Feb 15

Bite Size Reviews: February 2017

Bite Size Reviews 3

Howdy Bookworms!

I know I haven’t been particularly prolific lately. I have my reasons, not that any of them are particularly GOOD reasons. It mostly boils down to the fact that I haven’t felt like blogging much. And, you know, since it’s not like anyone is paying me for this, I figured I’d cut myself some slack and just take a break. But now I’ve got a pile o’ books I’ve read and not told you about! Let’s rectify that, shall we?

ONE. The Long Walk by Richard Bachman (AKA Stephen King): Some perverse part of my brain thought it would be a good idea to read dystopian fiction by Stephen King during the middle of a terrifying season of political upheaval. Yeah. Definitely NOT comforting. In an alternate timeline USA, an annual competition takes place wherein 100 teenage boys walk until there is only one left standing. The winner gets a prize of anything he wants for the rest of his life. Which is a pretty sweet prize. Until you realize that the penalty for losing is death. That’s revealed pretty early on so I don’t feel like it’s too spoilery to tell you that. It’s never revealed WHY “The Long Walk” is a thing, but there’s a scary military leader in charge of it. The description of the walk is harrowing in itself, but the not knowing how the event originated and why is what’s still creeping me out.

TWO. Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 (The Poldark Saga) by Winston Graham: One of the gals in my book club was raving about how great the Poldark TV series is, so I thought I’d pick up the book on which it was based. I have not watched the TV series, which I think was to my own detriment. Maybe I would have been more engaged if I’d been able to picture a more ridiculously handsome actor while reading about Ross’s antics, but mostly he just annoyed me. Normally historical fiction is totally my jam but I was not feeling this at all. So much nope.

THREE. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: This book was a stunning mix of poetry and prose that chronicles the author’s life story. Raised between South Carolina and New York, the author explores how growing up in each location influenced the person she would become. From the remnants of the Jim Crow South to the vibrant Civil Rights movement in the big city, Woodson’s life is anything but dull. It’s a short novel, so I got through it quickly, but it was devastatingly beautiful. If you’re debating between print and audio, get the audio version. It’s phenomenal.

FOUR. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: Liane Moriarty is up to her old tricks again with this one. When a backyard barbecue ends in chaos, three families are left struggling to pick up the pieces. If you enjoy the suspenseful “a thing happened and here is the fallout but I shall not tell you what the thing is until the bitter end of the novel” tactic, this book should satisfy. If anyone is a master of that particular style, it’s Moriarty. And if you happen to be a fan of Australian accents (which I SO am) do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook. Delicious.

I’ve still got a boatload of books to tell you about, but let’s save some for later, shall we? What have you been up to, Bookworms? 

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

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Jan 24

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

Audio Books, Non Fiction 10

Greetings Bookworms!

If you’re anything like me (and I imagine that you are) you’ve fantasized yourself into the plot of a novel every now and again. It’s difficult NOT to get swept up sometimes. Of course, whenever I’m in the throes of a particularly dreamy bout of “I wish I were Elizabeth Bennet” or, you know, any historical heroine, I like to remind myself about the lack of indoor plumbing. That usually helps. Which is why I was so flipping excited to get my paws on a copy of Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill. Actually, I decided to use an Audible credit to get the audio book version and OMG. It was an EXCELLENT use of a credit!

It’s so easy to get caught up in false nostalgia, isn’t it? I mean, the past gets all obscured in mist and fog. It seems so idyllic, what with the nattily dressed gents and the waltzing and folks being so polite all the time. Therese Oneill is here to burst your bubble, but her fabulous and irreverent sense of humor takes some of the sting out of it. (The narration of the audio book is A+ hilarious. If you’re on the fence, go audio!) Did you know, my little erstwhile Austen-ite, just how horrendous everyone smelled in the Victorian era? Or just how much you really love your indoor plumbing and modern sewer systems?

Oneill walks the reader, a modern 21st Century woman, through the ins and outs of life in the Victorian era. From the fashions of the day to the complex social mores, this book is seriously eye opening. Then there’s the whole issue of things we take completely for granted- say, for example, that the medical community understands that mental illness is not caused by one’s uterus? There are a zillion reasons I’m grateful I live in there here and now, in spite of any daydreams about Mr. Darcy. That dude probably smelled really, really bad anyway.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was so funny and so informative. I wish all non fiction were this delicious. If you have even a passing interest in the subject, do yourself a favor and give Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners a read (or a listen.) You won’t regret it!

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s the one bit of modern living that you are most grateful for?

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

 

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Jan 17

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Contemporary Fiction 13

Greetings, Bookworms!

The fact that it’s cold and gray doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect on my blogging output. So much for that theory. I’m still reading, of course, in between bouts of hibernation and snacking. Yes, I’m probably part bear. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, okay? Anyhow, a while back I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (review) and really dug it, so I thought I’d check out some more of his work. That’s how I came to read Britt-Marie Was Here.

Britt-Marie is sixty three years old. She’s not difficult, she just happens to like things a certain way. A well organized cutlery drawer and a thorough understanding of the virtues of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are key to a proper life. Kent never fully appreciated the extent to which Britt-Marie kept his life in order, unfortunately, and she’s simply had enough of their loveless 40 year marriage. Once she’s left, she takes a job the only place she can find, the rather derelict town of Borg. It was once a thriving town with a large trucking company, but it was hit very hard by the financial crisis. Britt-Marie begins work attempting to bring order to the soon-to-be-demolished recreation center, and soon finds herself somehow coaching a youth soccer team.

Fredrik Backman has the market cornered on curmudgeonly older Swedes with hearts of gold, let me tell you. Over the course of the book, we learn a lot of the circumstances that shaped Britt-Marie into the woman she became, and we are privileged to witness the circumstances that surround her metamorphosis. I mean, she ends up coaching soccer, for heaven’s sake. It’s adorable.

I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by the plot of this book. For some reason, I never think of a country like Sweden having any problems. It’s one of those countries that always seems to be topping the “best countries to live in” lists. I just never thought “oh hey, I bet there are economically depressed areas of Sweden that are plagued with crime, unemployment, and general discontent.” Because I’m incapable of recognizing complexity, or something. Actually, I’ve got a quote from the book that totally works right here. Ahem: “Societies are like people in that way. If you don’t ask too many questions and don’t shift any heavy furniture around, there’s no need to notice their worst sides.” You should probably read this book. It’s a delight. Britt-Marie Was Here– check it out!

Talk to me Bookworms! What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Sweden?

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

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Jan 03

Bite Size Reviews… For Everything I Didn’t Review in 2016

Bite Size Reviews 10

Happy New Year, Bookworms!

It’s 2017 now, y’all! Maybe this year will be better than the last. (If you don’t have Counting Crows in your head right now, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.) I sort of fell off the planet mid month because December turned into craziness and I just didn’t blog. I had holiday magic to make. But now it’s January, which is prime blogging time because there is NOTHING to do in January. So. Maybe I’ll catch up on my reviews and come up with brilliance. I’m feeling optimistic. Anyhow, I had a post draft sitting around that I meant to publish as a set of mini reviews in December, but since that didn’t happen, we’re going to play catch up now.

ONE: The Graceling Series by Kristin Cashore: Do y’all know Jenny from Reading the End? If you don’t, get to know her. Chat with her on twitter. Girl is a delight. Which is no surprise because her dad is basically the most whimsical man to have ever graced the planet. Case in point: he read this YA girl power fantasy series and was totally jazzed about it. Which is 100% why I decided to read it. Because if Jenny’s dad thinks it’s a good idea, it probably is. This is a three book series; Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue (though Fire was really more of a companion/prequel than a second installment, but I digress.) I thought Graceling was the best of the bunch, Fire was entertaining though a biiiiit of a slog, and Bitterblue rounded things out nicely. If you’re in the mood for a YA fantasy series, it’s a solid investment.

TWO: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez: Oh this one was a heartbreaker. The Rivera family leaves Mexico for the US after their daughter Maribel suffers a near fatal accident that leaves her with a traumatic brain injury. They arrive in Delaware hoping to enroll Maribel in a special education program to help her recover. Holy smokes, y’all. This is an eye opening view into the life of immigrants. Every resident of the Redwood Apartments has a different story, and they’re all beautifully woven together. Plus young love? Gracious. Read this one, okay?

THREE: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz: Since we’re on the topic of powerful immigration stories, it’s fitting that we follow up with the tale of Jasmine de los Santos. She’s a high school senior, straight A student, and captain of the cheerleading squad. Her future at the college of her choice is all but ensured until she receives the devastating news that her family is undocumented. Their visas expired years ago, and her Filipino family has been living in the US illegally. In the meantime, Jasmine falls for a boy- Royce, the wildly unsuitable son of a prominent politician who is vocally anti-immigration. I have read some criticisms of this particular storyline because some felt that their very chaste courtship wasn’t something that should have had Jasmine in such a tizzy, BUT. As a gal who didn’t date a whole heck of a lot, I fully relate to getting one’s emotions all a flutter over a couple of make out sessions.

FOUR: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova: This book was kind of amazing. If you dig books about magic, drop what you’re doing and pick this up. Latin American tradition infuses every inch of this highly inventive fantasy novel. Alex is a bruja at the cusp of her power. Only, she hates magic. In an attempt to rid herself of the pesky talent and live her life as a “normal” person, she accidentally banishes her family into another dimension. WOOPS! In order to save her family, Alex must venture into an in-between world known as Los Lagos accompanied by the enigmatic Nova, a handsome but untrustworthy brujo boy. There’s something of a love triangle going on when Alex is attracted to Nova while simultaneously being attracted to her best friend Rishi. Bisexual representation in a YA novel full of fantasy and folklore? It’s as awesome as it sounds. You should totally read it.

FIVE: Henna House by Nomi Eve: I’ve always associated the art of henna with India and Middle Eastern countries, but I never really thought of it as a Jewish custom. I don’t suppose the custom is necessarily Jewish per se, but it was definitely practiced by the Jewish folks living in Yemen in the mid 20th Century. Which is a thing I know now, thanks to reading this book. It’s similar in tone to The Red Tent (though I must admit I preferred Anita Diamant’s style). A fascinating book about a fascinating culture, the book tackles everything from arranged marriages to historical atrocities. Definitely worth a read.

Whew! What a start to the year! I’m not going to be making any resolutions, because I’m terrible at them, but I’m looking forward to a kicking year in reading and blogging. I’m ready for you, 2017. I’ll fight you if I have to. So. You’d best behave yourself.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Are you making resolutions this year?

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

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Dec 15

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Romance 3

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I’m a bit of an impulse shopper when it comes to books on sale. I mean, a friend tweets that something they loved is on sale for $1.99 and I am THERE. Lightening quick one-click purchase. At least, I was. I try to be a little more careful these days, because I kind of accidentally purchased a romance novel on my company’s Amazon account. WHOOPS! Luckily, my bosses were super cool about the whole thing. They were barely phased, honestly, probably because they’ve been dealing with my shenanigans for over a decade. I was embarrassed for a hot minute, but after I cancelled the order, repurchased the book on my personal account, and read it? I haven’t a single regret. Because let me tell you something. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev was an absolute treat.

abollywoodaffairMili Rathod is a married woman in the least conventional sense. To start, her marriage took place when she was a mere four years old, and she hasn’t seen her husband since the event took place 20 years ago. The situation is less than ideal, to say the least. Still, Mili’s marital status has afforded her opportunities almost unheard of for girls in her village. She managed to convince her grandmother to allow her to leave India and study in the US for 8 months in order to mold her into the perfect modern wife. You know, so she can lure her childhood husband back. It’s complicated.

Samir Rathod is a playboy Bollywood director, the toast of the town… Who is not above running halfway across the globe in order to secure a divorce for his older brother, who is in no shape to do so himself. Samir isn’t worried about convincing a simple village girl to sign the paperwork, even if he does have to go to Michigan to track her down. Instead of a naive girl or a gold digger, Samir finds Mili, a fiercely loyal, intelligent, and kind woman. Before he knows it, Samir is pulled into Mili’s life in ways he never imagined.

Right. So, yeah. This book is totally 100% a romance novel. A sweet, charming, inventive, and cheeky tale of love despite ridiculous circumstances and seemingly insurmountable odds. I loved every bit of it. Every tasty morsel. I couldn’t put the book down and I’m downright swoony over it. I mean, it was deliriously romantic AND a learned a whole bunch of interesting stuff about modern India and Indian culture. Just a pleasant reminder of why I adore books so darn much. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a whole world of Bollywood romance novels I need to explore.

Talk to me Bookworms! What is the swooniest book you’ve ever read? I could use some romance recommendations. 

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

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Dec 13

Anne of Green Gables, Audible, and Holiday Cheer

Audio Books, Classics 9

Greetings Bookworms,

It’s the holiday season again. Whew, how DID that happen? Every year it seems like the holidays show up faster and faster and that they get busier and busier. Trips to the post office, writing out cards, shopping, travelling, wrapping gifts. I’m as jolly as the next gal, but it does seem a bit unfair that so much has to go on during prime snuggle and read weather. Especially when there are so many delightful cozy favorites to revisit!

You can start calling me Santa right now, y’all because I have a brilliant solution to the “too busy to read during the holidays” conundrum. It is… (drum roll please) AUDIOBOOKS! I know, I know, I crow about them all the time, but I simply cannot get enough of them. (I think 40% of my reading this year was done through my ears.) Wrapping, baking, card assembling, and tooling around town are all made infinitely more enjoyable when I’ve got some earbuds and good storyteller.

annegift

And really, is there a timeless favorite any cozier than Anne of Green Gables? I recently purchased the new Rachel McAdams narration of Anne of Green Gables through Audible (using my own monthly Audible credit, mind you) and oh, my heart. It was so stinking charming. McAdams’s breathless renditions of Anne’s dreamy soliloquies are perfection. Revisiting Avonlea and its wholesome yet colorful cast of characters was just what I needed to get the Grinch out. I mean, how can anyone be sour or stressed when listening to Anne break her chalkboard over Gilbert’s head or dye her hair green?! Even Marilla Cuthbert’s stern demeanor is no match for Anne (with an E!) And Matthew? Don’t pretend your heart doesn’t grow three sizes when he asks that Anne’s dress be made with puffed sleeves. (NO, YOU’RE CRYING!)

If you’re about to intentionally pull a Diana Barry with your own “raspberry cordial” this holiday season, take my advice and chill out with some sweet sweet Audible stories. If you haven’t already, try Audible out for 30 days with a FREE download. (Might I humbly recommend Anne of Green Gables?) 

*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.*

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Nov 30

Bite Size Reviews: November 2016 (And Assorted Nonsense)

Audio Books, Bite Size Reviews 9

Greetings Bookworms!

Nothing like waiting until the last possible moment in the month to post a batch of mini reviews, am I right? I have excuses.

Took a vacation...

I took a vacation! (After the whole Rock City thing we went to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. Because of course we did. I now own an interactive replica of Luna Lovegood’s wand.)

I also successfully cooked a Thanksgiving feast, which is especially impressive given my track record in the kitchen.

I also successfully cooked a Thanksgiving feast, which is especially impressive given my track record in the kitchen. It was delicious, even if the stupid water bottles make the photos unseemly. Hubs is responsible for that. Tisk tisk.

And I started the Christmas decorating process. I promise more close ups of penguin tree as the season progresses.

And I started the Christmas decorating process. I promise more close ups of penguin tree as the season progresses.

Oh yeah, and Gilmore Girls happened. As far as excuses go, this month is among the best. (I’m sparing you my political outrage here, but if you’re interested in the progression of my grief and desperation this month, you’re welcome to scroll through my Twitter feed.) But you know what else I’ve been doing? READING ALL THE THINGS! We should talk about them, no?

1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: This book was recommended by one of my fave blog readers, Rhian (who is not ONLY my favorite because of the Christmas card she sent me from Australia that one time, but let’s face it. That didn’t hurt.) If you need a heartwarming read for the holiday season, this is your book. It reminded me a lot of Up (you know that Pixar movie with the cranky old dude and the balloon house?) It features a very cranky old Swedish man and his curmudgeonly ways, a devastating origin story, and his eventual thawing through unexpected friendship. I laughed, I cried, I laugh-cried. Feelings. Whew.

2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: I had a number of people (Julz in particular) rave to me about how amazing this book was before I got around to reading it. I had a signed copy from BEA (yet another instance where I was awkward to a brilliant writer) so I decided it was about darn time. I actually tag teamed this one, part audiobook, part eyeball read. It was very charming. A Russian Count is sentenced to house arrest in a posh hotel following his conviction for distributing seditious poetry after the Bolshevik revolution. Count Rostov is a man of impeccable wit and taste, though he manages this feat without being snobby and elitist. I wasn’t quite as swept away with the book as Julz obviously was, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson: Y’all remember that super cute little girl from Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire and the Miracle On 34th Street reboot from the mid-90s? Her name is Mara Wilson. She wrote a book. It is excellent, particularly the audiobook version which she narrates. (Her voice is unexpectedly deep, but that might be partly because my frame of reference for her speaking was as a teeny tiny person.) Mara Wilson discusses her career, personal life, family life, mental illness, and all the things I never realized I wanted to know about her. Except for that one Disney Channel boyfriend she had whose name I’m fairly certain was changed to protect the guilty and I am bizarrely nosy about. Anywho. Solid read, better listen. You should check it out.bitesizereviews

4. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue: This was the only book I actually planned in advance to get a copy of from BEA. Because I love Emma Donoghue, of course. The Wonder is told from the perspective of a Florence Nightengale trained nurse who is called to a small town in Ireland to investigate the claims of an eleven year old girl who has allegedly not eaten anything in four months. The little girl is an extraordinarily pious Catholic who believes herself to be living off of manna from heaven. The book is tense and sad, masterfully drawn and ultimately hopeful. Geeze, Emma Donoghue. Are you always this awesome? (Actually she totally is. Because I’ve read most of her stuff. And it’s all amazing.)

5. Wool by Hugh Howey: I believe this post apocalyptic serial was originally self published and subsequently picked up by a traditional publisher. Perhaps that’s where I heard about it originally? I’m unsure, but it’s been on my TBR for ages, and the five part series was on sale (thanks Audible!) Wool is a post apocalyptic serialized novel based on a civilization living in an underground silo. They’re confined to said silo (and have been for generations) because the outside environment is toxic… Or so they’re told. The punishment for discussing what might exist beyond the silo is simple- the offenders are sent outside to find out for themselves. I listened to this book primarily while working out, so I must admit that I felt extremely sympathetic to the characters climbing zillions of flights of stairs as I toiled away on the elliptical. It was an interesting story. Maybe not my super favorite in the genre, but definitely an interesting take on it.

Alright, this post has gone on long enough, methinks. Whew. Making up for lost time is exhausting. So, tell me, Bookworms. What was your November like? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Actually, if you buy anything from Amazon from either a link or the little sidebar thingie I will get a few cents. Just in case you were planning on doing some holiday shopping. Or toilet paper shopping. I’m not here to judge.*

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Nov 22

Literary Tourism: Rock City

Literary Tourism 6

Howdy Bookworms!

Guess what? I went on a vacation! Hubs and I decided that we were in dire need of a getaway for any number of reasons, and so we decided to take a road trip to Florida. I realize that after our last road trip to Florida I said I would never ever ever do that again, but I am often wrong. This time, though, we planned much more efficiently and things went very smoothly. We even snuck a little bit of literary tourism in along the way. American Gods by Neil Gaiman is one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog, and after re-reading it a couple of months ago, I was extra jazzed when Hubs suggested that we visit Rock City on our way through Chattanooga. Hubs was motivated by YouTube videos, but I was super stoked because Rock City served as the backdrop for some pivotal scenes in American Gods. Here’s how Neil Gaiman describes it in the novel:

Who needs billboards when you can paint on barns?

Who needs billboards when you can advertise on barns?

Rock City begins as an ornamental garden on a mountainside: its visitors walk a path that takes them through rocks, over rocks, between rocks. They thrown corn into a deer enclosure, cross a hanging bridge and peer out through a quarter-a-throw binoculars at a view that promises them seven states on the rare sunny days when the air is perfectly clear. And from there, like a drop in some strange hell, the path takes the visitors, millions upon millions of them every year, down into caverns, where they stare at black-lit dolls arranged into nursery rhyme and fairy tale dioramas. When they leave, they leave bemused, uncertain of why they came, of what they have seen, of whether they had a good time or not.

Dude is not wrong. The place is equal parts stunning natural beauty and creepy roadside kitsch. Although, I can say without hesitation that I did, in fact, have a great time. I highly recommend you visit should you find yourself in the area.

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Majestic natural beauty…

Super creepy black light dioramas.

Super creepy black light dioramas.

There is one caveat, though. Rock City, being, in large part, a natural rock formation does NOT lend itself well to accessibility. There are some very tight squeezes between rocks which, in addition to being difficult for those with claustrophobia, would be inaccessible for folks of a larger stature. That’s not to mention the rickety bridges, uneven ground, and steep staircases. The good news is that the best part of Rock City, the natural splendor of the view from Lookout Mountain and Lover’s Leap, is easily accessible to all by means of a trail that is both wheelchair friendly and friendly to folks of all shapes and sizes. So while not everyone can enjoy the creepiness of those cave dioramas, the mountain view is freaking gorgeous and worth the trip.

The tight squeeze? Not exaggerating, y'all.

The tight squeeze? Not exaggerating, y’all.

Talk to me bookworms! Have you been to Rock City? Have you done any Literary Tourism of your own? I want to hear all about it!

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

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Nov 18

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Contemporary Fiction 5

Good Day, Bookworms!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a list of authors whose new work I get awfully excited about. I’ve read a good number of Alice Hoffman’s books over the years and they rarely disappoint. That’s why when I saw she had a new offering, I jumped on Netgalley and made the “pretty please?” face. (Alright, it’s all electronic so no publisher actually saw the face I made when I clicked request, but the face happened and you deserved to know about it.) *I received a complimentary electronic copy of Faithful by Alice Hoffman for review consideration. I’ll still be honest, though, because that’s how I roll.*

faithfulShelby Richmond is an ordinary teenage girl growing up on Long Island until the fateful night when a car she is driving slides on ice and is involved in a horrific wreck. Shelby’s best friend’s future is taken from her, and though Shelby is physically uninjured, she hardly walks away unscathed. What follows is a story of guilt, redemption, and rebuilding.

Shelby attempts to escape her bad memories in Long Island by moving to NYC. She’s a survivor if nothing else, and along the way she inadvertently collects a little family of lost souls.

Oh, my heart. I had so many FEELINGS with this one. Shelby got all up in my psyche. I mean, a broken girl who loves Chinese food and bookstores and rescues dogs? How could I not get emotionally attached? The book started a little on slow side for me, but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up waaaaaaaaaaay too late to finish it. And then I stayed up a little longer crying because FEELINGS. But that’s the reading life, right?

You want a book that gets into your guts? Faithful by Alice Hoffman will not disappoint.

Alright Bookworms. What was the last book that gut punched you in the feelings? I think I need more of this. 

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

 

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Nov 08

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Historical Fiction 6

Howdy Bookworms!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the buzz surrounding The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I’d like to say it’s because the world found my anecdote about meeting and making a fool of myself in from of Colson Whitehead at BEA was the catalyst, but it’s all Oprah. That’s right. The power of Oprah even managed to push the publication date of this novel up a month. I don’t have that kind of influence. Actually, I don’t want that kind of influence, so I take it all back. Let’s stick to the book, shall we?

undergrown-railroadCora is a slave living on a southern plantation. Slavery is heartbreaking, soul-sucking, and hellish, because how could it not be? But Cora’s got it especially rough. Not only is she enslaved, but she’s been outcasted by her fellow slaves. She’s on the cusp of womanhood and things aren’t looking too bright when she’s approached by a new arrival to the plantation with a plan to escape. That’s where Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad begins to diverge from the typical narrative. He re imagines the historical Underground Railroad as an ACTUAL RAILROAD. I can’t express how much I love this particular bit of literal translation because I totally imagined the Underground Railroad as involving actual trains when I first heard about it as a kid. Who didn’t?

Cora’s journey isn’t an express train into freedom, unfortunately. She’s being tracked by a legendary slave catcher named Ridgeway. Every time she thinks she’s found a safe haven, Cora is forced to run again. The book is harrowing and intense. The blending of history and invention was so seamless I found myself googling certain elements of the story to see if they were things that actually occurred. I know it sounds a little silly, I mean, obviously I knew that the train thing wasn’t real. However, there are so many horrifying elements of slavery that simply aren’t covered in school that I’m very conscious that there’s a lot I don’t know. Which is why I kept googling stuff… Even things that seemed outlandish. Maybe that was a plus, though. Whitehead’s brilliance got me to do more research on the subject simply by fact checking. Mind = Blown.

Because my mind is all discombobulated regarding truth, fiction, and history, let’s chat. What’s the most insane historical fact that you’ve ever heard, Bookworms? 

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

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