Blogging Confessions: Top Ten Tuesday

Howdy, Bookworms!

As always happens, Tuesday has rolled around yet again. This week, the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list our deepest, darkest secrets. It’s time to hit the book blogging confessional! I’m a little nervous, kids. I hope y’all still like me at the end!

confessions

1. I rarely read author interviews. I feel like I ought to have some interest in author interviews, but I really don’t. They always turn into long discussions of the writing process and I just get kind of bored. I want to read author interviews that ask the things I’m interested in… Weird, stupid, hypothetical beauty pageant type questions are more my style. Explain to me what animal you’d be and why, and I’ll totally read your interview.

2. I normally don’t enjoy award-winning books. Pulitzer, Nobel, Man Booker… I often haven’t read anything on the short lists for these prizes. I am a story gal, pure and simple. Language alone is not enough to hold my attention. I feel like a book failure for admitting this, but me and literary fiction have a tempestuous relationship.

3. I’m terrible at commenting on other blogs. LIFE, you guys. It just keeps happening regardless of whether or not I’m commenting on other blogs. Much of the time it’s all I can do to read and put together my own posts, but then I feel like a grade A jerkface because so many other bloggers are so awesome at commenting on MY blog. Other bloggers who read more and work more and have children to take care of. I have no excuse and ALL THE GUILT.

4. I’m bad at keeping tabs on publishers. You guys, it would be a rare thing indeed if I could tell you who published most of the books I read. I pay no attention, unless I’m trying to track something specific down. (I know that Rainbow Rowell is with St. Martin’s Press and that Emma Donoghue is with Little Brown, & Co. and that’s only because I begged for ARCs of their latest books. I’d know Diana Gabaldon’s publishing company too, if they bothered with ARCs.)FAIL

5. Hey, jealousy! I get jealous. I see other bloggers talking about having free reign over entire publisher catalogs and getting all kinds of traffic and I get a bit green. Then I remember that I’m too lazy to pay attention to who publishes what, and that I can’t be bothered to make much of an effort, and it all makes sense. I’m REALLY GOOD at mediocrity. Wahoo!

6. I intentionally avoid blogging about controversial topics. I know that tackling controversy is a great way to generate traffic, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have opinions on plenty of things, but I have no desire to get into fights on the internet. Is Amazon the devil? Did Goodreads ruin a cool platform with censorship? Should adults be embarrassed to read YA? My answers are no, maybe, and sometimes, though not necessarily in that order. If you were to meet me in person, I wouldn’t discuss politics or religion with you either. Well. Maybe I would, but probably only if I had an idea where you stood on the issues. I don’t like conflict, okay?

7. I’m terribly suspicious. I’m not deluded enough to think that I’m a big important blogger. That said, sometimes I’ll be approached to join an event or promote something that sounds a little shady. I will often consult with a circle of blog pals to see if the things I’m being approached to participate in are on the up and up.

8. I tried and failed to read The Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty ashamed that I didn’t enjoy these books. They mean SO MUCH to SO MANY PEOPLE and have been crazy influential. I made it through The Hobbit (review) and The Fellowship of the Ring (review) before giving up the ship. Now I only attempt a few pages if I’m having trouble sleeping…

fail2

9. I really value my regular readers. That doesn’t sound like a confession, it just sounds obvious, but seriously. If I’ve seen you around and commenting for a while, I get attached. Sometimes I have more physical books on my shelves than I need. Sometimes I get something cool and want to share it. Sometimes I send people presents just because I like them. (Although ALL THE TIME I send EVERYONE BOOKMARKS if they want them. You want a sweet Words for Worms bookmark? Email me your address!)

10. I don’t pay much attention to cover art. All due respect to my favorite #coverhos, I don’t usually get very excited about book covers. I do most of my reading digitally, so the cover art isn’t really part of the experience for me. I like pretty things, so I don’t mind reading the occasional post showing people’s favorite book covers, but the idea of a “cover reveal” is beyond me.

 Anybody out there want to join me in bookish or blogging confessions? Please? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site I’ll make a small commission. Confession: I suffer no ethical conundrums over making a few dollars off of this blog.*

Book Club Selections: A Cheat Sheet

Howdy Bookworms!

Show of hands, how many of y’all are in a book club (you know, in real life?) How many of you book clubbers get sweaty palms just thinking about the pressure that comes with choosing the next read for your club? Fear not, my friends, today I’m providing you with a handy cheat sheet for selecting a winning book!

*This post is being generously sponsored by Harlequin Mira in conjunction with the June 24th release of Heather Gudenkauf’s new novel, Little Mercies.*

littlemercies

Pretty cover, right?!

1. Choose a book with your club in mind. This seems pretty obvious, but hear me out. My neighborhood book club is a group of women in their 30s, most of whom have children. If you want to choose a book that encourages conversation, pick something your crew can relate to. I know that my neighbors are more likely to engage with a book that discusses family dynamics than they would with a history of the fall of Rome. That’s not to say that variety shouldn’t be encouraged, but a book club is something people do for fun. I always try to find a book that the majority of the group won’t view as a chore. (IE, If I’ve got a hankering for an epic war saga, I usually save that to read on my own time.)

2. Look for a book club guide in the back of the book. If you’re unsure of a book, flip to the back. Tons of books these days include reader’s guides and discussion questions designed specifically for book clubs. It’s a good indication that the book will spur some lively conversation. Plus, you don’t want to deal with coming up with your own discussion questions (ain’t nobody got time for that!) these guides are a huge time saver. Some books, like, oh, I don’t know, Little Mercies, for example, have an entire book club kit you can access online. How sweet is that?! Especially if you don’t want your only question to be “how much did you want to punch this character?” Not that I know anybody who asks some variation of that question in nearly every online book club she holds, or anything…

Lookie here! Little Mercies did all the work for you!

Lookie here! Little Mercies did all the work for you!

3. Keep it short. As much as I absolutely adore Diana Gabaldon’s 850 page chunksters, it’s not cool to ask your book club to chew through a book that size in a month. You might be the speediest reader in all the land, but picking a book over 500 pages is a pretty huge time commitment for those in the club who might not read at breakneck speeds. The longer the book, the less likely the group will have finished it, and THAT is a serious discussion killer.

4. Don’t panic if you pick a dud. It happens to the best of us, kiddos. Sometimes despite your best efforts, the book you choose will flop. It’s rare that I choose a book that I’ve already read, so the suck factor is always a risk. It’s okay! If your book club is full of folks you like and respect (and I hope that it is!) they’ll understand. You’ll laugh about it and drink a little more wine. No big deal.

5. Check out some book blogs. Ah, shameless self promotion. You saw that coming, right? Seriously though. If you poke around in the book blogosphere a little bit, you can discover a ton of great titles you may not have heard of otherwise. PLUS, if you can find a blogger whose tastes jive with that of your book club, you can trust their recommendations.

What say you, Bookworms? Have you got any tips for the masses on how to choose a fantastic book for book club?

For more information on Little Mercies:

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Greetings Bookworms,

I’m pretty excited today. I get to tell you all about the latest Jojo Moyes novel AND tell a terrible (yet topical) joke. But first, the particulars. I received a complimentary copy of One Plus One from the publisher through Netgalley for review consideration. The fact that I didn’t pay for the book doesn’t compromise my integrity, y’all know I’m seriously lacking a filter. Case in point: A pirate walks into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Um, sir? There appears to be a steering wheel in your pants.” The pirate responds, “Arrr, it’s drivin’ me nuts!” (Ba du bum.) A large chunk of this book takes place in a car. A car with a STEERING WHEEL. I promised it would be topical.

oneplusoneOne Plus One is one part social commentary, one part family drama, and one part road trip from hell. (Which equals three, which is problematic considering one of the main characters is a mathematical wizard, but I digress.) Jess spends her days cleaning houses and tending bar in a seaside town trying to make ends meet. Her husband left two years prior leaving Jess to care for her daughter and stepson alone.

Ed’s life was motoring along fairly smoothly (if you discount that gold digging ex-wife of his.) He was part owner of a successful software company until he entered into an ill advised relationship and got caught up in an insider trading scandal. (Apparently breaking up with someone via post-it only happens on Sex and the City, but it would have saved Ed a lot of trouble…)

Jess and Ed’s paths cross when he tries to escape his problems at his seaside vacation home. One thing leads to another, and Ed soon finds himself driving the rag tag clan (including one very large, very stinky dog) cross country to Scotland. (Because we started in England, obviously. Mentally switch the side the driver’s seat is on, okay?) Jess’s daughter is set to compete in an academic competition to earn a scholarship to an elite school. Given that the public school in their neighborhood harbors a family of ne’er-do-wells responsible for tormenting and hospitalizing her stepson, Jess is desperate to provide better for her daughter.

You know what happens next? Pretty much what you’d expect. Feelings. Family dynamics. A little bit of romance. A dash of stinky dog. A whole lot of lovely. I’ve yet to be let down by a Jojo Moyes book, and One Plus One is no exception. It would be a great road trip book, assuming you don’t get car sick and can travel at speeds faster than 40 mph.

Bookworms, I’ve got to know about your worst/craziest road trip. Tell me a story!

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

That’s Classic! (A Top Ten Tuesday List)

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

It’s time to get listy with it, and the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have provided me with a topic near and dear to my heart… Classic books that rock! I haven’t been in a super classics-y mood of late, but there are a good many that I have loved. Ready or not, here they come!

TTTclassics

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (review)- Charlotte, you’re the only Brontë for me! I probably shouldn’t say that, as I haven’t read any of Anne’s work, but Wuthering Heights (review) was not my favorite (sorrynotsorry, EMILY.) I seriously doubt anything could live up to my adoration of Jane Eyre.

2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo- I know a LOT of people do not enjoy this book. Frankly, I’m shocked that I liked it as much as I did. It may just have been the timing or the fact that I had the musical playing on repeat in my head the whole time (or the fun of pointing out inconsistencies from the book to the musical… That helped, being an insufferable know-it-all.) Given its sheer enormity I’m not sure it’s one I’d tackle again any time soon, but I really did like it!

3. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy- Oh Tess! This book, you guys. Tess had such a rough go of it, the poor girl. The quintessential victim of circumstance, our Tess.

classics1

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott-The March girls have had my heart since I was 11 years old. I still don’t know what a pickled lime is, and I’m curious… Does anybody know where I may procure pickled limes?

5. Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen- Northanger Abbey (review) runs a very close second place in the contest of my favorite Austen, but Pride and Prejudice wins out because it’s one of the books I was assigned to read in high school that I actually lurved. Nobody really expects to enjoy their homework, it felt like my dirty little secret. It was so soapy, and that Lydia! Scandalous.

6. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain- (which I intentionally list below Jane Austen because Twain was a notorious Austen hater, and I like to think I’m needling his ghost by doing so.) This was assigned reading my junior year of high school and I loved it. I was particularly drawn in by the segment about the family feud.

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (review)- Mmmm I love a good dystopia. I won’t claim there aren’t days I wouldn’t love to have access to some SOMA, but I am pretty pleased not to be subject to government mandated orgies…

classics2

8. 1984 by George Orwell- Yep, two dystopias in a one list. Don’t judge me, yo!

9. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald- Another school assignment that turned out well! I find it a little disconcerting that at the age of 31 I have a desperate hankering for a BFF necklace. Thanks a lot, Modcloth. (It’s HERE, you know you want to look.)

10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (review)- Francie Nolan, oh, how I love thee! I don’t know how I made it so many years before finally reading this book, but I’m SO GLAD that I did! I know I’d read excerpts from this book in school (the Christmas tree throwing incident, anyone?), but I didn’t appreciate the wonderfulness of the book until I read the whole thing. READ IT!!!

classics3

Bookworms, how many of you get down with the classics? What are some of your favorites?

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

Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Salutations Bookworms,

If you’ve been hanging around here for any length of time, it would be impossible to miss the fact that I’m a little bit obsessed with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series. Funnily enough, this is the first time I’ve “reviewed” one of the major books in the series because since becoming hooked on the novels, I’ve read every new major installment the minute it was released. An Echo in the Bone was released waaaay back in 2009. That’s three years before I started this blog, if you are interested in the math. I’ve been pining for the next book for FIVE YEARS. The waiting was made all the worse because of an accursed cliffhanger. But now? I HAVE IT! Muahahahahaha!

writteninmyownheartsbloodWritten in My Own Heart’s Blood was released on June 14th. It was auto-delivered to my Kindle because OF COURSE I pre-ordered it. I spent the next week staying up too late and drinking in all the Gabaldon goodness. What can I say? This is the eighth book in the epic series and it did not disappoint!

Seeing as it was indeed the eighth book, it seems a bit silly to write a review. I mean, how can I do that without giving all sorts of spoilers for the preceding seven books? Instead, I’m just going to launch into a long, weird, fangirl rant about why you need to be reading these books. Cool?

OMG, what are you waiting for?! Gabaldon’s amazing series includes something for everyone. You like sci-fi? We’ve got time travel. You like history? Adventures in the highlands start in the 1740s. You like romance? I challenge you to find another literary love like that of Jamie and Claire. (Or Bree and Roger. Or Jenny and Ian. Or, or, or…) Interested in the medical ministrations of the past? You’ll be up to your elbows in poultices and leeches. Political maneuvering? Battle? Seafaring? For heaven’s sake, it’s all here!

You will laugh, you will cry, and you will simply fly through these chunky tomes! So go, please. Read them. Love them. Come back and talk to me about them. Oh! I almost forgot. Anybody who has finished reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and wants a safe place to chat about all the spoilers, I made a little Facebook group dedicated to the cause.

Tell me something good, Bookworms. How many of y’all read and love Diana Gabaldon?

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

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Konnichiwa Bookworms,

The other day Hubs and I were driving somewhere when everyone’s favorite Styx song came on the radio. I share this because it’s important, and I don’t want to be the only one with the song stuck in my head. Behold:

Now that we all have robots on the brain, let’s talk about some of the coolest artificial intelligence in literature, shall we?

robotbooks

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Everybody’s favorite cyborg Cinderella story! It’s pretty awesome that catastrophic injuries can be overcome with scientific enhancements, but there are downsides to being a cyborg. You’re treated a lot more like a computer than a person, which suuuucks. Luckily, it’s a fairy tale, and good things can still happen to underdog cyborgs. (review)

2. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke: Sometimes young girls are mentored by androids they accidentally fall in love with. Stranger things have happened, right? To be fair, Finn isn’t just any android. He’s one of a kind and he’s got feelings. Interesting to think about just what makes a human human. (review)

3. Solomon the Peacemaker by Hunter Welles: The world’s problems can be solved… As long as a human is attached by the brain to a super computer. Peace comes at a pretty high cost if you’re the one who’s drawn to be attached to the machine. (review)

Got any more sweet robot stories for me, Bookworms? Sound off!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a commission. I’m saving up to buy myself a robot maid. By the time I have the money saved up, they might exist. You don’t know!*

 

Headhunters on my Doorstep by J Maarten Troost

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to any of you, but I’m a bit of a homebody. I like the idea of travel, but I seem to have been born with zero wanderlust. That said, I really like to travel vicariously though books. All the glamour, none of the bedbugs. When I was offered J Maarten Troost’s latest offering, Headhunters on My Doorstep, I figured I’d give it a try. With a title like that, how could I not? I received a  complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher. The fact that I did not purchase this book in no way influences my opinion on the subject. I feel the need to make that clear, because after reading this, I have a strange urge to become J Maarten Troost’s groupie. Do authors have groupies? Is that even a thing?

headhuntersTravel memoirs are a completely new genre for me, and I’m really glad this book was my introduction. After a stint in rehab to treat his alcoholism, Troost sets out on a journey to find himself. He intends to find himself by getting as off the grid as it’s possible to get in the modern world and retrace the travels of Robert Louis Stevenson (you know, the Treasure Island guy) in the South Pacific.

One part travelogue, one part meditation on addiction, and all parts hilarious, Headhunters on My Doorstep took me on a journey I wasn’t expecting. I typically go into nonfiction expecting that it will be more of a challenge for me than a novel. I chewed through this book in two days. I simply couldn’t put it down!

One of the reasons for my fascination has to do with Survivor. Yep. The reality show. When I was in college, I took a class on Small Group Communication. My professor was really fun, and he realized that Survivor was an excellent way to illustrate small group dynamics. We were required to watch the show as part of our homework, and the season I watched? Season 4: Survivor Marquesas. The only season of Survivor I have ever watched dovetailed PERFECTLY with Troost’s travels. Serendipitous, no?

The other reason I’m so gaga over this book is that Troost is hilarious! Snarky, witty, self depricating- everything I adore in a humorist. I’ve noticed that this book has not gotten as many rave reviews as some of Troost’s earlier books, which honestly has me excited. If this book isn’t considered his best work, what sort of joy do I have in store as I check out his back catalog?! Two super enthusiastic thumbs up for this one, Bookworms. Check it out!

Since this book was set on (very nearly) deserted islands, let’s play a game. What books could you not live without if you were stranded on a desert island? 

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

Reading Rainbow: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

For a while now, I’ve been on a personal quest. I’ve been trying to complete my very own Reading Rainbow. There are a ton of great books that list colors in their titles, and I wanted to have read one for each of the colors in the rainbow. This is how my brain works. Don’t judge me.

reading rainbow

1. The RED Tent by Anita Diamant (review): You know all about Joseph and his coat of many colors, but did you know he had a sister? Yeah. She’s got her own story now, and it rules.

2. ORANGE Is the New Black by Piper Kerman (review): Life inside a minimum security women’s prison? Don’t pretend you’re not curious!

3. The YELLOW Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: You know, it sucked pretty hard to deal with post partum depression before anybody knew how to effectively treat it. In this haunting short story, a woman imagines being trapped inside the wallpaper in her sick room.

4. The GREEN Mile by Stephen King (review): This is one of those books I think all Stephen King skeptics should read. He CAN do more than horror, and he can do it really, really well. Check this one out!

freerainbowclipart

5. Gathering BLUE by Lois Lowry (review): This book is a part of The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry and it takes you into a completely different dystopian society. It’s a departure, but if you like allegorical stories for middle graders, it’s worth the read.

6. INDIGO by Alice Hoffman : I may or may not have purchased this book specifically because I needed something to fulfill my “indigo” requirement. It was harder to dig up than you might think- there are plenty of books with “indigo” in the title, but not many that aren’t part long paranormal series. A friend of mine helped me find this Alice Hoffman title. I have never read any of her young adult books before, but this novella was rather nice, particularly for those who enjoy magical realism and water.

7. The VIOLETs of March by Sarah Jio (review): Another confession here. I like Sarah Jio, but I picked up this one purposefully because it fulfilled one of my rainbow requirements. I’m insatiable.

BONUS: Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg (review): I like Fannie Flagg, and she wrote a book with “rainbow” in the title. How could I NOT include it? And while we’re at it, RAINBOW Rowell rocks my socks. I’m just saying.

Your turn, bookworms! What are some of your favorite books with a color in the title? Have any of you completed a personal Reading Rainbow?! 

Let’s Get Lewd: Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

Greetings Bookworms!

You’re in for a treat today, because we’re talking about Emma Donoghue. Again. She’s awesome, what can I say? After reading and loving Frog Music a while back (review) I decided I needed MORE of Emma Donoghue’s historical fiction, and if prostitutes were involved, all the better. Luckily, Emma Donoghue’s back list offered me Slammerkinand oh my stars, I’m glad of it!

slammerkinSlammerkin tells the sordid tale of Mary Saunders. Born into the working class of 18th Century London, Mary’s prospects are limited. Though she is afforded the advantage of attending school, she is prepared only to work in domestic service or follow in her seamstress mother’s footsteps. Disheartened by her lack of opportunity, Mary soon chases a fancy into dire circumstances and is forced to take up prostitution as a means to support herself. Oh yeah. I should probably mention that she’s all of 14 at the time. 14!

Selling your body isn’t glamorous work by any means, but Mary finds it offers her a sense liberty she wouldn’t have enjoyed in a “virtuous” occupation. She becomes obsessed with clothing- the flashier the better. It was her lust for a red ribbon that started her down her path to depravity, after all.

THIS BOOK, you guys! Holy cow, I loved it so hard! Mary’s story was so captivating. And!!! I didn’t realize until the end that it was based on a true story! Donoghue did a glorious job of capturing 18th Century London’s underworld, and didn’t sugar coat the grimy details (STDs are no joke, y’all, especially before antibiotics. Yowza.) I am endlessly fascinated by the plight of women throughout the ages. Even though the current world is far from perfect, I’m SO GRATEFUL to have opportunities beyond becoming a servant or a prostitute. Sheesh.

My love for hooker books has been very well documented. I feel a little creepy about it, to be honest, but I suppose everyone has their fixations. Is there a controversial/tragic/less than savory topic that you simply can’t get enough of, Bookworms? 

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