Month: November 2014

Nov 25

6 Degrees of Separation: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Six Degrees of Separation 6

Hello There Bookworms!

I know you’ve been bereft this past month, desperately wanting to know when 6 Degrees of Separation was going to be back. Today is the day! The lovely and fabulous Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman chose Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as this month’s jumping off point. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve not yet read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, but I’m playing ANYWAY because I want to and I have a really good first link in the chain, okay?


1. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (review)- I chose to start here because the titles totally had me mixing up these two books. Apparently when titles start and end with the same words, I get confused.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (review) – I chose this as the second step because Eileen Tumulty’s childhood reminded me of so much of Francie Nolan’s. Oh, my heart!

3. Killing Williamsburg by Bradley Spinelli (review)- Because Brooklyn! Of course, Killing Williamsburg had a suicide plague, so the connection isn’t exact or anything, but that’s not the point of this game, so I’m good.


4. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (review)- Killing Williamsburg begins to feel a bit like a zombie novel once the plague really gets going, and though the creatures in I Am Legend are technically vampires and not zombies, it’s creeptastic.

5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (review)- I’m connecting this to I Am Legend because both books are post-apocalyptic and BLEAK.

6. The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood (review)- Alright, there’s some minor cheating here because I chose to link to a trilogy instead of a standalone book, but I’m a rebel that way. This is one of the most awesome post-apocalyptic offerings ever. Plus, MARGARET ATWOOD. It works.

That about does it. Want to play along? Check out the rules below!



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


Nov 24

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Audio Books, Mystery 12

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

One of my all time favorite books as a kid was Harriet the Spy (review), but Flavia de Luce would give good old Harriet a run for her super-spy money! I finally got around to checking out the audio book version of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley and I am utterly charmed!

sweetnessathtebottomofthepieIn 1950, Flavia de Luce is 11 years old. She’s the quirkiest little chemist in all of Great Britain and she’s got a passion for poisons. She lives with her father and two sisters at the de Luce family estate, Buckshaw. Flavia has a natural curiosity that tends to get her in tight spots, and loves nothing better than deviling her older sisters.

A series of unusual events is set into motion one day when a dead bird with a postage stamp on its beak is discovered on the de Luce doorstep. Later, Flavia overhears an argument between her father and a stranger. Then? A dead body mysteriously appears in Buckshaw’s garden. DUN DUN DUN!! Flavia, of course, is first on the scene of the crime and is determined to uncover exactly what happened.

Flavia de Luce is one of the most irresistible characters I’ve encountered in a good long while. Her plucky detective skills were plenty impressive, but it was the glimmers of the 11 year old girl that really won me over. The narrator reading this book did a phenomenal job- I could HEAR her smiling when Flavia was feeling pleased with herself. The perfect instance of an audio book being absolutely superb. I’m not big on mysteries, but Flavia’s my girl. You can bet I’ll be diving deeper into this series!

Alright Bookworms, tell me. Do you have a favorite young protagonist? Inquiring minds want to know!

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


Nov 21

Keeping it Weird

Personal 22

Howdy Bookworms,

I’m going to take a little break from books today because today marks 5 years that Hubs and I have been hitched. In past years I’ve come up with clever limericks and other silliness, but this year I’m going to seize the opportunity to post wedding photos because I am fresh out of clever. The good news? After 5 years of marriage and 6.5 years of dating (that makes 11.5 years altogether, if you’re math-y) I’m still rather fond of this fellow. I’m also super happy that we had a miraculous 70 degree day for our wedding instead of the frigid nightmare that is the weather currently. Brrrr!



Nov 20

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

Contemporary Fiction, short stories 10

Greetings Bookworms,

It’s not every day that Margaret Atwood releases a new book, but believe you me, when those days come, they are delightful. I recently had the opportunity to read Atwood’s latest release, a volume of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales. *I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for review consideration. Any and all gushing that follows will be the result of unabashed Atwood fandom, and NOT because I got the book for free. I’d totally have paid for it, suckers!*

stonemattressMargaret Atwood is a magical Canadian wordsmith. I like to imagine her traipsing through forests, communing with birds, and being inspired to put words together. She might be part fairy, I’m still trying to figure out her supernatural lineage.

Y’all know short stories aren’t usually my jam, but I make all sorts of exceptions when it comes to Atwood. I went into Stone Mattress: Nine Tales with unreasonably high expectations. Because ATWOOD.

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales presents nine short stories. Some of them are related to one another, some are related to her earlier works (you should have heard me SQUEAL when I saw “I Dream of Zenia With the Bright Red Teeth.” I geeked out over The Robber Bride connection.) I found this collection innovative and refreshing. A number of the stories are told from the perspective of the elderly, which I found fascinating. She’s also got the occasional psychopath and genetic anomaly to round out the set. Darkly humorous, disturbing, and utterly delicious. If you love Atwood but aren’t sure about short stories, take the leap! You’ll be glad you did.

Talk to me Bookworms! Have you ever been so overwhelmed by an author’s talent that you’ve secretly (or not-so-secretly) suspected supernatural influences? I can’t be the only one here. These words couldn’t be created by mere mortals!

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


Nov 18

Bookish Q&A: Fin

Q&A 16

My Darling Bookworms,

I am FINALLY finishing this giant bookish survey. I think it’s better in small pieces. I mean, if I got bored writing it, y’all would be bored reading it, right? So. Without further ado, we’re wrapping things up today. Wahooooo!

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation: It’s pretty rare that I re-read books, so it’s hard for me to list things I’d take on vacation. I mean, those I do re-read I’m so obsessive about that I’d miss out on my trip, you know? I’d probably try to pack something on the lighter side- happy comfort reads would be lovely I think. Maybe a Fannie Flagg.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading: I really don’t know. I mean, there have been times in my life when I’ve gone through lighter reading periods, but these days reading is part of my bedtime routine. If I do nothing else I read a few pages before going to sleep.

42. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? It depends on what I’m reading. There are some books that I will dive so deeply into nothing short of an atomic blast would get my attention. That said, sometimes it’s hard for me to read when the TV is on, particularly if it’s something amusing. (Football games are easy for me to read through. Not a sports gal.)

43. Name a book you could not finish: Ooooh the shame. I couldn’t finish 1Q84 and have avoided all Murakami since then.

shame gif

44. Favorite film adaption of a novel: Fried Green Tomatoes. The book and the movie are a lot different, but I adore them both.

45. The most disappointing film adaptation: Great Expectations (the 1998 version.) The soundtrack was PHENOMENAL, but holy crap. What made them think it would be okay to change Pip’s name?! It’s kind of a major plot point, yo!

46. Most money I’ve ever spent in a bookstore at one time: I am really not sure. I mean, if I spent a lot at any one time it probably included gifts, and those shouldn’t count against me, right?

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? Not often. I’m not opposed to spoilers as a general rule, but if I want to read a book, I just read it.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through it? I do most of my reading before bed. I typically stop reading once I get too sleepy to carry on, but if I’m crashing after two pages several nights in a row, it’s just never going to happen.


49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Pfft. I don’t think anybody would ever accuse me of being organized. I actually offered to loan out a book recently only to discover I have no idea where that particular book is. Soooo… Yeah.

50. Do you prefer to keep your books when done, or give them away? Since I started blogging, I’ve had a lot more books coming in. I keep my hands on my old faithfuls, but the new stuff I try to put back out into circulation. I “loan” them and often lose track of where they are… See previous question for an example.

51. Are there any books that you’ve been avoiding? No, not really. If i don’t want to read something, I just don’t read it. I don’t go around actively avoiding it.

52. Name a book that made you angry: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (review). I couldn’t put it down but I absolutely despised every. single. character.


53. A book I didn’t expect to like but did: Confession time. When my mom first pitched Outlander to me, I thought it sounded ridiculous. Clearly, I was the most wrong I have ever been.

54. A book I expected to like but didn’t: Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (review). I love love loved The Thirteenth Tale (review) and was soooooooooo disappointed in Bellman & Black. It really bummed me out.

55. Favorite guilt-free guilty-pleasure reading: I like the occasional romance novel. Smutty, cheesy, improbable? Sometimes it’s just the ticket.

It only took three posts, but I’m finally done with this survey! I’m going to do a happy dance now. But how do y’all feel about this? Do you prefer bite sized survey posts, super long ones, or do you wish I’d never do another one? Inquiring minds. 

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


Nov 17

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost

Audio Books, Humor, Memoirs 7

Ahoy, Bookworms!

I’ve always romanticized the idea of a deserted island. I mean, beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, palm trees… Heavenly, no? Perhaps, if your deserted island isn’t a South Pacific atoll. I was positively stoked to discover my library had an audio copy of The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost available to dispel all my deserted island fantasies. I mean, after how much I adored Headhunters on My Doorstep (review)?! I downloaded that sucker faster than you can say Robinson Crusoe.

sexlivesofcannibalsOkay, I’m just going to come out and say it. I freaking love J Maarten Troost! He is hysterical. Nothing could destroy my island dreams quite the way Troost’s colorful descriptions of life on an atoll did… And he made me laugh while doing it!

At the age of 26, Troost followed his then girlfriend to the island of Tarawa (part of Kiribati), an atoll in the equatorial Pacific. Youthful wanderlust gives way to the crushing realities of life on an extremely remote island and hilarity ensues. Intestinal parasites, folks using the ocean to defecate, marauding packs of wild dogs, and the incessant droning of “La Macarena”? Between the oddball expatriates making Tarawa their homes and the unfamiliar customs of the native population, Troost has QUITE the adventure.

After listening to The Sex Lives of Cannibals, I’ve begun to threaten my long-suffering husband with biting the nose off his face. Apparently, nose biting is totally an acceptable reaction to jealousy in romantic relationships in Kiribati. My threats are more often in reaction to bantering sessions I’m losing than jealousy, but I think the custom is under-appreciated. (Hubs used to threaten to purchase me a gold engagement nose instead of a ring after watching a documentary on the life of Tycho Brahe. He lost his nose in a duel and had a prosthetic made of gold. True story.) Gold noses might be JUST THE THING for the folks in Kiribati with mangled noses.

Y’all, if you like funny books, J Maarten Troost is a MUST READ author. Take my word (and maybe my nose) for it!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Have you ever had a fantasy completely destroyed by harsh realities? Anybody moved to a romantic or exotic locale only to have it fall short of your expectations?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will be investing in the Tycho Brahe Memorial Nose Fund… Which is something I’ve completely made up that will funnel money back into my book buying habit.*




Nov 14

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Book Club 12

Dear Bookworms,

It’s November, and if you’ve been hanging around the book-ternet, you’ll know that non-fiction is all the rage this month. (You can check out Non-Fiction November if you don’t believe me. Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca from I’m Lost In Books, Leslie from Regular Rumination, and Katie from Doing Dewey are hosting it!) Now, I’m not huge on non-fiction, but I was inspired by the event to choose a non-fiction title that I’ve been meaning to read for AGES as our Fellowship of the Worms pick this month. We’re going to be reading Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed! Check out the Goodreads synopsis:

tinybeautifulthingsLife can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

I’m really excited about this one! I’ve heard raves about it from lots of other bloggers (cough cough, SHANNON at River City Reading, cough.) If you’d like to participate in the discussion, we’re going to start chatting it up on Monday, December 15, 2014. There will be discussion questions and a link-up option, as per usual. I hope you’ll join me!!!

UPDATE: I wrote this post last week. Then I read this book. I absolutely devoured it and I’m DYING to talk about it. It’s been less than 24 hours and I’ve already recommended it to two friends. Seriously, y’all. Holy guacamole.

*If you purchase your copy of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar from a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*


Nov 13

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Historical Fiction, Plague 16

Bring Out Your Dead, Bookworms!

Monty Python jokes never, ever, ever get old, I tell you! Seriously though, the bubonic plague was NO JOKE. I just finished reading Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks and it was plague-tastic. Y’all know how much I love me some plague, right? That sounds almost as bad as my love affair with “hooker books.” I’m beginning to worry about myself…

yearofwondersIt’s 1666 in a small English mining village. When the plague descends upon the town, the villagers seal themselves off from the outside world in order to prevent the spread of infection. A quarantined village with bubonic plague? Oh you know shiznit got real in a hurry!

We see the events of the plague through the eyes of a young housemaid named Anna Frith. The town’s minister makes valiant attempts to keep the villagers from self destructing, along with the assistance of his wife Elinor and Anna, their servant. With losses felt in every croft and cottage, it’s a herculean task to be sure. As the contagion spreads through the village, Anna witnesses frantic prayers, murderous witch hunts, corruption, and desperation. The best and worst of humanity are on display in stark relief.

I didn’t realize until I’d finished the book that Year of Wonders was based on a true story. The plague did indeed strike a rural town in 17th Century England called Eyam, and the folks of Eyam sacrificed themselves in order to prevent the spread of disease. Two thirds of the village perished. TWO THIRDS. I feel like I should write a thank-you note to antibiotics right about now.

One of my favorite things about Geraldine Brooks is that she never shies away from the super icky gross bits. Imagining people being sick is one thing, but reading about giant lymph node pustules? That rupture? It really brings the icky home. Fans of historical fiction, plague stories, and things that are awesome should definitely check out Year of Wonders

Alright Bookworms. Let’s talk. If your town looked like it was going to be plagued out would you try to run, or would you stay put in the interest of the greater good? (Look at us today with the ethical dilemmas! We’re growing here, I can tell.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to invest in a flu shot or something. Ain’t nobody got time for that.*


Nov 11

Who You Calling “Minor”?!

Top Ten Tuesday 26

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

I simply adore making lists, and I’ve always been fond of tertiary characters. This week, The Broke and the Bookish have challenged the blogosphere to list the minor characters we feel deserve their own books. Let’s do this thing!


1. The Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: I need answers here. Just how does one disappear while leaving a smile in place? So many mysteries…

2. Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: I need some back story on everyone’s favorite badass teacher.

3. Tyrion Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire Series by George RR Martin: I know he gets plenty of words, but dangit, he’s my favorite… Well, that, and we all know how Hodor’s book would go…

4. Gavroche from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: He is my all time favorite street urchin! He gets a ton more back story in the novel than he does in the musical or movie versions, but I want MORE!


5. Melanie Wilkes from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Okay she HAD to know about Scarlett. HAD TO. And yet, she was so nice and so strong and such an awesome human being. I want to know what was going on in her head, I really do!

6. Young Ian from the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon: I love him. Love him. I would love to know all the things that went on while he was living with the Native Americans and whatnot.

7. Marmee from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: The voice of reason and everyone’s steady hand. Seriously though, what kind of stress must she have been under? Her husband was away fighting in the Civil War and she had a house full of teenage girls. Oye!

Seven feels like enough for today, don’t you think? What about you, Bookworms? Are there any minor characters you feel deserve their own book?

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


Nov 10

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett & GIVEAWAY!

Contemporary Fiction, Giveaways, Historical Fiction 32

Dearest Bookworms,

You’d think I’d be tired of Jane Austen tributes and spinoffs at this point in my reading career… But you’d think wrong. When I was contacted by the publishers of Charlie Lovett’s new novel, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen I was really excited. Not only do I love Jane Austen, but I also enjoyed Charlie Lovett’s last novel, The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession (review). Everybody loves a subtitle, no? *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I swear on the grave of Jane Austen than the following review will be truthful.*

first impressionsFirst Impressions is told in a dual narrative ping-ponging between the life of modern day Sophie Collingwood and the life and creative process of one Jane Austen. Sophie has recently finished her master’s degree and is feeling rather shiftless. She takes a job in an antiquarian bookshop until she gets things figured out, only to receive two requests for the same extremely obscure book in rapid succession. In researching the book, Sophie is drawn into a scandal that calls into question the authorship of Pride and Prejudice… And it might get her killed. Book enthusiasts can be intense, yo.

Throughout the narrative we’re brought back in time to see Jane Austen forming a close friendship with her elderly neighbor Richard Mansfield. The two have a bond that undeniably shapes Austen’s work, but just how much of an influence was Mansfield?

Back in the present, Sophie’s got mysteries to solve, not the least of which revolves around a pair of suitors. Sophie must channel her inner Elizabeth Bennet to figure things out and live to tell the tale.

And now I shall share my impressions of First Impressions, because it’s what I do and I wanted to smush the word “impressions” into a sentence thrice. (Ha! I win!) I typically enjoy dual narratives, and I liked Lovett’s take on Jane Austen’s life and writing process. I found Sophie to be a spunky heroine, though I will admit I found Sophie’s love life full of rather heavy handed Pride and Prejudice parallels. However, considering the whole book is awash in Austen fandom, it seemed fitting. (Also, never trust a dude whose name starts with a “W.” Scoundrels, the lot of them!) As in The Bookman’s Tale, I loved the peek into the antique book world that Lovett provides. As a person who has always focused on the content rather than the medium, it’s a glimpse into another delightful corner of bibliophilia. I doubt I’ll ever be the sort of person who seeks out first editions, but I can (and do!) appreciate historical objects. (Seriously, you should have seen me flipping out over the copy of the Magna Carta I saw at Salisbury Cathedral. I practically had to bust out the smelling salts. Oh, the vapors!)

As an extra special treat for all my favorite book nerds, the awesome folks at Viking/Penguin have sponsored a GIVEAWAY of BOTH First Impressions AND a gorgeous Penguin Classics hardcover edition of Pride and PrejudiceThis giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only. Check out the Rafflecopter goodness below to enter!
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