Month: February 2013

Feb 28

Astray by Emma Donoghue and The World's Oldest Profession

Historical Fiction 32

Cheerio, Bookworms!

There are some really awesome book bloggers out there, did you know that? Jen at The Relentless Reader was tweeting about cleaning out her bookshelves a while back and offered up her ARC of Astray by Emma Donoghue. How nice is that?! (The answer is SUPER NICE.) So anyway, I was like “Oh please pick me!” And she was like, “I don’t even think you’re a little bit crazy, I’m going to send you a book!” It was beautiful.

astray

The last time I read Emma Donoghue, she was scaring the crap out of me in Room.  Astray was a collection of short stories. They were all historical fiction (my fave!) and based on REAL EVENTS. It was DELICIOUS. Elephants, gold miners, lesbian sculptors- there’s really something for everyone in this book!

My personal favorite was a the tale of the Victorian prostitute. She tried to keep her profession a secret from her younger brother, but being a hooker is tough to keep to yourself, even if you’re the very portrait of discretion. Unbeknownst to her, her little brother was in the know and managed to make a deal with a well established gentleman to help them out. The afterward told us who the well established gentleman was- Charles FREAKING Dickens! In celebration of this story, I thought we should listen to this highly appropriate tune from The Decemberists. It’s “A Cautionary Song.”

I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I love a good prostitution story. Let’s face it, nobody goes into the “world’s oldest profession” without an interesting set of circumstances leading them there. Plus, I think these stories help give a voice to the type of people who usually get brushed under the rug by history. Soooo… Here’s a list of historical fiction books about ladies of the night!

1. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. Apparently Donoghue likes her trollops. I haven’t read it yet, but everyone says it’s amazing, so obviously it’s on my short list.

2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Elite Japanese prostitutes!

3. Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip. It’s about a Chinese house of ill repute. With the best reputation. (I steal lines from Shakespeare in Love like a boss.)

4. In The Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant. Renaissance Italian paramours!

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Why haven’t you read this yet? In the book, Fantine sells her two front teeth in an effort to avoid her fall from grace. Obviously they couldn’t do that in the musical or Fantine would have to lisp through her big song… But yeah. French whores, represent!

So, Bookworms, do you enjoy collections of short stories? How about books about prostitution? Or perhaps a song that matches a book PERFECTLY? Talk to me!

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Feb 26

Matched by Ally Condie: It's A Little Like A Lot

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 38

Hi Bookworms,

Remember when I promised to read Matched by Ally Condie? Let it never be said that Katie does not keep her promises! Matched is the first book of a young adult dystopian trilogy. We begin the story with Cassia, a 16 year old girl on her way to her Match Banquet. The Match Banquet is like a cross between a debutant ball and an arranged marriage ceremony (you’ll be disappointed to hear, fans of Gilmore Girls, that there was no fan dance. Not entirely a debutant ball, then.)

Yeah, so the Society in which our story is set is a bit of a mashup of those in The Giver, Brave New World, 1984,The Hunger Games and basically every dystopian novel ever. That sounds really bitchy, but let’s be realistic. The scenario laid out in this book is pretty derivative. Fortunately, I can’t get enough of this genre, so I don’t mind terribly much.

matched

Cassia wears this pretty green dress to her Match ceremony.

Our heroine Cassia is put into a tricky predicament when her Match and BFF Xander may NOT in fact be her Match. She’s given a card that shows her not Xander’s handsome mug, but the beautiful face of the mysterious Ky Markham. (Are you seeing the Hunger Games-esque love triangle forming?) It’s all so angsty and confusing!

This society also has PILLS (like The Giver) but these pills aren’t for repressing feelings and sexuality. The blue pills are a nutrition supplement to be used in case of emergency. The green pills are to calm one down (cough cough SOMA cough.) The red pills are to wake up from the Matrix a mystery. The Society not only chooses your mate, they also give you personalized meals, monitor your exercise, and determine your choice in career. You die (whether you want to or not) on your 80th birthday and you have children at the proscribed time… (You can’t have a kid after 31. You’re supposed to have them when you’re around 24. Because SCIENCE. But. Eff, you, Science. If I decide to have babies after my 31st birthday, it’s none of your beeswax, mmmkay?)

Hey Society, you and me would be having WORDS.

Hey Society, you and me would be having WORDS… for Worms. Don’t worry. I smacked myself for that one.

Pretty much the whole book revolves around Cassia’s confusion in falling for Ky in spite of her affection for Xander. Being adored by two boys is HARD. I guess. I wouldn’t know. Boys weren’t lining up to take me out when I was 16. Pfft. The further Cassia gets into her love life drama, the more the oppression of the Society begins to show. Cracks form, rules are broken, craziness happens. Oh. And they all RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT. I mean. I dig Dylan Thomas, but this poem always reminds me of Dangerous Minds, and then I get “Gangsta’s Paradise” stuck in my head, and I’m forced to rock out.

So bookworms, who’s read this? Did you find it to be a mash-up of what’s gone before, or is my inner crotchety old man coming out?

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Feb 25

Down The Rabbit Hole: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Blogging, Family, Psychological 27

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there, Bookworms!

Before I start talking books today, I want to tell y’all some pretty crazy news. Over the weekend I found out that I made it into the finals of the 2013 Bloggie Awards. I’m completely flabbergasted, because I am up for Best Written Weblog in a category with my super pal, Quirky Chrissy, The BLOGGESS (OMG), and The Pioneer Woman. Also in our category is a blog that I’ve not read before, but anything called Dogs on Drugs is probably amazing. So. Holy crap on a cracker! (I also would like to mention that Pocketful of Joules is nominated for Best Kept Secret Weblog and First Time Mom and Dad is nominated for Best New Weblog.) If you’re inclined to vote for such things, please do. Click HERE to submit your ballot. Alright. Shameless self promotion over. Now BOOKS!

This month’s selection for Wine and Whining Book Club was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Alice falls off her bike during a spin class (which should teach us all a very important lesson about not trying to win races on stationary bicycles.) Anyway. Alice hits her head and when she wakes up she’s lost 10 years of her memory.

What-Alice-Forgot

10 years. Wiped out. For Alice this means she’s forgotten her three children. She has no recollection of the demise of her marriage. She doesn’t know how she’s alienated her friends and family members. It’s a complete Alice in Wonderland sort of scenario (which leads me to believe that Moriarty didn’t choose her protagonist’s name by accident.)

I found this story very intriguing. How often do you wonder what you would say if your young self could see you now? My 19-nearly-20-year-old-self would probably be REALLY stoked to find out she married that cute lab monitor. Otherwise? I don’t know. My life is pretty sweet all things considered, so I’d probably just be annoyed that I couldn’t remember my wedding, and a little pissed off that I’d gotten chubby again. WHATEVER, young Katie. YOU HAVEN’T MET STEVE’S DONUTS YET!

The first of my three meetings with Alice. What can I say? I'm a fan!Ten years ago Katie would be pleased to know she goes back to Disney World as well…

I really liked this book. I must admit that toward the middle I was a little frustrated that Alice wasn’t retrieving memories and was still bungling around. It felt a bit like the whole fish-out-of-water sequence went on for longer than necessary. However, that’s a minor complaint. I loved that it was always scents that brought on her memories the fastest. It’s totally SCIENCE that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Also, I like reading about Australian people, because it allows me to imagine their awesome accents. (I’ve got to come clean though, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out if they were in England or Australia… It was clearly NOT North America, but Moriarty didn’t mention that we were in Sydney for a while… Partway through I had to switch my inner monologue’s accent and it was a little confusing.)

What do I mean by all this rambling? It’s a good book. If the premise sounds even a little interesting to you, give it a whirl. So. Bookworms. I’ve got to know. If you lost 10 years of your life, how discombobulated would you be? What major life events would you have missed?

P.S. Did you vote for me in the Bloggies? I think you should. XOXO.

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Feb 22

Tropical Paradise meets Tragic Disease: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Book Club, Historical Fiction 16

Aloha, Bookworms.

This month’s selection for the “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors” book club was Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. It’s set in a tropical paradise (Hawaii, if you hadn’t guessed by my greeting) but the subject matter was anything but a luau.

Leprosy! What do you know about it? Before reading this book, I knew surprisingly little. I knew that when lepers were depicted in movies about the middle ages, they were always wrapped up in white cloth. Aside from that, the only other references to leprosy I could pull out of my head were from an episode of House, M.D. and a long ago CCD class. (CCD is supplemental religious education for Catholic kids who don’t attend Catholic school, where religion is part of the curriculum. If you were ME, that meant you gave up SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS for a big chunk of childhood. Not bitter. Totally not bitter…)

molokai

Anyway, the reference I recalled was the story of Father Damien. He was a priest who worked in a leper colony and eventually contracted the disease himself and died. He was later canonized as a saint. Guess where that leper colony was? The Hawaiian island of Moloka’i! Father Damien actually makes an appearance in this book. And my life comes full circle…

Rachel Kalama is a little pipsqueak of a child when she’s diagnosed with leprosy. In the late 1800s, little was understood about the disease, other than that it was frightening, disfiguring, and fatal. I hate not knowing things, so I took to google. (Word to the wise: DO NOT DO AN IMAGE SEARCH ON LEPROSY. There are some things you cannot unsee.) Leprosy is caused by a bacteria. It is estimated that 95% of the population is naturally immune to the disease. Interesting, right? This explains why it never became a full on plague. What was fascinating was that native Hawaiians were unusually susceptible to the disease, causing something of an outbreak, and terrifying the population. This makes sense because an isolated population wouldn’t have incorporated the immunity into their DNA pool the same way a more mingle-y population would have. Oh science. You’re a trickster.

Map of the island borrowed from bestofhawaii.com

Map of the island borrowed from bestofhawaii.com

Of course, nobody knew this at the time. All they knew was that Hawaiians were getting leprosy, they knew it was somehow contagious, but that had no idea how contagious. So… They took a spare island and threw all the lepers on it. Moloka’i’s early history as a leper colony was pretty brutal- they didn’t have a lot of housing or healthcare, and people were basically dumped to die. Luckily, by the time Rachel arrived on Moloka’i, things sucked a little less. I mean, they still had leprosy, but the little community banded together and became ohana (Family. Go watch Lilo and Stitch, I mean really. That should be culturally ubiquitous by now.)

I’m getting very rambly on the science bit here, I know. Let’s talk story. This is historical fiction, so it should not surprise you in the slightest that I totally loved this book. This book is set during an exceptionally dynamic time. When Rachel arrives on Moloka’i, they don’t even have electricity. Throughout the book we experience all the new technology with her: electricity, indoor plumbing, automobiles, airplanes. We also get to witness the metamorphosis of medical technology and the treatments of leprosy. Fantastic stuff.

Bottom line? You should read this book. It’s everything I love about historical fiction, with a side of epidemiological intrigue. What do you think, Bookworms? Do you like your fiction with a side of learning?

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Feb 21

You Sure Are Lookin' Good: Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde

Fairy Tales 26

What big eyes you have, Bookworms!

How much have you been digging Project Fairy Tale? I lot, I assume. I mean, it has been, for lack of a better word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The latest addition to my Little Red Riding Hood repertoire is a collection of short stories by Vivian Vande Velde. Cloaked in Red takes Little Red Riding Hood and morphs her from fairy tale victim to feisty vixen (and I totally don’t mean that in a dirty way. You would be shocked at the amount of hits I’ve gotten that were looking for porn.)

I'm so pleased that Triple V decided to use the good old Crayola "red" instead of the more dramatic "crimson" or "scarlet."

I’m so pleased that Triple V decided to use the good old Crayola “red” instead of the more dramatic “crimson” or “scarlet.”

People, I kind of adored this book. I started cracking up during the introduction and loved all the quirky ways Little Red was depicted. The traditional Little Red Riding Hood is the embodiment of all these LAME female stereotypes. She’s super naive, she’s easily distracted, and she’s has all the common sense of a cotton headed ninny muggins. I mean, SHE CAN’T TELL HER GRANNY FROM A WOLF for crying out loud!

Vande Velde was all “um, no.” And then she made Little Red Riding Hood cool in a bunch of different ways. Every trick Vande Velde employed was delightful. Little Red outsmarts the Woodsman. Little Red turns the Woodsman into a frog. Granny rescues a wolf from a trap and takes her home. Little Red is not a hapless victim in any of these stories! She’s empowered and intelligent and occasionally magical.

redecard2

It’s like Suri’s Burn Book up in here!

Y’all, this was SO MUCH FUN. It wasn’t long, it wasn’t change your life intense literature, but it was so darned refreshing. You like fairy tale re-tellings? Give it a whirl. Would I steer you wrong?

So Bookworms, is there anything about your favorite fairy tale character that annoys the crap out of you? How would you rewrite their story?

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Feb 19

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Characters in… Historical Fiction!

Historical Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 29

Greetings, Bookworms.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “OMG I have been waiting ALL WEEK to read another LIST written by Katie at the behest of The Broke and The Bookish!” I live to serve, my friends. This week we got to pick our top ten characters from any genre. I decided to go with Historical Fiction because I love it so so so much. Also, I’ve read a lot of it, so I have a lot of character options. Ready? Let’s do this.

1. Belle from Tracy Chevalier’s The Last RunawayRemember a few weeks back when I was discussing locales I’d like to see featured in more books? And one of my choices was a HAT STORE?! BELLE RUNS A HAT STORE! She also takes Honor in when she’s got no place to go, makes her a pretty (yet Quaker friendly) bonnet, and is awesome. Oh yeah, and she totally helps escaping slaves in the Underground Railroad. Let’s recap shall we? Badass lady habberdasher and abolitionist who takes in the less fortunate. Yeah.

lastrunaway

2. Fergus from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Fergus shows up in Dragonfly in Amber as a street urchin who has grown up in a brothel. I don’t know if you noticed or not (I’m about to brag in a big way)… But I’ve got a fondness for street urchins. You may or may not have seen my post on the Insatiable Booksluts last week… Oh you hadn’t? Yes go check it out.

3. Jack from Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. It’s hard to not like Jack. He’s got spirit, he’s smart, he is singularly motivated by his love for Aliena. It doesn’t hurt at all that in the Starz miniseries, Jack was played by Eddie Redmayne. Swoonsville.

Pillars-Of-The-Earth

4. Francie Nolan from Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Oh Francie! I love this girl. She loves to read, and it’s her escape from the mean streets of Brooklyn. She loves her father in spite of his alcoholism. She is met with disappointment after disappointment in her life and comes through it all to make a life for herself. I just want to hug her.

5. Dinah from Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. I really just want to make this girl a t-shirt that says “My Brother Got An Award-Winning Musical And All I Got Was This (AWESOME) Book.” Uh, if that statement doesn’t make sense to you, you ought to go read that post. Dinah is Joseph’s (as in the Technicolor Dreamcoat) sister. Those jerk brothers that sold him into slavery also slaughtered her husband’s entire village. Jerks.

The woman on the cover reminds me of the Statue of Liberty for some reason. I have issues.

6. Idgy from Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes. I absolutely adore Idgy. She’s spunky and feeds the hungry and helps out her friends. She’s also completely in love with her best friend, but respects Ruth’s boundaries and gets her lady love elsewhere. (This is why you should read the books, people. They always de-Lesbian Hollywood scripts. More’s the pity- it added so much depth to the character…)

7. Hannah from Philippa Gregory’s The Queen’s Fool. Hannah’s got a lot on her plate. She’s accidentally psychic and as such is recruited by the Tudor court. Being a royal fool to Mary I poses its own set of challenges… Hannah is secretly Jewish and in the court of a Catholic Queen so staunch in her beliefs that she orders the execution of all sorts of Protestants in England. Dicey time to be a religious dissenter, especially given Mary’s father’s penchant for beheadings.

8. Rudy from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Rudy was such a great character. I mean, the kid is Jesse Owens’ biggest fan- growing up in Nazi Germany. My favorite scene is when Rudy smears himself in soot and imagines his career as an Olympic runner. Little kids don’t know that blackface is offensive (and really, in Nazi Germany, the fact that he was idolizing a black athlete at all was more controversial than the potentially offensive choice of makeup.) I love him for going against the grain, even though it’s dangerous. He’s got a good heart that even the Nazis can’t kill.

The-Book-Thief

9. Suora Zuana from Sarah Dunant’s Sacred Hearts. Suora Zuana is admitted to a convent against her will, but finds herself a place there where she is prized for her books and her knowledge of healing. I love a girl who can’t be parted from her books! She’s also a bit of a rebel and pulls a Shakespearean style stunt. Fantastic.

10. Joan from Diana Woolfolk Cross’s Pope Joan. Talk about ballsy. This lady wants to learn so badly that she dresses like a man and joins a monastery. She’s also a great healer and sort of accidentally gets elected Pope. I know. It’s nuts. In the best possible way.

There we have it. My Top Ten Historical Fiction Characters. What do you think? Any you would add?

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Feb 18

Gold! Always Believe In Your Soul: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Coming of Age, Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural 40

Bonjour Bookworms!

I like getting my reading material for free when I can, so I’m constantly checking up on my library’s digital selections. Though they’re not as extensive as I would like, sometimes I’ll get the chance try something out that I’m too “on the fence” about to purchase. In my most recent foray, I sampled The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist tells the tale of a young shepherd from Spain who dreams of traveling the world. The entire book is written in parable form, and it focuses on finding the truth in life and discovering one’s own personal legend. The meaning of life and whatnot. Deep stuff.

Our hero decides to take his chances in the wide world and sells his flock of sheep on the advice of a gypsy and a “king” (I have doubts of his actual monarchical pedigree.) The little shepherd is advised to seek his own personal legend and find his treasure near the pyramids of Egypt. Along the way, he gathers lessons from a crystal merchant, a British man obsessed with alchemy, a really cool camel, and a lovely lady from a desert tribe. All seem to be pointing him toward his purpose in life.

the_alchemist2 (1)

Y’all, this book was just not my thing. I’m not great at getting into this kind of head space. Like… I take yoga, right? I find it relaxing, I appreciate the stretching and the way it makes my body feel. However… At the beginning of each class we’re taken through a sort of mini meditation. We’re instructed to clear our minds and concentrate on the present and our sense of being.

You know what I concentrate on? The fact that we’re trying to meditate in the basement of a recreational center that has a basketball game going on directly overhead and a Zumba class across the hall. I think about the old dude and his shiny blue pants. Are they pants? Are they tights? Were they made for cycling? Does this dude shop at a fancy yoga store I know nothing about? Perhaps my cheap Target yoga pants are laughable to this master of yoga. Wait. Did somebody just fart?!

I'm seriously concerned about the man tights.

I’m seriously concerned about the man tights.

I have no doubt that this book really resonated with a lot of people. I mean, it must have, because it’s a best seller. I am NOT a risk taker, so I have a hard time with encouraging people to, um, metaphorically sell all their sheep and go treasure hunting at the pyramids of Egypt. I don’t want to sound like a big grouch who lives to crush dreams. By all means, have dreams! Pursue them… But, you know. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Or something. And thus, I leave you with this random song my eccentric dance instructor once choreographed and has thus become an earworm in my brain for all of time. Gold = Alchemy + “Always Believe In Your Soul” Lyric = Appropriate. (The beauty of fake math is that it need not make sense.)

Bottom line? I’m glad I got this from the library and didn’t pay for it.

Anybody else read this book? What did you think? Anybody else take yoga? Are the blue man tights a thing?

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Feb 15

Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Dystopian, Fairy Tales 17

Happy Friday Bookworms!

It’s time to delve back into the wonder that is Project Fairy Tale. I’ve mentioned that the lovely Alison at The Cheap Reader is hosting this event, but I should also mention that my pal Quirky Chrissy (who I know in real life and EVERYTHING) is also participating by dissecting Rumpelstiltskin. Check them out if you’re so inclined. Now, without further ado…

projectfairytalebutton2

Remember back a couple of weeks ago when I reviewed Cinder by Marissa Meyer? The cyborg Cinderella? Of COURSE you remember that. Who could forget? Meyer came back for round two of her fractured fairy tale world of wonder with Scarletwhich is based on my number one girl, Little Red Riding Hood. It’s going to be really hard to not spoil Cinder for you, since this is a sequel, so if you haven’t read it yet and you want to be all surprised and stuff, stop reading this right now. I’m having guilt because I’m THE WORST at keeping spoilers quiet, and most of the time I ruin things without realizing it. Sorry y’all.

We start off by meeting our Little Red Riding Hood. Her name is Scarlet. She’s got red hair and she rocks a red hooded sweatshirt (dip dip dip sweeeeeatshirt sham-a-lama ding dong.) She’s lives with her Grand-Mere (FRENCH! I wish I knew how to make accent marks…) on their farm. They grow vegetables, and for some unearthly reason, milk the cows by hand. Personally, I don’t get that. They’ve got all these robots to work in the fields and stuff, but they’ve got to milk the cow themselves. My suspicious eyebrow is raised (his name is Johnny.) Anyhow, Scarlet’s granny has gone missing, and Scarlet sets out to find her with the help of a mysterious, brooding, and dishy street fighter named Wolf.

scarlet

This cover art isn’t bad, but it’s really hard to compete with a bionic foot, you know?

Wolf’s an interesting fellow. He’s got jacked up teeth and a bit of a rage problem, but he’s also sweet and so innocent he’s never eaten a tomato. Why hasn’t he eaten a tomato? Isn’t that suspicious, Scarlet?! How does a HUMAN never eat a vegetable? Why aren’t you more concerned about this?! I know you want to find your grandmother, and I know Wolf is kind of hot, but DAMN GIRL! Listen to the little voice in your head when it tells you something weird is going on. Of course, that’s actually a pretty faithful adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, because traditionally, Lil’ Red can’t tell her granny from a wolf in a nightgown. At least Scarlet is packing heat. She may be naive, but she carries a pistol (with a legal permit, of course.)

Every so often, we jog back to visit with Cinder. We get to watch her do badass robot things like break out of prison and hijack a space ship, which is nice, because the primary concern in this world is still defeating and/or thwarting the evil moon queen. SPOILER: she may or may not still be up to her dastardly deeds. SPOILER: She is. SPOILER: When you have an established villain and a major character goes missing, you should expect that they’ve got their wicked little lunar hands in it…

Mr. President, are you suggesting we blow up the moon?

Mr. President, are you suggesting we blow up the moon?

I’ve got to admit, I’m digging this crazy series. I’ll be looking forward to the conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles. What about you, bookworms? Anybody read this one yet?

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Feb 14

Valentine's Day Makes McFools of Us All: A Sonnet

Humor, Personal, Poetry 22

Hello my Bookworms,

Today is Valentine’s Day. We’ve never been big on the hearts and cupids hoopla, but we celebrate in our own way. I’ve written a sonnet (Shakespeare, I am all kinds of sorry for using your rhyme scheme for such a piece of nonsense.) I dedicate this poem to my husband, Jim. He’s been putting up with my antics for nearly 10 years, so he deserves some (terrible) poetry.

Valentine’s Day Makes McFools of Us All.

The first Valentine’s we did celebrate…

It was not quite what we had intended.

‘Twas the first year we’d each had a date!

We’d expected a dinner, so splendid.

So out on the town we endeavored,

Too naive to have a reservation.

Oh, the wait times they could not be measured!

Waitstaff laughed at our sad situation.

Turned away by the finest of venues,

And exhausted by our fruitless pursuit,

We gave up, and thus sought out a drive-thru:

Inexpensive, and convenient to boot!

Many years from our failed expedition,

McDonald’s is our own sweet tradition.

This was taken a month or two into dating. Giddy young love was a good look for us.

This was taken a month or two into dating. Giddy young love was a good look for us. (I just noticed this, but if you look in the background, you can see my childhood dog Benny, photo-bombing. That dog was so far ahead of his time…)

That story is 100% true, even if the iambic pentameter doesn’t completely work. We seriously drove around for hours getting laughed out of restaurants. Young, silly couples who are awkward at dating don’t understand the importance of reservations on Valentine’s Day. We got annoyed, got McDonald’s, and ate it on the floor of my bedroom. (Oh, this isn’t our ONLY holiday story involving fast food. If you ask REALLY nicely, someday I’ll tell you about New Year’s Eve at Long John Silver’s…) Happy Valentine’s Day, Jim! I look forward to spending the evening with you, the television, and Mickey D’s.

So, Bookworms… Will, um, all of you be my Valentine? (Jim promises he’s cool with it. I told him T-Swift could be his this year.)

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Feb 12

Top Ten Tuesday: The Language of Romance

Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tear Jerkers, Time Travel, Top Ten Tuesday 37

Hola, Gusanos de Libros!

I just spoke SPANISH. Badly probably. Whatever. Today is Tuesday which means… TOP TEN TUESDAY with The Broke and The Bookish!

TTT3W

Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, today’s theme is, appropriately, Top Ten Romances (ooh la la!) <— See that?! FRENCH! Without further ado, I shall list for you the Top Ten Greatest Romances in the History of Literature… And Time Eternal. (I have a flair for the dramatic.)

1. Jamie and Claire of Diana Gabaldon’s impossibly wonderful Outlander series. If this were a contest, they’d have out romanced everyone else on this list because no time warp, monarchy, bodily attack, war, illness, or kidnapping can conquer them! (They are remarkably difficult to kill off, I must admit.)

2. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that this is one of the greatest love stories ever written. It’s like the loose premise for 90% of romantic comedies for a REASON, people!

3. Gus and Hazel of John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsGo ahead. Try to read this story about teen love and cancer and not cry. I dare you!

fault in our stars

4. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from (obviously) JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. You know you were transported back to your high school days when Ron didn’t ask Hermione to the Yule Ball. You know you loved their breakup and reunion in The Deathly Hallows. You know you completely dug every millisecond of their happily ever after. Hermione, the idol of every bookish girl. Ron, the ultimate underdog. It’s a thing of beauty.

5. Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane EyreYes. I KNOW Mr. Rochester kept his crazy wife in the attic. I KNOW he was an attempted bigamist. But I also KNOW that he loved Jane, and she had a big enough heart to forgive him… Eventually. Talk about overcoming obstacles y’all. I bet you never had to deal with a crazy wife in the attic!

6. Achilles and Patroclus of Madeline Miller’s Song of AchillesThere was so much beauty in the love story of Achilles and Patroclus! Achilles’ mean ass sea nymph mother didn’t approve of his loving another dude, but that didn’t stop them. My heart shattered into millions of pieces at the end of this book (that’s so not a spoiler, it’s Greek mythology y’all.) Great romance. Seriously.

song of achilles

7. Jacob and Marlena of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. Marlena was married to the violent and mentally ill August, so for a time, she and Jacob admired each other at arm’s length. August’s violent behavior drives Marlena out of his arms and into Jacob’s. The only thing that could make this romance better would be a murder mystery where the perpetrator was an elephant. Oh, wait…

8. Henry and Claire of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. Be still my heart! How can you compete with love that transcends time?!?! How? You can only beat it if your love ALSO transcends time, plus a bunch of other crazy circumstances (cough cough Outlander.) So basically? This is awesome.

9. Bridget and Mark of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary. A (very) thinly veiled homage to Pride and Prejudice, Bridget’s awkwardness is impossibly endearing. Every girl who has ever been single and/or done something embarrassing can relate. Every man who has ever worn bumblebee socks at the behest of his overbearing mother can also relate. I’m not sure that last part happens that often, but still.

10. Celia and Marco from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night CircusMarco and Celia aren’t just star-crossed lovers, they’re MAGICALLY star crossed lovers. They’re locked into a battle neither of them chose. Little do they know, as their love progresses, that the only end to their “feud” is that one of them must perish. Ah! It is so sad! And yet, it is so magical. It conjures up all the lovey feelings one can feel!

night circus

So, Ratas de Biblioteca (PORTUGUESE!), what are some of your favorite romances? Hearts and candies and flowers and sappiness! Tell me all about it!

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