Aug 04

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: We Were Liars

Book Club 30

What’s up, Bookworms?

What’s that you say? You’re sad because I haven’t chosen a new book for the internet’s premiere book club, The Fellowship of the Worms? The wait ends today, my friends, because I have finally picked a book! I’m happy to announce that I’ve chosen We Were Liars by E. Lockhart for our next discussion. I’ve read several reviews of this book, but most of them say “OMG I don’t want to spoil anything, just read it!” So. We’re going to read it. And then discuss it and ALL THE SPOILERS because that’s how we roll in the Fellowship. (We warn people of spoilers, OF COURSE, but you know you want to be able to talk about it when there’s a big twist, right?!) If you don’t believe me on the secrecy thing, check out the Goodreads synposis:

we were liarsA beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

How am I supposed to not be intrigued by this?! Discussion questions will be posted on Friday, September 12. There will be a linky available for anybody who has reviewed We Were Liars or would like to answer the discussion questions on his or her own blog. If you’re going to tackle the discussion questions on your own blog, PLEASE issue a spoiler alert. Nothing is more hostile than an angry internet. If you just want to stick to discussing in the comment section of this blog, that’s cool too. I love talking about books with you crazy kids, I can’t wait for this one! Let’s conquer this mystery shall we? Who’s in?! 

*If you purchase a copy of We Were Liars through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 01

How To Name Your Book Club

Book Club 23

Howdy Bookworms!

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by the fabulous Annabel Smith and she asked what my most popular post of all time was. In terms of longevity and search terms, the most popular post I ever published was the contest I held in order to name The Fellowship of the Worms. Apparently, people really want help in coming up with unusual names for their book clubs. I live to serve, and naming things is among my favorite activities. Here are some of my tips on choosing a fun and funky name for your book club!

BookClubNames

 

1. Who Are You? I know, it sounds kind of obvious, but one of the easiest ways to choose a book club name is to consider how it is that the book club came together. I’m involved in a book club with my neighbors which I’ve lovingly dubbed “My Neighbors are Better than Your Neighbors.” Did your group originate in the workplace? How’s about “Everybody’s Working for the Reading?” Are you a group of parents who met while sneaking in a few pages of reading during a little league game? School chums?  The way your crew came together can be a great resource for name mining!

2. What Do You Do? It’s rare that a book club talks about the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book. What else do you like to do? I book club I once belonged to (that has, sadly, disbanded) liked to drink wine and chat socially after book talk died down. I called it (rather cheekily) “Wine and Whining.” One of my favorite suggestions from the contest I ran came from Jen at The Relentless Reader. She suggested “BEER CHEESE BOOKS.” She’s from Wisconsin, if you couldn’t tell. But seriously! If y’all drink beer, eat cheese, and talk about books, GO WITH IT!

3. Alliteration is your friend. Have I ever told you about my fake band? It’s called The Alliterations and you can only fake join if your initials are the same for your first and last name. I play the fake drums. I’m spectacular, obviously. Is it weird to fangirl over a cheap literary device? “Raucous Readers.” “Badass Bookworms.” “Literary Ladies who Lunch.”  The possibilities are endless.

fake drums

My fake drum set. Obviously.

4. Make it Punny! How many times have you seen that picture of the bar called “Tequila Mockingbird?” And how many times have you chuckled at its cleverness? Get down with your punny self! “The Book Stops Here,” “Readers of the Lost Ark..”  For real, somebody stop me!

5. Bookspiration. Dude, our book club here ended up being named “The Fellowship of the Worms,” but that wasn’t the only fabulous suggestion. Most of them revolved around worms, but I understand that not EVERYONE wants to be associated with slimy invertebrates. What about “Gone with the Book” or “Through the Book-ing Glass”? Take a famous book title and make it your own.

A fun and funky name for your book club awaits! Use this list as a brainstorming guide and you’ll have something amazing in no time! Any Bookworms out there in a cleverly named book club?

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Jul 31

Happee Birthdae Harry!

Fantasy 32

Greetings Bookworms!

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been in a VERY Harry Potter mood of late. I’ve been listening to the entire Harry Potter series on audio the past few weeks while chugging through some seriously busy times at my day job. (Yes, I have a real job. No, it has nothing to do with books.) Since I’ve been chilling in the HP universe, I remembered that today is Harry’s Birthday! I’m assuming he got back from the Quidditch World Cup alright, of course, and that he’s celebrating at home with the fam. 34 is a big year- he’s officially DOUBLE the age of a legal wizard. So. Yeah. We’re getting old, Harry. At least you’ve got a few years on me.

Mmmm cake a la Hagrid. (image source)

Mmmm cake a la Hagrid. (image source)

In order to celebrate with all my fellow Potterheads, I thought it might be fun to do a little roundup of HP quizzes. Don’t pretend you haven’t gotten sucked into a BuzzFeed quiz. We both know better, and I’m fresh out of veritaserum to wring the truth out of you.

1, First things first, if you haven’t already been sorted into your house via Pottermore’s official sorting, you need to go and do that. Click HERE. Chop Chop. I’m a Ravenclaw (no surprise to me.) Holla!

2. For all the ladies in the house (or dudes who are interested), you can take THIS QUIZ to find out what female Harry Potter character you’d be. I got Minerva McGonagall, and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Who are you?

female hp characters3. If you don’t feel like being gender specific, you could take THIS QUIZ that will let you be any HP character, male or female. I got Albus Dumbledore. Must be that we both enjoy reading and gin & tonics? I really see no other similarities. I’m flattered, but c’mon.

4. OR you could find out which Hogwarts professor you’d be. I’m Dumbledore AGAIN, which makes me question this quiz’s value because I’m CLEARLY McGonagall. Pfft. (Not that Dumbledore isn’t awesome, because he so is. I’m just not that wise. Or that patient. Or that good at secrets. I’d have blurted ALL THE THINGS out to Harry immediately. For good or ill.)

5. You could also find out what secondary HP character you’d be. You might end up being Dean Thomas, like I did. I mean, he’s living every muggle-born’s dream. It could be worse!

6. You could answer the age-old question (if you’re being interviewed by me anyway) and find out what form your patronus would take. This quiz told me my patronus would be a horse, but I’m pretty sure I only got that result because prehistoric penguin wasn’t an option. I mean, really. This guy would take some dementors OUT.

prehistoricpenguin

I think that’s quite enough for one day, but I’m always open to more RIDDIKULUS-ness when it comes to all things Harry Potter. Happy Birthday, boy wizard (even though you’re now a man-wizard with gray hair and kids and stuff.)

Did you take any of the quizzes? What were your results?!

PS: If you’re still pining for Potter, check out some HP inspired tattoos HERE.

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Jul 29

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read The Most

Top Ten Tuesday 55

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

It’s time again for another adventure in listing with the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish. This week they have asked us to list the authors who we’ve read the most. I’ve never been so thankful for Goodreads and the fact that it’s got a big fat chunk of my reading listed and searchable by author. You probably won’t be terribly surprised that authors who have written series are high on my list, but I wasn’t quite expecting this particular shake out. I’m not always the brightest. Shall we dive in?

authorsttt

1. Charlaine Harris: Did you realize that there were FOURTEEN Sookie Stackhouse books? I’m not always that into paranormal fiction, but these books were campy, fun, and didn’t take themselves too seriously. Plus, you know. True Blood had a whole lot of eye candy going on. That didn’t hurt anything.

2. Diana Gabaldon: I have read all the Outlander books (review), one Lord John book (because it was The Scottish Prisoner with JAMIE) and 2 of the Outlander novellas (review, review).  That’s ELEVEN books. If we’re counting the novellas. Which I do. It’s my blog and I can do that!

3. Margaret Atwood: I’ve read NINE Margaret Atwood books. That includes a volume of short stories, a sci/fi trilogy (review), and a handful of stand alone novels (review). Confession: some of her most celebrated books are my least favorite (cough cough The Blind Assassin COUGH Alias Grace coooooooooough.)

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4. JK Rowling: I’ve read EIGHT books by JK Rowling. All the Harry Potter books (obviously) and The Casual Vacancy (review). I feel like she should count for more, though, since the HP novels are among the very few books that I’ve re-read on multiple occasions.

5. David Sedaris: I flipping love this guy. I was given Me Talk Pretty One Day as a gift when I was 18 or so and I’ve since read just about everything Sedaris has ever published (review). To date, that makes SEVEN Sedaris books, and countless laughs.

6. Anita Shreve: This one surprised me, because it’s been quite a while since I’ve read one of her books. My mom went through an Anita Shreve phase, so when I would plunder her books, there were a LOT of Anita Shreve titles. To date I’ve read SIX. My favorite? Fortune’s Rocks.

7. Fannie Flagg: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Fannie Flagg is my happy place. Her novels warm the cockles of my steely, unfeeling heart. When I’m in a particularly moody place, my faith in humanity is restored by reading a Fannie Flagg novel. So far, the tally stands at SIX books, Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven being my favorite (though by a slim margin, as all her books are lovely.)

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8. George RR Martin: My count for Martin is FIVE books, but would be higher, if only he’d release MORE of the Song of Ice and Fire Series. You’re killing me with a certain cliffhanger, George. KILLING ME!

9. Stephen King: For someone who’s a big weenie about reading King, I’m surprised to report I’ve read FIVE of his novels. I gravitate toward his more psychological books than the full on horror stuff, though Bag Of Bones totally gave me nightmares. I have to give it up for The Stand (review) and The Green Mile (review.) Blown away!

10. Lois Lowry: I was happy to discover I’d read FIVE Lois Lowry books, because I think she’s really fantastic for the middle grade set. I read Number the Stars as a kid and it’s one of the books I credit with making me a reader. I read and reviewed the entire The Giver Quartet in the early days of this blog, not having realized that there were sequels to The Giver. File that under “Things I Wouldn’t Have Known Without the Book Blogosphere!” (The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son reviews.)

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Talk to me, Bookworms! Which authors top your “books read” tally?

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

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Jul 28

The Major’s Daughter by JP Francis

Historical Fiction, World War II 20

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.*

themajorsdaughter

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.*

 

 

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Jul 25

My Very First Author Event: Jo Baker

Author Events, Giveaways 13

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.*

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Jul 24

Just Your Typical Prototype (Prototype by MD Waters)

Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, Women's Studies 5

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.*

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Jul 22

Fictional Castaways: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 17

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?

TTTfictionalcastaways

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.*

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Jul 21

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 10

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.*

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Jul 18

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

Blogging, Book Club, Contemporary Fiction 14

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!

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