have no patience of love triangles. Sadly, for me the bad outweighed the good. I don’t know if I’ll bother with the rest of the series. Sad trombone.

Tell me something, Bookworms. Have you ever run across two similar story lines but thought one was done much better than the other? 

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

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: A Fellowship of the Worms Fun-fest

Salutations Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300Who is excited and has two thumbs? THIS GIRL! Why? The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session!!! This month we took on The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. 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 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry 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 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up! (I’m looking at YOU, every book blogger ever!)

1. First things first. How much did you love all the book references? A.J. was constantly talking about the books he carried in his store, the books he recommended to his customers, the books he despised. What was your favorite book reference moment? I very nearly died laughing when the old woman came back to the store and yelled at AJ for recommending The Book Thief (review). The minute she said that it was narrated by Death I knew what she was talking about and I couldn’t help myself. It certainly IS rather traumatizing, if you’re not prepared for it. I’m not sure it’s worth berating a bookseller over, but I love quirky elderly characters.

2. How much did you love the AJ and Maya relationship? Am I the only person who got a MAJOR Silas Marner vibe here? Bitter man hoards riches and has heart opened by mysteriously abandoned child? I absolutely ADORED the thawing of AJ. I loved the way he interacted with Maya and conversed with her. Such a funny pair, these two! I think George Eliot would approve.

3. How did you like AJ and Amelia’s love story? Did you find it believable that such an intense relationship could AJFikrydevelop at a distance, especially considering the rocky start they had? I really enjoyed AJ and Amelia as a couple. Thank heaven for Maya- if it weren’t for her melting AJ’s frosty exterior, he never would have opened up to Amelia. I also rather liked the scene at the wedding when Maya gave Amelia the orange nail polish, “A Good MAN-darin is Hard to Find.” My not-so-secret career ambition is to be the nail polish namer for OPI. I’m so good at puns. SOMEBODY HIRE ME!

4. The book Amelia first tries to pitch to AJ was marketed as the memoir of an old man falling in love and getting married late in life. It is later revealed that the “memoir” was a work of fiction by a young female writer. Do you find it problematic that a book be falsely promoted in such a manner? Since I already name dropped George Eliot, let’s talk about pen names. Back in the day, it was SUPER common for female writers to use a male pseudonym to publish their work because a female name wouldn’t be taken as seriously. Even now, I see a lot of female writers using initials to publish as opposed to using their full names in an apparent effort to avoid being pigeon-holed into a lady genres (which is a sad reflection on the state of gender equality, but I digress.) I found it rather interesting that the author not only chose a pen name, but chose to call her novel a memoir. It actually reminded me of the whole hullaballoo when it was shown that James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces embellished his “memoir” so significantly that Oprah felt betrayed. I really liked that Zevin found a way to incorporate some of the dirty little secrets of publishing into her lovely book about books.

5. It turns out in the end that Ismay stole AJ’s copy of Tamerlane. Do you think his story would have gone the way it did if he’d been able to hold on to the valuable manuscript? I did not see this one coming! I mean, it made sense that is was Ismay, because she was one of the only people who knew he had it, but holy smokes! Much as I would have liked to, I found myself unable to hate Ismay. She was a hot steamy mess, that one, and I felt more pity for her than anger. I always love when I see flaws in a books heroes and humanity in the villains. It was really a blessing that AJ lost that dang book though. If he’d kept it, he’d have no Maya, no Amelia, and a whole lot more vindaloo on the wall.

Your turn, Bookworms! Tell me what you thought of this one! If you’ve responded to these discussion questions or reviewed The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry on your own blog, please link up!

Beyond Books: Top Ten Tuesday

Aloha, Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday again (where does the time go?!) The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have offered up another fun topic for this week’s listy goodness. It may be hard to believe, but we book bloggers occasionally do things other than read. Today we’re talking about our favorite movies and TV shows, though I’m going to try and keep things bookish because I like a challenge. Shall we?

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1. Gilmore Girls- This has been off the air for years, but I’m still a huge fan. Rory Gilmore is the coolest bookworm to ever grace the small screen and the rapid fire banter is endlessly entertaining. The quirky small town characters are hilarious. I own all 7 seasons on DVD and it will never get old. Never, I tell you!

2. Game of Thrones- The hubs and I have been binge watching this show and I know I’m going to go through withdrawal the minute we finish. I have read all the books, but it’s been so long I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. It’s been really fun to relive it, and point of the differences I can recall between the books and the show. Hubs and I took the quiz to find out our professions if we lived in Westeros. I was a noble. He was a whore. He’s taken to calling me Tyrion, which is pretty sweet, because he’s the best character. I guess that makes Hubs Shae. I cannot stop giggling!

3. The Pillars of the Earth- Starz did a mini series of this novel (review) and I thought it was fantastic. It didn’t hurt that Eddie Redmayne played Jack (hello, gorgeous!)

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4. Fried Green Tomatoes- I saw this movie ages before I read the book. Things are quite a bit different, book to movie, but they are both so well done that it’s hard to take issue with it. I love them both on their own merits.

5. The Walking Dead- I really just need to read the doggone comics already (I say this ALL THE TIME and haven’t done it yet… Though I did read one of TWD’s novels, so I’ve got that going for me…) This show was my gateway drug into the zombie genre and I haven’t looked back… Well. I’ve looked back to make sure I’m not being followed by zombies, but that’s about it.

6. Little Women- Little Women is one of my all time favorite novels, but I have always loved the 1994 movie version. I’ve seen it more times than I can count (it was a slumber party favorite for my BFF and I) and it never fails to bring me back.

7. Outlander- Okay, it’s not out yet, but I’m verra excited and cautiously optimistic. I’m putting my faith in Starz because Diana Gabaldon has been involved with the production AND they did a stellar job with The Pillars of the Earth

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I’m throwing in the towel at seven. I think that’s sufficient for today. What about you, bookworms? What are some of your favorite bookish TV shows and/or movies?

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

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Hello Bookworms!

I am SO EXCITED today! I’m going to my very first author event tonight to meet Jo Baker at my local library. I’d had Longbourn on my shelves for a while when I saw the announcement for her visit and bumped it up my reading list. I have to send a big thanks out to Kelly from Read Lately for sending me her ARC of Longbourn just because I commented that I was excited to read it. Book bloggers can be super nice, in case you didn’t already know that.

longbournLongbourn follows the events of Jane Austen’s fabulous and much loved Pride and Prejudice, but this time it’s from the perspective of the servants. The only reason the five lovely Bennet sisters were able to spend their days playing piano, working on needlepoint, and worrying about attracting husbands is because they had people doing their cooking, cleaning, and laundry for them.

Sarah is the main protagonist and a servant at Longbourn, the Bennet homestead. Sarah was orphaned as a child and eventually landed a place in service at Longbourn. While it’s a good deal better than a workhouse, it’s not a glamorous position. I mean, it’s the early 1800s. There are chamber pots to empty, fires to light, and (GAG) menstrual rags to launder.

You guys, I LOVED this book. One of my favorite things about reading historical fiction is the dirty gritty stuff. I like to know what MY life would have been like if I lived back in the day. It de-romanticizes things for me and makes me super grateful for indoor plumbing and electricity. I certainly wasn’t raised a destitute orphan, but I wasn’t born into an outrageously wealthy family either. I don’t know that I’d be in service, but I probably would have to get my hands dirty from time to time.

If you enjoy historical fiction, Jane Austen, or classic story re-tellings, Longbourn is fabulous. Oh, and never fear, Bookworms, I’ll be sure to inform you of all the different ways I manage to embarrass myself in front of Jo Baker.

Tell me something, Bookworms. Does historical fiction ever make you grateful for living in the here and now? 

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

Six Degrees of Separation: The Goldfinch

Good Day Bookworms!

It’s time again for one of my FAVORITE monthly memes, Six Degrees of Separation hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. They choose a book as a starting point, and then we create a chain of books connecting them in any old way we please. Seriously. I once connected two books using yogurt. It’s awesome. This month I’m happy to announce that I have indeed read the starting point book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (review). Ready set? Let’s do this!

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1. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: Ooooh yes. I went there. Boris was my favorite character in The Goldfinch and seriously, if he had been born in 19th Century Paris, he would have been Gavroche! Gavroche was, no surprises here, my favorite character in  Les MisérablesI love a plucky street urchin.

2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (review): I’m switching gears from Paris to Georgia here. Two sweeping epics full of political unrest and corsets? They didn’t specifically mention any hoop skirts in Les Misérablesbut I’ve got my suspicions. And did you see Samantha Barks’s teeeeeeeeeny tiny waist in the movie version of Les Misérables? You know there were corsets all up in there. How could I not connect these two?

3. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith: Sometimes I get cheeky, and “sometimes” is now. Clearly I’m connecting Gone with the Wind to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter through the American Civil War. They’re both fiction… The latter is just a bit less realistic. (Spoiler Alert: Vampires aren’t real. I’d have been eaten by now, if my attractiveness to blood sucking insects is any indication.)

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4. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): Vampires are mythological creatures that feed on humans, zombies are mythological creatures that feed on humans. It works.

5. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (review): A zombie apocalypse will bring about the end of the world as we know it just as easily as nuclear war will. Of course, nuclear war is ACTUALLY a thing that could happen, so it’s even scarier…

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (review): Speaking of terrifying potential dystopian scenarios can we TALK about The Handmaid’s Tale?! Women sold and used as breeding stock? Women forbidden to read? Worst nightmare, much?

There we have it! The Goldfinch to The Handmaid’s Tale in six easy steps… Including pit stops for corsets, vampires, and zombies. So much fun! Alright Bookworms, tell me something. What book would YOU link to The Goldfinch

#6Degrees Rules

 

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