Month: January 2013

Jan 31

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Historical Fiction 23

Hello My Bookworms!

I had a hankering for some historical fiction, so I decided I needed to check out Tracy Chevalier’s new novel, The Last Runaway. Our heroine, Honor Bright, is a Quaker. It’s the 1850s and she’s been jilted by her fiance in England. Her sister, Grace, is heading off to the USA to meet up with her fiance and get married, so she invites Honor to join her. New world, new start, right? Unfortunately, Honor’s new start is inauspicious- she’s hideously seasick the entire trip, and almost as soon as they hit land, Honor’s sister gets some new world ailment and dies. (It’s seriously SO Oregon Trail.) Honor is stuck in a new country with her dead sister’s fiance and no idea what to do with herself.

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Honor ends up in Ohio, and in the 1850s, Ohio is a pretty rugged place. It’s also a haven for the Underground Railroad. Slavery was still running rampant in the southern states. Ohio, being where it is geographically, had a lot of runaway slaves traipsing through the woods. As Quakers, Honor and her crew are anti-slavery. Unfortunately, it was dangerous to be an abolitionist. You were breaking all kinds of ugly laws to aid runaway slaves, which put Quakers in a moral pickle. Honor struggles to figure out what her place is in this new country, while wrestling with her moral convictions. It’s the perfect setting for a little drama on the frontier… And some sexy bonnets.

All of Chevalier’s novels that I’ve read thus far have had a major artistic undercurrent. The Virgin Blue and The Girl With The Pearl Earring made the artistic connection through paintings, while Burning Bright used the poetry of Robert Blake. The Last Runaway was all about the glory of the quilt. I really dug the idea of quilting as an art. Throughout the book, Honor not only takes comfort in her own sewing, but also in a signature quilt her family and friends gave to her when she left England. The quilt wasn’t simply stitched together by her community, it also included notes of encouragement to wish her well on her journey. Isn’t that a beautiful tradition? Wouldn’t that make a fantastic wedding gift? Prepare yourself to be jealous because… I totally got a signature quilt as a wedding gift!

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Beautiful, right?!

Jim’s hometown, while not being a quaint Quaker village, is the sort of place where people make friends with their neighbors. Sometimes those neighbors are amazingly talented quilters who like to make really nice gifts! We had the signature squares set out at my bridal shower so the guests could leave us good luck notes. I like to think Honor got to look at messages like this when she was feeling down:

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The Last Runaway will appeal to lovers of historical fiction, people who like reading about abolitionists, anybody who likes quilting, and everyone who has ever wanted to decorate their plain boring bonnet. It was an easy, enjoyable read. I wouldn’t say it was a novel that changed my life or anything, but it was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Since Honor’s signature quilt represents her ties to home, let’s get sentimental. What is the most meaningful thing you own that reminds you of your metaphorical “roots”?

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Jan 29

Top Ten Tuesday: The Most Frustrating Characters in Literature!

Top Ten Tuesday 58

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms. I’m really quite excited by this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. Thanks to the fabulous ladies of The Broke and The Bookish, today we’re discussing the most frustrating characters in literature! I like to think of them as the characters I’d most like to slap and/or punch, because I’m mentally violent. (I’m like the opposite of violent in real life though. Seriously, my high school gym teacher once made fun of my wimpy ass punches while doing Tae Bo. Way to be encouraging, GYM CLASS. And you wonder why I have nightmares…)

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1. Scarlett O’Hara. How can you not have a love/hate relationship with Scarlett? She is so FRUSTRATING! She’s vain and fussy and stupid and heartless… And then she’s picking herself up by her bootstraps and keeping the farm running… And then she’s AWFUL all over again! Smack smack smackety smack, SCARLETT! As God as my witness, I love me some Gone With The Wind!

2. Javert of Les Miserables. Seriously, Javert? Seriously. You’re so uncompromising and refuse to believe in the innate goodness of a human soul. Yes, I KNOW you’ve got issues because you were born in prison. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to recognize Jean Valjean’s change of heart. Your rigidness led to your own suicide, and that’s just a waste, Javert, because that Parisian police force could have used a compassionate cop.

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3. Anastasia Steele of 50 Shades of Grey. Ana, girl. Tell your “inner goddess” to shut the front door because she’s SUPER annoying. Also, go get a real job at a company your super rich boyfriend doesn’t own. Be self sufficient. Figure out who you are before committing yourself to a man who admittedly has serious issues. And for crying out loud, pay attention to your birth control schedule if you don’t want to get pregnant. These things. They are not rocket science!

4. Crake from Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. I get it, Crake. You’re a super genius and you’re frustrated with humanity. Who isn’t frustrated with humanity? But that’s not a good enough reason to create a biological weapon and release it on the unsuspecting “looking for a good time” masses. Angst is no excuse for genocide, dude. Not. Cool.

5. Rex and Rose Mary Walls from The Glass CastleI’ll admit, it might not be fair to put them on this list because they were real people, not just characters, but they made my blood boil. They didn’t feed their children. THEY DIDN’T FEED THEIR CHILDREN! They were “too proud” to accept welfare money which would have enabled them to feed their children, but the whole steady job thing was beyond them.  I try not to be critical of parenting as a general rule, but I make an exception for people who DON’T FEED THEIR CHILDREN. Ninja kick!

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6. Albus Dumbledore. Now, before you all go out and have me drawn and quartered, I loved the HP series and I LOVE Dumbledore. However. If he’d been more forthcoming with details and theories and his suspicions, he could have prevented Harry almost dying like a zillion times. C’mon Albus. There’s a time and place for secrecy… But that time is not when Voldemort is on the loose! Unless you’re someone’s secret keeper. Then it’s ALWAYS the time and place for secret keeping. (Cough cough, Peter Pettigrew!)

7. Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. I may not be smart enough to read Shakespeare on the regular, but I know my Romeo and Juliet. Romeo, we need to have a discussion about impulse control. You’re in love with Rosaline one minute and then you fall for Juliet? As your fickle fancies weren’t enough, you just can’t keep yourself from killing Tybalt? You know this whole double suicide thing is your fault, right? You wouldn’t have been banished to Mantua if you’d kept your sword sheathed (pun completely intended). If you hadn’t been in Mantua, Juliet wouldn’t have had to fake her death to join you there. Then you wouldn’t have had to go killing yourself only to have her wake up and kill herself. Ugh.

8. Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, again. Oh, you thought you’d get out of this without scorn? Oh no. Have a seat, Jules. Here’s the thing. You’re like 14. I know, Romeo’s a dream boat and your dad wants you to marry that Paris guy. But seriously. Sneaking out to get married? To a guy you’ve known for a couple of days? Not your best judgement, girl. Why didn’t you suggest eloping? I mean, you were both from loaded families, its not like you couldn’t have absconded with some tapestries to fund your journey. If you can sneak out to get married, you can sneak out and get to the countryside and set up a happily ever after. The two of you just didn’t think. And now you’re all dead and stuff.

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Even Hipster Ariel thinks y’all are irresponsible.

I’m all riled up, 8 is all I can handle. What about you, Bookworms? Who is your most frustrating character?

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Jan 28

Cinder (ella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay) by Marissa Meyer

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 35

Hey Bookworms!

So you all remember that I’m doing the whole Project Fairy Tale thing in February right? Well. While I was out trolling the interwebs, I noticed that there’s a brand spanking new version of Little Red Riding Hood due on the scene February 5th. The only issue I had was that it was the second in a series… OBVIOUSLY, I needed to read the first book in the series, especially since I’ve seen a bunch of YA book bloggers fawning all over it. The first book in the series is a fractured version of Cinderella- Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

On her way to the ball, she really could have used Rhianna's Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay.... Just saying.

On her way to the ball, Cinder really could have used Rhianna’s Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay…. Just saying.

Meyer takes the traditional Cinderella story and short circuits it. Instead of being set long ago in a land far, far away, Cinder is set in the distant future. 126 years after the end of the 4th World War, to be precise. Funnily enough, aside from the technological advances, it’s not so different from medieval times. There’s a big fat ugly plague that looks and sounds awfully close to the Bubonic plague. Only this one wasn’t perpetuated by fleas on rats. (Also, in case you were curious, I’ve heard that Bubonic plague, at least the version that decimated a quarter of Europe’s population was caused by a bacterium that would easily lose in a battle against penicillin. Don’t be hating on mold, y’all.)

There’s also, um, robots. Lots of robots. Our heroine is bionic. She was in a terrible accident as a child and instead of spending her life in a wheelchair, surgeons made her part robot. Unfortunately, cyborgs are treated as second class citizens. I had a couple of issues with this bit. Like… The whole cyborg thing basically evolved from making really fancy prosthetic limbs and stuff. I can’t believe a culture that evolved from ours would have too big a bone to pick with advanced prostheses. The prejudice against cyborgs is universal, even if the person’s only got a robot foot. Cinder’s case is a little more complicated though. She’s nearly 40% manufactured and she’s got a computer all up in her brain. It wouldn’t be fair to, say, have her play chess against a normal human, but otherwise I have a hard time believing cyborgs would be so poorly treated. She still has FEELINGS!

Full on androids have no rights at all.

Full on androids have no rights at all. Their feelings are manufactured on personality chips.

Anyway. Cinder is a badass lady mechanic. She gets all greasy and fixes robots and hover cars (sweet right?) and the iPad’s great great great grandbaby. She’s super good at it because A. she’s got a computer in her brain and B. because she learned how to tweak her own mechanical bits and pieces. One day, the Chinese equivalent of Prince Harry shows up and is all “hey Cinder, wanna fix my robot?” And she’s all “ooooh hottie hot hot.” Here’s my other big objection to the book. Monarchy. Seriously? You’re telling me that a peaceful society was able to form based on a monarchy with no apparent checks and balances for 126 years? No uprisings from the unwashed masses? No spoiled royal black sheep in the family tree made a mess of things? I just don’t see it. But it IS Cinderella. I suppose we need a prince.

So anyway. Cinder’s got a pretty rotten stepmother, one mean stepsister, and one nice stepsister (kind of like in Drew Barrymore’s Ever After.) Cinder’s got to fix this robot, deal with plague, and find out all about her mysterious past because there are these evil moon people who want to cause trouble. Yes. You read that right. EVIL MOON PEOPLE. They’re called Lunars, but I can’t hear “Lunar” without hearing Christy Carlson Romano singing “We went to the moon in 1969, that’s when we made a landing that was luuuuuunar!” (Any Even Stevens fans out there? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah. I hear the crickets. I’ll shut up now.) The theory behind the Lunars is that they’ve evolved from a human colony that settled the moon hundreds of years before our story begins. Somehow, they’ve evolved an ability to manipulate people into doing their bidding. It’s sort of like a vampire’s glamour brainwashing. Only they’re from the moon. They’re another monarchy led by the most evil queen who has ever existed. The Lunars keep threatening to go to war with Earth (and despite the fact that the moon is way smaller than the earth, somehow the Lunars have superior technology and would probably decimate mankind.) Also, it’s suggested that the plague was advanced biological warfare sent to earth by the Lunars. Naturally, humans aren’t the biggest fans of the evil moon people.

Now I'm VERY suspicious of you, MOON!

Now I’m VERY suspicious of you, MOON!

When I write it all down with a wee bit of snark, it sounds like the most ridiculous premise ever. I won’t go so far as to say that this was my FAVORITE BOOK EVER ZOMG,  but I was totally drawn in. I embraced the sci fi and found myself hating the evil moon people. I really wanted Cinder and the prince to hook up and live happily ever after! Unfortunately, this is the first book in a series, so I was stuck with a cliffhanger. Luckily, Scarlet comes out in less than a week, so I don’t have long to wait!

Science Fiction at this level of robot-itude is a little out of my reading comfort zone. Do you bookworms like to dabble in different genres, or do you prefer to stick to reading what you’re sure to like?

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Jan 25

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: A Letter To Science

Contemporary Fiction, Personal, Psychological, Tear Jerkers 39

Dear Science,

I just finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Are you familiar with the work? No? You are Science, after all, I can’t expect you to keep up with literature. I’ll give you a brief synopsis:

Alice Howland is a respected professor of linguistics and cognition at Harvard. When she begins to forget things, she believes she’s going through menopause or stressed. After a couple of harrowing experiences, Alice goes to visit her doctor. Her diagnosis is something she’d never have expected. At the age of 50, Alice is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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As you are well aware, Science, Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that typically affects the elderly. Alice is a sprightly fifty years old. Fifty isn’t even retirement age! Well, it isn’t retirement age unless you’re really really lucky… Or independently wealthy. You can relate, can’t you Science? What with all the grants you have to beg for? Seriously, how is a person supposed to deal with that kind of diagnosis? How does a spouse react to that news? How can children cope with their parents not recognizing them? It’s unfathomable to me, but so is calculus… Perhaps you’ll understand better.

I think Genova did a beautiful job portraying the emotions Alice feels as things begin to slip away from her memory. I love the way the family’s reactions are written as well. The people felt so REAL. The whole narrative was very genuine and thought provoking. And, well, let’s face it, a bit of a tear jerker. (Yes, Science. I think this would squeeze even YOUR muscular ventricles.)

Tissues aren't a bad idea if you plan to read this...

Unfortunately, Alice’s Alzheimer’s doesn’t just steal her memory and break her family’s hearts. It has a genetic component. Each of Alice’s children have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the early onset Alzheimer’s. This revelation just opens up ANOTHER whole can of ethical worms. The advances in genetic testing are miraculous, but are there any advantages to knowing that you’re destined to succumb to a virtually untreatable illness? I know I shouldn’t be asking rhetorical questions of you, Science, but since I don’t expect an answer, I can’t see the harm.

Now that I’m feeling all the feels and pondering the ethics of genetic testing, I’m going to go ahead and hit below the belt with an extra dosage of sad face. Dementia sucks the big one no matter how old you are when it hits. I don’t want to get all sob story on you, but my Grandma had dementia. I didn’t witness much of my Grandma’s decline first hand, but I DID make sure that she got a crap ton of greeting cards. (You’re WELCOME, postal service!) It would be a big fat lie to tell you that I knew the pain of having her not recognize me or that I had to calm her panic in the middle of the night when she didn’t know where she was. I really didn’t know how bad things had gotten until she was gone, and “dementia” was always the word being tossed about because “Alzheimer’s” was too frightening. Reading this book was a revelation to me- I felt like I finally understood what she must have gone through… THAT is really what turned on the water works.

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Psst. Science, if you’re not too busy, could you explain to Jim that I will not, in fact, shrink to Grandma size in my old age? I honestly don’t think she was ever very tall to begin with…

Here’s my plea to you, Science. There are other Grandmas out there. Let’s get to fixing this crappy disease now, okay? I know, Science. You’re very busy. Hypotheses don’t prove themselves, and there are lots and lots of diseases that need curing. I’m sure you’ll get around to revealing your secrets in your own good time. Until then, I, and the rest of the world, will be waiting. Impatiently.

Yours,

Katie

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Jan 24

11/22/63 by Stephen King: Time Travel Without a DeLorean

Crime, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Time Travel 46

Hey Bookworms, what did YOU do last weekend? January is pretty bleak in the Midwest. It’s cold. Sometimes it snows. It gets dark early. Not fun. The only good part about cold weather is that you’re not expected to leave the house to be productive. It is perfectly acceptable to spend the weekend READING while lounging in front of the fire… Under a blanket… In your penguin slippers.

This photo isn't brand new.. I mean, I've already taken down the Christmas trappings. The spirit remains the same.

This photo isn’t brand new.. I mean, I’ve already taken down the Christmas trappings, but the spirit remains the same.

I spent the entirety of my weekend snuggled up under blankets, reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’m pretty careful when it comes to Stephen King… I tread lightly because I don’t like having nightmares. I’m not a fan of scary clowns. The dead? Let them rest in peace. Don’t go raising them just to scare me. I absolutely REFUSE to go into “haunted houses” at Halloween. Just no. I’m anxious enough, thankyouverymuch. However, I decided to give King another shot because I really enjoyed The Stand.

11/22/63 isn’t a ghost story, it’s a time travel story! I feel like I repeat myself a lot on this blog, but… I LOVE TIME TRAVEL! An average guy in Maine (and obviously it’s Maine, because it’s Stephen King and he always writes about Maine) stumbles upon a bubble in the time space continuum that takes him back to 1958. Well, he doesn’t exactly stumble upon it. He’s introduced to it and given a mission. He’s to go back in time and make sure Kennedy does NOT get assassinated. The theory behind his mission is that the Kennedy assassination put any number of rotten scenarios into motion: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Vietnam War, global warming…

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So our average guy, Jake, decides to make this happen, for the good of mankind and all. Can you imagine the kind of power you’d have in the past? Haven’t we all had the same fantasy while watching Back To The Future? By going back in time, you’d have the advantage of knowing the next big stock, the winner of the next big game. You could make a fortune. How would what you changed affect the future?! Would your changes cause you to disappear a la Marty McFly? Would your changes result in hideous wars and pestilence? Or would your changes result in… wait for it… WORLD PEACE?!

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“Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” (Image from Wikipedia)

Jake’s journey through his the 50s isn’t an easy one. Every time he tries to make a significant change to the past, he’s met with ridiculous and endless obstacles. Turns out, the past isn’t fond of being meddled with. Several times throughout the book, Jake refers to the past as an angry machine with teeth. I’m about to admit something terrible for a book snob. I never finished reading The Langoliers… I watched the miniseries instead. All I could picture when I read “angry machine with teeth” in reference to time travel were those badly animated cannonballs with teeth that devoured the stale past in The Langoliers. I’m not THAT familiar with King, but I know that he combined a lot of elements of his different novels into The Dark Tower Series. I’m not sure if King was intentionally pulling a Dark Tower here or if he was just out of ideas, but, dude. I noticed.

I’m not going to be Spoilerella today, so I won’t tell you if Jake’s mission succeeds, or if he breaks the future, or if he gets everything he ever wanted. You can read it for yourself if you’re curious. All in all? I liked this book. It was long, as King novels tend to be, but it was entertaining. The best part? It’s unlikely to give you nightmares. You time travel aficionados will likely find this as amusing as I did.

So Bookworms, if you could go back in time, what major event would you change? Do you think there would be unintended nasty consequences to your changes?

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Jan 22

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings We Need More Of!

Top Ten Tuesday 45

Hello my Bookworms! I hope you’re having a glorious Tuesday. I’m back on the meme bandwagon today and participating in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish! Today’s topic is… Settings I’d Like To See More Of. Shall we?

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1. I want to see more books set at THE CIRCUS! I loved The Night Circus and Water For Elephants. They’re just rife for interesting stories. Circuses, please!

2. SCOTLAND. I really like reading Scottish accents. Plus I have a giant book crush on Jamie from the Outlander series.

3. Let’s do the TIME WARP again! I can’t get enough of people accidentally going back in time. I’m a sucker for it. I routinely inventory my skills to assess how I’d do in the past. The verdict? Not well at all. It’s a good thing reality has very little influence on my imagination.

4. THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSWhy? Oh I don’t know. Darwin. Science. There are penguins there… It’s much warmer than Antarctica. Did I mention there are penguins there?

Island Penguins

Island Penguins

5. HABERDASHERY. Nobody writes books about people who make hats. Hats are cool. Someone out there needs to remedy this problem. Books about hat stores!

6. BIBLICAL TIMES. I love me some historical fiction, but I was especially struck with the awesomeness that was The Red TentI love reading about women’s lives in various points in history, and this time period is under represented.

7. ANCIENT GREECE.  Song of Achilles rocked my world pretty hard. More of this, please.

8. FARMS. Yes, farms. I enjoyed reading Kent Haruf’s books and learning a little something about giving a cow anal palpation to detect pregnancy. I like to learn things!

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9. NORTH DAKOTA. Someone needs to throw North Dakota a bone. It’s like the black sheep of states. At least South Dakota gets Rushmore. North Dakota’s claim to fame? Being next to Minnesota. I feel for you, underdog state!

10. FRED FLINTSTONE’S DINING ROOM. I let Jim choose this last one because I was running out of ideas. So. Yeah. More books about cartoon cavemen and their dinner parties. In fairness, this was his third choice. The first was Zombie Infested Prison because he’s going through Walking Dead withdrawal. His second choice was “between the pages of a Cisco router manual,” and just typing out that phrase I went unconscious. So yep.

What about you, bookworms? Where would you like to see more books set?

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Jan 21

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple. (Why Did Nobody Mention the PENGUINS?!)

Book Club, Humor, Pretentious 33

Hello my Bookworms,

I’m hosting this month’s neighborhood book club meeting, which means, among other things, that I got to choose the book. I decided on Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, because I’d seen that a lot of my favorite book bloggers really enjoyed it. Everybody who reviewed this book mentioned its humor, of which there was plenty, but NOBODY mentioned the PENGUINS.

I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. This book is comprised of a series of emails and other correspondence between characters that are loosely woven together with narration by the novel’s 15 year old protagonist. The book is set among Seattle’s elite against the backdrop of private school drama. Bernadette is not your typical private school parent. While the other mothers volunteer for decoration and recruitment committees, Bernadette emails her personal assistant in India to make dinner reservations. Bernadette’s antics do nothing to endear her to the other mothers, particularly her neighbor Audrey Griffin. While Bernadette is eccentric and not interested in joining in, her daughter thrives and is an outstanding student.

bernadette

Who doesn’t enjoy a snarky, quirky fish-out-of-water story? Granted, you have to get into the right frame of mind to enjoy this book, there is plenty to be enjoyed. If you’re familiar at all with the show Weeds (which is about a suburban mom turned drug dealer), I can tell you that Audrey’s character reminded me a TON of Celia Hodes. For whatever that reference is worth. I don’t know if you all share my penchant for premium channel dramedies.

Anyway, the bulk of the narrative takes place through passive aggressive emails. It’s a good time. The very best part of this book, for me though, was the trip to Antarctica. When Bee comes home with another perfect report card, she reminds her parents of a promise they’d made her to take a family trip to Antarctica as her reward f0r good grades. I know what you’re thinking… “I didn’t get JACK for my good grades.” Aside from the occasional Book-It personal pan pizza, I didn’t either. But, you know. Rich people do weird things.

What’s the coolest thing about Antarctica?! Penguins live in Antarctica! (If this is your first visit to Words for Worms, you may require some background information on my penguin problem. Check out that link and then come back. Back? Okay good. Now check this one.) Through this book, I learned all about what taking a trip to Antarctica actually entails. It’s fascinating! Do I ever want to go? Not really. It’s super expensive and it’s really really cold. (They do, however, have a Penguin encounter at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, I’m wondering if I can get the husband to take me to celebrate the big 3-0? Nothing says “I’m only kind of an adult” like spending a milestone birthday meeting and greeting penguins. Am I right?!)

I don’t want to ruin the book for you (you can tell I really like something if I’m not willing to post spoilers.) I will tell you that I’m EXTREMELY excited to host Book Club with this as my topic. Now I just need to create a cocktail to mimic “The Pink Penguin” that they serve aboard the Antarctic cruise ship. Anybody have ideas on recipes they want to send my way?!

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Jan 18

Confession Friday: I am NOT a Penguin

Children's Fiction 27

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you a book that has taught me a lot of critical life lessons. I’m going to review the masterpiece that is If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor. (You’d be crazy to think I didn’t notice that the wife in this penguin writing duo has THE SAME NAME as the wife in the penguin writing duo of Mr. Popper’s PenguinsI’m observant like that.)  This book has so much to offer.

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If I were a penguin, I’d always use the subjunctive tense correctly.

1. It gives the reader useful scientific facts! It’s important for children to understand that when they see a photo like this, the penguins are NOT typically trying to eat their babies’ heads. (I say typically, because we’ve got to be open to the possibility of zombie penguins.) They regurgitate their partially digested fish and squid bits into their children’s mouths. It’s not gross. It’s SCIENCE.

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“You could eat squids and fishes without any dishes.”

2. This book points out that there’s more to penguin habitats than frozen tundra. Ever heard of the Galapagos Islands? FACT: it’s warm there. FACT: Penguins live there. FACT: Charles Darwin was all up in the Galapagos Islands. FACT: Darwin = Science.

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“You could go for a swim in warm or cold places.”

3. Tobogganing is FUN. Seriously. If you could travel faster sliding around on your belly than you could walking, wouldn’t you slide everywhere? The correct answer is YES, OBVIOUSLY.

This guy knows how to party.

This guy knows how to party.

4. This book encourages penguin-like behavior! “But here’s a surprise for me and for you- penguins do lots of things that you can do too!”

Pure penguin inspired joy.

Pure penguin inspired joy.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, and this book is an exercise in hypothetical thinking and whimsy. There truly ARE lots of things penguins can do that I can do too… But not everything should be attempted.  Please, learn from my mistakes!

1. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to feed a youngster partially digested fish. Particularly if this child is not your offspring.

2. Not ALL beaches have penguins. Don’t waste your day at the beach trying to hunt them down. Odds are very good you are NOT on the Galapagos Islands.

3. Belly tobogganing is not the most efficient form of human travel, and should be avoided in an office environment. It will land you in an awkward meeting with HR. Also, rug burn.

I sincerely hope that all of you bookworms will procure your own copies of If I Were a Penguin. So much goodness to be had. So many lessons to be learned. Tell me. Have any of you learned valuable life lessons from children’s books? Please. Share them with the class so that we may all benefit from your wisdom.

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Jan 16

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Friendship, Historical Fiction 28

Hiya, Bookworms!

I’ve been blown away by the response to my giveaway! Thank you for all the new followers and exposure. I realize I bribed you to promote me, but I really appreciate it. I tallied up all my entries using the very scientific method of doodling names on a notepad. Thanks to random.org’s random number generator, I was able to choose a winner with total fairness! The winner is…. Entry #106 aka Heather Frase!

Our lovely winner will be receiving:

$15 to Starbucks!

$25 to Amazon!

A mystery item with PENGUINS!

A fake check for eleventy billion dollars!

Aaaaaand a mystery book title from my mom’s collection of doubles!

This weekend I made a special trip to my hometown to procure a book for this giveaway. Well, that, and to celebrate my family’s birthdays. Seriously, my mom, dad, and sister all have their birthdays in January. However, while I was in town, I hunted through the mom collection in search of books.

The ceremonial tearing apart of the bookshelves.

The ceremonial tearing apart of the bookshelves.

Eventually, I found not one, but TWO sets of doubles in this crazy stack of craziness.

Ken Follett's Fall Of Giants

Ken Follett’s Fall Of Giants

Tracy Chevalier's The Virgin Blue

Tracy Chevalier’s The Virgin Blue

Heather will be receiving a copy of The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier for two reasons. First, I’ve actually read this book (unlike Fall of Giants) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Second, Fall of Giants is a hardcover (my mom has TWO hardcover copies… seriously?!) and The Virgin Blue is a paperback, and hence, less expensive to ship. This is me, being austere.

Thank you to all you bookworms who entered this contest! I seriously couldn’t get enough of of the opinions on coleslaw. I really think it was perhaps the most important conversation on the subject ever to have taken place on the internet. YOU made that happen. You are all kinds of awesome.

Alright. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m curious. What are you guys reading right now? I’m working on Stephen King’s 11-22-63. Who is out there reading something fantastic that I haven’t read yet? Tell me all about it!

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Jan 15

Holly Daze: Underachiever Extraordinaire (Life Well Blogged)

E-Readers, Humor 20

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

So. Here’s the thing. I’m about to review this book, right? But I’ve got to give you about a mountain of full disclosure here… One of my blog posts is FEATURED in the book! I’M IN A BOOK! Clearly, this isn’t going to be a terribly objective review. So sue me.

Life Well Blogged is a series of blog anthologies that are organized around a particular theme. Holly Daze: Underachiever Extraordinaire is a book highlighting blog posts about holidays. My piece is about my quest to find an appropriate container for my wrapping paper, which, in case you missed it, can also be found HERE. Also featured in this book are two of my favorite people EVER, Chrissy the giant pink ball of crazy behind Quirky Chrissy and Lauren the brilliant, whimsical, and moderately insane voice behind Filing Jointly…Finally. (Coincidentally, one of my OTHER favorite people, Joules of Pocketful of Joules was featured in one of the earlier editions of Life Well Blogged.)

holly daze

Aside from the name dropping, what do I think of this collection? I’m not going to claim it’s brilliant classic literature or anything… I mean, it’s blog posts. Some of the blog posts are pretty funny. Some of them are hysterical. Some of them might not resonate with you. However, if you like to read blogs (and that’s a safe bet given that you’re here right now, reading my blog post) I think you might enjoy the book.

You should also know that I’m not going to profit from the sales of this book or anything. My payment for my contribution to the book was a free kindle copy. It retails at $2.99. You know what the means?! I GOT PAID TO WRITE! Sort of. I’ll take it. Also. A portion of the proceeds of this book are going to Superstorm Sandy relief. I mean, come on. Even if you buy this and don’t completely love it, you’ve helped a whole bunch of bloggers get a big fat ego boost AND you’ve helped your fellow human beings. How can you lose?

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