Month: March 2014

Mar 31

The Fellowship of the Worms: The House Girl

Art, Book Club, Historical Fiction 8

Welcome, Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s that time again. The Fellowship of the Worms is now in session! This month’s selection was The House Girl by Tara Conklin. 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 The House Girl 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, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed The House Girl on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. The House Girl is told in a dual narrative, switching back and forth between Lina in modern day NYC and Josephine in 1852 Virginia. In addition to the two major narrators, there are a number of additional characters advancing the story through letters. Did you enjoy the multiple perspectives? Did you find it added or detracted from the story Conklin was trying to tell? 

Personally, I dig the dual (or more) narrative. I like being able to get inside the heads of multiple characters. I thought Conklin did a great job in fleshing out Josephine and Lina’s personalities. Though, if I could lodge one small complaint, it’s that I couldn’t get inside the head of Lu Anne Bell. What a crazy contradiction SHE was. I’m always interested in how people rationalize cruelties to themselves. Given what Lu Anne clearly knew about her husband’s non-consensual relationships with his female slaves, it’s no wonder she seemed to yo-yo between compassion and jealousy when dealing with Josephine.

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2. Do you think that Lu Anne intentionally passed off Josephine’s art work as her own? Do you think she would have done things differently had she known the notoriety the art would eventually garner? 

Lu Anne was a complicated character, I’m a little obsessed with her, since I was thwarted in my desire to get inside her head. The Pollyanna in me doesn’t think that Lu Anne had any idea that the artwork she and Josephine (okay, mostly Josephine) created was going to become famous. Of course, as much as I’d LIKE to think that Lu Anne would have taken steps to ensure proper credit was given had she known what was going to become of the art, I doubt she would have changed her actions. The product of her shameful environment, that one.

3. Lina is the daughter of the artsiest artists in all the land, and yet she chose to pursue a career in law. What in her upbringing to you think helped spur her decision to choose a career so based in reason? 

Lina’s upbringing was never quite stable. When it was just Lina and Oscar, their existence always seemed precarious. I think Lina’s choice of career was based in part on the desire to have some financial security (I can’t blame her for that!) I also think there was an element of rebellion there… She sort of goes Alex P. Keaton and rebels against her artsy upbringing by going corporate. (If you’re too young to get my Family Ties joke, get thee to the CBS.com. Full episodes!)

4. As a house slave, Josephine walks a lonely road. How does her unique status contribute to her desire to run? 

Poor Josephine! Because she was tasked with domestic duties, she was separated from the field workers. However, being in the house didn’t mean that she was a part of the family- she was still a slave, for heaven’s sake. She was stuck in this crappy middle ground trying to muddle through. Yes, she had relationships with Lottie and a few others, but Josephine was still separate. Oh, yeah. And being in the house only made it easier for her master to make his nocturnal visits- that sure as heck wasn’t a perk. Loneliness, prolonged sexual abuse, and, uh, being property? Yep. Seems like enough motivation to get out of Dodge to me!

5. How did you feel when Oscar dropped the bombshell about what really happened to Lina’s mother Grace?

What I want to know is how this was even possible. I know Grace told Oscar to tell everyone she’d died, but COME ON. It can’t be that easy to disappear! Wouldn’t people be suspicious that there was no funeral or memorial service? Maybe artsy people don’t do funerals? The whole thing seemed really weird to me. I’m glad Oscar came clean and gave Lina her mom’s contact information, but sheesh! What would you even SAY to your fake dead mother?! I can’t even.

Tell me your thoughts, Bookworms! How did you feel about The House GirlPlease link up if you’re so inclined! 

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Mar 27

Any Way the Wind Blows: An Idiosyncratic Lit LIst

Idiosyncratic Lit List 39

Howdy Bookworms,

I like word games. Sometimes I’ll sit and gaze at my “read” list on Goodreads and think of how books with similar titles can be so incredibly different. I thought it might be fun to come up with a list around a word, so I went and picked one. Let’s talk about WIND!

any way the wind blows

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Mmmm historical fiction. Yeah, so I kind of wanted to smack Scarlett most of the time, but I loved this book anyway.

2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. This is a super cool murky mystery set in Spain. It was a Fellowship of the Worms selection (you can see the discussion here) so you know it had to be good. Adding to its cool factor? It was a book about books. How can you not love that?

3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I like some fantasy from time to time, and this is JUST my kind of fantasy adventure. Magic plus medieval-ish times plus friggin lutes? Um, yes. Yes, I will read that.

4. A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon. This is a tasty little novella that fits into the Outlander universe. It’s Roger’s parents’ story. When I read it, it didn’t QUITE satisfy my Outlander craving, but really, nothing short of Jamie and Claire can do that.

Wind took us from a Spanish book mystery to Civil War era Georgia to a fantasy adventure romp to a time travel romance extravaganza. So yeah. Wind, y’all! Do you have a favorite for the Wind Collection? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 26

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Book Club, Coming of Age, Psychological 24

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

Remember last month when I got all philosophical about choosing a book for book club because last month’s selection in my neighborhood book club (cleverly named My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors) hit a sour note? You can click HERE if you’re interested. But you’ll be happy to know that this month’s selection worked out infinitely better for me. This month we read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, and WHOA.

ReconstructingAmelia hc c.JPGKate is a high powered lawyer living with her teenage daughter Amelia in Brooklyn. Kate has raised Amelia on her own since unexpectedly finding herself pregnant in law school. Kate has done her best to balance her career and single motherhood, though she feels guilty much of the time that her career has won out. When she’s called to Amelia’s hoity toity private school in the middle of an important meeting, she is frustrated. The situation that awaits her is more tragic than she ever imagined. Amelia fell to her death from the school’s roof.

Because dealing with the death of your child isn’t horrifying enough, Kate begins to get mysterious text messages saying that her daughter didn’t commit suicide. Kate embarks on a journey into investigating what was going on in her daughter’s life leading up to her untimely demise and what she uncovers is a whole lot more than she bargained for.

The hoity toity private school is a hotbed of elitism, secret societies, bullying, and all kinds of psychological warfare. Reading about this school, I have never been so grateful to have been raised thoroughly middle class. I went to high school where nobody gave a crap. Seriously. Heck, my school could barely even muster the energy for a traditional social hierarchy, never mind an elaborate set of secret social clubs.

As you probably know, psychological thrillers and murder mysteries aren’t typically my jam, but the addition of the scandalous school elements, really sucked me in. Two thumbs up, kiddos!

Alright Bookworms, I’ve got to know. Was your high school experience ANYTHING like what you’ve seen in pop culture?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 25

Top Ten Tuesday: My Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday 64

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish this week have tasked is with a doozy of a list. They have asked us what items are on our Bookish Bucket List. I haven’t honestly given this topic a whole lot of thought in the past, but I can put one together. I mean, why in the heck not?

bookishbucketlist

1. Go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I’m super super jealous of the trip Jen at The Relentless Reader just went on! (Check out the details here!)

2. Attend BEA one of these years. I believe 2016 will be in Chicago. Who’s going with me?

3. Do something OUTLANDISH! With the show coming out this summer and my over-the-top love for all things Jamie and Claire, I think it would be fun to do something inspired by Outlander. The only problem is that, uh, most OUTLANDISH activities are kind of gross. I mean, I GUESS I could give someone a black eye and then stick a leech on the bruise to reduce the swelling, but ewwwww. Plus, you know. Assault is frowned upon in polite company.

Hello, gorgeous. I can't wait to read you!

Hello, gorgeous. I can’t wait to read you!

4. Meet another book blogger! I’ve got some AMAZING blog friends that I’ve met in real life, but none of them are book-specific bloggers. It’d be nice to meet one of these crazies face-to-face, you know?

5. Increase the traffic Words for Worms gets. That’s not so much a bucket list item as an ongoing thing, but it’s my list. I can make it vague if I want to.

6. Go to a book signing. You guys. I live in the middle of nowhere. We don’t have amazing authors coming into town all the time. The last signing I wanted to go to was totally within driving distance, but on a weeknight. The full time job is a blessing, but occasionally inconvenient. Thankfully, Quirky Chrissy and the amazing Bloggess were able to make my dreams come true from afar. (The whole story is HERE if you’re interested.)

Luckily, my friend was able to make it so I was practically THERE.

Luckily, my friend was able to make it so I was practically THERE.

7. Start a meme. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I think Top Ten Tuesday is super fun and I’d like to come up with something as awesome. Of course, I’ve been toying with the idea for quite a while and I’m still lacking a concept. Ah well. Bucket lists aren’t supposed to be realistic.

8. Visit some bookish locales! How fun would it be to go to Scotland to get my Outlander on? Or, what about chilling on Prince Edward Island and getting in touch with my inner Anne (with an E!)

9. Throw a book themed party. This one might actually get off the ground. My IRL book club has a member expecting a teeny tiny bookworm! Bookish baby shower, anyone?

10. Read EVERYTHING on my bookshelf. Everything. That includes all those classics I purchased while feeling ambitious only to allow them to languish on the shelves…

What about you, Bookworms? Do you have a Bookish Bucket List? What’s on it? 

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Mar 24

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Young Adult Fiction 27

Greetings, Bookworms!

I turned 31 this weekend. The fact does not thrill me. In order to combat the “I’m getting old” blues, I thought it would be a good time to write about some YA fiction I read recently. My body may be aging but my mind can remain immature indefinitely, right? I ADORED The Fault in Our Stars (my review), but when I went on to read An Abundance of Katherines (my review) I got all cranky and decided to take a break from John Green. Now that a reasonable amount of time has passed, I thought it would be safe to give Green another shot and read Looking for Alaska.

lookingforalaskaMiles is a typical tall, lanky, invisible teenage boy living in Florida. Because his social prospects are so grim, he decides to pursue attending boarding school at his father’s alma mater in Alabama for the remainder of his high school career.

Shortly after his arrival on campus, Miles discovers what he’s been missing. He is quickly dubbed “Pudge” (ironically of course) by his roommate “The Colonel,” and accepted into his crew of misfits. Cigarettes, booze, and the quintessential “manic pixie girl” give Pudge the high school experience he never would have had at home.

Alaska Young is beautiful, smart, and fascinating. She is also moody, mysterious, and self destructive. OBVIOUSLY Miles falls head over heels for her. He’s drawn deeply into her world… And then? Nothing is ever the same.

You know what, Bookworms? I really liked this book. Part teen angst, part cautionary tale,  Looking for Alaska satisfied my hankering for some Young Adult drama. Were there occasions when my old-ness resulted in rolling my eyes at the kids in this book? Definitely. Did it feel even remotely like MY high school experience? No. Although… That’s probably not the worst thing, because, well, there was a lot in this book that I’m glad I didn’t have to live through. In any case, I definitely give Looking for Alaska the green light for the next time you’re looking for a YA fix.

So tell me, Bookworms. Do you feel your age? Sometimes I feel like an old soul, and other times I’m pretty sure I’m still about 14. Anybody else got that age confusion thing going on?

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Mar 20

Confession Friday (on Thursday): I’m a TERRIBLE Sick Person

Confession Friday 30

Bookworms, I have a confession to make.

I am THE WORST at being sick. Seriously. The good news is I hardly ever get sick. It’s been a good 2 years since I was last felled by a cold/flu/what-have-you. But dang. This sucks. When I’m sick I want to do nothing at all. Then I want to cry because I’ve done nothing at all. I took a day off work earlier this week because I felt so miserable. And I never take time off. Crazy. Of course, I took my whining to social media, because I’m LIKE THAT.

My tweets don't lie.

My tweets don’t lie.

Here’s a rundown. I started to feel the “I might be getting sick” thing on Friday. I brushed it off and went on my merry way. My friend’s birthday was Friday, so I went bowling (and if you follow my Instagram, you’ll know what a dichotomy of horror/brilliance that was.) Saturday I felt crapalicious, so I stayed in my pajamas and laid around until about 4, when I got showered and cleaned up. I had high hopes the Mexican food I’d be eating with my friend that evening would clear out the sinuses and put me on the road to recovery, but it was not meant to be.

Dirty Kleenex: the Smallpox Blanket of 2014

Dirty Kleenex: the Smallpox Blanket of 2014

Sunday I remained a whiny slug on the couch, sleeping until a million o’clock and THEN taking a nap. Who does that? I mean, except people with LEGIT illnesses, like cancer patients. (Cancer patients, y’all deserve all the sleep you can muster. I do not. Undeserving sleeper right here.) Speaking of which, I’ve never heard of a whiny cancer patient. They’re all about the positive mental attitude and I’m all “OMG, I have  a cold! Waaaaaaaaah!” More evidence that I am a horrible human being.

snottweet

Red noses ARE only cute on reindeer.

I’m starting to feel better, thank heaven! This is most likely due to the fact that head colds are super minor and clear up on their own in a few days, but I’m going to give the credit to my husband (who is waaaaaaaaay less whiny when sick than I am. So much for that stereotype.) He remembered that the last time he was sick, I went out and picked up some pseudoephedrine. The REAL stuff they keep behind the counter and put you in the meth suspicion database for. Best idea ever.

IMG_5038

Take THAT, nose!

In summation, I’m a huge whiny baby and a pretty awful person. At least I’m honest… I guess? Anybody else out there want to admit to being a weenie when sick? 

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Mar 19

King’s March: The Green Mile

Contemporary Fiction, Psychological, Supernatural 36

Greetings Bookworms,

Let it never be said that I am not susceptible to peer pressure. When I saw that Rory from Fourth Street Review and Wendy from Wensend were putting together a Stephen King event for March, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Now, if you’ve been here a while, you’ll know I’m a big ridiculous chicken about my Stephen King. I have to be careful about what I read because of nightmares. I figured The Green Mile would be a safe choice for me, since I’d seen the movie and remained nightmare free. (Tear free? Not so much, but that’s another story.)

KingsMarch_zps31f8f79e

The Green Mile is narrated by an aged Paul Edgecombe. In 1932, Paul was middle aged prison guard in Alabama… Paul isn’t just your garden variety guard, though. He oversees “The Green Mile” where inmates condemned to die in the electric chair serve out their last days. As an added bonus duty, Paul and his crew have to carry out the sentences. Because strapping convicted murderers into Old Sparky is still better than being unemployed during the Great Depression.

When John Coffey is brought onto the Mile, strange things begin to happen. John Coffey is remarkable. He’s and enormous African American man, standing 6’8 and full of muscle. Coffey landed in prison after being convicted of raping and murdering a pair of young white girls. Something about the story never quite adds up for Paul. Coffey is accused of the most horrific crime, but is mild mannered and sensitive to the point of being afraid of the dark. His mannerisms are remarkable enough, but Coffey’s hidden talents are mind boggling.

This book, you guys. THIS is what people need to read when they think Stephen King only does horror. Holy cats, this foray into magical realism was LEGIT. Because I’d seen the movie before I read the book, I had a pretty clear idea of what was going to happen, but I’ve never been particularly bothered by spoilers. For a dude who does so much scary and horrible, King’s got a soft spot for redemption and goodness. I doubt I’ll ever feel warm and fuzzy after reading a King novel, but this one came pretty close… Hot sticky tears and warm fuzzies are basically the same thing, right?

Alright Bookworms, sound off. Have you read any Stephen King? What’s your favorite? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small  commission.*

 

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Mar 18

Top Ten Tuesday: A Spring Preview

Blogging, Top Ten Tuesday 30

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

I seem to have come down with a cold, which is endlessly vexing to me because I so rarely get sick. As a result I’m a giant whiny puddle of goo. In an effort not to dwell on what I’m sure is the most minor of ailments, I’m going to make a list. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list what we’ve got on our TBR list this spring. Ready for a preview of things to come?

TTT Spring Preview

1. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue– Are you as excited as I am? Emma Donoghue rocks my socks and I’m really looking forward to her latest offering. An unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco, a burlesque dancer, and a smallpox outbreak? Hello, awesomeness!

2. The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz– I love a good disease novel. This non-fiction offering (I KNOW! I’m reading non fiction?!) shows Arthur Conan Doyle’s quest to discover the truth behind a purported cure to tuberculosis. The father of Sherlock Holmes playing Mythbusters? Pretty exciting stuff!

3. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead- I used to dance in my younger days (not well, mind you, but enough to have a bit of a love for the art.) This book is about frigging ballerinas, y’all. You know I’ve got to read that!

I was effing ADORABLE!

I was effing ADORABLE!

4. The House Girl  by Tara Conklin– It’s this month’s Fellowship of the Worms selection and I cannot wait! A historical fiction dual narrative and ART?!?! Why, it sounds like Hist-ART-ical Fiction to me. Wahoo!

5. I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith- I’m going to be reading this one for another TLC Book Tour and I’m sooooo excited! Strong female protagonist in ancient Rome? Sign me up!

6. Looking for Alaska by John Green- Sometimes I’m in the mood for a little YA. I’ve heard this is one of John Green’s best, so I’m looking forward to giving it a shot.

lookingforalaska

7. The Green Mile by Stephen King- King’s March (hosted by Fourth Street Review and Wensend) is happening and I want to join in. The Green Mile sounded like a good choice for me, being devoid of some of the super horror-tastic elements of some of his other books.

Surely 7 is enough for a TBR for the time being? I don’t like to have too much planned out so I still have the freedom to read whatever the heck I feel like. So there you are. What’s on your TBR list this spring?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 13

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Family 13

Howdy Bookworms,

How y’all doing? You remember how much I loved Saving CeeCee Honeycutt? You don’t? Well. Go HERE. I’ll wait. Back? Good! Fortune smiled on me a few weeks back and I won a $20 gift card to Book Depository from I Solemnly Swear. Amanda was kind enough to allow me to go 14 cents over my gift card allotment so I could order Beth Hoffman’s newest offering, Looking for Me. (Thanks, Amanda! You’re a peach!)

lookingformeTeddi Overman was raised on a farm in rural Kentucky with her parents, grandmother, and little brother Josh. She finds her calling early in life when she discovers a broken down chair on the side of the road. After refinishing the chair, Teddi can’t get enough of restoring old furniture and hunting for treasures at yard sales. Eventually she makes her way to Charleston, South Carolina where she starts her career in antiques.

While Teddi is painting and refurbishing, her brother Josh is traipsing around in the woods. He’s obsessed with the wilderness surrounding their Kentucky home. He is a passionate environmentalist and horrified by the misdeeds of poachers and animal abusers. One Thanksgiving, he takes off for the woods and never comes home.

Teddi is haunted by her brother’s disappearance, but mysterious signs begin to appear that suggest he may still be alive. Teddi embarks on a journey to mend family fences and accept her past… You know, your feel-good-journey-of-self-discovery kind of vibe.

It won’t surprise you to hear I enjoyed this book. Hoffman created some delightfully quirky peripheral characters I couldn’t get enough of. I mean, Teddi’s best friend is a rare books dealer with a giant collection of Pez dispensers… Can you GET more fun than that? PLUS, Teddi has a little dog that she describes as looking like Snoopy. My childhood dog was basically Snoopy personified. I can only assume Snoopy aged into a crotchety stinky old man dog, so the comparison with Sir Benjamin the Snob is spot-on.

If utterly charming Southern fiction with a side of cool old stuff is your thing, I highly recommend Looking for Me.

Tell me, Bookworms. Since a killer Pez dispenser collection was mentioned in this book, I simply must know. Do any of you have quirky collections? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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