Sep 01

Kicking it Off: The Sparrow Readalong

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Good Day, Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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Aug 29

Double Vision (An Idiosyncratic Lit List)

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Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 28

Two Lovely Berries by AM Blair

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Greetings Bookworms!

Let’s talk for a minute about self published books, shall we? Now. Most of these conversations consist of bloggers explaining why they won’t read self pubs and self pubbed authors complaining that nobody will give them a chance. There have been a million posts written about how to approach bloggers and pitching your work and whatever. You know what works for me? Establish yourself as a blogger. Write interesting content. Make the rounds. When you subtly announce that you’ve written a book, I’m eleventy billion times more likely to read it than if I’d received a random email pitch. Even better? Don’t pitch the book to me at all. I’ll probably just buy it with my own hard earned money and give it a shot. This is all to say that AMB from The Misfortune of Knowing (a fabulous blog about literature and the law) is DOING IT RIGHT. *I was not asked to read or review Two Lovely Berries by AM Blair. I bought it because it sounded interesting. That said, I do have a blog friendship with the author. Take that for what you will.* 

twolovelyberriesTwo Lovely Berries tells the story of the Daley twins, Nora and Aubrey. Born and raised in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, Nora and Aubrey were close, but still maintained a sense of individuality. After graduating from Yale, Aubrey immediately marries her college sweetheart and moves across the country. Nora is forced to confront her new twin-less reality as she struggles with her post-collegiate identity, complicated family issues, and her own swampy love life. (I wanted to punch both those Wilcox boys more times than I could count… For the record.)

I don’t know what to say other than this book was excellent. I found the story engrossing from the start. Books that focus on interpersonal relationships sometimes turn a corner into a weird introspective place, but I thought Two Lovely Berries stayed grounded firmly in reality. Everything was realistically portrayed, and even the dramatic bits avoided abject melodrama. Tales of infidelity, workaholics, family violence, and sibling rivalry all blend together with refreshing glimmers of humanity that make the whole thing just work.

Blair has an adorable set of red-headed twin daughters who served as her inspiration for this book (though, God willing, they’ll have an easier time of being grown-ups than Aubrey and Nora did.) I really dug the glimpse into a twin’s world, being a boring singleton myself. If I have to lodge a complaint about this book, it would be that I was left craving Greek food, blueberry pancakes, and I was utterly bereft realizing I would never have a personal chef to make me his or her signature lasagna.

If you have any interest in family dynamics, twins, and/or stories about post-collegiate limbo, I highly recommend you give Two Lovely Berries a read! (If you’re interested in another great blogger/author’s fictional offerings, I recommend you check out Lost and Found by Chris Van Hakes as well.)

Talk to me Bookworms! Do you find twin relationships as fascinating as I do?

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

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Aug 26

Audio Books: A Love Letter

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Greetings Bookworms,

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been talking about audio books more than usual. I decided it was time to get it over with and just profess my undying affection for the audio book. My girl Esther from Macmillan Audio has hooked me up with some sample chapters for your listening pleasure. Now, without further ado. Audio books, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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1. I can download audio books for free from my library. Because they aren’t as popular as the traditional e-books, I have a wide selection at my finger tips whenever I feel the need for new material. Here’s a little sample of The Fortune Hunter (review).

2. I can listen to audio books on my commute! Ordinarily I listen to NPR in the mornings, but I like to switch it up every once in a while. Audio books may not be as theraputic as belting out “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the car, but one verse of Queen is enough to scratchify my voice anyway. Here’s a tasty morsel of Landline (review).

3. I can listen when I work out. Most of the time when I exercise, I take group fitness classes, because I can’t be trusted to push myself when left to my own devices. However, occasionally, I like to spend some quality time with the treadmill, and audio books are a nice alternative to trashy television. Try this snippet of How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky on for size:

Talk to me Bookworms! Is anybody else out there in love with audio books? Anybody dislike them? I want to hear all the things!

*Special thanks to Esther from Macmillan Audio for providing the sampler of audio books! Oh yes, and if you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

 

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Aug 25

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

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Salutations Bookworms,

Some things just go together. Coffee and cream. Peanut butter and chocolate. Spaghetti and meatballs. Jane Austen and undead creatures. Yep, I recently enjoyed the audio book version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It’s an odd little mash-up of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice and Seth Grahame-Smith’s vision of how Austen’s England would have responded to a zombie apocalypse.

ppzThe version I listened to (wahooooo library!) was the second release of the book. It included EXTRA “ultra-violent zombie mayhem.” Alright, alright. You know Pride and Prejudice. Now that zombies are introduced into genteel society, young ladies’ expected accomplishments go beyond the rigors of embroidery and fancy fingerwork on the pianoforteIt’s now fashionable to have your daughters trained in martial arts so that they can easily decapitate a few manky dreadfuls before tea. Nothing mucks up a nice country ball like an attack of the undead.

The five Miss Bennets have been re-imagined as badass ninjas. In addition to negotiating the niceties of society, they now have to make sure they aren’t eaten alive or stricken with the mysterious ailment that will turn them into flesh-eating monstrosities. Oh yes. And Mr. Darcy keeps making dirty jokes about balls. (We clearly share the same sense of humor.)

Now, there are many out there who are probably outraged at the idea of a beloved classic getting such an irreverent treatment. It didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the original. In fact, I found it cheeky and fun. It was especially amusing to listen to gory zombie scenes read by the most proper of English accents. I happen to think that Ms. Austen would find this version of her novel innovative if nothing else. If you like Jane Austen, zombies, and a heavy dose of ridiculousness, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the book for you.

Tell me something, Bookworms. How do you feel about this sort of classic re-imagining? Yay or nay?

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Aug 21

WTF?! (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer)

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Greetings Bookworms,

I should probably not be allowed to go onto NetGalley. I am entirely too susceptible to “the next big thing” and I end up picking up books I’d never ordinarily look into. Sometimes it’s a great way to get me out of my comfort zone. Other times, I’m just left scratching my head wondering WTF just happened. Enter David Shafer’s new novel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. *I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for review consideration.*

whiskey tango foxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot centers on a trio of thirty-somethings whose lives haven’t exactly turned out the way they’d expected. Leila Majnoun begins this crazy ride attempting to make a difference in Burma only to have her efforts thwarted. Frustrated by the ineffectual non-profit she’s working for, Leila stumbles across some information that throws her entire world out of orbit. Leo Crane is a mentally unhinged trust-fund kid with a substance abuse problem and a penchant for conspiracy theories. Mark Deveraux is a charlatan of a self-improvement guru who has managed to get himself in the clutches of one of the most powerful men in the world. This unlikely trio unwittingly get wrapped up in a worldwide super conspiracy, and it’s nuts.

Okay. So. Definitely not my normal fare. It took me longer to get into this book than is typical for me. I found Leila, Leo, and Mark’s back stories compelling, but the novel spent a lot of time in exposition and crammed all the action in at the end. The very end. Like, the yellow brick road hit a yellow brick wall and nobody got to chill in the Emerald City. The lack of resolution left me wondering if this was the first novel in a series or if it was just too darn artsy for me to “get.”

All that said, it definitely had some cheeky moments, and I can’t help but smile at the implied WTF joke in the title. I was also rather fond of some of the book’s most bizarre elements (which I won’t reveal to you, because spoilers.)

I’m still scratching my head on this one, but I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who will love this book. If you’re into conspiracy theories, dark humor, and general weirdness, maybe give Whiskey Tango Foxtrot a try.

Alright, Bookworms. Tell me. Do you ever read things and feel like you’re not in on the joke?

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

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Aug 19

You Want Me to Read What?! (Top Ten Tuesday)

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Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

I’ve been out of the listing game the past couple of weeks, but I am jumping back in with both feet. Today’s prompt (thanks, as always, to the folks at The Broke and the Bookish) is books that people have recommended to us. I’m kicking this bad boy up a notch and calling out some of the insatiable book pushers who have demanded I read all the things. Ready???

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1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford: I can’t attribute this one to a single person because pretty much everyone and their mom has told me I need to be reading the Thursday Next series. One of these days, I promise.

2. The Walking Dead Comics by Robert Kirkman: I’m so effing hooked on the show it’s completely ridiculous that I’ve heretofore ignored the source material. I’m ashamed, and publicly shaming myself. Bad Katie!

3. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks: This book has been recommended to me a number of times, because I love me some plague. The most recent recommendation I received came from Rhian, one of my super fantastic regular readers. I’ve got it on hold at the library, girl, I promise!

4. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber: So this one time, THE Emma Donoghue stopped by my blog and she told me to read this book. Because I’m totally the sort of person famous authors are chummy with, Emma knows I dig hooker books in a big way. It wasn’t just a random act of googling that caused her to land here that one time or anything…

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5. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: This book has come to my attention on a number of occasions, but the gal who actually got me to make the purchase was Andi from Estella’s Revenge. (Have I mentioned she’s going to be writing for Book Riot’s newest venture? I’m so proud!!!) It’s just sitting on the e-reader. I’ll get to it. Gah, this TBR pile will be the death of me!

6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness: My girl Heather Ethel from The Capricious Reader simply RAVES about these books and I need to know what all the commotion is about.

7. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: One of my favorite non-book-bloggers in all the land is Lauren from Filing Jointly… Finally. She’s been rather quiet of late in the online sphere because of this ridiculously cute kid she had. But. She’s also a voracious bookworm and has not so subtly demanded that I read Lonesome Dove. She is usually right about these things.

8. Anything by Christopher Moore: Sarah from Sarah Says Read loves her some Christopher Moore, and her descriptions typically make me think I should have read his entire catalog… Yesterday.

9. Anything by Harkuri Murakami: So, there may have been an episode of book shaming involved in my reluctance to try to read Murakami, but that Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall has been relentless in her quiet nudging way… I’m going to cave in soon, I just know it.

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10. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I’ve read zero Cheryl Strayed, but every time I see Shannon from River City Reading getting all wistful about this book, I feel like I’m missing something really wonderful.

Your turn, Bookworms! What have people been recommending to you? Since my TBR is impossibly long anyway, a few more won’t hurt. What should I add to the list?

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

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Aug 18

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

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Hey there Bookworms,

I really love humorous memoirs, the more neurotic, the better. When I ran across I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley on my library’s list of immediately available digital audio books, I couldn’t help myself. The only think I love more than this book genre is cake! (I really like cake, damnit!)

IWasToldThere'dBeCakeIf you’re not sure audio books are for you, I encourage you to try a memoir that is narrated by the author. Crosley’s voice was a treat! Though her voice would have come across as wry and hilarious in print, hearing her tell her own stories was absolutely fantastic.

I was DYING at the Oregon Trail references. I don’t know how many times I (intentionally or otherwise) killed off my entire travelling party. Dysentery is a bitch. When Crosley related the tale of her creating a cookie shaped in the likeness of her boss’s head, I very nearly shot coffee out my nose. (Be careful with beverages if you’re reading and/or listening to this book. High snarfle risk.)

If you have any fondness for the humorous-literary-memoir-essay genre (say that three times fast) I Was Told There’d Be Cake is not to be missed. I’m very happy I took the neurotic journey into Sloane Crosley’s head.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Who likes cake? Anybody else get really disappointed when a wedding serves desserts OTHER than a ginormous cake full of frosting? Just me?

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

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Aug 15

Six Degrees of Separation: Gone Girl

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Howdy Bookworms!

It’s time again for my favorite monthly meme, Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. This month’s starting point is Gone Girl (review), which is awesome, as my HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH has shown that if Kevin Bacon were a book, he’d be Gone Girl. Kismet, no?

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1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. My first stop on this crazy train is going to be in Hannibal, MO. (Bonus points if you now have “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO” from Damn Yankees stuck in your head.) Gone Girl is set in Hannibal, MO whose most famous alumnus (before the Dunnes got all crazy up in there) is Mark Twain. Hence, the first book in my chain is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. One of my favorite adventures of Huck Finn occurred when he landed in the middle of the Shepherdson and Grangerford family feud. It got me to thinking about literary family feuds so OF COURSE, I landed on the infamous antics of the Capulets and Montagues!

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (review). How did I arrive here from Romeo and Juliet? Well. Doomed lovers, for a start. BUT. The title The Fault in Our Stars is totally a Shakespeare reference. Unfortunately, it’s NOT from Romeo and Juliet, it’s from Julius Caesar. However, now that we’re in ancient Rome, my next book choice totally makes sense!

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4. I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith (review). How better to attach two books than with the assassination of a historical figure?! I Am Livia opens with the plotting of Caesar’s demise and goes on to get down with its Roman self. The thing about Rome is not everyone was thrilled to be conquered and stuff. That leads us to…

5. Hannibal: Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane (review). Carthage haaaaaaaaaated Rome. And Rome haaaaaaaaaated Carthage. And the kids who lived there grew up and fought in wars and stuff. But Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginian army, had a flock of WAR ELEPHANTS, which is kind of awesome, and connects to…

6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. War elephants, circus elephants. Potato, potahto. We made it all the way from the crazy media circus of Gone Girl to the actual circus. With elephants. And now you know why I can never get anything done. This is how my brain works. Oye.

#6Degrees Rules

 

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

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Aug 14

Sad Robot Stories by Mason Johnson

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Greetings, Bookworms!

You know how I’m always rattling on and on about books and how you should read them? Sometimes I actually take other people’s advice. Really. I listen when you give me suggestions, I promise. Case in point. A few weeks ago I put together an Idiosyncratic Lit List dedicated to robot stories. When I posed the question at the end of the post as to what I’m missing in the genre, I heard a loud chorus of “Sad Robot Stories!”

sadrobotcover400Available through small press CCLaP Publishing, Sad Robot Stories by Mason Johnson is a novella that will warm the cockles of even the most robotic heart. Our hero is a robot… Named Robot. Because why not? He was always uncommonly fond of humans for a mechanical being. He even came to befriend and love a human family.

Sadly, that was before the world was destroyed and humanity snuffed out. All that remain are robots, which is perfectly fine with most of the android population, but our poor Robot is heartbroken. Seeing the glimmers of what makes humanity good through Robot’s eyes is a fantastic journey.

It’s not all wistful looks at humankind, though. Sad Robot Stories is darkly comedic and filled with poignant satire. You’ll be hard pressed not to laugh, cry, and fall head over heels in love with Robot. You bookworms have never steered me wrong, and Sad Robot Stories was no exception!

I’d like to thank Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall in particular for her, uh, gentle? persuasion in getting me to read this book. You know, if you consider emailing someone a direct link to a free downloadable copy of the book gentle persuasion (you dirty, dirty book pusher, you.) That said… You can download this book FOR FREE from the CCLaP site. If you love it (and I know you will) you can make a donation commensurate with your enjoyment. OR you can just buy the thing outright. That totally works too. Go get your robot on, Bookworms!

Talk to me, Bookworms. What other gems am I missing out on? Sound off on recommendations, I’m all ears!

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