Month: July 2013

Jul 30

Start With a Bang and End With a… Bang? (Top Ten Tuesday)

Blogging, Book Club, Children's Fiction, Classics, Humor, Top Ten Tuesday 44

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

As you know, I love making lists for Top Ten Tuesday. This week the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list out ten books with awesome beginnings and/or endings. It was tough to narrow it down, but miracles can happen, people!

TTT3WBeautiful Beginnings

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I can’t help but adore the opening line of this book. It can be adapted for so many purposes! “It is a truth universally acknowledged that…”

…Coleslaw is icky.

…Penguins are awesome.

…You are never too old to wear electric blue nail polish.

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I realize it’s not the first line or anything, but Alice going down the rabbit hole is so iconic. How else could one be expected to begin such an adventure?

Curiouser and curiouser...

Curiouser and curiouser…

3. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. The desire to be special is part of the human condition. The feeling of liberation that Harry gets when he realizes that everything in his mundane life is about to change, and the fact that his idiosyncrasies are MAGICAL? In that moment, there was not a reader alive who didn’t long for their Hogwarts letter! (Okay, so I’m sure not everyone wanted a Hogwarts letter… But I did. And I like hyperbole. Stop with the logic, it hurts!)

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This book is one of the few I’ve read more than once. Little Amy saying that “it won’t feel like Christmas without presents” tore at my ten year old heartstrings. I started reading it shortly after I’d opened the package that Christmas at my grandparents’ house. The March sisters and their generosity and their hardships and their archaic underpants took hold of me and never let go!

The copy I got for Christmas was a large hardcover. It still lives in my closet at my parents' house, as I've got a small paperback on my shelves.

The copy I got for Christmas was a large hardcover. It still lives in my closet at my parents’ house, as I’ve got a small paperback on my shelves.

Engaging Endings

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s a full fledged ride down to crazy town, but I didn’t see the ending coming. It may have caused some shouting. I believe a “holy crap!” was uttered on my part.

2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It was our first selection for The Fellowship of the Worms (have y’all started reading The Shadow of the Wind yet?) and the twist toward the end of the book caught me totally off guard. In this case, I pulled a full on Joey Lawrence “WHOA!”

Because Blossom was awesome. (Source)

Because Blossom was awesome. (Source)

3. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. Can you spoil a Harry Potter book? Since the series was SOOOOO publicized and the final volume came out 6 years ago, I’m going to go with “no.” I am a sucker for a happy ending, and coming full circle at Platform 9 3/4? I was a hot mess of snotty tears.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Again, I’m a sucker for a happy ending, but I LOVED this. Jane and Rochester’s journey was all messy and crazy and full of wives stashed in attics and life threatening injuries… But in the end? There was happiness. Sigh. Happy, happy Katie.

I know, this is a list of 8, not 10, but I’m still recovering from BlogHer. I am old, boring, and unused to concentrated amounts of awesome. What about you, bookworms? Which books have hooked you with their fabulous beginnings and knocked you flat with their amazing endings?

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Jul 29

I Went to BlogHer and it was AWESOME

Blogging 48

Hey There Bookworms!

You probably noticed my lack of responsiveness the past few days. That’s because I was at my very first blogging conference. That’s right folks. I went to BlogHer 2013 and I had a blast. I thought about making this into a full week’s worth of posts (I have THAT MUCH to say) but then I figured you probably only want the highlights. Are you ready for this?

1. The People! BlogHer’s biggest draw (at least for me) was getting to meet other bloggers and network. I had SO MUCH FUN! I got to meet some of the ladies I talk to online regularly IN THE FLESH. (In case you were interested, Joules from Pocketful of Joules says “worsh” instead of “wash” because she’s got a Maryland accent. It’s so freaking CUTE!) I posted quite a few photos to my Facebook page, but here’s a fave:

IMG_6907

Front row, my main squeezes, Joules from Pocketful of Joules, Moi, Lauren from Filing Jointly… Finally, and Chrissy from Quirky Chrissy. Our photobombers are Kari from A GraceFull Life and two other amazing ladies whose blogs I can’t link to because I am disorganized and bad at getting cards. Anybody want to fill in the blanks for me?

2. BlogHer Programming: BlogHer is not all parties and ridiculousness (although that part is delightful.) There were also classes you could take, and thank goodness! They had an entire track of programming dedicated to the technically challenged, which was great for me. I took a class on migrating blogs to self hosting, a class on what in the sam heck SEO is and how to use it, and a class on marketing and monetization of blogs for dummies beginners. Personally, I feel I got something out of the classes, and the speakers they had for the keynotes were pretty amazing.

This is me with Kelly Phillips, who taught the self hosting session. She was so nice and made tech things sound like normal people could do them. Love!

This is me with Kelly Phillips from Boost Interactive Media, who taught the self hosting session. She was so nice and made tech things sound like normal people could do them. Love!

Can I just tell you something? Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, is freaking adorable. I knew who she was, but kind of avoided her site because I am not much of a cook. Then she sang “Endless Love” to a slideshow of photos of her basset hound. I shall now love her forever and ever. Also, in case you were wondering, Queen Latifah looks just as fabulous in person, Sheryl Sandberg really cares about you leaning in, and Gale Anne Hurd is a complete BADASS who would absolutely wield a samurai sword in case of zombie apocalypse. Or even a stiletto heel. She’s that awesome.

3. Parties. There were so many parties to attend! I was absolutely exhausted because everything was back to back to back, but it was so much fun! I was invited to attend a really fun party put on by Yappem and an event for Walgreens and their new Up Fresh Bus. At the Walgreens event, I got to meet Danni Allen, who was on The Biggest Loser. That girl is a ball of energy, and while she takes her fitness to places I might not (because there’s no way I’m going to start making my own almond flour) she had lots of practical advice too. Plus, Walgreens now has all kinds of fresh produce and stuff available. And? The little food truck type buses they’re going to be rolling out? That fro-yo is LEGIT. No exaggeration. I wouldn’t lie about ice cream.

This is me, looking sheepish and asking for sprinkles on my triple chocolate fro-yo.

This is me, looking sheepish and asking for sprinkles on my triple chocolate fro-yo.

4. Show me the BOOKS! I must admit, I felt like I probably wasn’t your average attendee given my super niche blog. However. St. Martin’s Press was a vendor at the expo hall. I was able to snag a copy of Rainbow Rowell’s new novel Fangirl, for which I shall be eternally grateful. I also met Karen Ballum, who is in charge of the book section of BlogHer (and sooo nice, even when I tackled her awkwardly with a tipsy hug.) She mentioned a couple of attendees from Random House Canada were wandering around, so I was able to connect with them too. (One of the girls said “eh” *which sounds to my Midwestern ears like “ay” but is apparently not spelled this way*  inadvertently and it was the MOST adorable! Hi Ainsley!) If quality of connections is more important than quantity, I clearly came away a networking WINNER.

Don't think I forgot y'all. Here's a preview of some BlogHer swag I'll be including in an upcoming giveaway!

Don’t think I forgot y’all. Here’s a preview of some BlogHer swag I’ll be including in an upcoming giveaway! Actually, thank Joules too. She hates zombies so she gave me her copy! 🙂

Anything I didn’t mention that you’d like to know about BlogHer? Ask away!

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Jul 25

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Art, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance 31

Bonjour Bookworms!

Remember back when I read Me Before You and I was all agog over Jojo Moyes? Her upcoming release (August 20th!) was listed on NetGalley and I hit the “request” button so enthusiastically, I might have sprained my finger. Alright, that bit about the finger sprain is untrue, but I tend to get hyperbolic when I’m excited. As you saw right there, I am TERRIBLE AT LYING. Therefore, when I tell you that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, you won’t question my integrity. 

The Girl You Left Behind is told from the perspectives of two different women, living decades apart, who are connected through a painting. The book begins in 1916, at the height of WWI. Sophie LeFevre finds herself living in her hometown in northern France with her sister, brother, niece, and nephew as her husband and brother-in-law fight in the trenches. The town has been occupied by German forces, and life is bleak. The German army has requisitioned food stores, supplies, furniture, and fuel. The local French population is on the brink of starvation, and they are completely cut off from the outside world. Sophie’s source of strength is a portrait her artist husband painted of her. Its beauty offers solace in a home that’s been stripped of its comforts. It represents a connection to Sophie’s beloved Edouard. Her intense expression reminds her in her weaker moments that she’s not a woman to be trifled with.

Cover.Girl You Left Behind

Olivia Halston lives in London in 2006. She is a young widow, and devastated by the loss of her husband. She draws her strength from a painting her husband purchased for her on their honeymoon. It depicts a woman with an intense expression who looks as though she could survive anything… A woman who happens to be Sophie LeFevre. (Dun dun dun!!!) As Liv’s tale unfolds, the origins of  the painting she so cherishes are called into question by a lawsuit. In order to defend her claim to the contested painting, Liv embarks on a journey of historical and personal discovery.

That’s all I’m telling you because I’m lazy and I don’t want to be Spoilerella today. I DEVOURED this book, you guys! Is historical fiction about art and personal discovery a genre unto itself? It should be. I would buy ALL THE BOOKS! This book reminded me of all my favorite historical fiction and art novels: The Girl in the Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Virgin Blue both by Tracy Chevalier, and The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. It also reminded me of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay what with the historical events and the modern day sleuthing to uncover the truth… Of course this was (overall) significantly less depressing than Sarah’s Key, so don’t be frightened away.

I was going to suggest that my authors get a thesaurus for their titles, because there are so many "The Girl..." going on. I just pulled up this lovely impressionist piece by Renoir, titled (ever so creatively) "A Girl." I should probably be blaming the painters...

I was going to suggest that my favorite authors consider getting a thesaurus for their titles, as they’re all so similar. Then I pulled up this lovely impressionist piece by Renoir, titled “A Girl.” I should probably be blaming the painters for the repetitive titles. (source)

Dear Jojo Moyes, please consider this your invitation to the imaginary slumber party I’m having with Diana Gabaldon and JK Rowling. That’s my super creepy way of telling you that your books are fabulous and I’m a big fan. Don’t worry, I’m way too lazy and not nearly crazy enough to actually stalk anyone. I just think you’re the bees knees, Jojo. And your name makes me want to sing Beatles songs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me while I get back to where I once belonged, tell me, Bookworms. Do you ever hang out in antique stores and just wonder what the stuff would tell you if it could talk? How DID those antique penguin salt and pepper shakers wind up in my curio cabinet?! I mean, sure I know that “Aunt” Shelly got them at a swap meet, but who had them first? I want to knoooooooow! Is this my own personal brand of eccentric or does anybody else play this game?  

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Jul 23

How To Keep Katie From Reading Your Book (Top Ten Tuesday)

Top Ten Tuesday 98

Salutations Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday and I’m back in action! The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list the top ten words or phrases that will keep us from picking up a book. (Coincidentally this topic is the counterpart to to a previous Top Ten Tuesday, which you can find heeeere.) In case you were wondering what topics I’m not into, today is your lucky day. Ready, Freddy?

TTT3W1. Self Help. Yeah, so there’s a chance that I don’t like being told what to do. There’s definitely an audience for these type of books, but the audience isn’t me. (This goes for diet books too… Actually, it especially goes for diet books.)

2. Christian. I know right? This makes me sound like I’m hating on religion. I’m not. It’s just… I REALLY don’t like being told what to do. The rules I apply to self help and diet books also apply to religion. In the same way I’d avoid a missionary knocking on my door, I avoid these types of books. (Jim wants me to work in a reference to Kirk Cameron, and I’m grasping at straws. But Growing PainsNow that was a great show. Because of Alan Thicke… And Boner.)

3. Paranormal. I most definitely have come across books that are exceptions to this rule, but it’s not my go-to genre. Vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, ghosts, and whatnot are only welcome in moderation.

I ain't afraid of no ghosts. (Source)

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts. (Source)

4. Dragons. Unless you’re the Khaleesi or Harry Potter, I don’t want to hang out with your dragons. Probably. Don’t quote me on that.

5.  Military. I have the utmost respect for the armed forces. However. I don’t get the inside jokes, I don’t understand the hierarchy, and I think I’d be emotionally scarred by reading graphic battle scenes on a regular basis.

6. Cookbooks. I am capable of cooking. That does not mean that I enjoy it. Also, Jim is a picky eater, so new recipes throw him for a loop. Cookbooks full of Katie proof recipes and easy things? Sure, at least that’s practical. But Julia Child? You can keep all that souffle nonsense to yourself. My favorite “cookbook” is a collection of recipes my Mother-in-Law compiled as a wedding gift. They’re all the family favorites, complete with modifications, shortcuts, and notes on how not to ruin it. I don’t want to brag or anything, but when I put my mind to it, I can make a mean jello salad.

What is that? Delicious is what that is. (I've never taken a photo of my own pistachio salad so I had to borrow from wikipedia.)

What is that? Delicious is what that is. (I’ve never taken a photo of my own pistachio salad so I had to borrow from wikipedia.)

7. Politics. Much like religion, I don’t like discussing politics in polite company. I probably wouldn’t read a book written by a politician. I probably wouldn’t read a fictionalized account of Washington insider scandals. I probably would have been completely bored by the long discussions of Swedish politics in the Millenium Trilogy (Oh wait, I totally was!)

8. Leopard Seals. Don’t expect me to have any sympathy at all for these penguin eating savages. These aren’t even the cute seals that sometimes get clubbed for coats or whatever. These are enormous, ugly, giant toothed villains of epic proportion. Circle of life my fanny. I’d embrace a world overrun by penguins.

Magestic! (Source)

Magestic! (Source)

9. Sports. Yeah. I don’t dig sports. If nobody is doing a back flip, I’m not really interested. (Which is to say I probably would read a book on gymnastics because back flips are the COOLEST!)

10. Coleslaw. Why does coleslaw even exist? It is so yucky! Whose idea was that awful white dressing anyway? Cabbage and I get along just fine without you, icky dressing. Just stay in your jar, okay? (I may be running out of legitimate book topics and just listing things I don’t like…)

What about you, bookworms? Is there a word or phrase that will send you running from a book?

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Jul 22

A Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon

Blogging, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Supernatural, Zombies 19

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Ordinarily, Mondays bum me out, but not today. Today is a shortened work week for me because I’m going to BlogHer on Thursday (wahoo!) Have I mentioned that I’m excited? To kick the week off on a happy note, today we’re going to talk about Diana Gabaldon’s novella, A Plague of Zombies.

I’m a big giant fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s done a spin off series based on Lord John Grey (of which I have only read one… The one where studly Jamie Fraser featured prominently, natch.) Periodically she’ll also publish novellas to compliment the main Outlander books. It’s a good strategy, because we fans are positively RAVENOUS for new material. It certainly didn’t hurt anything that this particular novella also featured ZOMBIES. (In case y0u need reminding of my adoration of the undead see HERE and HERE.)

aplagueofzombies

A Plague of Zombies takes place sometime during the Voyager sagaWhile Jamie and Claire are off doing other things, Lord John has been sent to Jamaica. In the 18th century, Jamaica isn’t exactly a fabulous tourist destination. Jamaica at this time is full of wealthy European landowners, slaves, escaped slaves, a crap ton of bugs, and Mrs. Abernathy (formerly known as the wily and trecherous Geillis Duncan.) Lord John never does anything without having weird crap happen to him. He’s a magnet for this sort of thing.

Shortly after he arrives on the island, he is visited by what appears to be a zombie. Oh yeah. We are talking stinky, undead, flesh eating zombie. The island’s African population is freaked the frick out by the prospect of zombies (though really, who isn’t?) Lord John is nothing if not practical, so he decides to investigate the matter further.

This leads him to an encounter with Mrs. Abernathy AKA Geillis Duncan (from the original Oulander!) He notices that she’s a wee bit over familiar with the ideas of curses, zombies, and general scary doings… Also that she appears to be carrying an advanced case of syphilis. (Too bad Claire isn’t around with her homemade penicillin, amiright?! Actually, Geillis was crazy before the syphilis and given her penchant for trouble making, the penicillin would be better used on someone who didn’t systematically eliminate her husbands… )

Imagine this fella with red hair, because he'll be playing Jamie in the Starz production of Outlander. (Source)

Imagine this fella with red hair, because he’ll be playing Jamie in the Starz production of Outlander. (Source)

So. Lord John has a mystery to solve, and solves it rather tidily, as he is wont to do. All in all it was a nice little story, a pleasant revisiting of familiar characters to tide us over until March 2014, when Written in My Own Heart’s Blood comes out. The very best part of this novella, though? Bonus sneak preview of the new book. EEEP! Even if the novella had been a complete dud, it would have been worth it to get a glimpse of the shenanigans about to ensue. (Of course, Jem is still stuck in that blasted tunnel… The suspense, Diana! Have mercy on my neurotic soul!)

Anybody else out there picked up A Plague of Zombies? Any other rabid fans want to comment on the newly cast Jamie? Personally, I think a good hair colorist and consume designer can pull it off, but what say you, Bookworms?

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Jul 19

Who Do You Love, When You Come Undone? (She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb)

Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Psychological 49

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

I’m seriously looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. I stayed up way too late several nights this week reading She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I’m a jumble of confused emotion about this one, so I’m going to try and untangle my feelings and re-ravel my psyche. Ready?

This book has a whole lot going on. There are family issues, still births, miscarriages, rape, parental conflict, mental hospitals, extensive therapy, suicide attempts, Catholic school, stalking, abusive romantic entanglements, homosexuality, bullying, ostracism, death, loss, grief, illness, (takes a deeeeeeeeeeep breath) and obesity.

shescomeundone

There’s a large segment of the book where Dolores, our protagonist, is severely overweight. I know what you’re thinking! “Katie has a hard time reading about obesity, it’s her book kryptonite!” That’s true. For whatever reason, I’m especially emotional when reading about extremely overweight characters. So often authors get caught up in graphic physical descriptions of obesity. I don’t care how realistic the prose, long descriptive passages always strike me as insensitive and make me want to cry. I HAVE ISSUES. I was pleasantly surprised by Lamb’s approach. He wasn’t oozing syrupy sympathy, but he wasn’t cruelly descriptive either. Instead of directly discussing Dolores’s size, the reader is allowed to absorb her situation by the way other characters react to her. Dolores has a number of heart wrenching encounters, one that culminates in her attempted suicide…

Can I just get on a soap box for a second? Being large is TOUGH. Whatever the factors cause a person to become obese and whatever your opinions on personal responsibility, there is no excuse for being MEAN. It’s like society believes (at least theoretically) in the golden rule, except when it comes to fat people. That’s all I’m going to say. I’ll get ranty and weepy if I continue. If everyone in the world would just try a little bit every day to not be an asshole? Maybe unicorns wouldn’t be so frightened to reveal their existence.

At the very end of the book, Dolores is listening to “Come Undone” on the radio. Lamb never specifies an artist, but I had Duran Duran stuck in my head while reading this. Certain songs just BELONG with certain books, you know?! Alright, I’ve gotten off topic again. I liked this book, I didn’t love it. It kind of exhausted me with the trauma upon tragedy upon cruelty, but it was a good solid read. I’d have no qualms recommending it to someone who was into psychology, traumatic life experiences, or family drama.

Has anybody else read this one? What did you think? Do you have a kryptonite topic?

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Jul 18

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For: Fun With Search Terms

Blogging, Search Terms, Top Ten Tuesday 43

Howdy Bookworms,

There’s a long tradition among bloggers of compiling their amusing search terms into posts. In case you’re my mom (Hi, Mom!) and don’t know what I mean by “search term,” I’ll tell you. WordPress allows me the luxury of seeing what terms people type into search engines (like google, or yahoo, Mom) that get them to my blog. I’m always tickled by the ways in which people arrive at my little corner of the internet. Since I threw off my blogging schedule by skipping Top Ten Tuesday this week (because I could not think of enough under-appreciated authors), I thought it might be fun to write up my own compilation. At almost a full year into this blogging adventure, I certainly can’t list EVERYTHING, but I’ll give you the highlights. My wayward internet searchers often fall into one of the following categories…

Sam’s So Skinny! A lot of people seem to be VERY concerned about the size of Samantha Barks’s waist. I wrote a post a while back discussing my unabashed admiration for Les Miserables starring Ms. Barks and her teeny tiny waist. She is a slender lady, but rest assured, people- she was wearing an industrial strength corset under those rags. The girl was supposed to look half starved. She looks about 2/3 starved to me, but you know. Hollywood.

Calm down, y'all. There was a corset involved.

Calm down: there was a corset!

Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater: It appears that a lot of students are landing here because they don’t want to do their homework. Yep, search terms like “100 word synopsis on Oliver Twist” or “two essays on Little Red Riding Hood” or “symbolism in The Giver” come up pretty regularly. I’m onto you, kids! I know what you’re trying to get away with, and it’s not going to work! Your English teacher is NOT going to be pleased if you turn in a paper discussing how all the characters in The Fountainhead are douchebags. For the love of Pete! Read the books. Learn the things. I am old and already did MY homework. Now do yours! Grumble grumble grumble… And stay off my lawn, while you’re at it! 

My lawn really is glorious. That photo is no joke. Front yard, yo. (Thanks to Jim, of course.)

My lawn really is glorious. That photo is no joke. Front yard, yo. (Thanks to Hubs, of course. Hi Jim!)

Dirty Birdies: This is the internet after all. You didn’t think I’d get away without having some salacious searches, did you?  “Little Red Riding Hood porn” is disturbingly popular. “Gay centaur rape stories” came up once, which I can only hope landed that perv-a-saurus-rex on my review of the wonderful Song of AchillesThere, they would have learned about a beautiful love story that had plenty of homosexuality and ZERO centaur rape“Bubonic trauma whores” is still a bit of a mystery to me, but I figure all the foot fetish types that have come calling were attracted by my discussion of foot binding in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Welcome to the least sexy site on the internet!

Welcome to the least sexy site on the internet!

The Confused Christians:  It would seem that the internet is the place to go if you’re concerned that your immortal soul might be in danger. Searches that have landed people here have included things like “is it okay for Christians to read Harlequin romance novels,” “is Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret appropriate for Christian girls,” and my personal favorite, “Atwood hates Christians.” You really want MY opinion? Okey dokey. Every tween girl should read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret regardless of religious affiliation. I think romance novels are harmless, but I don’t know how your church feels about books with explicit sexy times. If you’re really concerned, maybe talk to your pastor, because my only advice is read whatever the heck you want. Oh, and to whomever thinks Margaret Atwood hates Christians? I’m a huge fan of her work. I hope that if you were looking for ammunition to denounce her books, you found a boatload of Atwood love instead.

So my dear Bookworms. I’m desperately curious. To what do I owe your presence? Were you a wandering google-searcher? Anybody want to own up to “Bubonic Trauma Whores”?!

UPDATE: Bubonic Trauma Whores is a rock band that I am not cool enough or hip enough to have heard of. 

UPDATE Part 2: “Eaten by Orcs” was a search term today. Love. It.

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Jul 16

Coming Out From Under the Dome

Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, Psychological, Supernatural 36

Howdy, Bookworms!

Exciting news today: I survived the DomeAlong! I have some thoughts to share on the second half of the book soooo… SPOILER ALERT!!! (I’m not kidding, it’s like ALL the SPOILERS.) You’ve been warned. Ready?

Under the Dome lengthwise

When we last spoke, I was getting frustrated with the one dimensional bad guys (who were just the evilest of evil) and the fact that the good guys couldn’t catch a break. They had also alluded to the fact that the Dome was probably caused by aliens, so I wasn’t too surprised to learn that was indeed the case. This book had an astonishingly high body count, so I’m just going to write out some tidbits and illustrate my reactions with gifs.

Let’s talk bad guys. I think the most satisfying revenge-y deaths were Georgia and Frank. The fact that Sammy got even a teeny bit of revenge for the hideous gang rape she suffered (even though she then killed herself…) pleased me. Not sure what that says about me as a human. Then Junior. Evil, brain tumored Junior. He came by his wickedness honestly, being the offspring of Big Jim Rennie, but Junior was killed in the heat of battle as he tried to mow Barbie down in a jail cell. Luckily for Barbie, Junior’s tumor was getting really bad and his aim was crap. That and the little band coming to break Barbie out of jail arrived just in time. I might have preferred to see Junior drawn and quartered, but I suppose being shot by a good guy helped curve a little bit of my revenge lust…

The good guys who rescued Barbie (and Rusty, because he managed to get himself arrested, too) decide to hide out near where they discovered the device producing the dome. Turns out the Dome was indeed the plaything of aliens. Plaything being the operative word. King was a bit heavy handed in drawing the comparison to ants being burnt under a magnifying glass, but the effect was pretty creepy. The people were trapped in a town that was self destructing by adolescent ne’er-do-well aliens. It reminded me of this old Twilight Zone episode where a ballerina, bagpiper, clown, and a couple other people are mysteriously trapped in a room. At the end it turns out that they’re TOYS in a donation bin.

Preach it, Cam. (Source)

Preach it, Cam. (Source)

Meanwhile, remember that meth lab on the outskirts of town? The drug addled Chef (who was, coincidentally, married to Sammy Bushey, gang rape victim, Bratz doll torturer, occasional lover of Junior’s second murder victim, and mother of Little Walter) has gone COMPLETELY off his rocker and starts threatening anybody who comes near his lil slice o’ heaven with machine guns. Andy Sanders (the first town selectman) decides to try and off himself but chickens out. He’s heard about Chef and his machine guns and goes out to visit (hoping he’ll be killed so he doesn’t have to do it himself. You know. Sin and all.) Instead of meeting his maker, Andy is introduced to the joys of meth and becomes Chef’s disciple. Greeeeat right? Well, the two of those yahoos smoke themselves into oblivion, which would be innocuous enough, if they weren’t also hell-bent on bringing about the End of Days. Do you know much about meth labs? They’re full of outrageously explosive chemicals and sometimes blow up unprovoked. If you’re The Chef and you’ve already lost your marbles, you think it’s a good idea to wire the whole place with dynamite, just to help things along.

So that happens. And since the Dome is really bad about air exchange, anybody who isn’t vaporized immediately succumbs to the oppressive fumes shortly thereafter, with a couple exceptions. The good guys who were hiding out on the ridge manage to get to the dome and have the military set up super industrial fans to push a little bit of fresh air through. The kid who shot his eye out at the very beginning of the book (because Ralphie’s mom was RIGHT, dangit!) had a brother who managed to hide in the cellar under a pile of potatoes and breathe some oxygen his dead grandfather had left in the house. And yes, Big Jim Rennie, cockroach that he is, manages to get himself and his newly minted “son,” Carter (who happened to also be a rapist, though Big Jim isn’t one to fixate on such trivialities) into the town’s old fallout shelter. After he kills Carter (who, in fairness, was trying to kill Big Jim,) I was beginning to get super pissed that Big Jim would survive. Then, I kind of hoped that he WOULD survive, because he’d be forced to face the music for all his evil deeds. Needless to say I was a little annoyed when he was taken out by a heart attack. No answering for his crimes except (hopefully) eternal damnation?

So the good guys eventually manage to get out of the Dome… By appealing to the punk-ass alien kids who are holding them hostage. This part sort of reminded me of the end of Ender’s Game (so I guess, SPOILER ALERT again.) The alien kids thought that it was all a game, they didn’t think people had feelings or whatever. It was a sadistic little game, just like kids burning ants with a magnifying glass, or giant bug-like aliens attempting to exterminate the indigenous species of planet Earth because they didn’t understand that humans were in fact intelligent beings. (I can’t really blame the poor buggers for that one, sometimes we ARE pretty dense.) Anyhow. Julia manages to convince one little alien kid to lift the Dome, and like 10 people get out. Out of 2,000. Not great odds, but it’s Stephen King, you know?

What I don’t understand is why they didn’t try the psychic begging angle before. Like… Julia’s final encounter with the aliens wasn’t the FIRST they’d had- why didn’t it occur to anyone to try to throw their brain waves and beg for mercy? They could have gotten out, Big Jim could have had a big public airing of his misdeeds and been punished appropriately, and the Chef wouldn’t have had the opportunity to kill basically everyone because his meth brain thought he was doing God’s work. I mean… Really?

Amy and I are not pleased. (Source)

Amy and I are not pleased. (Source)

So, um yeah. I don’t think Under the Dome was King’s best effort. I mean, it’s fine, I guess, but it’s not The Stand. It’s more like… The Stand… Light. Just 10 calories. Not Stand-ish enough. I have heard that a lot of people looooove this book, so I’m feeling a little Debbie Downer-ish here. Has anybody else read Under the Dome? What’s your take on it?

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Jul 15

Between You and Me… Was Not My Favorite.

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction 22

Hey Bookworms,

It’s Monday, and that stinks. Weekends > Weekdays. That’s just math right there. We’re not here to talk about math, though. We are here to talk about BOOKS! I recently finished reading Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. This was the duo that brought us The Nanny Diarieswhich I enjoyed, so I was excited when NetGalley offered me a review copy of this title. Full Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My nose grows when I lie, because I’m actually Pinocchio writing under a pseudonym. Alright. That was a lie. But the rest of this review? Not so much. 

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This book starts out with a young Logan Wade. She’s in her 20s, living in NYC, working a stressful job, and dealing with a douchey boyfriend. When she gets a call out of the blue from her long lost (and incredibly famous) cousin’s assistant, she jumps at the chance to spend a weekend in Los Angeles in the lap of luxury. One thing leads to another, and suddenly Logan finds herself in the assistant position for her pop star cousin. That’s when things start to get a little crazy…

I don’t think it helped my opinion of this book that I read this immediately after finishing Angela’s AshesIt’s hard to feel a whole lot of sympathy for a millionaire having a meltdown when the starvation of children is fresh in your mind. The whole premise of this book (though the authors took pains to say that it was a work of fiction and in no way based on real people) appeared to be a thinly veiled account of the fall of Britney Spears (with the occasional Lindsay Lohan moment.) Also, Logan’s love interest works for an actor who bears a striking resemblance to Matthew McConaughey (right down to the refusal to use deodorant.)

The Nanny Diaries gave a unique glimpse into the lives of the obnoxiously wealthy and the way their family lives worked. This book, on the other hand, read like a sympathetic tabloid. How tragic it was that Kelsey’s parents were controlling and abusive. How her alcoholic father traumatized her childhood. How her parents sponged off her fortune. How her desperation for love threw her into a hasty marriage and mad dash to motherhood. How there seemed to be NOBODY she could trust. Her desire for down home Oklahoma normalcy. Her public demise and her father’s conservatorship. It just felt like I’d heard the story a million times before. I found it was trite, predictable, and melodramatic. McLauglin and Kraus have proven they have the chops to produce an original story- I don’t understand why they chose to borrow so heavily from the tabloids to write this book.

She's so lucky, she's a star... (Source)

She’s so lucky, she’s a star… (Source)

I know, you guys. Harsh words. However. Just because I didn’t like this book, doesn’t mean you won’t. If you have a sincere interest in the circumstances that could lead pop stars and actresses to self destruct, you might appreciate this work. There are some funny moments, particularly in the quirks of entourages and celebrities. Being among the “normal folk,” it’s hard for us to understand how difficult the spotlight can be, or just how much work goes into maintaining such an image. Is E! True Hollywood Story still on? If you liked that show, and haven’t turned all jaded and cranky like me, this could be your new favorite book.

Between You and Me brings up a lot of dirt on tabloid culture. Do you keep up with celebrity news and gossip? Do you think that by living in the public eye, celebrities should expect invasions of privacy? Is it all part of the package, or should the paparazzi back the heck off ? Tell me about it.

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Jul 12

Angela's Ashes and My First World Problems

Coming of Age, Family, Memoirs 31

As I live and breathe, if it isn’t my wee Bookworms!

I hope you read that in an Irish accent, because I just finished reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Angela’s Ashes is the story of Frank McCourt’s childhood, if you can refer to spending your formative years in abject poverty and borderline starvation a “childhood.” This book rates right up there with Jeanette Walls’s Glass Castle for the “I cannot believe anyone could survive that” factor. Of course, McCourt darn near didn’t survive.

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McCourt’s parents are both Irish immigrants. They connect at a party in Brooklyn… In more ways than one. Oh yeah. Frankie was either a miraculously fast growing fetus, or he was conceived well before his parents’s wedding. It’s the dawn of the Great Depression, but the McCourts just keep multiplying. To add to the chaos, Frank’s father Malachy is a raging alcoholic. He cannot keep a job for long, and even when he’s working the wages rarely make it beyond the pub. He regularly lines up his toddler boys to ask them if they’ll be willing to die for Ireland after a bender. I can’t say a whole lot more about this book without spoiling a ton of things, but I will tell you the family ends up moving back to Ireland… And if you thought things were bad in America, Ireland put those struggles to SHAME.

Comic by Roz Chast

Comic by Roz Chast

I ran across this cartoon and it cracked me up because it’s so true. I tend to gravitate toward the “Way Worse Than Your Life” section, so I’m going to list out a few reasons I’m feeling guilty for my first world problems, courtesy of Angela’s Ashes. I’m going to list out some things I ought to remember…

1. The next time I complain about my less than svelte physique, I shall be grateful that I’ve never had to rob an orchard for food, have a pig’s head for Christmas dinner, or give my siblings bottles of sugar and water because milk is too expensive.

2. The next time I complain about having a cold, I shall be grateful that it isn’t typhoid fever.

3. The next time I turn my nose up at cleaning my toilets, I shall be grateful that I HAVE toilets. Private toilets.

4. The next time I am frustrated with a rainy day, I shall be grateful that it does not rain inside my house.

5. The next time I look in my messy closet, I shall be grateful that it is full of clothes that are clean and do not contain parasites.

Have any of you Bookworms read a book that smacked you upside the head with how lucky you are? Do you prefer your memoirs from the “Way Worse Than Your Life” section, too? Tell me about it!

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