Posts By: Words For Worms

Sep 15

The Sparrow Readalong Halfway Point

Readalong, Religion, Science 8

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 10

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?

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

 

 

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Sep 02

Let’s Do Lunch (Top Ten Tuesday)

Top Ten Tuesday 31

Back to School with you, Bookworms!

Nah, just kidding. I mean, unless you are actually in school. Truancy is bad, kids! But for the rest of us who have (at least for the time being) left our school days behind, the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have a fun little game for us today. We’ve been challenged to list out the fictional characters we’d have liked to share a lunch table with. Shall we?

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1. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling- I mean, OBVIOUSLY. She’s the cleverest witch of her age and one of the biggest bookworms around. I like to think we’d be kindred spirits.

2. Anne from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery- speaking of “kindred spirits” you know lunch with Anne (with an e!) wouldn’t be dull. She’s liable to dye her hair green or fall through a chicken coup or something.

3. Tyrion Lannister from The Song of Ice and Fire Series by George RR Martin- Tyrion’s razor sharp wit would guarantee a jolly lunch hour. Plus, you know he’d be the guy to smuggle in a hip flask.

4. Young Ian from The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon- Sure, he’d probably smell bad and might come in dragging a freshly skinned rabbit or something, but Young Ian’s charm makes up for all manner of faux pas.

5. Wade Watts from Ready Player One  by Ernest Cline (review)- Having an expert in 80s trivia on hand could only be a good time, no?

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6. Jenny from Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (review)- She refuses to wear women’s clothes, rides a penny-farthing bike, and can provide you with a steady supply of frog legs. Not that I’m particularly fond of frog legs, but, you know. She’d be amusing.

7. The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (review)- I like my street urchins to be plucky, not whiny and downtrodden like Oliver. The Artful could hang out at my table and amuse us by picking our pockets and then returning the contents. He could also take some food back to Oliver- maybe he’d be less whiny if well fed.

8. CeeCee Honeycutt from Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (review)- This gal loves her books and could use some friends. I’m pretty sure my lunch table crew would make her feel welcome. Confused, but welcome.

9. AJ Fikry from The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (review)- He likes to read, he’s grumpy and opinionated. Can you imagine the delightful debates that would take place at my lunch table?!

10. Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls- I know Gilmore Girls is a TV show and not a book. Really, I get that. But I want Rory at my lunch table. She should get to meet all these bookish characters. She’d be all “Artful Dodger, you remind me of my ex boyfriend Jess” and “Wade, my mom took me to see The Bangles once” and “Please pass the dessert sushi.” It would be wonderful.

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There we have it,  my imaginary dream lunch table. Who would be at yours, Bookworms?

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

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Sep 01

Kicking it Off: The Sparrow Readalong

Readalong 12

Good Day, Bookworms!

You know how sometimes you just need a push in the right direction to finally tackle a project? I have had a chunkster of a book sitting on my virtual shelf for far too long. It’s gotten amazing reviews from some of my favorite people and I keep finding reasons to put it off. Ridiculous, right? That’s why I was SO EXCITED to see that Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity is hosting a Readalong of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell this month.

sparrow-Readalong

This is obviously just the thing to get me off my bum an read the book! I’ll be doing a halfway check in post on the 15th just to hold myself accountable and should finish things up by the end of the month. I can’t wait!

‘Fess up, Bookworms. Who among you has a bit of a procrastination problem? (No judgement, swearsies!) 

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

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Aug 29

Double Vision (An Idiosyncratic Lit List)

Idiosyncratic Lit List 26

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

It’s been a while since I put together an Idiosyncratic Lit List, and after reading Two Lovely Berries last week, I’m inspired to talk about twins in literature. I’m seeing double here, kids. Let’s get twinny with it.

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1. Nora and Aubrey Daley from Two Lovely Berries by AM Blair (review): Oh these girls! They knew they’d never be the dress-alike-and-live-together-forever kind of twins, but they didn’t see all the crazy that was coming their way. Sharing identical genetic codes doesn’t guarantee a strife-free existence!

2. Josiah and Keziah Beardsley from The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon: I don’t think these two show up until The Fiery Cross, but they were a welcome addition to Fraser’s Ridge, believe you me. I’ve never laughed so hard as when reading about Lizzie Wemyss and her rather scandalous love affair. Jo and Kezzie, FTW!

3. Emmeline and Adeline March from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (review): Apparently twins are cooler when they’re a bit feral (see the Beardsley twins) but the March girls are firmly planted in crazy town. They’ve got a classic good twin/ evil twin thing going on, and it’s kind of awesome.

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4. Fred and George Weasley from The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: Were there ever two more mischievous Hogwarts students than the Weasley twins? Those two are simply the best. The provided me with many a laugh and many a tear. Although, I am rather pleased that I was never subjected to being a test subject for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Ton tongue toffee? Puking pastilles? I’ll pass, thank you.

5. Cath and Wren from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (review): These two! Poor Cath was under the impression that she and her twin sister Wren were going to be the dress-alike-and-live-together-forever kind of twins until they got to college and Wren left her high and dry. I mean, they were so inseparable they even had to SHARE A NAME. (That’s actually true, their mom wasn’t expecting twins and split “Catherine” in half.) No wonder Cath had a rough go of it…

Alright Bookworms, I’m SURE I’m forgetting some awesome sets of literary twins. Sound off!

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

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