Sep 14

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Audio Books, Supernatural 14

How’s it going, Bookworms?

I feel like I should write this entire blog post in 20s slang, but you’d miss out on the inflection. It’s going to take every ounce of restraint I possess not to end every sentence with “see”, see? I place the blame for my new affectation squarely on the shoulders of one Libba Bray, who penned The Diviners, and also on the shoulders of January LaVoy who narrated the audio book.

thedivinersI’ve been meaning to read Libba Bray for a while, and I picked The Diviners because it was on my soon-to-expire list (thanks for nothing, Scribd.) I didn’t realize just how spooky it was going to be before picking it up, so I’m actually pretty grateful for the near comical usage of slang and old timey vocal affectations. But I digress.

The Diviners takes place in 1920s New York City, which was by all accounts a happening place to be. Evie O’Neill is new to town, after being sent away from her boring town in Ohio to stay with her uncle. Some people have no sense of humor when it comes to having their secrets exposed, see? It works out for the best though, because Evie is ready to get her flapper on and party like it’s 1926 and NYC is the place to be! Evie’s Uncle Will has his head so full of the creepy crawlies that he’s unlikely to notice her antics… Or so she thinks. The thing that got Evie booted from Ohio wasn’t really her fault. Evie has a super weird gift that allows her to psychically glean information from objects. If a gentleman’s watch tells her that he’s had some scandalous dalliances, well, she can’t help knowing that!

New York is being terrorized by a serial killer just as Evie arrives in town. Because of the occult-ish nature of the killings, Evie’s uncle, something of an expert in the field, is called in to consult with the police on the case. Evie realizes her gift may help her catch the murderer, and things just start to get weird.

This book was a ton of fun and the scary elements were perfect for the onset of autumn. The slang seemed a little over the top at times, but the campy aspects of it worked for me. There was just one problem. I had NO IDEA this book was the beginning of a series until it was over and ALL THE THINGS were unresolved. I googles to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped chapters and lo and behold, book two was recently released. Don’t you just hate that?! Of course, it’s too late. I’m hooked. Just take my money, okay?

Bookworms, I need to not be alone here. Have any of you started a series purely by accident?

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


Sep 10

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Audio Books, Historical Fiction 4

Greetings, Bookworms!

You’ll probably recall my giant rant about Scribd changing up its audio book program. As a result, I scoured my library for the oodles of expiring titles and prioritized those I simply couldn’t live without hearing before they turned into pumpkins. I’ve been meaning to read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton for quite a while, and I’m so glad I decided to check this one out. Not only was it a great story, but the incomparable Davina Porter narrated (she’s the one who reads all the Outlander books and is beyond amazing.) Yay audio books! Boo Scribd for bursting my bubble! (I’m totally still bitter, Scribd!)

theminiaturistNella Oortman is a mere 18 years old when she arrives in Amsterdam, the newly minted bride of merchant Johannes Brandt.  While Nella is thrilled to leave her rural home for the excitement of the big city, she soon discovers that her marriage isn’t going to be what she expected. Johannes is incredibly distant, though when he does interact with Nella he is kind. His sister Marin, however, is even less welcoming.

Set adrift in an unfamiliar city, Nella is completely unmoored. Things begin to change when Johannes presents Nella with an unusual gift: a cabinet sized replica of their house. Nella is both intrigued and mildly insulted. I mean, a doll house?! That’s somewhat less than romantic, and kind of weird, actually. Nevertheless, Nella enlists the services of a mysterious local miniaturist in order to furnish the house and finds herself pulled into the inner circle of the Brandt household and its secrets quite by accident.

The cover art for this novel is genuinely representative of this book. It’s a pretty piece of historical fiction if there ever was one, and the narration of Davina Porter makes it even more magical. I found the story fascinating and loved the look inside the Brandt family. 17th Century Amsterdam was NOT the sort of place you wanted to be seen as different, that’s for darn sure. While I enjoyed the novel, I really wish there had been a few loose ends tied up, particularly in reference to the title character, but all in all, it was quite a ride. If historical fiction is your jam, The Miniaturist is certainly worth a read!

Talk to me Bookworms! Are any of you into tiny things? I’ve seen some impressive work done with miniatures, but I lack the patience to create my own and the funds to get into the hobby buying ready made. I’d love to hear from any budding miniaturists out there!

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


Sep 08

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

Asia, Historical Fiction, Women's Studies 4

Good Day, Bookworms!

It probably says troubling things about my character that I love hooker books so ding dang much, but I do, I so so do. The circumstances that lead young women into lives of prostitution are endlessly fascinating, and it’s a profession that transcends time and culture. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, this revelation comes as no surprise. If you’re new here, I really dig books about prostitutes. From a cultural perspective, not a porn-ish one, in case that wasn’t obvious. This is a long weird intro, so I should get to the point! Today we’re talking about The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry. *I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. It is not at all like prostitution because there is zero promise of a favorable review (or any review) involved. That said, the way to my heart is through hooker books, so. Yeah.*

thecourtesanThe Courtesan is the fictionalized account of an actual historical figure, one Sai Jinhua. The novel opens with the execution of Jinhua’s beloved father, an unjust punishment for political dissent. At merely seven years old, she is left in the care of her stepmother (her mother having passed away before the book begins) and unceremoniously sold to a brothel. Though Jinhua suffers the horrors of foot binding and forced prostitution, she finds kinship with the brothel’s maid. Eventually Jinhua’s fortunes change as she is purchased (again) this time to live as a concubine to a wealthy diplomat. She goes on to accompany him on a lengthy trip abroad in Europe, through Austria-Hungary (you know, back when it was an empire?), Prussia (back before it was Germany), and Russia (back when Romanovs were still Czar-ing it up.) I was pretty stoked to see that another famous historical figure made an appearance in this novel, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, whom I feel like I know rather well after reading Daisy Goodwin’s The Fortune Hunter (review). Worlds colliding all up in this piece.

This book kind of tore my guts out, in any number of instances. I mean, how could it not? There were times I cried for Jinhua and times I wanted to give her a good smack. The fact that she lived such a large life in a time and place where women’s lives tended to be secluded was fascinating. As with any piece of historical fiction based on a real person, I have no doubt that many liberties were taken for dramatic effect, but it all swirled together into a rather lovely package. If you’re like me and dig hooker books, The Courtesan would make an excellent addition to your collection.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you like it when real historical figures make cameos in books?

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



Sep 04

A Tale for the Time Being: A Fellowship of the Worms Discussion

Book Club 5

Konichiwa Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be discussing the heart wrenching novel, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. 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 A Tale for the Time Being 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 questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of A Tale for the Time Being on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

  1. One of the things that struck me about this novel was how quickly Ruth became attached to Nao through her writing. Have you ever found yourself becoming attached to someone you don’t actually know through their writing? Have I ever! Some of my blog friends I feel as close to as anyone I’ve ever met in real life. Heck, there’s usually even a period before I pluck up the courage to “talk” to a blogger I admire where I feel like I know them only to realize they literally have no idea I exist. And still I care about them. Worry about them. Want to know that things turn out okay. I totally get Ruth’s predicament!

2. How much did you love Old Jiko? Do any of you have an impossibly wise older relative who has shaped who you became? I don’t know that I could say that I’ve ever had a relationship with a relative the way Nao bonds with Jiko, but reading about Jiko’s life in the temple, I couldn’t help but think of my great aunt. She was a Catholic nun and lived in a convent. People (myself included most of the time) tend to imagine that those who devote themselves entirely to religious pursuits tend to by stodgy and out of touch. That certainly wasn’t the case with Jiko and it definitely wasn’t true of Sister ataleforthetimebeingBernard either. While she never left me with cryptic words of wisdom, but she used to send THE BEST mail. That’s partially why I’m so fond of greeting cards. And stickers. A number of you have received mail from me, and I’d be willing to bet that there was at least one fun sticker on it. Sis used to include sheets of stickers in my birthday cards. She was pretty much the best, much like Jiko.

3. Did any of y’all break down when reading about the bullying Nao went through at school? Um, are you kidding me? I might have started crying a bit when Nao’s mom discovered her physical injuries, but hearing Nao describe her OWN FUNERAL and thinking that everyone pretending she was dead was an improvement in her situation? Why are people so awful? Whyyyyyyyy??? And that teacher. I can’t even. I literally can’t even. FICTIONAL RAGE PUNCHES ALL AROUND!

4. I feel like we can’t actually discuss this novel without addressing the elephant in the room, suicide. Despite Haruki #1’s kamikaze mission, Haruki #2’s failed suicide attempts, and Nao’s suicidal thoughts, the overall tone remains hopeful. How do you think Ozeki pulled that off? I am of the opinion that Ruth Ozeki is of Japanese, American, and unicorn descent. That magical gift had to come from somewhere, and my money is on unicorn. Don’t ask me how that works, I have no answer. I think that this book that the potential to be the most depressing book in the history of ever, but I think the humor injected into Nao’s narrative helped to lighten the mood. That and Jiko. Have I mentioned how much I love Jiko? “Up, down. Same thing.”

5. Nao’s narrative finding Ruth is pretty much the ultimate message-in-a-bottle scenario. Have you ever fantasized about leaving your story for an unknown reader to discover? What would you tell them? Sometimes I daydream about this sort of thing. I blog about books, and though I often discuss my personal life, I’m not really interested in publicly airing my dirty laundry, so to speak. I think the idea of a full Nao-style confessional document thrown out into the world for posterity is appealing, but I don’t think I could ever do it. I’m afraid that even if I made an attempt, I’d end up presenting something less than true and very tainted by my mood of the day. I mean, how often does something drive you ABSOLUTELY BONKERS when in hindsight it really wasn’t that big a deal? I’d be worried my mythical reader would think I was a whiny brat. I recognize my privilege and all, but those first world problems, man.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of A Tale for the Time Being. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 


Sep 03

Words for Worms Rewind: Road Trip

Audio Books, Rewind 3

Well Hello Bookworms!

I’m resurrecting another old post today that was devoured by the evil spirits of the internet. It’s ginormous and about audio books. I’ve updated it with the occasional aside in bold parentheses, because I simply cannot leave well enough alone.

If you’re anything like me the idea of a road trip is made more pleasant by the sheer joy of having so many uninterrupted reading hours. Unfortunately, that isn’t really an option if you happen to be the driver. Or is it? That’s right, my friends. Today we shall explore the glories of the audio book!

My BFF (we can use that terminology because we’ve been BFF since middle school) gave birth to one of the greatest human beings to ever grace the planet roughly 4 ½ years ago (UPDATE: Jack is now 7 ½. And he has a super cute baby sister named Junie who’s creeping up on 1 ½. I Seriously can’t even.) Unfortunately, my BFF has lived in a different state than I have for the past 15 years (Now 18. Holy smokes.) As an honorary aunt, I vowed I’d never miss one of Jack’s birthday parties (at least, until he’s old enough to decide he doesn’t want his weird Aunt Katie hanging around… At which point I’ll show up anyway and be EXCEPTIONALLY embarrassing. “Hey Jack, remember that time you accused me of pooping in your diaper? No?”) (<— That’s a true story, BTW.) And thus, every year around the Ides of March (I seriously never get tired of the Julius Caesar joke) I make the trek to… Whatever state or city Jack and Heather happen to be residing in.

road trip

The first couple of trips I made to visit Jack after he was born I made in the first vehicle I’d purchased for myself. A 2002 Oldsmobile Alero with crank windows and a broken radio. I fed my CD player hour after hour of music, but 5-7 hours of driving (each way), even with musical accompaniment, is tedious. Then I got smart. I had discovered that even on my 20 minute morning commute, I felt more alert listening to NPR than listening to morning music radio. I assumed the same principal- someone talking to me to keep my mind occupied- would hold true for road trips as well. I was right.

Do audio books count as reading? Umm, yeah they do! At least in my opinion. You hear the whole story, experience all of the description- it’s still theater of the mind. It’s just that you can safely drive while you enjoy it. I would also highly recommend audio books for anyone with a learning disability that makes it difficult to enjoy reading. Put a book on in the car instead of listening Rhianna. I can guarantee an audio book will make you smarter than Rhianna’s lyrics. (Still true.) Without further ado (Seriously 2012 Katie? That was so much ado. SO MUCH), I shall tell you a bit about the audio books I’ve enjoyed over my past several road trips…

herfearfulsymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger was my first foray into road trip reading. I wanted to read it because I’d loved The Time Traveler’s Wife (book is infinitely superior to the movie, no matter how handsome Eric Bana is). Her Fearful Symmetry started out promising, but then started taking turns for the bizarre, and then the REALLY bizarre. Once the book ended I was really quite surprised it had gone the way it did. Part of what I’d loved about The Time Traveler’s Wife was that Niffenegger took an unbelievable situation and turned it into a realistic view of what life would be like to live with and love a man who could at any moment disappear into another time. Symmetry was the opposite- it started out with a realistic presence then steadily got stranger and stranger. And not in the way I like my strange.

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant was my next selection. As I’ve previously professed, I adore historical fiction. I had read other Dunant novels (The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan) that were set in Renaissance Italy, and enjoyed them. Sacred Hearts was set in a convent during the same time period. It gave me more insight into the life of a Catholic nun in the Renaissance period, as well as insight into the few options available to women at the time. That part wasn’t exactly new to me (Hello, Women’s Studies Minor!) but I always like to read things that make situations come to life. This centered on a very reluctant novice who had been sent to the convent by her family to keep her from marrying an “inappropriate” suitor and the nun who took her under her wing. The supervisory nun was also the convent physician of sorts, so you’ll pick up all sorts of useful tidbits about old school diseases and treatments. Fascinating, if I do say so myself.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot was this year’s Jack-spedition selection. I really enjoyed this as an audio book, but I think it might be harder to get through reading in print. This book is non-fiction, and it is about the woman who (unwittingly) donated the first “immortal” henriettalackshuman cells that could be used in laboratory work. I’m not nearly scientific enough to explain how that’s really possible, other than to say that Henrietta Lacks had a very unique and aggressive form of cervical cancer. The cancer ended her life, but took on a laboratory life of its own. The cells were so important that they were the basis of research for countless medical breakthroughs. What’s most interesting about this book is reading about the abject poverty of her descendents and their corner of Baltimore. It’s a long story, but I found it very interesting, and since I was listening as opposed to reading, I didn’t get too bogged down in the scientific jargon. I highly recommend this book. (I really need to come up with a ratings system). (No you don’t, 2012 Katie.)

I’ve since expanded my audio book indulgence to any road trip I take, not just the epic ones. This includes the 2 hour each way drive to visit my parents. I had been meaning to read Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland for years. It was one of the books handed out at the graduation party for my Women’s Studies group. (I got Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross, which may just merit its own entry *UPDATE* Pope Joan review HERE.) Anyway, I’d been meaning to read this for a long time, and finally decided to get on with it. The story girlinhyacinthbluefollows a (fictional) Vermeer painting from the present day back through time to its inception. Throughout the ages the painting had a profound impact on a number of lives and went through many adventures itself. I’ve always had a soft spot for historical fiction that revolves around works of art (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Burning Bright, and The Virgin Blue all by Tracy Chevalier are worth mentioning) so this was right up by alley. (UPDATE: I made a list of Hist-Art-Ical Fiction. You can read it HERE.) I also learned more about the Netherlands that I’d ever known before, thanks to this book. I rather enjoyed that part, since, if the family lineage I’ve been told is accurate, I’m approximately 25% Dutch. Fun Fact: The Netherlands are mostly below sea level and flood a LOT. Also, horses can swim.

Finally! This has been an epic blog post. Last review, I promise. I just finished Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith in the car this morning. I’m technologically impaired, so I actually listened to the second half of the book before the first due to a downloading error, but aside from being a bit of a banana head, I enjoyed this book. I was shocked at how well researched this was. I mean, the vampire bits were obviously creative license, but the documented facts of Lincoln’s life and the chronology were spot on. I felt like I’d learned some useful American history by the end. A movie was just released. I will probably see it at some point, but I’m sure I won’t much care for it. What I liked most about this book was the historical accuracy and the filling in of life’s plot holes with fantastic farfetched theories. Judging by the movie’s trailer, it’s just a lot of Abe Lincoln killing vampires and crazy action sequences. I think there will be a lot lost in translation, but since I haven’t yet seen it, I can’t say for sure. (Who are we kidding? Of course I can say it for sure. The book is ALWAYS better than the movie!)

Congratulations for finishing this post, and many thanks. Until next time, my wormy worms!

Holy guacamole, 2012 Katie was VERY chatty, wasn’t she? I’m sorry, guys. I probably should have broken this post into pieces but I’m so very lazy. Also, if you buy anything from one of the 8 zillion links in this post, I’ll get a small commission. Yay for that.


Sep 01

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Scribd

Audio Books 39

Dear Scribd,

When we first met, I adored you. I wrote you love letters (seriously, read it!) Your $8.99 monthly fee for unlimited access to audio books was the best thing in the history of ever. I was over the moon and wallowing in a glut of fabulous literature being piped directly into my earholes. And then? Then I found out that you’re changing your system. My heart is breaking.


I’m too upset to keep this going in letter style, so I’m switching back to third person. Scribd is moving to an Audible-style credit model at the end of September. They’re claiming they will still have “plenty” of audio books available for unlimited listening, but everything else will be credit based. The $8.99 subscription fee gets you one audio book credit a month and $8.99 for each credit thereafter. It’s still less expensive than Audible which charges $14.95 a month, but unlike Audible‘s model, you don’t get to keep anything with Scribd, it’s just a rental. You can re-listen to audio books you’ve used credits on at any time, but you must have an active subscription to access anything, whereas with Audible, you can cancel and still listen to what you’ve purchased.

Needless to say (again) but I’m disheartened. Still, I’m a realist. I understand that companies need to make money and publishing rights are complicated and all that jazz. And there’s still that unlimited section, right? With “plenty” of titles? I scoped out my library of audio books. EVERY SINGLE TITLE I saved is either expiring or will be a credit-only book. I’ll tell you what, it’s going to be a listen fest to try and get through as many of these titles as I can before Scribd turns into a pumpkin. 


All the gray “expired” bars and blue exclamation points? Yeah. That’s my whole library.

When I contacted Scribd regarding the lack of available unlimited titles, they assured me that once the program goes live, users will at least be able to filter titles and view the unlimited titles in their entirety. I’m skeptical, but not throwing in the towel quite yet. I think it’s safe to say that the honeymoon is over, though, Scribd. Our relationship is on life support, yo.

Grumpily Yours,



Aug 31

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Contemporary Fiction, Family 14

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

For those of you back in the office today, I’m pleased to bring you a book about someone who is probably having a crappier day at the office than you are! A few weeks ago I was itching for something new to read when I saw A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan on NetGalley. The cover art was pretty and it was marketed toward fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette (review) so I decided to give it a whirl. *I received a complimentary copy of this novel for review consideration.*

awindowopensAlice Pearse is a happily married mother of three living in New Jersey. She works part time for a magazine as the books editor and keeps her household running with the help of a crackerjack babysitter. Alice’s life is chugging along at a smooth clip until a major upheaval in her lawyer husband’s career path sends her back into the workforce full-time. She thinks she’s landed the job of her dreams when she is hired by fancy pants startup Scroll, an e-book retailer promising swanky cafe style reading space as well as first edition novels. Of course, things are rarely as miraculous as they seem, especially when it comes to jobs. At the same time her new career is taking flight, Alice’s dad gets sick, her marriage hits some speed bumps, and her world devolves into general chaos. When it seems like “having it all” isn’t working out the way she planned, Alice is forced to take stock and decide what it is she really wants. 

As someone who works full time but does not (yet, hopefully) have children, sometimes this type of novel falls a little flat for me. I suppose I just get frustrated many women’s reality; the fact that a work-life balance seems nearly impossible to achieve. The majority of novels I’ve read in this vein definitely tend toward favoring women scaling back their careers and focusing on their families. While I think focusing on one’s family is awesome, it bugs me that women are always the ones who are expected to scale back, a sentiment I find perpetuated in this type of novel. That’s part of why I found A Window Opens refreshing. It was very honest in its exploration of Alice’s situation and doesn’t present a super clear cut answer. It doesn’t end exactly the way I’d have liked, but at least it doesn’t preach the value of a particular lifestyle. Alice focuses on what Alice wants and what will make Alice happiest. I can get behind a story like that.

What do you think, Bookworms? When you’re reading books about working moms, do you feel that a certain solution is presented as ideal? Do you ever wonder why there are so few books about men’s work-life balance? (Look at me getting all feminist up in here today. Whew.)

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


Aug 27

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 13

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I know I’m constantly shoving book recommendations in your faces, but I like to think we have a symbiotic relationship. I mean, when one of my friends says “OMG Katie, read this book right now” I’ll do it… Eventually. Case in point! My friend Ash told me that I needed to read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I totally did. Seriously, it was in a timely fashion and everything. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

theredqueenMare Barrow is a 17 year old “Red” girl from a poor working class background. She lives in a society where there are two classes of people. Reds like Mare and her family are ordinary folks. They put their pants on one leg at a time and bleed red. They’re also second class citizens because some quirk of evolution has created a group of people with superhuman powers who actually bleed silver. They’re called “Silvers,” natch, and they got a little drunk on their god-like powers and subjugated all the normal folk. The Reds think this sucks, because it does, but it’s pretty tough to win a fight against someone who can manipulate metal or hop into your brain and take over. Mare and her fellow Reds can only look forward to a life of poverty- if they live long enough, that is. All Reds are conscripted to fight in an endless war on behalf of the Silvers once they turn 18, assuming they aren’t already doing something useful for society (ie sewing fancy clothes for the Silvers. Silvers like pretty things.) After a chance encounter, Mare finds herself employed in the Silver Palace, surrounded by demi-gods and with an unexplained power of her own. Let’s just say that being Mare gets a whole heck of a lot more complicated from there.

Alright you guys. This book is the start of yet another trilogy in the glut of YA dystopias on the market. It combined a number of elements I recognized from Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy (review of book 1, as I didn’t finish the series) and The Hunger Games Trilogy. That said, Red Queen was different enough to catch my attention, and not in an eye-roll-y way. Well, except for this love quadrangle thing that was going on, but I feel like that’s par for the course in these sorts of books so I’m willing to overlook it for a hot minute. The book got under my skin and the characters stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio narration and it was excellent? Perhaps I’d have been less engaged if I’d done a strict eyeball read, I don’t know. Still, I think I might give book 2 a whirl and see where it takes me. If YA dystopias are your jam, Red Queen is definitely not to be missed. It may have thawed the heart of even this cranky skeptic.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If you could have the power to manipulate an earthly element, what would you pick? (I’m torn between water nymph skills and the power to do lots of back flips. I bet there’s a Silver whose only talent is doing back flips and their parents are terribly disappointed by it, but I think it would be awesome.)

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


Aug 25

Apocalyptic Fiction 101

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 31

Greetings Bookworms!

Today I’m putting on the professor hat I will likely never wear otherwise and curating a list of books for my pretend syllabus. This is all the fault of The Broke and the Bookish who prompted the book blogosphere to create a syllabus for their imaginary master class in a certain genre. Or something like that. Let’s go back to school with some apocalyptic fiction, y’all. It’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Now, before I get to the listing, I would like to point out that this list of books has to do with apocalypse scenarios and the immediate aftermath. This DOES NOT include dystopian societies. All the scary government rules, policed reproduction, oppression, and death sports will be covered next semester.

apocalyptic fiction

1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (review): This book is the perfect primer. It was written during the Cold War and deals (unsurprisingly) with the aftermath of a nuclear war. A poignant view of the human condition, Frank’s classic totally holds up. A lack of electricity is truly the great equalizer.

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (review): I’m toting out the big guns early in the semester because this level of bleakness explored after daylight savings time ends is a recipe for severe Seasonal Affective Disorder. We never really learn what disaster befell humanity, but McCarthy’s stark portrayal of the aftermath is haunting.

3. The Stand by Stephen King (review): Any list of apocalyptic novels that doesn’t include The Stand will get the side eye from me, I’ll tell you what. Far and away my favorite King novel, the story of Captain Tripps and what lies beyond is masterful. Even if it does stray a little into the supernatural. A lot of apocalypse tales do. Stay tuned, folks.

4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review): This book was the darling of the literary world for good reason. In case you needed more of a reason to stock up on hand sanitizer, another flu pandemic decimates the world’s population. Mandel’s novel takes a fascinating look at the role of art in rebuilding society.

5. California by Eden Lepucki (review): Just when you think it’s a good idea to go completely off the grid and fend for yourself in the woods, California offers a troubling portrayal of societal breakdown and the fact that it’s nearly impossible to escape.


6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (review): I know it’s fully supernatural. Vampires happen and ONE DUDE is left. There’s a reason this book has been around for as long as it has, you guys! And seriously, don’t judge the book based on the movie in this case. I mean, I love Will Smith as an action hero as much as the next gal, but it wasn’t a great adaptation.

7. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (review): It’s not the flu and it’s not a monster that takes aim at humanity this time. It’s Earth. The rotation of the planet decides to slow the heck down which wreaks utter havoc on the fabric of society. Told from the perspective of a 12 year old girl, this novel will hit you in the feels.

8. The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey (review): Yes, more supernatural stuff. But only because it’s AMAZING. Zombies and evolution and science and disease and WHOA.

9. MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood (review): You didn’t think this list would be without Atwood, did you?! This trilogy is insanely good what with the human foibles ultimately leading to their own destruction. This is a wee bit of a hybrid because the society pre-breakdown was traipsing into dystopia territory, but the aftermath was pure apocalypse. Seriously, check it out.

10. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): I know I talk about zombies and this book in particular a lot, but it’s simply one of the best of its kind. When your friends and neighbors suddenly think it’s a good idea to feast upon your flesh, crazy shiznit is bound to go down.

apocalypse2Tell me, dear Bookworms, did I leave anything excellent and apocalyptic out of my syllabus? Also, what haven’t I read in this genre that I should? 

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


Aug 24

Armada by Ernest Cline

Audio Books, Science Fiction 11

Hello Bookworms!

Remember when Ready Player One (review) got me hooked on audio books? It was an AWESOME book and Wil Wheaton as narrator SLAYED. I’ve been waiting on baited breath for Ernest Cline’s followup novel and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that Wil Wheaton would be narrating again. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find out that Armada was being released WITH Wil Wheaton narrating AND it was available on Scribd. The “Hallelujah Chorus” sang, y’all.

armadaArmada begins with high school senior Zack Lightman. He’s a video game geek to the core and constantly pines for more adventure in his mundane suburban life… And then a flying saucer shows up outside the window of his math class.

As it turns out, the Earth is being invaded by aliens, and the government has been slowly conditioning the world’s population to defend itself through science fiction culture and video game simulations. Giant conspiracy. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!

Because Ready Player One was so utterly fantastic, it was inevitable that Ernest Cline’s followup wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. I read several reviews that were disappointed in Armada, so I went in with my expectations tempered. I’m not sure they really needed tempering, though, because I thought Armada was great fun! I mean, Wil Wheaton does a Carl Sagan impression that is spot freaking on. I cannot recommend the audio book highly enough. My word. Wil Wheaton needs to read all the things. Well. All the things that Neil Gaiman isn’t reading, anyway.

If you liked Ready Player One I recommend giving Armada a try. It’s not the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a darn good time. Video games and aliens and conspiracies, y’all. It’s a whole lot of fun. And you can totally make “pew pew pew” noises the whole time you’re reading it. Because lasers.

Talk to me Bookworms! Do you think it’s detrimental to have your debut novel be TOO good?

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