Month: June 2013

Jun 28

Hey! I've Read That! (A Confession Friday Game)

Blogging, Classics, Confession Friday, Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, Pretentious 89

Howdy Bookworms!

So the other day I was skulking around the blogosphere as I am wont to do. I came across a list on Book Riot (HERE is the post by Jeff O’Neal) of 100 books that would make you “well read.” He had a set of criteria including cultural significance, familiarity with the classics of western literature, etc.  There was a big blow up in the comment section about what constitutes being well-read; what was included, what wasn’t, and so on and so forth. Then a bunch of people started FLIPPING OUT because 50 Shades of Gray was on the list. Say what you will about 50 Shades (and I had PLENTY to say… HERE if you’re interested) but it got a lot of people to read a book who wouldn’t ordinarily read a book. Would it be better if those people had picked up something with fewer grammatical errors? Probably. But if people choose a book, ANY BOOK, over another form of entertainment for even a little while? I consider that a win.

Sarah over at Sarah Says Read talked a little bit more about this (and inspired me to rip off her post… I mean… Borrow her idea and credit her properly.) Jen at The Relentless Reader and Rory from Fourth Street Review weighed in as well! (Can I go off topic and mention how much I love having a bookworm blog pal named Rory? My inner Gilmore Girls enthusiast is beyond thrilled by this.) Now, I’m not going to dissect the Book Riot criteria because I’m kind of lazy. Book Riot has a big old comment section, so if you’re interested, I suggest you check out the spirited discussion there. In my happy little corner of the internet, in lieu of  potential over analyzation, we play, “Hey, I’ve Read That!” One of my favorite things to do in a bookstore is to peruse and mentally point out stuff I’ve read (or point it out to whomever I’ve conned into shopping with me…) So. I’m going to gauge my “well read” status according to the Book Riot 100. Ready???

This is my smug face. I was making it because I made my "nephew" Jack fall asleep when he was being a crankypants.

This is my smug face. I was making it because I made my “nephew” Jack fall asleep when he was being a crankypants. He’s wearing a Sonic Youth onesie because he’s badass.

So here’s the list, in alphabetical order: (Stuff that’s marked out like so? That means I’ve read it!)

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton My Thoughts
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay  by Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak My Thoughts
  14. Brave New World by Alduos Huxley My Thoughts
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz My Thoughts
  16. The Call of the Wild  by Jack London
  17. Candide by Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (Got this for Christmas. Currently residing on Shelf of Shame)
  20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  23. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  24. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor 
  27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green My Thoughts
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn My Thoughts
  43. The Gospels (I’m familiar with the Gospels, but I’ve never read them as like, literature, so I’m not counting it!)
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood My Thoughts
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  50. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Hanging out on the Shelf of Shame)
  51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien My Thoughts
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad by Homer
  59. The Inferno by Dante
  60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  64. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury
  66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov My Thoughts
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Started this. Failed. Lives on the Shelf of Shame. In good company.)
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  72. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  73. The Odyssey by Homer
  74. Oedipus, King by Sophocles
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  79. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. The Road by Cormac McCarthy My Thoughts
  81. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
  82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  85. The Stand by Stephen King My Thoughts
  86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte My Thoughts
  99. 1984 by George Orwell
  100. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James My Thoughts

My total? 49 books. I’d like to give myself extra credit for completing several of the series where only the first book was mentioned. I’d also like points for having read something by one of these authors, just not the title listed (Steinbeck, Woolf, Rushdie, Joyce, James, Rand- I’m looking at you!) Unfortunately, as I stated earlier, I have no desire to rewrite these rules, I just wanted to play the game. So. How’d you do, Bookworms? I’m feeling a little blue for clocking in at less than half of these titles. Anyone there with me?

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Jun 27

Tell The Wolves I'm Home. No, Seriously. Tell Them.

Art, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Tear Jerkers 43

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I don’t use the term “favorite” often when it comes to books, because it’s too difficult. All sorts of books have all sorts of great reasons to love them. However,  Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt tugged at all the right heartstrings for me. Dare I say that this may just land on my list of FAVORITES? Oh, I dare. And now I’m going to gush all over the internet. Ready?

tellthewolvesimhome

It’s 1987. June and her sister Greta are posing while their Uncle Finn paints their portrait. The girls spend every Sunday at their uncle’s apartment in the city while he paints. (Oh I should clarify. “The City” in this instance means NYC. “The City” if I use it generally means Chicago. People who grow up in the suburbs of major cities tend to refer to the major cities simply as “The City.” I confused the bejeesus out of one of my book club pals by not clarifying my usage once. It was pretty funny.)

Sadly, these portrait sessions are some of the last hours the girls will spend with their uncle, because he is dying of AIDS. Like I told you earlier. It’s 1987. The AIDS crisis is blowing up. There is no treatment- AZT isn’t even available yet. At this point in time, AIDS is a death sentence, and a quick one to boot. June is exceptionally close with Finn. She spends more time with him than Greta does- they have pretty much the coolest uncle-niece relationship ever. Greta has no trouble making friends whereas June’s favorite activity is to wander in the woods pretending she’s in the Middle Ages. (Right there, June had my heart. We had a little wooded area near our house when I was growing up. Wandering around while pretending to be in another time? Been there.) Finn took June under his wing and gave her an outlet for all her eccentricities, and some sweet boots.

With no antiviral medications, AZT, or drug cocktails, Finn isn’t long for this world. At his funeral, June notices a man lingering outside the funeral home. Greta tells her that the man is responsible for Finn’s death. That he maliciously gave Finn AIDS. A few days later, June receives a mysterious package with a note from a man named Toby. The package contains her Uncle Finn’s beautiful Russian teapot. The note from Toby begs June to meet him.

Fun fact, I collect teapots. Now I desperately want a magical Russian teapot like Finn's!

Fun fact, I collect teapots. Now I desperately want a magical Russian teapot like Finn’s!

June soon realizes that she’s not the only person torn to pieces by Finn’s death. Her friendship with Toby introduces her to facets of Finn she never knew- a whole segment of his life that was kept from her at her mother’s behest. The sibling relationships in this book are painful, but so REAL. Greta and June have this antagonistic love-hate thing going on that really resonated with me. Plus, we eventually learn some of the history behind Finn’s relationship with his sister. Even it was a dick move to  refuse to allow her children to have any interaction with Finn’s life partner, I still sympathized with June & Greta’s mom.  That’s good writing. Flawed characters acting like REAL people are some of my absolute favorites. Seems to me that most of the time people are just trying to do the best they can, it’s just that pesky humanity business goes and gets in the way.

The thing that struck me most about this book was the historical context. By the time I was old enough to have any real understanding of HIV/AIDS, people were pretty well aware of how the disease was spread. There is a scene in the novel where Greta’s mother catches her using Finn’s lip balm and has a bit of a meltdown. At one point June is ashamed to be fearful of getting a kiss from her uncle. Heck, even in the late 90s some of that paranoia remained. When I was in high school, I recall my health teacher saying that he might shake the hand of a person known to be infected with HIV… But he’d immediately wash his hands very, very well. Ten years AFTER this book took place, there were people who refused to listen to the scientific evidence… And they were allowed to pass that attitude on to young teens.

Thanks, Liz. My sentiments exactly. Source

Thanks, Liz. My sentiments exactly. Source

This book isn’t about science or virology. It’s about love, loss, and forgiveness. It’s a coming of age tale where June learns that things aren’t always what they seem. My words feel clumsy and I’m not doing this book any justice. Just trust me and read it, okay?! You won’t be sorry.

Alright Bookworms. I need to know. Anybody out there have an awesome relationship with an extended family member? I want to hear about it! Let’s share the love for our eccentric aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, shall we? (I hope someday my Squishy has such stories to tell about me!)

He already things I'm nuts.

He already thinks I’m nuts.

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Jun 25

Happy Half-Birthday, 2013! Let's Celebrate with… TOP TEN TUESDAY!

Audio Books, Blogging, Book Club, Historical Fiction, Humor, Top Ten Tuesday, Women's Studies, Young Adult Fiction, Zombies 76

G’day Bookworms!

It’s TUESDAY, so we’re going to get our list on with the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish! Today they’ve asked us to list the Top Ten Books we’ve read so far in 2013. I’ve read some AWESOME books this year, so it’ll be tough to narrow it down to ten, but here goes…

toptentuesday

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. How much more can I say about my adoration for Eleanor & Park? This book summed up the high school experience in a way that a lot of other YA books are missing these days. It’s a slice of awesome.

2. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I realize my review for this has not yet been posted, but WOAH. It’s a whole lot of awesome. Should be up on Thursday. Be sure to come back to read me fumbling all over myself trying to explain the greatness! (No seriously. It’s coming out all weird and stupid. Something to look forward to, no? Me being inarticulate?)

tellthewolvesimhome

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I’m so excited to be able to list this as one of my “best of” because it’s the first pick for The Fellowship of the Worms! I finished it last week and I’m working on preparing questions for thought provoking and/or ridiculous discussions on July 8th!

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Will and Louisa! Eye opening insight into the world of a quadriplegic. Ethical conundrums. Love story. And a castle. What more do you want?!

5. The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls. I love Jeanette Walls! Her new book explores some familiar themes- parental abandonment, childhood poverty, and the like. Nobody can pull that off the way Walls can. Even the horrible parents are portrayed with compassion. Plus, there are EMUS. Those are some funny looking birds, y’all.

silverstar

6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Spies! WWII! Airplanes! Ladies breaking gender roles. Badassery of all sorts. Excellent book.

7. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. This title has plenty of detractors, but I loved it. New take on zombies. A little lighthearted fun? Yes please.

8. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. I simply adore stories behind the art… Even when they’re fictionalized. I thought Buchanan’s portrayal of the girl behind the famous Degas sculpture was fabulous. Historical fiction buffs will adore this!

paintedgirls

9. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. A book about books with a little bit of mystery… And a glow-in-the-dark book cover. It’s whimsical fun times for the bookworm detective in all of us.

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. This book isn’t new, but it took me forever to get around to reading it. Actually, I listened to it and I thought it was awesome. The way Christopher’s mind worked! It gave me so much insight and compassion for what struggling with Aspberger’s and autism spectrum disorders is really like. Such a good read (and listen. English accents are a delight.)

What about you,  Bookworms? What are some of your favorite books you’ve read this year?

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Jun 24

Dome Along: We're Half Way There!

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Frightening, Psychological, Supernatural 44

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

Remember how I said I’d joined a read along for Stephen King’s Under the Dome through Coffee and a Book Chick? I’m about half way through the book right now and I thought I’d give you a little synopsis of my feelings…

Under the Dome lengthwise

So. There’s this town called Chester’s Mill. It’s in Maine because that is Stephen King’s thing. One day these invisible walls go up all over town. People crash their cars into it. Planes crash. Limbs are severed. Woodchucks are bisected… And Katie reveals spoilers, probably. (Skip this bad boy if you want to know nothing.)

I was pretty upset about the woodchuck, I've got to admit. (Image Source)

I was pretty upset about the woodchuck, I’ve got to admit. (Image Source)

So this dome thing goes down. Nobody can get in, nobody can get out. Chester’s Mill is completely cut off from the world, save cell phones and sporadic internet coverage. Maybe this isolation wouldn’t be so bad if anybody had any idea who or what caused it. It’s a big fat mystery and people inside that bubble? They’re kind of freaking out. Not that I blame them.

Also, the town is full of big evil meanies. Big Jim Rennie is the bad dude in chief, and he’s so freaking evil he’s practically a cartoon character. I don’t know how he’s not constantly twirling a mustache and/or petting a cat. His son, creatively named Junior isn’t any prize either. He has violent tendencies and an undiagnosed brain tumor. Given his parentage, I doubt the brain tumor is responsible for the homicidal tendencies so much as his father’s super wicked DNA.

Sort of like these two... only less amusing. Source

Sort of like these two… only less amusing. Source

So Big Jim is rotten to the core and he’s in power. He assembles a gang of Junior’s douchey friends to be police officers. Big Jim is ALSO a “devout” Christian (you know, if you ignore the whole Ten Commandments bit…) There are a lot of dirty dealings going on in Chester’s Mill, and now that the Dome has fallen, the threat that they’ll come to light has increased… Not in the least because he has STOLEN all the propane tanks in town to power the METH LAB he’s been running because he’s so damn evil. His pastor was totally in on it too. Not making Christianity look good, these two.

You know when you’re reading Stephen King there are going to be bad guys. I’m a little frustrated with this because the bad guys have NO DIMENSION. Like… In The Stand. Yes, Randall Flagg was basically the devil incarnate… At least he was actually supernatural. But his minions? It’s hard to blame the Trashcan Man for being all crazy… I mean, his brain is broken. And the guy Flagg rescued from the prison? Sure he’s no saint, but his badness had layers. None of these people have layers. They’re all just rotten to the core and horrible and GAH!

Oh and the good guys? They are dropping like flies. False arrests and murders and douchebaggery of all sorts. The good guys better catch a break soon, or I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hang in there for the last 500-600 pages. Oh yeah. So the government thinks that there’s probably aliens involved. Maybe that’s why Big Jim is so evil? And his gang of jerks? Pod people? Can I hope for that? Because I’m LOSING FAITH IN HUMANITY here, people!

Who am I kidding? We ALL know it's gonna be Aliens.

Who am I kidding? We ALL know it’s gonna be Aliens.

I need a pep talk, here, fellow Dome Along-ers! Will the good guys ever get anywhere? Will an alien show up and LASER Big Jim Rennie? Will people stop being stupid? Will they break the damn dome? I am to the point where I can only read this on the treadmill because I get so grouchy at it. Someone tell me there’s something good on the horizon. Pretty please?

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Jun 20

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Family, Friendship, Psychological, Romance, Tear Jerkers, Travel 42

Good Day Bookworms!

Have you ever paid attention to the stuff you do every day? I’m not talking about the chores or the errands or the work. I’m talking physical stuff. Walking. Climbing stairs. Getting dressed. Bathing. Eating. Driving. Typing. What would you do if you couldn’t do ANY of that for yourself anymore? The thought probably makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me sad. It makes me feel guilty for being able bodied when others may not be, but extremely grateful for my independence.

I don’t typically give this line of thinking much attention, because it bums me out. However, several people recommended this book about a quadriplegic to me and I figured I’d give it a shot.  Somehow Jojo Moyes managed to make Me Before You devastating, uplifting, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming all at the same time. Don’t ask me how she pulled it off. The talents of authors are beyond me, but this one, THIS ONE got to me.

Me-Before-You-Cover_

Louisa Clark is a 28 year old girl living in an English tourist town that features a castle. She has spent several years working in a local cafe and is caught completely off guard one day when she’s told the cafe is going to close. Suddenly, Louisa finds herself out of work in a terrible economy. She has no college education (or, uh, University, as the British would say) and is qualified to do little more than work in a chicken processing plant, which is just exactly as gross as it sounds.

Louisa’s qualifications will allow her to be a “caregiver,” and it is one of the few positions available through the unemployment agency (which is called something different in England but it sounds like roughly the same thing.) She’s sent on an interview with no real idea of what’s in store for her. To her shock (in spite of an embarrassing skirt splitting incident during the interview) she lands a job helping to care for Will Traynor. Will was hit by a motorcycle while crossing a street. A serious mover and shaker in his previous life, Will has been without the use of any of his limbs for over 2 years. As you can imagine, he’s not too happy about it.

Louisa and Will don’t start off especially well, what with his intentionally trying to make her uncomfortable and all, but over time they grow rather fond of each other. Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly (or, at least, as smoothly as possible when catheters, muscle spasms, and infection are par for the course) when Louisa is hit with some dizzying news. I AM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT IT IS! But. The rest of the book is about Louisa trying to get Will to get out of his grumpy funk and have some adventures. Will is from a very wealthy family and was very successful before his accident, so the fact that he is practically a sommelier and has a penchant for evenings at the symphony come as no surprise. Apparently rich people are very fancy and predictable that way. No mention of cheeses. Pity.

Read this and your next long trek through the parking lot in the rain won't seem so inconvenient.

Read this and your next long trek through the parking lot in the rain won’t seem so inconvenient. (SOURCE)

I was not expecting to like this book. I thought it was going to be a complete downer, but, while there are some seriously sad elements, there are also some uplifting bits, and occasionally, it’s downright funny. Me Before You also raises some ethical conundrums that will leave you reeling. I’ve got so many FEELINGS, you guys! I want you to feel them too.

Bookworms, have any of you read Me Before You? What did you think? We can’t really discuss the elephant in the room because of SPOILERS, but we can talk about how much it sucks when people who don’t need it steal the disabled parking spots. That is some nasty karma y’all. I have many, many faults, but I never park in a handicapped space. I also return my shopping cart to the cart corral. Perhaps this will keep me from being reincarnated as a turd. How about you?

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Jun 19

The Trip of Several Lifetimes (I'm Guest Posting!!!)

Blogging, Children's Fiction 6

Hey there, Bookworms!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Katie doesn’t usually post on Wednesdays.” You’re correct. However. Kelly, who writes the CERTIFIED AWESOME BLOG, The Well-Read Redhead asked me to guest post for her while she’s on vacation.

wellreadbutton_zps16e9870f

True to form, I came up with something completely ridiculous. It’s also quite fun, if I do say so myself. I may or may not have booked an imaginary vacation through five beloved childhood novels and their alternate realities… Okay. I definitely did that. Go check it out. Clickity clickerson!

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Jun 18

Summertime, and the Reading is Easy (Top Ten Tuesday)

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 48

Howdy Bookworms!

In case you hadn’t noticed, it is summer! Well. It’s summer here in the northern hemisphere at least. Australia just blows my mind with the opposite seasons. And the awesome marsupials. (I want to visit you, Australia. I am not good at being a tourist, but I think I love you.) Aaaanyway. Today is TUESDAY! So. The Broke and The Bookish have asked me to give y’all a list of the Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR list. Right now I’ve got a big old stack to tackle, so let’s do this thing!

TTT3W1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It’s the very first book we are reading for The Fellowship of the Worms and I am SO EXCITED! I know that once I finish it I’m going to have a hard time not talking about it immediately, so I’m trying to restrain myself. I’ve heard good things from a few of the participants already. I can’t wait! Eeeep!

2. The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. We are reading this for BOTH of my IRL book clubs this summer and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been on my radar for a while and it’s set in Australia! I didn’t even realize when I started this post and went on my marsupial tangent that there would be an Australia book on this list. I love it when the universe does things like that.

3. The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hangarne. I have this waiting for me thanks to NetGalley. I’ve seen a lot of great reviews on this one so I’m pretty stoked to read it. Josh Hangarne is actually a book blogger (cool right?!) His life story is crazy interesting though. He has Tourette’s and is a body builder and a bunch of other stuff I don’t know about yet because I haven’t read the book. I’ll be sure to fill you in!

worldsstrongestlibrarian

4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I have to hurry up and read this one because it’s on my kindle and it’s a library loan, but I’m really excited about this one, too. It was recommended to me by a fellow Bookworm (none other than the winner of the Name That Book Club contest, Ashley!) I’ve seen it floating around the blogosphere, too, always with rave reviews.

5. Under The Dome by Stephen King. I’m actually just about at the midway point on this one. I’m reading it for Coffee and a Book Chick’s summer read along. It’s been different for me because I don’t normally read more than one book at a time, but I’ve taken to reading this while I’m on the treadmill. Since I’m currently busy being VERY ANGRY with some of the characters, it’s best to read while I’m getting some aggression out!

6. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. There’s a funny story behind this one. You know I like Tracy Chevalier. I’ve mentioned that enough times and even wrote a full review of her latest novel, The Last Runaway. My pal Lillian over at It’s A Dome Life hosted a little game. She’s an artist, but sometimes her paintings don’t turn out the way she planned. She’s got this horse painting that she’s always hated and asked her readers to turn it into a meme. I told her it needed a horn, because “fillies dig unicorns.” Then she made this hysterical meme and I was all “I need to put this on my blog! I need a book about a unicorn, damnit!” And thus, this title was added to my TBR list.

Nothing like laughing at your own jokes, but seriously. This kills me!

Nothing like laughing at your own jokes, but seriously. This kills me!

7. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I loved Eleanor & Park so much, I obviously need to read more. RAINBOW! I LOVE YOU!

8. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I know. It’s not new or anything, but I haven’t read it, it was on sale, and now it’s just languishing on my kindle along with…

9. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. Same story. Acclaimed book. Sale price. Katie, being distracted by shiny new things, has thus far not attempted to read it.

10. More stuff by Jennifer Crusie. I really liked Bet Me and I just found a bundle of 4 Crusie books for under 10 bucks on Amazon for my kindle. These are great palate cleansers and a nice escape from some of my more intense reading. I don’t know what I’ll read first, but does it really matter?

That’s my list. What do you have on your radar, Bookworms?

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Jun 17

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett

Art, Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery 43

How fare thee, sweet Bookworms?

Today we explore a book about books! A few weeks ago, one of my aunts left me a note on Facebook asking me if I’d read The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Love and Obsession by Charlie Lovett. I said I hadn’t and asked if it was any good. My aunt responded with “I don’t know, YOU’RE the bookworm!” Apparently snarky eyebrows aren’t the only familial trait… Full on sarcasm runs rather strongly as well. I decided to look and see if I could find this book on NetGalley, so I could mention this conversation on my blog and tell the world that my aunt is one sassy broad. As luck would have it, I was able to snag a copy. I am fortune’s fool… Or something. Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. This shan’t compromise my integrity in the slightest, as I am rather fond of looking gift horses in the mouth. I won’t hesitate to bite my thumb at it, should it come to that.
bookmanus
Are my Shakespearean references annoying you yet? Too bad! This book is about Peter Byerly, an antiquarian bookseller and collector. Peter is a shy young widower with an anxiety disorder. Since the untimely death of his beloved wife, he’s lost interest in his former passion for hunting down lost treasures in antique manuscripts. He has run away from his grief stricken home in North Carolina and settled in a cottage in the English countryside. While half-heartedly rummaging through a collection, Peter discovers a water color that is the spitting image of his late wife. The mystery? The painting is very clearly from the Victorian era… And Peter is in 1995. He is suitably confused, and embarks on a journey to uncover the origins of the painting. During the course of Peter’s research on the painting, he accidentally runs across a book that has the potential to prove that Shakespeare really wrote all of his own plays.
Oh yeah. Background information. There’s always been some rumors swirling about in literary circles that doubt that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by William Shakespeare. Theories abound as to who the true author may be, or if the person of William Shakespeare existed at all. Though the works are clearly documented through dates, it’s awfully difficult to prove WHO actually wrote them. Most of the works were originally plays, Shakespeare the business man never spelled his name with an “e” at the end and only had a grammar school education, Francis Bacon may have wanted to use a pen name, blah blah blah. Conspiracy theorists only sound ridiculous when you’ve got solid proof to discredit their claims, and no such solid proof exists of Shakespeare being, well, Shakespeare. Except maybe, just maybe, this book that Peter has come across. Dun dun dun!!!
This book has elements of The DaVinci Code and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. We’ve got a mystery of historical proportions that needs to be solved. The stakes are high. The mysteries run deep. People are trying to protect SECRETS.  The story is constructed sort of like a braid. It’s got three distinct storylines going at the same time. We follow Peter’s life circa 1995 with the brooding and the grief and the mystery. We also explore the time line that shows Peter meeting his late wife Amanda in college and the blossoming of their love story (which is rather heartbreaking since you know from the beginning that she’s not long for this world.) The third piece of the puzzle is the story of a rather important book and how it ends up being passed down through the ages.
The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book's story.

The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book’s story. Analogies in friendship bracelets. Astounding. (Image Source)

I refuse to be a spoilsport, because I rarely read mysteries and I rather enjoyed this one. The ending was a little too tidy for my taste (dare I say predictable?), but I’m willing to forgive Lovett on the grounds that I enjoyed the rest of the story. If you liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, I think this will be right up your alley. It’s not quite as whimsical as Penumbra, but it is every bit as engrossing. If you’re at all like me, Peter the super book nerd will steal your heart and you’ll want to hug him and give him tea… And Xanax.

Oh yes. I almost forgot to mention! I felt exceptionally close to this book because it talked about places I’ve been! Several times throughout the book Peter stops at the Russel Square tube station while in London. It’s close to the British Museum (where I’ve BEEN!!!) and it was our “home stop” while I did my two week mini-mester in London approximately 1,000 years ago. I was all, “Russel Square is my ‘hood!” Very exciting for me.

Oh my dear little peaches of Bookworms. We could talk about Shakespeare or mysteries or any number of things. But I must know. Am I the only person who gets unreasonably excited about reading stories with PLACES I KNOW?! When I was reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods I was practically giddy with all the Illinois small town name dropping. It makes me feel a part of it, you know? Is it just me? Don’t leave me hanging y’all. Share your stories. Or tell me I’m crazy. I most certainly am, though this is probably quite low on the list of my “eccentricities” shall we say? Spill!

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Jun 17

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett

Art, Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery 43

How fare thee, sweet Bookworms?

Today we explore a book about books! A few weeks ago, one of my aunts left me a note on Facebook asking me if I’d read The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Love and Obsession by Charlie Lovett. I said I hadn’t and asked if it was any good. My aunt responded with “I don’t know, YOU’RE the bookworm!” Apparently snarky eyebrows aren’t the only familial trait… Full on sarcasm runs rather strongly as well. I decided to look and see if I could find this book on NetGalley, so I could mention this conversation on my blog and tell the world that my aunt is one sassy broad. As luck would have it, I was able to snag a copy. I am fortune’s fool… Or something. Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. This shan’t compromise my integrity in the slightest, as I am rather fond of looking gift horses in the mouth. I won’t hesitate to bite my thumb at it, should it come to that.
bookmanus
Are my Shakespearean references annoying you yet? Too bad! This book is about Peter Byerly, an antiquarian bookseller and collector. Peter is a shy young widower with an anxiety disorder. Since the untimely death of his beloved wife, he’s lost interest in his former passion for hunting down lost treasures in antique manuscripts. He has run away from his grief stricken home in North Carolina and settled in a cottage in the English countryside. While half-heartedly rummaging through a collection, Peter discovers a water color that is the spitting image of his late wife. The mystery? The painting is very clearly from the Victorian era… And Peter is in 1995. He is suitably confused, and embarks on a journey to uncover the origins of the painting. During the course of Peter’s research on the painting, he accidentally runs across a book that has the potential to prove that Shakespeare really wrote all of his own plays.
Oh yeah. Background information. There’s always been some rumors swirling about in literary circles that doubt that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by William Shakespeare. Theories abound as to who the true author may be, or if the person of William Shakespeare existed at all. Though the works are clearly documented through dates, it’s awfully difficult to prove WHO actually wrote them. Most of the works were originally plays, Shakespeare the business man never spelled his name with an “e” at the end and only had a grammar school education, Francis Bacon may have wanted to use a pen name, blah blah blah. Conspiracy theorists only sound ridiculous when you’ve got solid proof to discredit their claims, and no such solid proof exists of Shakespeare being, well, Shakespeare. Except maybe, just maybe, this book that Peter has come across. Dun dun dun!!!
This book has elements of The DaVinci Code and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. We’ve got a mystery of historical proportions that needs to be solved. The stakes are high. The mysteries run deep. People are trying to protect SECRETS.  The story is constructed sort of like a braid. It’s got three distinct storylines going at the same time. We follow Peter’s life circa 1995 with the brooding and the grief and the mystery. We also explore the time line that shows Peter meeting his late wife Amanda in college and the blossoming of their love story (which is rather heartbreaking since you know from the beginning that she’s not long for this world.) The third piece of the puzzle is the story of a rather important book and how it ends up being passed down through the ages.
The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book's story.

The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book’s story. Analogies in friendship bracelets. Astounding. (Image Source)

I refuse to be a spoilsport, because I rarely read mysteries and I rather enjoyed this one. The ending was a little too tidy for my taste (dare I say predictable?), but I’m willing to forgive Lovett on the grounds that I enjoyed the rest of the story. If you liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, I think this will be right up your alley. It’s not quite as whimsical as Penumbra, but it is every bit as engrossing. If you’re at all like me, Peter the super book nerd will steal your heart and you’ll want to hug him and give him tea… And Xanax.

Oh yes. I almost forgot to mention! I felt exceptionally close to this book because it talked about places I’ve been! Several times throughout the book Peter stops at the Russel Square tube station while in London. It’s close to the British Museum (where I’ve BEEN!!!) and it was our “home stop” while I did my two week mini-mester in London approximately 1,000 years ago. I was all, “Russel Square is my ‘hood!” Very exciting for me.

Oh my dear little peaches of Bookworms. We could talk about Shakespeare or mysteries or any number of things. But I must know. Am I the only person who gets unreasonably excited about reading stories with PLACES I KNOW?! When I was reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods I was practically giddy with all the Illinois small town name dropping. It makes me feel a part of it, you know? Is it just me? Don’t leave me hanging y’all. Share your stories. Or tell me I’m crazy. I most certainly am, though this is probably quite low on the list of my “eccentricities” shall we say? Spill!

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Jun 14

What's in Your HEEEEEAD? (Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates)

Crime, Frightening, Psychological, Zombies 47

Hello Bookworms,

Today we’re going dark. I’m talking pit-of-despair dark. I just finished reading Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates. I purchased it because I like Joyce Carol Oates, I like zombies, and I like Kindle books offered at sale prices. Much to my disappointment, this wasn’t about zombies in the traditional sense. Although, it had quite a bit to do with BRAAAAAAINS.

zombie

You ever watch Criminal Minds or Hannibal or Dexter and get completely creeped out to be inside the mind of a serial killer? Yeah. Well, if those give you nightmares, skip this book. Our narrator, Quentin aka Q_P_ is a very sick man. He is obsessed with the idea of kidnapping a young man and giving him a lobotomy. An ice pick lobotomy. A One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest lobotomy. Q_P_ wants a human-like creature to be his slave. To cater to his sexual whims. To do his bidding without question. Q_P_ dreams about it. Obsesses.

Q_P_ makes several attempts to carry out his plans. On his first attempt, he was caught with his test subject. The mentally disabled boy managed to escape Q_P_’s pedophile wagon during the initial sexual assault. No ice pick ever neared his eye sockets, and Q_P_ is merely charged as a sex offender. After his arrest, Q_P_ is treated by a respected psychiatrist, he participates in group therapy, he lives in a dwelling with other people, and he’s visited regularly by a parole officer. All attempts at rehabilitation are being made, but Q_P_ is clever. He STILL manages to carry on with his illicit activities, in spite of the heavy monitoring.

In some ways, being inside Q_P_’s head reminded me of reading Lolita, particularly when he’s obsessing about and stalking a teenage boy he dubbed “SQUIRREL.” Q_P_ shared Humbert Humbert’s peculiar fascination for the underage set, though Q_P_ preferred the dudes to the ladies. I never would have thought I’d hold Humbert Humbert up as a paragon of virtue, but he never did attempt to perform an ice pick lobotomy on anyone…

You won't ruin squirrels for me, scary book. I won't let you! (Image Source)

You won’t ruin squirrels for me, scary book. I won’t let you! (Image Source)

I’m not really sure what else to say. It was a well written book, and Oates got under my skin as she always does… But thank heaven it’s fiction. The subject matter was beyond my comfort zone, but the writing was so compelling I couldn’t put it down. I don’t feel that I can say that I liked it though, because it seriously disturbed me. You’d think I’d learn to read the abstracts by now! I tolerate ACTUAL zombie lore much better than this tale of zombies… I prefer the scary things in my books remain firmly on the side of the scientifically impossible, and there are real Q_P_ types out there. Heebie jeebies all around.

I know there’s a set that digs serial killer stories. It’s practically a genre unto itself, really. Is this type of story your thing? Is the allure getting inside the dark and twisty mind of the homicidal? I’m curious to hear your take on it, Bookworms. Anybody out there a fan of the genre? What appeals to you? What pushes you beyond your comfort zone?

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