Month: June 2014

Jun 30

Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Historical Fiction, Romance 29

Salutations Bookworms,

If you’ve been hanging around here for any length of time, it would be impossible to miss the fact that I’m a little bit obsessed with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series. Funnily enough, this is the first time I’ve “reviewed” one of the major books in the series because since becoming hooked on the novels, I’ve read every new major installment the minute it was released. An Echo in the Bone was released waaaay back in 2009. That’s three years before I started this blog, if you are interested in the math. I’ve been pining for the next book for FIVE YEARS. The waiting was made all the worse because of an accursed cliffhanger. But now? I HAVE IT! Muahahahahaha!

writteninmyownheartsbloodWritten in My Own Heart’s Blood was released on June 14th. It was auto-delivered to my Kindle because OF COURSE I pre-ordered it. I spent the next week staying up too late and drinking in all the Gabaldon goodness. What can I say? This is the eighth book in the epic series and it did not disappoint!

Seeing as it was indeed the eighth book, it seems a bit silly to write a review. I mean, how can I do that without giving all sorts of spoilers for the preceding seven books? Instead, I’m just going to launch into a long, weird, fangirl rant about why you need to be reading these books. Cool?

OMG, what are you waiting for?! Gabaldon’s amazing series includes something for everyone. You like sci-fi? We’ve got time travel. You like history? Adventures in the highlands start in the 1740s. You like romance? I challenge you to find another literary love like that of Jamie and Claire. (Or Bree and Roger. Or Jenny and Ian. Or, or, or…) Interested in the medical ministrations of the past? You’ll be up to your elbows in poultices and leeches. Political maneuvering? Battle? Seafaring? For heaven’s sake, it’s all here!

You will laugh, you will cry, and you will simply fly through these chunky tomes! So go, please. Read them. Love them. Come back and talk to me about them. Oh! I almost forgot. Anybody who has finished reading Written in My Own Heart’s Blood and wants a safe place to chat about all the spoilers, I made a little Facebook group dedicated to the cause.

Tell me something good, Bookworms. How many of y’all read and love Diana Gabaldon?

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

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Jun 27

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Idiosyncratic Lit List 12

Konnichiwa Bookworms,

The other day Hubs and I were driving somewhere when everyone’s favorite Styx song came on the radio. I share this because it’s important, and I don’t want to be the only one with the song stuck in my head. Behold:

Now that we all have robots on the brain, let’s talk about some of the coolest artificial intelligence in literature, shall we?

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1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Everybody’s favorite cyborg Cinderella story! It’s pretty awesome that catastrophic injuries can be overcome with scientific enhancements, but there are downsides to being a cyborg. You’re treated a lot more like a computer than a person, which suuuucks. Luckily, it’s a fairy tale, and good things can still happen to underdog cyborgs. (review)

2. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke: Sometimes young girls are mentored by androids they accidentally fall in love with. Stranger things have happened, right? To be fair, Finn isn’t just any android. He’s one of a kind and he’s got feelings. Interesting to think about just what makes a human human. (review)

3. Solomon the Peacemaker by Hunter Welles: The world’s problems can be solved… As long as a human is attached by the brain to a super computer. Peace comes at a pretty high cost if you’re the one who’s drawn to be attached to the machine. (review)

Got any more sweet robot stories for me, Bookworms? Sound off!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a commission. I’m saving up to buy myself a robot maid. By the time I have the money saved up, they might exist. You don’t know!*

 

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Jun 26

Headhunters on my Doorstep by J Maarten Troost

Humor, Memoirs, Travel 16

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to any of you, but I’m a bit of a homebody. I like the idea of travel, but I seem to have been born with zero wanderlust. That said, I really like to travel vicariously though books. All the glamour, none of the bedbugs. When I was offered J Maarten Troost’s latest offering, Headhunters on My Doorstep, I figured I’d give it a try. With a title like that, how could I not? I received a  complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher. The fact that I did not purchase this book in no way influences my opinion on the subject. I feel the need to make that clear, because after reading this, I have a strange urge to become J Maarten Troost’s groupie. Do authors have groupies? Is that even a thing?

headhuntersTravel memoirs are a completely new genre for me, and I’m really glad this book was my introduction. After a stint in rehab to treat his alcoholism, Troost sets out on a journey to find himself. He intends to find himself by getting as off the grid as it’s possible to get in the modern world and retrace the travels of Robert Louis Stevenson (you know, the Treasure Island guy) in the South Pacific.

One part travelogue, one part meditation on addiction, and all parts hilarious, Headhunters on My Doorstep took me on a journey I wasn’t expecting. I typically go into nonfiction expecting that it will be more of a challenge for me than a novel. I chewed through this book in two days. I simply couldn’t put it down!

One of the reasons for my fascination has to do with Survivor. Yep. The reality show. When I was in college, I took a class on Small Group Communication. My professor was really fun, and he realized that Survivor was an excellent way to illustrate small group dynamics. We were required to watch the show as part of our homework, and the season I watched? Season 4: Survivor Marquesas. The only season of Survivor I have ever watched dovetailed PERFECTLY with Troost’s travels. Serendipitous, no?

The other reason I’m so gaga over this book is that Troost is hilarious! Snarky, witty, self depricating- everything I adore in a humorist. I’ve noticed that this book has not gotten as many rave reviews as some of Troost’s earlier books, which honestly has me excited. If this book isn’t considered his best work, what sort of joy do I have in store as I check out his back catalog?! Two super enthusiastic thumbs up for this one, Bookworms. Check it out!

Since this book was set on (very nearly) deserted islands, let’s play a game. What books could you not live without if you were stranded on a desert island? 

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

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Jun 24

Reading Rainbow: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Idiosyncratic Lit List 32

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

For a while now, I’ve been on a personal quest. I’ve been trying to complete my very own Reading Rainbow. There are a ton of great books that list colors in their titles, and I wanted to have read one for each of the colors in the rainbow. This is how my brain works. Don’t judge me.

reading rainbow

1. The RED Tent by Anita Diamant (review): You know all about Joseph and his coat of many colors, but did you know he had a sister? Yeah. She’s got her own story now, and it rules.

2. ORANGE Is the New Black by Piper Kerman (review): Life inside a minimum security women’s prison? Don’t pretend you’re not curious!

3. The YELLOW Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: You know, it sucked pretty hard to deal with post partum depression before anybody knew how to effectively treat it. In this haunting short story, a woman imagines being trapped inside the wallpaper in her sick room.

4. The GREEN Mile by Stephen King (review): This is one of those books I think all Stephen King skeptics should read. He CAN do more than horror, and he can do it really, really well. Check this one out!

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5. Gathering BLUE by Lois Lowry (review): This book is a part of The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry and it takes you into a completely different dystopian society. It’s a departure, but if you like allegorical stories for middle graders, it’s worth the read.

6. INDIGO by Alice Hoffman : I may or may not have purchased this book specifically because I needed something to fulfill my “indigo” requirement. It was harder to dig up than you might think- there are plenty of books with “indigo” in the title, but not many that aren’t part long paranormal series. A friend of mine helped me find this Alice Hoffman title. I have never read any of her young adult books before, but this novella was rather nice, particularly for those who enjoy magical realism and water.

7. The VIOLETs of March by Sarah Jio (review): Another confession here. I like Sarah Jio, but I picked up this one purposefully because it fulfilled one of my rainbow requirements. I’m insatiable.

BONUS: Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg (review): I like Fannie Flagg, and she wrote a book with “rainbow” in the title. How could I NOT include it? And while we’re at it, RAINBOW Rowell rocks my socks. I’m just saying.

Your turn, bookworms! What are some of your favorite books with a color in the title? Have any of you completed a personal Reading Rainbow?! 

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Jun 23

Let’s Get Lewd: Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

Historical Fiction, Women's Studies 38

Greetings Bookworms!

You’re in for a treat today, because we’re talking about Emma Donoghue. Again. She’s awesome, what can I say? After reading and loving Frog Music a while back (review) I decided I needed MORE of Emma Donoghue’s historical fiction, and if prostitutes were involved, all the better. Luckily, Emma Donoghue’s back list offered me Slammerkinand oh my stars, I’m glad of it!

slammerkinSlammerkin tells the sordid tale of Mary Saunders. Born into the working class of 18th Century London, Mary’s prospects are limited. Though she is afforded the advantage of attending school, she is prepared only to work in domestic service or follow in her seamstress mother’s footsteps. Disheartened by her lack of opportunity, Mary soon chases a fancy into dire circumstances and is forced to take up prostitution as a means to support herself. Oh yeah. I should probably mention that she’s all of 14 at the time. 14!

Selling your body isn’t glamorous work by any means, but Mary finds it offers her a sense liberty she wouldn’t have enjoyed in a “virtuous” occupation. She becomes obsessed with clothing- the flashier the better. It was her lust for a red ribbon that started her down her path to depravity, after all.

THIS BOOK, you guys! Holy cow, I loved it so hard! Mary’s story was so captivating. And!!! I didn’t realize until the end that it was based on a true story! Donoghue did a glorious job of capturing 18th Century London’s underworld, and didn’t sugar coat the grimy details (STDs are no joke, y’all, especially before antibiotics. Yowza.) I am endlessly fascinated by the plight of women throughout the ages. Even though the current world is far from perfect, I’m SO GRATEFUL to have opportunities beyond becoming a servant or a prostitute. Sheesh.

My love for hooker books has been very well documented. I feel a little creepy about it, to be honest, but I suppose everyone has their fixations. Is there a controversial/tragic/less than savory topic that you simply can’t get enough of, Bookworms? 

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

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Jun 20

It’s Literary Blog Hop Time!!!

Giveaways 62

Greetings Bookworms!

Is there anything on earth more exciting than free books and bookish accoutrements?  Well, maybe a few things. The invention of time travel or talking penguins would be a little more exciting, but realistically speaking, books and such are THRILLING. It’s time again for the Literary Blog Hop hosted by the lovely and talented Judith of Leeswammes’ Blog. I am giving away $20 for you to spend with Amazon, so sign up if you like free stuff!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to visit the other participating blogs, there’s so much great stuff to go around!

 

Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. The Misfortune of Knowing
  3. Bibliosue
  4. Too Fond
  5. Under a Gray Sky
  6. Read Her Like an Open Book (US)
  7. My Devotional Thoughts
  8. WildmooBooks
  9. Guiltless Reading
  10. Fourth Street Review
  11. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  12. Word by Word
  13. Words And Peace (US)
  14. Ciska’s Book Chest
  15. Falling Letters
  16. Roof Beam Reader
  17. Readerbuzz
  18. The Relentless Reader (US)
  19. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  20. Daily Mayo (US)
  1. The Emerald City Book Review (US)
  2. A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
  3. Lost Generation Reader
  4. Booklover Book Reviews
  5. Bay State Reader’s Advisory
  6. River City Reading (US)
  7. Books Speak Volumes
  8. Words for Worms
  9. Wensend
  10. Bibliophile’s Retreat
  11. Readers’ Oasis
  12. The Book Musings
  13. My Book Retreat (N. Am.)
  14. Books on the Table (US)

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Jun 20

Six Degrees of Separation: The Luminaries

Six Degrees of Separation 16

Greetings, Bookworms!

I was on the fence about participating in the Six Degrees of Separation meme (hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman) this month because the starting point is a book I haven’t read, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Boosted by the fact that April created her post not having read the book either, I figured I could go ahead and play along. I do so love this meme!

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1. I don’t know a whole lot about The Luminaries other than it’s a book that’s won a lot of awards. I’m not good with award winning books, I tend to find them a bit stodgy. Highbrow literary fiction and I don’t always get along, which brings me to my first book in the chain, 1Q84  by Hakuri Murakami. I took this book out from the library thinking it was something else and I simply couldn’t make it through (it’s a big ass book!) I’ve been put off on reading his work since then.

2. Which brings me to book number two, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. When I ended up with that Murakami, I only did so because I am a HORRIBLE PERSON. We had recently read Never Let Me Go in book club and I LOVED it, but I couldn’t remember the author’s name, only that it was Japanese. Hence, the Murakami I wasn’t prepared for.

3. Since we’re talking about Japanese names, why don’t we just stick with the Japan theme and head to book number three, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. You know I can’t get enough hooker books! I don’t know what it is, but the varied and fascinating tales of prostitution always draw me in.

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4. Ladies of the night, you say? Let’s talk about Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. Holy cats, this book BLEW ME AWAY. The underworld of 18th Century London? How exactly does one find themselves in such a profession? Then there’s the class system. “The Quality.” I can’t even.

5. If anybody would slip through the proverbial cracks in society, it would be a prostitute working the Seven Dials in the 18th Century, which leads me to book number five, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman’s dark and twisty imagination created an elaborate underground London that exists in the famed subway tunnels under the city. Magical!

6. Speaking of dark and twisty and magical, how’s about we finish this out with Erin Morgenstern’s gorgeous novel, The Night CircusWhat a glorious tale of magic and whimsy and love!

#6Degrees Rules

 Any of you Bookworms read The LuminariesShould I give it a go?

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Jun 19

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Flowers 22

Happy Thursday, Bookworms!

Sometimes after having read something outside of my comfort zone, I like to follow it up with a comforting read. My happy place is women’s fiction. I hesitate to call it “chick lit,” because I tend to think of chick lit as sassy, but my comfort reads are decidedly sweet. I was in need of some comfort after reading (and maybe being a teeny bit traumatized by) Hannibal: Enemy of Rome so I picked up another Sarah Jio novel, The Violets of March

violets of marchSarah Jio man. She never disappoints with the sweetness, I tell you. The Violets of March begins with Emily Wilson attempting to recover from her recent divorce. After her picture perfect New York life crumbles, Emily takes refuge with her eccentric Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island (a mere ferry ride away from Seattle.)

As Emily settles in with her aunt, she discovers a diary tucked into the guest room night stand. Completely enthralled by the story told in the diary, Emily’s own writer’s block begins to thaw as she uncovers a mystery dating back to 1943. Of course, it’s a Sarah Jio, so her trademark dual narrative style is on display in full force.

Y’all I think this is my favorite Sarah Jio to date. I liked the story lines in both the present and the past. It had quirky old ladies, mystery, flowers, and (of course) romance! If you’ve ever harbored a desire to escape your surroundings or suspected that flowers have mystical healing properties, you and this book will get along famously!

Fess up, Bookworms. How many of you have daydreamed about leaving your grown-up existence behind and holing up on an island? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will put it into the “buy myself a private island” fund, but give up and just put a clod of dirt in my bathtub and call it my island.*

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Jun 17

Just Imagine How Much Cooler I’ll Be In Summer: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 35

What’s up, Bookworms?

I imagine things are wonderful, as here in North America, it’s finally SUMMER!!! (I can’t help but imagine Josh Gad belting right there. You just did too. Admit it.) This week this ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list out what is on our pile o’ books to be read this summer. Grab your sunglasses and let’s do this!

Summerreadinglist

1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon- I’ve been looking forward to this for AGES. A cliffhanger at the end of the preceeding book has left me on edge for years!

2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell- When I get this book in my hands, I will very likely do a jig. I mean, it might not be a technically accurate jig, but it’ll have a whole lot of enthusiasm behind it. I’ll try to get the jig on video, but I can’t make any promises.

3. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes- Two words for you. Jojo. Moyes. I just can’t get enough!

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4. Headhunters on My Doorstep by J Maarten Troost- It’s a travel memoir, which is new for me, but I have heard ALL the good things about Troost, so I’m excited.

5. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin- Fellowship of the Worms pick, holla!

6. Prototype by MD Waters- I am STOKED about the followup to Archetype. I loved the crap out of that book. (review of Archetype)

7. The Major’s Daughter by JP Francis- Star crossed lovers in the form of an American girl and a German POW during WWII? Why yes, I will read that. Please and thank you.

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8. Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes This book was pitched with a comparison to The Red Tent. Sold! (review of The Red Tent)

9. The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin- Historical fiction, y’all! Courtly intrigue and whatnot. I’m looking forward to it.

10. Longbourn by Jo Baker- You guys! Jo Baker is coming to my local library! It’s my first ever author event, I’m so excited! And since I’ve had a copy of Longbourn sitting on my shelf for a while (thanks to Kelly at Read Lately for generously sending on her ARC) I need to read it before July 18th. Eeeeeeep!

summer1That covers the highlights, my friends. What have you got on your radar this summer, Bookworms? Inquiring minds want to know. My inquiring mind, to be specific. 

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

 

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Jun 16

Hannibal: Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane

Historical Fiction 13

BOOKWORMS! THIS. IS. SPARTA CARTHAGE!

Why yes, I have seen 300. And Gladiator. And you know? Despite the gore, I rather enjoyed both films. Thanks to these movies, when I was offered a copy of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane, I thought I’d give it a shot. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

hannibalHannibal: Enemy of Rome is set during the second Punic War. Don’t know what that is? Well. Rome was around, doing its Roman thing (conquering territory, enslaving the natives, all that good stuff.) Carthage was located in North Africa, near modern day Tunisia. They weren’t big fans of Rome, but they were big fans of war. E’erybody liked a war back then, it seems.

Anyhow, Hannibal Barca, Carthaginian general and elephant enthusiast (not to be confused with Hannibal Lecter, fictional serial killer and genius) is making a name for himself and plotting revenge on Rome for a past war. On the eve of this military expedition, a young teen named Hanno and his best friend Suni go out fishing, get drunk, and are swept out to sea. They are (of course) captured by pirates and sold into slavery. Because that was a thing. ANYBODY could be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Spoils of war… Or piracy. Hanno winds up as a slave in a Roman household (ROMAN?! Ptooey!) and rather unexpectedly becomes friends with the son of the household, Quintus.

Hanno and Quintus, Carthaginian and Roman, friends? You remember that song from South Pacific? That you have to be carefully taught who to hate? These guys are teenagers, they’ve been raised to hate one another, but they’re still young enough and honorable enough to accept that there are exceptions to every rule.

Aside from that whole star-crossed friendship thing, Hannibal: Enemy of Rome is a lot of war with a lot of detail. Military strategy, battle tactics, and graphic gore abound. There’s also quite a bit of colorful language. Apparently calling someone a “whoreson” was the ancient equivalent of a “yo mama” joke. You know. If “yo mama” was a whore.

Who would like this book? Despite the heavy military emphasis (which isn’t usually something I enjoy), it is well-written historical fiction. If you enjoyed Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth (review) or John Jakes’s North and South series (review), this might be the book for you. I will warn you that it’s the first in a series, a fact I didn’t realize until I hit the end and the war wasn’t over yet. I can only hope the forthcoming books include more about the elephants!

Alright Bookworms. Fun question for you today. Although Hannibal didn’t technically ride an elephant into battle, it’s a pretty sweet steed. What animal would YOU ride into battle? (Fictional creatures are allowed. No judgement if you choose a unicorn.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use that commission to beef up my battle steed fund.*

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