Month: September 2013

Sep 30

Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?

Memoirs 30

Howdy Bookworms!

If you’re anything like me, you read that title and your mind immediately started thinking of the sociological and cultural reasons behind the racial divide in the reporting of extra-terrestrial encounters. I’ve spent far too much time mulling over this topic. However, if you were a better reader than I am, you would have read the full title right off the bat: Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?: Teaching Lessons from the BronxIt’s a memoir by Ilana Garon discussing her time teaching in inner city schools. That’s right, y’all. Non-fiction. I want a cookie!

*FULL DISCLOSURE* The author of this book offered me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I was good at school and never so much as got a detention. Given Ms. Garon’s background as a teacher I wouldn’t want to give a dishonest review and land myself in detention at age 30. 

aliensIlana Garon accepted a teaching position in the Bronx fresh out of college. She joined a program that placed energetic new graduates in teaching positions in some of the country’s roughest inner city schools. The program didn’t require education majors either- Garon was not. Her student teaching experience took place during a rushed and sparsely attended summer school session. Unprepared for what awaited her, this Jewish girl from the Virginia suburbs was about to take on an impoverished and violence riddled school district.

Garon is careful to point out that her memoirs are do not fit the mold of the “hero teacher.” We’ve all seen THAT movie, right? The class full of violent misfits who miraculously turn their lives around thanks to one exceptional unorthodox teacher? Yeah. That really isn’t how it works. It does, however, include amusing anecdotes (the title of the book was taken from a student’s research paper thesis), heartbreaking stories of good kids dragged into gang violence, and the occasional story that might just make it into one of those cheeseball “hero teacher” movies.

I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated Garon’s debunking of the “hero teacher” trope. I also liked that though teaching in the Bronx wasn’t a Hollywood caliber experience, you could tell how dedicated Garon was to the students. She doesn’t try to minimalize the problems in inner city schools. She doesn’t claim to offer simple solutions. What she does is tell an honest story of her experiences, making it everything a memoir should be.

If I had one complaint, it’s a small one. I’m so used to reading fiction that I get a little thrown when a story isn’t perfectly chronological. It would have been impossible to hit the chronology perfectly,given the way Garon chose to tell her story, but I found myself occasionally thinking “Wait, didn’t that guy drop out already?” or something similar. That’s not a criticism of Garon’s work so much as my own shortcomings as a reader.

So, Bookworms, tell me. Since we’re on the subject of school and all, I may as well ask. Does anyone out there feel like they actually had a “hero teacher” or do you agree with Garon that the concept is a misguided ideal that doesn’t exist in real life?

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Sep 26

Banned Books Week 2013: And Tango Makes Three

Banned Books, Children's Fiction 40

Greetings Bookworms!

PENGUINS! You all already know that I am a card carrying penguin enthusiast. Actually, I don’t carry a card (though now I really want to MAKE CARDS) but I’m a huge ginormous penguin fan. In honor of Banned Books Week, I thought I could combine two of my obsessions in a review of And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This book was released in 2005 and made quite a splash (pun intended.) It’s consistently topped the list of banned and challenged books since its release. How on earth could a kid’s picture book about penguins ruffle so many feathers, you ask?

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Hello, adorable illustrations!

Well… The two grown penguins snuggling on the cover? They’re both dudes. And Tango Makes Three is based on a true story of a pair of chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in NYC. Roy and Silo fell in penguin love. They did all the bowing and nuzzling and nest building of a penguin couple, but because they were both boys, they couldn’t make an egg. After the zookeeper watched the pair attempting to hatch a rock (seriously how adorably heartbreaking is that?!) he decided to give them a shot at parenthood. Another penguin couple had two eggs that season and they were historically unable to care for more than one egg at a time. The zookeeper gave the orphaned egg to Roy and Silo and voila! The lovely little Tango was hatched!

Full disclosure here. I’m ALL ABOUT the rainbow. In my book, love is love is love. Now. This book is undoubtedly aimed at children. The interest level is listed as Kindergarten-2nd grade, though the reading level is around a 4th grade level. The challenges this book typically gets are that it’s age inappropriate… And that it talks about homosexuality.

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I’m in a sticky situation here because while I support the gay community with all my heart and soul, I’m also a big fan of freedom of religion. It’s tough for me to rectify the two, because a lot of religions are less than enthused about homosexuality. That said, regardless of your religious views, at some point, kids are going to come in contact with gay people. There’s a very good chance a kid on their soccer team will have two dads or two moms. This book would be a FANTASTIC opening for that discussion. Heck, it’s even a great way to introduce the concept of adoption to a kiddo. Because really, what is more adorable and wonderful than an unconventional penguin family?!

Anybody out there have kids who have been introduced to And Tango Makes Three? Did they enjoy it? Because… PENGUINS!

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Sep 24

Banned Books Week 2013: Top Ten Tuesday Goes Rogue!

Banned Books, Classics, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Memoirs, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction 49

Howdy Bookworms!

Today is Tuesday and you know how much I love lists. I normally link up with the fantastic ladies at The Broke and the Bookish and participate in their weekly topics, but this week I’m going rogue. In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ve decided to forgo The Broke and Bookish topic this week (although they’re talking about sequels, so I encourage you to take a trip over there and check it out!) Instead, I’m going to continue my celebration of Banned Books Week and list some of my favorite banned books! Ready?!

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1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This book has been challenged for its realistic depictions of slavery and the South during the Civil War. There are absolutely elements in this book I can see making people uncomfortable- the attitudes of the characters toward black people are ugly to say the least. HOWEVER, I think it’s important to preserve that history. Understanding how such a hideous institution could have ever been considered acceptable is critical to keeping it from happening again. Sweeping an embarrassing past under the rug doesn’t do anything for anyone. PLUS, this book tells an amazing story. It would be tragic to lose that!

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Ironic much? The book about the dangers of burning books is banned? Apparently at some point a school in California took offense with the language and issued a version to their students with all the “hells” and “damns” blocked out. Because, really?

3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. This book is often challenged for a myriad of reasons. Profanity, race depiction, and homosexuality only scratch the surface. Whatever, Book Banners. The Color Purple is all kinds of awesome whether you like it or not!

The color purple is totally a metaphor. It's not like they talk about purple stuff all the time. So, if you're just like a purple enthusiast? This might disappoint you.

The color purple is totally a metaphor. It’s not like they talk about purple stuff all the time. So, if you’re just like a purple enthusiast? This might disappoint you.

4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The objections to Brave New World are fairly predictable. I mean, okay, so there might be rampant drug usage, casual sex, and the occasional orgy. The thing is, none of those activities are made to sound appealing in the slightest. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale. It’s the stuff dystopian nightmares are made of.

5. Forever by Judy Blume. Oh Judy Blume. How do I love thee? I’ve written before about my unabashed adoration for Are You There God? It’s Me Margaretbut Forever has had it’s share of challenges, too. It’s not surprising, really, this book is about teenagers who have S-E-X. Facts are facts, though. The average person loses his or her virginity at 17. It’s not realistic to pretend that teens in all their hormone riddled glory are all going to remain abstinent. It’s also silly to assume that every kid who reads this sort of book is going to go out and find someone to get naked with. What I love about Forever is that it’s a very realistic story of first love. They talk about the scary stuff- STDs, birth control, emotional investment. It also depicts heartbreak. Honestly, I think this book is more likely to talk teens OUT of having sex than it is to talk them INTO it. 

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6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. On the off chance you didn’t read my rant on the subject yesterday, please go have a look. Click here!

7. The Giver by Lois Lowry. Seriously, what is there to object to in this one? For heaven’s sake, they all take pills so there’s no sex, no sexual desires, no random make-out sessions- nada. It’s set in a dystopian society in which things are so tightly controlled that even color is forbidden. It’s like Pleasantville. It’s a fabulous book (better than all its sequels) and its a great challenging read for the middle school set.

8. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Yes, yes. Sexual assault, casual profanity, alcoholism. I know. But really, it’s all about overcoming adversity. It has the added benefit of convincing teenagers that they don’t have it so bad. This realization may be fleeting and replaced quickly by more pressing teenage concerns, but learning to think about things from someone else’s perspective is a part of growing up. If a book can help with that? Heck yes, kids should be reading it!

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9. 1984 by George Orwell. Whaaat? A totalitarian dystopian society raising a ruckus? Why that’s unheard of! Kidding, of course. This book touches on issues of privacy, censorship, sexual repression… It’s sort of the opposite of Brave New World, but terrifying in its own way. I can see why it might freak people out, but censoring a book about censorship? Bad form!

10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Huck and Jim’s trick down the mighty Mississippi has landed on the banned books list a time or three. Critics cite racist overtones and language as their major objections. Language complaints cause would-be readers to miss out on one of the greatest classics in American literature, and that would be a travesty. Long live Huck Finn!

Have any of your favorites ended up on a banned list? Any of your beloved tomes being challenged? Tell me about it, Bookworms. Let’s get our rebellion on!

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Sep 23

Banned Books Week 2013: Eleanor and Park?!?!

Banned Books, Coming of Age, Family, Young Adult Fiction 61

Hey Bookworms!

It’s time to celebrate Banned Books Week. Every year the national book community sets aside a week to celebrate FREEDOM!!! (I hope you imagined me bellowing that a la William Wallace in Braveheart because that is how it sounds in my head.) There are few things that raise my hackles the way banning books does. Of all the crazy shiznit that goes down in The Handmaid’s Talewhat has always bothered me the MOST is the prohibition of women reading.

The American Library Association doesn't want you to ban books either. (Image courtesy BannedBooksWeek.org)

The American Library Association doesn’t want you to ban books either. (Image courtesy BannedBooksWeek.org)

Books are banned and challenged by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. They’re banned by governments for spreading subversive ideas. They’re banned by religions for containing content they find offensive. Lately though, the groups that seems to be getting the most press for trying to ban books are parental groups.

Most of the time, I try to keep my nose out of the Mommy Wars or any debates on parenting. Sure, I have opinions, but as I do not yet have any progeny, it seems ill advised to wade into those waters. HOWEVER… Some yahoos in Minnesota tried to have Eleanor and Parkthe brilliant coming of age novel penned by the ridiculously talented Rainbow Rowell, banned from their schools’ reading lists.

Yep. This is happening right this minute. A group of parents in the Anoka-Hennepin school district has chosen to wage a war against my beloved E&P. If you feel like raising your blood pressure, you can go ahead and take a look at their list of complaints on the Parents Action League website. What’s got these parents all riled up? Profanity mostly. Because, you know. Middle and High School aged children have never heard a bad word. They’re certainly not using them either (GASP.) Also, it’s chock full of “crude and sexually charged material.” Sure. For a book where no actual sex takes place. Hand holding is described in all its intensity. The characters in this novel never graduate beyond some making out and minor groping! But of COURSE normal teenagers wouldn’t know anything about THAT either. 

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In fairness, I wouldn’t recommend reading Eleanor & Park to a young elementary school student, but we’re talking about teenagers. I’ve been a teenager. They’re a heck of a lot smarter than groups like Parents Action League ever give them credit for. I’d think parents would be stoked at the idea that their kid was assigned a book in school that they ACTUALLY wanted to read. Dismissing the messages presented in Eleanor and Park based on concerns over naughty words and heavy petting is a ginormous mistake. There’s so GOOD to be had in E&P!!! It addresses bullying, abusive home situations, first love, body image, being different, and GYM CLASS. I’m positively flabbergasted that anyone could object to this book, it has ALL THE LESSONS!

Of course, the Parents Action League also promotes an aggressively anti-gay agenda, so I shouldn’t be surprised by any of this… My only hope here is that the kids in this district decide to rebel against their parents. I came of age when “explicit lyrics” labels began being posted on the outside of CDs (remember CDs, guys?!) All those warning labels did was make it easier for me to decide what album to buy next. Explicit lyrics meant the album was going to be edgy and cool and everything rock was supposed to be. I can only pray that teenagers do as they’ve done for centuries and come to the same conclusion about Eleanor & Park. 

So, Bookworms. I suppose it’s stupid to ask if you agree with me about Eleanor & Park specifically, because differing opinions obviously won’t sway my beliefs. However. I am curious. How much say do you think it is appropriate for parents to have in the curriculum assigned to their children? We’re talking public school here. Weigh in y’all. What do you think?

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Sep 20

Confession Friday: I'm a Terrible Singer

Confession Friday, Personal 33

Howdy Bookworms!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I randomly work song lyrics into titles and/or posts pretty regularly. I can’t help it, my brain is the victim of catchy tunes. The unfortunate part? I can’t actually carry a tune.

People often use “tone deaf” as a description for a terrible singer. I’m not tone deaf. Not even a little bit. “Tone deaf” implies that one literally cannot hear tones… Like Jamie in Outlander after his head injury (thanks a LOT, DOUGAL. Jerk.) Jamie could hear no differentiation of notes. If he sang horribly, he had no idea he did so, because he couldn’t hear the difference. I’m not that deluded and/or handicapped. I can hear what sounds good and what doesn’t. What I can’t do is make my throat cooperate and produce melodic sounds. What comes out is typically rather screechy, though it sometimes sounds a little goat-like.

Actually, I think these goats were better singers than I was.

Actually, I think these goats were better singers than I was.

Sometimes I’ll watch American Idol and cringe at the terrible singers in the audition rounds. They typically seem blissfully unaware that they’re awful. I suppose there’s some benefit in being cognisant of the fact that I’m a yowler, but being self aware is EXHAUSTING sometimes. Oh well. The knowledge of my pitiful singing voice doesn’t stop me from belting out Bohemian Rhapsody in the car with my BFF and her 5 year old son (who is being raised RIGHT and knows the lyrics. That child is magnificent.)

It also doesn’t stop me from enjoying music and singing done by people who are NOT me. In fact, I feel my musical disability gives me a special appreciation for the art. I know just how hard it is. Kudos to YOU, people who can sing. Way to be awesome.

Anybody else have a confession they’d like to make? Are you secretly an excellent singer? Do you car dance to Barry Manilow? Let it out!

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Sep 19

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy, Supernatural 47

Hola Bookworms,

It’s occurred to me that while I chatter to y’all incessently, I very rarely discuss what I spend the vast majority of my time doing. That’s right. I’ve got a grown-up job. I don’t talk about my job much for a couple of reasons. First, it has absolutely nothing to do with books. Second, it seems like a bad idea to go yammering about your job on the internet. That said, I do like to mention where I get my books, and this particular book came to me through work. I have a new co-worker. During the course of a “getting to know you” type conversation, he mentioned that he read a lot of fantasy novels. Being the curious cat that I am, I asked him which were his favorites. Of COURSE it was nothing I’d ever read. I mean, how likely would that be anyway? I’ve only ever read a smattering of fantasy, the odds were not in my favor. I’ve been feeling unworthy of the genre since I read and did not enjoy Tolkien.

nameofthewindShortly after this conversation, a copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss appeared on my desk. I took one look at the well worn paperback and thought, “Way to stick your foot in your mouth, Katie. Now you’ve got to read this ginormous fantasy novel because it would be rude not to.” To add to my nervousness? I noticed it was a SIGNED COPY! I’m a terrible liar, so if I didn’t like the book, I’d have to figure out a way to explain that to someone who was clearly a superfan of Rothfuss. Quite the pickle, no?

As it turns out, the book gods smiled on my poor conflicted soul, because I read it and was sucked in. The Name of the Wind was a great book, despite the fact that they never actually told me what the name of the wind is. (I’m hoping the wind’s name is Herman Reginald Van Der Hooden, because I like saying it.)

We are introduced to a mysterious innkeeper who calls himself Kote. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Kote and his assistant Bast than meets the eye. “Kote” is in hiding. He is actually a figure of some note who is driven into obscurity for unknown reasons. A scribe arrives in town shortly after the novel begins as he is attempting to track the infamous Kvothe. Kote = Kvothe. I might have thought he’d pick a less similar name as his pseudonym, but what do I know? (I’m thinking changing my name from Katie to Karen and trading my MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron… My fingernails DO shine like justice… It could work.)

Kvothe is persuaded to tell his story, and what a tale it is! Our Kvothe was born into a band of traveling performers. He is trained in the arts of drama, music, and showmanship at a young age. Everything begins to change for Kvothe when their band comes across an arcanist who is down on his luck. (This is a fantasy novel, it wouldn’t be appropriate just to call someone a “dude who can do magic.”) The arcanist Abenthy takes Kvothe on as a student, and Kvothe turns out to be the Doogie Howser of magic. The kid is a prodigy. All is going well until one evening when Kvothe’s troupe is mysteriously murdered. We follow Kvothe on his adventures in orphandom, and what crazy adventures they turn out to be!

I really enjoyed this novel. I found the world-building to be superb. One of the biggest problems I have when I try to read fantasy novels (which is pretty much limited to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin) is that I have a hard time slogging through them. Ordinarily I find myself getting bogged down in description and tertiary characters. That wasn’t the case here at all- every character that was introduced I found engaging, and every interaction served to propel the narrative. It’s just my luck that this is the first book in a trilogy that is not yet complete. This book ends with quite a few unanswered questions that will gnaw at my soul until I tackle book 2 (which won’t be for a while because I’ve over-committed myself as usual.) Of course, as heaven knows, reading book 2 will only gnaw away at my soul until book 3 is released. It figures that not even a week after I got closure on the MaddAddam series, I’m waiting again! Le sigh.

So Bookworms. Tell me. Have you ever taken a chance on a book or a genre that wasn’t typically your cup of tea and been pleasantly surprised? Anybody out there read The Name of the Wind? What did you think?

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Sep 17

Falling for Fall: Top Ten Tuesday

Dystopian, E-Readers, Frightening, Mystery, Supernatural, Top Ten Tuesday 62

Good Day, Bookworms!

It’s the middle of September now, so I’m feeling very Autumnal. Luckily, the ladies of The Broke and The Bookish seem to be feeling this way, too! Today’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday listy goodness is the top ten books we plan to read this fall.

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Halloween is just around the corner, and this year to celebrate I thought I’d do some spooky reading. I know what you’re thinking. “Katie, you are afraid of everything and you are setting yourself up for a month of nightmares, you big chickeny chicken face!” You’re right. But I’m gonna do it anyway! Let’s get our creepy on!

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin. It’s October’s Fellowship of the Worms selection! Zombie/vampire hybrids? Yep. Nightmares. But at least we’re doing this TOGETHER!

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker. This is THE classic vampire novel. How have I managed this long without having read this book? It seems so terribly wrong…

3. The Walkng Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. The new season of The Walking Dead  begins in October and I’m so excited! I got a copy of this book at BlogHer13 after watching Gale Anne Hurd’s kickass keynote. ZOMBIES!

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4. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I’m trying to incorporate some more classics into my literary diet and it’s spooktacular. (I know. I am already kicking myself for using such a dumb phrase. My shins shall be so very bruised…)

5. Feed by Mira Grant. ZOMBIES! I’ve heard great things about this series, so I’m pretty stoked about it. Braaaaaaaains. Om nom nom!

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Halloween brings out the kid in me, why not indulge in a creepy kid’s story? Everybody loves the classic “kid raised by wolves ghosts” tale!

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7. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Aliens and religion. When you dig deep into religion you get into some secretive, scandalous, and mysterious tidbits. Add aliens?! Well. I mean, ALIENS! (I love ET. That doesn’t have a whole lot to do with anything, but that’s what comes to mind when I think of aliens. I cannot watch that movie without crying. He’s like a weird ugly otherwordly chihuahua.)

8. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages. I’m SUPER annoyed that I can’t get it for my kindle yet. Ugh. Seriously, people. I love me some digital books. I haven’t got the storage space to bring more physical books into my house. It seems exceptions will have to be made, but not without a little grumbling. Grumble grumble grumble…

9. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Duuuuuuuuuuun dun dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Sorry, sorry. It just got a little Andrew Lloyd Weber up in here. I would like to read this ghostly little tidbit though. I hear that no one tells a story like Gaston, so…

10. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. What is scarier than the end of the world, dude?! Let’s do this thing!

What are your plans for the fall, bookworms? A little bit of frightful fare for the spooky season? Tell me about it!

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Sep 16

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Humor, Romance 34

Greetings, Bookworms! The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was Attachmentsby Rainbow Rowell. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of Attachments and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review of Attachments on your own blog! :)

smarty-mcwordypants-199x3001. Attachments features an unconventional love story. In the late 1990s, Lincoln is hired to monitor the e-mail activity of a newspaper staff. He comes across regular exchanges between a woman named Beth and her best friend Jennifer. Lincoln begins to fall for Beth despite having never caught a glimpse of her. Do you think “love before first sight” is a romantic ideal, or do you believe it could happen in real life? 

I love the idea of falling in love with someone purely on the basis of their ideas. I really WANT to believe that seeing someone’s kicky digital exchanges could lead to unconditional love… Unfortunately, in the age of Catfishing, I don’t know how realistic this idea is. I mean, when Lincoln finally sees Beth, he’s attracted to her. Sure it helps a TON that he’s already got an idea of how great she is as a human being, but if there were absolutely zero physical attraction? I’m not sure how that would play out. Of course, stranger things have happened. I would love love love to be proven wrong on this one!

2. Rowell has a gift for creating characters that you feel astonishingly real. Was there anyone in Attachments that reminded you of someone in your real life? 

Rainbow Rowell writes some of the quirkiest and most fabulous characters I’ve ever read. While reading FangirlI was struck by how much Levi was like one of my friends. I didn’t have as intense a reaction to any of the characters in Attachments, but of COURSE I had a moment. I was sitting on the couch reading the very beginning of the novel when I busted out laughing. My husband was sitting next to be and wanted to know just what I was cackling at. Remember Beth’s sister Kiley? She of the awful wedding? When Beth was describing Kiley’s fiance to Jennifer, she mentioned that she always made fun of him for having an homage to his fraternity tattooed on his ankle. My brother-in-law (whom I love to pieces, he’s an awesome guy) was TOTALLY in the SAME fraternity as Kiley’s fiance. He ALSO has a frattoo on his ankle. I could have died. attachments-rainbow-rowell

3. After Lincoln has been monitoring Beth and Jennifer’s e-mails for a while, he begins to see himself referenced as “My Cute Guy.” Beth has a giant crush on him in spite of being in a long term relationship, and even resorts to very nearly following him home. Confess! What’s the “creepiest” thing you’ve ever done while pursuing a crush? 

I think “creepy stalker” has taken on a while new meaning since the advent of social media. It’s easy to learn a lot about a person based on what they’ve got up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. At least with social media allows the creator of the account decides what is available to be seen (unlike someone reading your personal email… LINCOLN!) Of course, a little light stalking is a time honored tradition when it comes to courtship.  John stole Meg’s glove in Little Women, right? I spent an awful lot of time hanging around the audio-visual labs when I was trying to get Jim to notice me… I mean, it’s not like I looked up his name in the student directory, found out his middle initial, and daydreamed about what the P might stand for or anything… (It’s Patrick, just as I’d hoped.)

4. How did you feel about the Beth and Lincoln’s encounter in the movie theater? 

That was pretty intense, right? I mean, that crazy pent up sexual tension had to go somewhere. I was a little surprised it progressed so quickly, but you know. You find out someone loved you before he knew what you looked like, you meet him in a dark theater, you’ve had time to get over the shock of his enormous invasion of privacy… Make out sessions are bound to happen!

5. If you were Beth and Lincoln, would you publicly admit your “how we met” story to your friends and family?

I think Beth and Lincoln were pretty smart to keep the details of how they met to themselves… And Jennifer, naturally. Heck, people even now are sometimes embarrassed to admit they met online even though it’s pretty commonplace. I think that given the late 90s early 2000s era of this novel, it was best for Lincoln and Beth to keep their circumstances quiet. I really don’t think that Lincoln’s hippie chick mother or Beth’s troupe of sisters would understand their back story and find it as charming as I did.

So Bookworms, how did you feel about Attachments as a whole? I adored it, much like everything Rainbow Rowell has written. Now I shall wait in suspense for the 2014 release of Landline. Sigh. Seems so very far away! In the meantime though, let’s talk about our plans for October. In the spirit of Halloween I thought we should read a little something spooky. October’s book club selection will be The Passage by Justin Cronin.

Creepy!

Creepy!

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Sep 13

It's a Very, Very MaddAddam World

Dystopian, Frightening, Science 38

Salutations Bookworms!

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. NOBODY does a dystopia like Atwood, believe you me. (I mean, have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?!) I have been waiting for what feels like FOREVER for the release of MaddAddamThis book completed Atwood’s epic dystopian trilogy that began with the 2003 release of Oryx and Crake and continued with 2009’s In The Year of the FloodI’ve been desperate to know the fate of humanity for YEARS now!

margaret-atwood-dystopic-trilogy

Atwood is a passionate environmentalist, and the future she paints as a result of environmental catastrophes is disturbing. In Atwood’s version of the future, global warming has taken a serious toll on the planet. Large portions of California and the Eastern Seaboard are underwater and therefore uninhabitable thanks to the melting of the polar ice caps. Science is now able to manufacture actual meat without having to harm any animals; they can grow a chicken breast in isolation. They’ve played around with gene splicing so much, the native species are all jacked up. Atwood doesn’t go into detail about all of the hybrid animals, but her naming of them gives clues as to their origins. There are now sheep who grow human hair and pigs with human brain tissue. Pharmaceuticals have been perverted by giant corporations so that in addition to curing diseases, they also spread them. Every extreme you can imagine has come to fruition, and it’s not pretty.

Our motley cast of characters are born into this reality. People not under the employ of a major corporation are cast out into the dangerous and impoverished pleeblands. New religions emerge that worship petroleum on one end of the spectrum and extreme recycling on the other. (Let’s face it. Handmade sandals fashioned from recycled tires are sexy, y’all.) Criminals are given the option to suspend their prison sentences by opting to fight to the death in an arena, gladiator style. (Painball is no Hunger Games- these aren’t little kids in the field, they’re psychotic murderers. Butchering one’s victims and devouring their kidneys is par for the course.)

plagueThis brave new world is the perfect chaos into which a genius with a God complex can enter to wreak havoc. Our doom fixated genius is a misguided young man named Glenn, though he has taken on the pseudonym “Crake” because he’s all about extinct species. The term “God complex” gets flung around pretty regularly to refer to people who like to control situations, but Crake is the very definition of the term. He was a scientific genius, but instead of sticking to commercial pursuits, he decided to crafted himself a new race. He gene spliced himself a new humanoid species that was meant to “correct” all the foibles that have plagued humans. He pulled a GENESIS, yo. That’s CRAZY! Much like the vengeful God of the Old Testament, Crake has determined that he needs to wipe the slate clean of the existing human race. The apocalyptic flood was unleashed in the form of a lethal genetically modified microbe nestled inside an sexual enhancement pill. Sinners and saints alike perished in Crake’s wrath. The handful of survivors attempt to regroup and figure out how to persevere in their new nightmarish reality.

I could go on and on about how insane Atwood’s world building is or how much I LOVE all the biological oddities she created. The work is intense, poignant, and cautionary. It will make you ponder ethical conundrums you never anticipated. You really, really, REALLY need to read this.

Alright Bookworms. Let’s throw out consequences for a second and take a trip into the land of imagination. If you could create a hybrid animal what two would you smush together?

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Sep 12

Getting Rid of Bradley (Because He Totally Sucks)

Chick Lit, Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 40

Howdy Bookworms,

Sometimes you just need a break, you know? I’ve been reading a lot of dystopias and apocalyptic fiction lately, and I decided I needed a goofy little romance. I read Jennifer Crusie’s novel Bet Me a while back, and enjoyed it so much I decided to buy a bundle o’ Jennifer Crusie on the Kindle at a bargain price! I had the set waiting for me for just such an occasion, so I decided to cleanse the old brain palate and dive in.

gettingridofbradleyThe first book in my set was Getting Rid of Bradley. Lucy, our protagonist has just gotten divorced. As in, she has JUST gotten out of the courtroom. Lucy’s obscenely wealthy sister managed to grease the wheels of justice so thoroughly that Lucy’s divorce was finalized a mere two weeks after the initial filing. I don’t know a lot about divorces, but I’m pretty sure even rich people have to wait their turn. Of course, what’s a little fudging of reality between friends?  Lucy and her sister headed to a diner for a post divorce lunch when…

A pair of cops saunter in. One is clean cut, the other dashingly rugged. The cops are hot on the trail of a white collar criminal, lying in wait in said diner thanks to an anonymous tip. While they wait for the perps to show up, Zack (Mr. Rugged) laments the fact that he’s 36 and has no desire to settle down. He’s more than a little bit moody and broody.

Lucy and her sister head out of the diner and the cops split up to follow and question them. Lucy naturally mistakes Zack for a mugger, and during their little alleyway tussle, a shot is fired. MYSTERY and DANGER now follow Lucy. Zack is predictably smitten, despite her horrendous dye job. (Women always give themselves tragic makeovers when they are trying to put a failed relationship behind them… Or they choose vodka and Chaka Khan.)

Because it’s totally normal and in line with police policy, Zack decides to bunk at Lucy’s house until they’ve figured out who the mystery shooter is. It seems that Lucy’s ex is somehow tangled up in the whole white collar criminal thing- it doesn’t help that they’ve both got “Bradley” in their names (this was funnier in The Importance of Being Earnest.) Anyhow. INSTA-LOVE ensues and the bedsheets are all a-tangle. Also there are dogs with science names. And mysteries are solved. Love conquers all. You know how it works.

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as Bet Me, but I didn’t have super high expectations. I wanted a fun little romance to take my mind off all the doom and gloom, and this book did exactly that. If you need something light with a hint of steam, this could be a good book for you.

So, Bookworms. What do you like to read when you need a palate cleanser? Any hopeless romantics out there enjoy the occasional romp through this type of novel?

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