Oct 03

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Audio Books, Historical Fiction, Time Travel 32

Well Hello my Lovely Bookworms,

I’ve been spending a good amount of time multi-tasking lately and utilizing the glory of the audio book. Last year Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was ALL the rage, and I, as per usual, missed out on it. I decided to play catch up when I saw this was available through my library’s digital audio offerings, and it was a wise decision.

lifeafterlifeWho out there likes Bill Murray? I suppose the more telling question would be who DOESN’T like Bill Murray, but I digress. Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies. I first saw it on an airplane ride to a fun family vacation, can you blame me? The premise of the movie is that Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over and over again until he gets it right. My husband is a huge nerd on the subject and he saw somewhere that the creators estimate that for Bill Murray’s character to have acquired all the skills he did he was likely living the same day for somewhere in the neighborhood of TEN THOUSAND years. Crazy right? Why am I rambling though?

Life After Life is about a woman named Ursula. Instead of living a single day over and over again, she lives her whole life. Some of those lives aren’t particularly long, though. I mean, she’s strangled by her umbilical cord at least once. And YOU try escaping the Spanish Flu. It is NOT as easy as it sounds. If you manage to avoid the flu, though, good luck surviving the London bombings during WWII. The universe isn’t particularly kind to any of the Ursulas. Just when you think she’s finally gotten it right, though, you’re hit with a bit of an ambiguous ending. And so it goes.

I thought this book was very good. The only thing that hampered my enjoyment slightly was that the narrator insisted on saying “et” instead of “ate.” That, and she really wasn’t particularly good at American accents so the couple of times one popped up they sounded funny to me. Of course, it’s not as though I could do any better. I’m sure my British accent is downright offensive in its clownishness. I’d recommend Life After Life to those who enjoy literary fiction AND time travel type novels. A little bit o’ metaphysical mystery is going on and it’s quite the ride.

Alright Bookworms, talk to me. If you had to live one day of your life over and over again, which one would you choose?

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

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Oct 02

The Ark by Annabel Smith

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 15

It’s The End of the World As We Know It, Bookworms!

I feel fine. How about you? It’s no secret that post-apocalyptic fiction is my jam, so I was pretty excited when Annabel Smith contacted me about checking out her new book The Ark. You might recognize Annabel’s name as one of the founders of the Six Degrees of Separation meme. Annabel and I bonded over the fact that her meme was fun and it allowed me to connect books using yogurt (it really happened). *In the interest of full disclosure, Annabel Smith is my blog friend. I was offered a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. That said, I’m honest to a fault, so y’all can still trust me.*

theark-annabelsmithThe Ark is one part e-book, one part app, and one part high tech epistolary novel. It’s 2041 and the future is UGLY. Hidden in the Australian wilderness lies a secret bunker of sorts. It’s a seed bank, you know, where seeds are stored so humans have a backup plan when they destroy the planet. (Seed banks are a real thing, and totally legit. Swearsies.) An exclusive group of scientists and their families are invited to ride out The Chaos (peak oil, civil unrest, food shortages, general anarchy) in the seed bunker known as The Ark. It sounds like a great plan, except whenever you confine people into an underground bunker and lock them in, things get weird. Charismatic leaders always have hidden agendas, and the folks in The Ark are left wondering who they can trust.

The Ark was published as an e-book with a cool collaborative app experience. Or so I heard. The book is best experienced on an iPad, and relative luddite that I am, I’ve only got a Kindle Paperwhite. (Which I love the way humans are never meant to love electronic devices.) Luckily, I was able to poke around the novel’s corresponding website after I’d finished reading and came to appreciate it even more. If you’re going to read this one, don’t skip the website. Or, you could just read on an iPad and be one of the cool kids and not have to take the extra step. Whatever.

The story itself is laid out in a series of e-mail communications, text messages, and blog posts. There are also several segments presented as transriptions of conversations and it was exceptionally cool to get to listen to those through the website/app. Heaven help me, I LOVE Australian accents. Certainly an innovative idea for a disturbing story.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me without a minor gripe, would I? There’s a section of the book written in the form of a teenage boy’s blog posts. I know teenagers are all about the text-speak and the new-fangled lingo, but I struggled to read portions of it. That’s really more on me than the author, my inner old lady is spoiled by correct grammar and conventional spelling (they don’t call me Ethel for nothing!) Still, if you’ve got the itch to read some delicious post-apocalyptic fiction, I recommend you get your paws on a copy of The Ark post haste!

Alright Bookworms, let’s get real. If you were locked in an underground bunker, how long do you think you’d make it before losing your ever loving mind? I think I could hack it a week. Maybe. What about you?

 

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Sep 30

Author Event: I Met My Doppelgänger

Author Events, Memoirs 40

Greetings, Bookworms!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve always imagined that I look a bit like Danielle Fishel, the actress who played Topanga on Boy Meets World (and now Girl Meets World.) When I was 15, a stranger told me he thought I looked like “Topanga.” I was, of course, THRILLED, because Danielle Fishel was (and is) pretty! And famous! I like compliments, okay? Thus, I’ve stuck with the celebrity doppelgänger schtick for 16 years now.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an email from my IRL pal Chrissy (of Quirky Chrissy) saying that Danielle Fishel had 1. written a book and 2. was going to be doing a book signing on a Friday night a mere 2 hour drive from where I live. There were a LOT of SHOUTY CAPITALS included in my response. (The odds of me making this trip for any other celebrity memoir <barring, of course, celebrities who are active comedy writers. Hi Tina! Hi Mindy! XOXO!> are slim to none. Clearly, extenuating circumstances were at play.)

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I went to the signing and purchased the book because 1. BOOK and 2. Danielle was under contract and not allowed to sign things that were not her book. (I didn’t ask her to sign my face. I bet that would have been allowed. But, you know. Sharpie. Meh.) I met up with my friends Chrissy and Lauren (of Filing Jointly…Finally) at said signing where we mostly behaved like fine upstanding citizens. (Well, Chrissy may have tried to cut in line, but attempting to cheat the system is kind of her thing.)

I was quite surprised at the number of people who queued up at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville, IL (holla!) There were 250-300 autograph seekers crammed into a fairly small bookstore. I prefer a good deal more personal space, but I’m willing to make sacrifices. The good folks at Anderson’s handled the crowd admirably, though, it was quite an efficient operation they had going. They went around with post-its so people could have their books personalized. The staff was writing out the names, so I just told the clerk to put “Katie” on my post it. I was telling Lauren and Chrissy that I chickened out of asking the clerk to write “To My Doppelgänger” on the post-it when Lauren rather devilishly pulled a pen out of her handbag. We then had a discussion about whether or not the word “doppelgänger” has an umlaut in it and where it belongs (I thought it was over the “O”. I was WRONG.)

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Amended post-it note. No umlaut.

When it was my turn, I approached Danielle Fishel bearing a hardcover book with a post-it reading “Katie, My Doppelganger.” (No umlaut. The only thing worse than ignoring accent marks is putting accent marks in the wrong places.) When she saw the note, she gamely smiled at me and said, “You’re my doppelgänger, huh?” To which I blushed and shrugged. “People have told you that?” To which I responded “Yes” in a rather sheepish voice. She then turned and smiled for a photo, and I went on my merry way feeling ridiculous, as per usual, and slightly disappointed in myself that I had not left her a Words for Worms bookmark like I planned. Panic trumps self promotion, apparently.

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I’m wearing a Pride and Prejudice sweatshirt and an Alice in Wonderland necklace. That’s how I roll.

Our interaction took all of 10 seconds, and though Danielle didn’t acknowledge our twinly status in writing, she was a remarkably good sport about the whole thing. She didn’t once say “yeah, I can sort of see the resemblance… You know, if I were to gain 40 pounds.” Which is EXACTLY what went through MY head when I saw the photo. Still. Twinsies. And this is why I shouldn’t be allowed out in public. Ever. You’re welcome, Internet!

Bookworms, talk to me. Have you ever met someone famous? Have you ever embarrassed yourself at a book signing? Do you know the proper usage of umlauts? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. So will Danielle Fishel, because it’s her book. Support your favorite look-alikes, would ya?*

 

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Sep 29

The Sparrow Readalong Finish Line

Readalong, Religion, Science 17

Greetings Bookworms!

As you know I’ve been participating in a readalong of The Sparrow hosted by Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. I took a short break from reading this bad boy in the midst of Banned Books Week and Diversiverse, but now that those are in the history books, as it were, I was able to finish reading The Sparrow and what a ride it was! WARNING: If you hate animated gifs, run away now!

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Where do I even begin? Thanks to some heavy foreshadowing, I knew how things were going to end up… In a manner of speaking. But the way they got there? Holy crap balls! I did NOT see that coming! As far as romantic entanglements I was like:

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After which I thought, “well, okay, that’s probably for the best then.” But then there were some journeys and some revelations once people got back and I was like:

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And THEN we found out the nature of the relationship between the very nice folks with tails and the rather suspicious folks with tails and I was like:

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Are you KIDDING ME?! And then the rest of the story came out and I was like:

Love-and-Other-DrugsSo basically, The Sparrow shocked, appalled, and ripped me to pieces. And I liked it! The hype is well-deserved, kids! Mary Doria Russeel is the real deal. Big thanks to Trish for putting this party together!

Let’s talk, Bookworms! What’s the last supremely well-plotted book you read?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will NOT be using it to attempt contact with alien life forms, unless I can be assured that they’re only the NICE FOLKS WITH TAILS.*

 

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Sep 26

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Book Club, Vampires 32

Greetings Bookworms!

You’ll remember that Halloween is one of my FAVORITE holidays. You may also remember that I’m a ginormous chicken about scary books. 'salem's lotI’m feeling brave this month, as long as y’all are willing to join me. To get us in the Halloween spirit, we’re going to tackle a Stephen King novel, and NOT one of the carefully chosen less-horrifying tomes I normally pick. I’ve decided on ‘Salem’s Lot for a few reasons. First, Rory of Fourth Street Review (AKA my go-to Stephen King expert) assures me that it’s excellent. She also said it was terrifying, BUT it’s about vampires. I can handle vampires because I’m one thousand percent sure they could never be real. (How am I sure? I am DELICIOUS to mosquitoes. If vampires were a real thing, I’d be long gone.) I do better with nightmares when it comes to mythological creatures like vampires and zombies than do with ghosts and demons and psycho killers (which could TOTALLY BE REAL!) Check out the Goodreads synopsis:

Something strange is going on in Jerusalem’s Lot … but no one dares to talk about it. By day, ‘Salem’s Lot is a typical modest New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window. Stephen King brings his gruesome imagination to life in this tale of spine tingling horror.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN!!! Are you nervous-cited?! I know I am… Or at least I WILL be if I have your moral support! We’ll be talking about this big scary book on HALLOWEEN, Friday, October 31. Please join me? I have a penguin night light for these situations. I have a feeling it’s going to be getting a workout.

Talk to me Bookworms! Who’s in? What’s your favorite scary book?

*If you purchase your copy of ‘Salem’s Lot through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 25

Banned Books Week & Diversiverse: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Banned Books, Young Adult Fiction 27

Hey There, Bookworms!

It’s still Banned Books Week, and I’m still celebrating Diversiverse. Today’s book has popped up on the list of Top Ten Banned Books over and over again in recent years, so OF COURSE I had to find out what all the fuss was about. I picked up a copy of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and started reading.
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Frankly, I’m having a heck of a time figuring out why everyone is so worked up about this book. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the semi-autobiographical tale of Sherman Alexie’s first year in an all white high school. The main character, Arnold “Junior” Spirit, is a brilliant kid living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Confronted with the daily frustrations of life and the limited opportunities on the reservation (and, well, an incident involving the violent flinging of a textbook) Arnold decides to leave the high school on the reservation to attend the school of a nearby farming community. I’m going to list some objections from book banners and challengers, then discuss why I think they’re wrong. Cool?

theabsolutelytruediaryofaparttimeindianObjection the First: The language in the book is rather colorful. Then again, I’ve yet to meet a 14 year old who is scandalized by profanity.

Objection the Second: Arnold has a penchant for, uh, self pleasure. But dude. He’s a 14 year old boy. That’s a pretty universal 14 year old boy experience. Virtually all the sexual encounters in this book (aside from a few fairly chaste kisses) are done solo. No underage sex. No teen pregnancy. No STDs.

Objection the Third: This book deals with racism, head on. Pretending racism doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. Getting inside the head of someone different than you might make a difference though.

Objection the Fourth: There’s also quite a lot of discussion of the rampant alcoholism that plagues the reservation. I don’t think anybody is really thrilled to think their kids might take up drinking at a tender age, but this book makes one of the strongest anti-alcohol cases I’ve ever read. If anything, I think it would prevent kids from touching the stuff.

In short, SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS?! Don’t ban this book. It’s a fantastic coming-of-age story. It is tragic and heartbreaking and wonderful and difficult- just like being a teenager. It’s also got some killer illustrations which offers a little extra something to the reluctant reader crowd. Everybody likes a cartoon, I tell you! Although, maybe y’all should keep banning it. Nothing will get teenagers to read something faster than hearing adults tell them they can’t! Here’s a bio of the mastermind behind the controversy:

Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie has published 18 books to date. Alexie is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman’s best known works include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Smoke Signals, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

 Let’s chat, Bookworms. You remember being a teenager, surely? Was there any activity made more appealing to you by the fact that your parents or other authority figures didn’t want you to do it? I’m curious, really, because I was really rather dull and my parents didn’t make any attempts to restrict my reading material…

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

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Sep 23

Top Ten Weirdest Reasons Books are Challenged

Banned Books 45

Howdy Howdy Howdy, Bookworms!

It’s Banned Books Week still and I thought it might be fun to look at some weird-ass reasons books have been challenged and/or banned. The most common complaints about books are the holy trinity: sex, drugs, and naughty language. Those are the ones you expect to see, you know? Luckily for our reading enjoyment, there are some more entertaining problems that have caused folks to get their knickers in a twist over books. Check these out.

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1. Talking Animals are an Insult to God- Winnie-the-Pooh and Charlotte’s Web have both been challenged because they feature talking animals. Apparently in certain religious circles, talking animals are an insult to God. Sounds like those folks would have done well in Gregory Maguire’s re-imagining of Oz…

2. Depicted Women in Strong Leadership Roles- Speaking of Oz, apparently The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was banned in 1928 in all Chicago Public Libraries because Dorothy and the witches were ladies with power. True, Dorothy and Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West were the key players and the Wizard was a charlatan. True all Dorothy’s male travel companions were lacking a certain something. I still fail to see this as a problem. Then again, I’m a big old feminist and would likely land on the naughty list of the folks who hated this book myself…

3. Because it Defined Oral Sex- Okay, I know that a book being sexual explicit makes easy pickings for challenging books, but in 2010, some schools in California banned the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary because it included a definition for oral sex. You know how I learned what oral sex was? My 6th grade science teacher told us on the bus to the annual health center field trip that oral sex wasn’t just “talking about it” it was “mouth on genitals.” That resulted in a resounding “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!” from a bus full of 12 year olds.

4. Middle Class Rabbits- It seems Beatrix Potter has been challenged in some schools in the UK because only “middle class” rabbits are depicted. My sources failed to mention if the challengers wanted more rich rabbits or more poverty stricken rabbits, but the middle class just wasn’t representative enough of rabbit society. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.bbwbeatrix

5. Witchcraft- Because Satan. I’m always frustrated by wanting to be tolerant of religious beliefs and wanting to shake people who think Harry Potter could possibly be a bad influence. It’s not just HP, of course. Pretty much anything that deals with magic, spells, potions, witches, wizards, fairies,  mythological creatures (and likely fun in general) is seen as problematic by some.

6. It used “ass” or “bitch” in the appropriate context. Ah yes. Bad language. Books are forever being challenged for the use of dirty words. But I’m not talking about f-bombs here. I’m talking about using the word “ass” to refer to a donkey and “bitch” to refer to a female dog. That IS what they mean, after all. It’s not “ass” and “bitch”s fault that people started flinging them about in a rude manner.

 7. Anne Frank is a Debbie Downer- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been challenged for a number of reasons ranging from perceived homosexual undertones (what the what?!) to the idea that the Holocaust is too mature a theme for certain age groups. The one I find most amusing (and troubling) is that Anne Frank is just too depressing. Well, yeah. It is depressing. The Holocaust was an atrocity of unspeakable proportions, but it happened, and astonishingly recently. You can’t just dismiss a book because reality sucks. I actually think this book is one of the best introductions to the Holocaust there could be as it deals with the family in hiding rather than the nightmare inducing subject matter of a concentration camp memoir.

8. It Teaches Children to Spy- Harriet the Spy apparently encourages children to spy, lie, and be general malcontents, according to some opponents. Funny, after reading this book as a kid I recall learning that spying wasn’t a great idea and that you shouldn’t talk smack about your friends in a secret notebook (a lesson kids today could learn in regards to Facebook!)

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9. Promotion of Cannibalism- The perrenial favorite Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein supposedly promotes cannibalism in children. Unsurprising given that some of Silverstein’s other works have been so insidious as to “encourage children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” (Please tell me someone else thought of Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead: “The dishes are done, man!” I can’t be alone here!)

10. Little Red Riding Hood is an Alcoholic- Some have voiced concern that the timeless fairy tale depicts LRR putting a bottle of wine into her basket of goodies for Granny. Never mind the fact that Lil’ Red didn’t drink it. And never mind the fact that if she HAD drunk it, the tale originated in a time when potable drinking water could easily have given you dysentery or cholera and you were better off with a little alcohol. Never mind that a Big Bad Wolf is eating people. NEVER MIND. BOOZE IS BAD.

Talk to me Bookworms. Anybody out there heard of any strange reasons for books being banned and challenged? Which of the weirdo reasons is your personal fave?

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

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Sep 22

Banned Books Week & Diversiverse: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Banned Books, Diversiverse, Psychological 20

Hey there, Bookworms!

It’s one of my FAVORITE weeks of the whole year. That’s right kiddos, it’s BANNED BOOKS WEEK! This week I’m going to be basking in the glory of books that have been banned and challenged. I’m planning to, as my friend Shelli is fond of saying, “feed two birds with one scone” (because why would you want to kill the birds?) and chose banned books by authors of color. It’s a Banned Books Week/Diversiverse hootenanny up in here!

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I’m going to start this party with The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. It is challenged ALL THE TIME. A few pages into the novel and it’s clear why. You’ve got naughty language, sex, booze, alcoholism, incest, child molestation, rape, domestic violence, bullying, poverty, and basically every other horrible thing people do to break each other. Why you gotta bruise my soul, Toni?!  The Bluest Eye is a book designed to make you uncomfortable. How could it not? The fact that it makes people uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s without value though. Not by a long shot!
thbluesteyeThe vast majority of book banning and challenging takes place with regard to school curriculum. This book is not an easy read, and I wouldn’t recommend reading it aloud to a 4th grade class. (I do have some common sense, I promise.) I would, however, defend The Bluest Eye as a choice for an advanced high school English class.I know, I know. I don’t have kids. I was, however, a teenager, and I remember that whole experience keenly.

As far as profanity goes, I heard more casual swearing in my high school hallways than I have anywhere in my adult life. I knew kids who would drop F-bombs to punctuate phrases the way I’d say “like.” I know what you’re thinking! “I don’t mind the profanity, Katie, but what about all the sex and incest and violence and general horribleness?” To which I respond, “Why, this book is chock full of cautionary tales!” All the things you should NOT do in order to be a decent human being are represented. It’s also got a hefty dose of what I like to call getting-inside-other-people’s-crazy-heads. For every broken psyche, you find out what happened to the character that contributed to their particular problems. Empathy! Teenagers need it!

My teenage self would have eaten this up. You know what was not at all interesting to my teenage self? A ginormous book about a freaking whale. Kids get burned out with all the classics. That doesn’t mean they’re without value either, but changing it up every now and again with something that’ll make a teenager’s jaw drop? That’s amazing. Take your pitchforks elsewhere, book banners, The Bluest Eye is here to stay! On the off chance you know nothing (Jon Snow), here’s a little about Toni Morrison:

Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Are there any books you wish you’d been assigned to read in school? Is there a classic you’ll hate forever on principle because you were forced to read it? Inquiring minds and all that…

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

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Sep 19

Diversiverse! The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Asia, Diversiverse 24

Salutations, Bookworms!

I am SO HAPPY to be participating in A More Diverse Universe right now. It’s offered me an opportunity to FINALLY get something off my TBR pile. A few months ago, I won a copy of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan from Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. I’ve read several Amy Tan novels and enjoyed them immensely, but I felt rather ridiculous knowing that I hadn’t read her most famous work, The Joy Luck Club. I mean, you say “Amy Tan” and that’s what you think, right? I was determined to tackle this one. So determined, in fact, that I chose it for my IRL book club this month as well. I am nothing if not efficient. Well. Efficient, or lazy. One of the two.

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In case you were living under a rock like I apparently have been, The Joy Luck Club is a novel about mothers and daughters. Four Chinese women emigrate to the United States and settle in San Francisco. Each of the women goes on to have a daughter (or several) to raise in the US. The mothers and daughters struggle to understand one another through clashing cultures.

thejoyluckclubThe book is divided into four major sections, two devoted to the stories of the mothers and two devoted to the stories of the daughters. If I’m being honest (and really, when am I not honest?) I found myself flipping back and forth through the chapters to connect which mother belonged to which daughter. Learning a bit about each mother’s childhood and not realizing right away which daughters’ life they were connected to frustrated me a little bit, hence the flipping. Still, a bit of page flipping didn’t dampen what was an excellent story.

The daughters in The Joy Luck Club had a heck of a time trying to live up to the expectations of their mothers while growing up in a world with vastly different values. The mothers were desperate to impart the complexities and nuances of Chinese culture to their offspring, but communication styles differed so vastly between the two cultures that conflict was inevitable.

I can’t help but assume this book, with its emphasis on mother/daughter communication was heavily influenced by Amy Tan’s life. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Tan was raised with one foot in each of two worlds, Chinese and American. After reading her bio, I am seeing parallels all up in this piece! Here’s a little about Amy Tan written by the lady herself:

Amy was born in the United States in 1952, a few years after her parents immigrated from China. Her father, John, was an electrical engineer and also a Baptist minister. Her mother, Daisy, left behind a secret past, including three daughters in China and the ghost of her mother, who had killed herself when Daisy was nine. The Tan family belonged to a small social group called The Joy Luck Club, whose families enacted the immigrant version of the American Dream by playing the stock market. Nearly every year, the Tan family moved, from one mixed neighborhood in Oakland after another and eventually to a series of nearly all-white suburbs in the Bay Area.

Let’s chat, Bookworms. Mother/daughter clashes are certainly nothing extraordinary, as virtually every mother who has raised a daughter through her teenage years can attest. It’s time to air the dirty laundry. What is the dumbest fight your teenage self ever had with your mom? Mine involves an impassioned request for a drum set… When I’d never actually played the drums… So. Yeah. Spill!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to buy my mother a thank-you gift for, well, dealing with me. I was an especially morose teenager…*

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Sep 18

Diversiverse! Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T Wurth

Contemporary Fiction, Diversiverse 14

Greetings Bookworms!

If you’ve been floating around the book blogosphere at all, you’ve probably noticed there’s a little event going on called A More Diverse Universe. It is, in a word, awesome. The purpose of the event is to encourage readers to step out of their comfort zone (or for me, my lazypants-can’t-be-bothered-to-pay-attention-to-things zone) and pick up books written by people of color. To participate you need to read and review ONE book by a person of color. Talk about low-pressure! I’ll be the first to admit that my reading list ends up being rather, uh, Caucasian-heavy? It’s not something I do intentionally, but this event is the kick in the pants I need to PAY ATTENTION. So I am! Today we’re going to talk about a book by Native American author Erika T Wurth called Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion of the book. My integrity is more expensive than a paperback novel.*

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Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend tells the story of a mixed race Native American girl living in Colorado. Margritte’s community is poverty stricken and plagued with alcoholism, drug use, and violence. Though only 16 years old, Margritte and her cousin Jake supplement their pathetically small incomes by moonlighting as marijuana dealers. Margritte spends most of her time hustling and partying, giving her schoolwork short shrift. crazyhorsesgirlfriendShe’s just trying to survive high school so she can leave her dead-end town in the dust. Her home life leaves much to be desired as her father is an abusive alcoholic and her mother refuses to leave him despite his dangerous behavior. Margritte is often tasked with taking care of her young twin sisters and trying to keep them out of harm’s way. Jake keeps landing himself in juvie, and you never know when a meth-head is going to stab you. And because all that drama isn’t enough, let’s not forget about teenagers and their raging hormones! Margritte’s got a hot steaming pile of crap to wade through if she’s ever going to escape her circumstances.

I know this book sounds like a total downer but it is INCREDIBLE. It’s raw and gritty and intense. It gives a very realistic portrayal of poverty in Native American communities and the choices young people are forced to make. I will warn any tender-hearted readers that this book doesn’t shy away from anything. If you’re offended by profanity, sex, drug usage, or violence this book is NOT for you. If you’re on the fence, though, you need to give it a shot. It really is just THAT good. Since we’re celebrating diversity this week, I thought I’d share a little something-something from the author’s biography:

Erika T. Wurth is Apache / Chickasaw / Cherokee and was raised on the outskirts of Denver. She teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University and was a writer-in-residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including Boulevard, Fiction, Pembroke, Florida Review, Stand, Cimarron Review, The Cape Rock, Southern California Review and Drunken Boat. Her debut collection of poetry, Indian Trains, was published by The University of New Mexico’s West End Press.

Did y’all see that?! She teaches at Western Illinois University! Why, that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my cornfield. You can bet I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for author events in the area!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you typically pay much attention to the backgrounds of the authors you frequently read? Is my laziness normal?

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