Month: December 2014

Dec 23

Hip Hip Hooray for Christmas Vacation

Holidays 12

Season’s Greetings, Bookworms!

I’m going to be busy the next few days getting my Griswold on, so I probably won’t be around a whole lot. I want to wish each and every one of you Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy (belated) Solstice, Happy Festivus, or just have a super fantastic couple of regular old days. If you need more holiday cheer, check out last year’s video greeting. I’ll be back next week with an overly ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions, and you know you don’t want miss that. Thanks for being the greatest readers in all the blogosphere!

Christmas Katoo





Dec 22

The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

Dystopian, Science, Young Adult Fiction 19

Greetings Bookworms!

I love y’all. Have I mentioned that? I love the book blogosphere, too. It’s where I get most of my book recommendations. Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to reading something, but there are some bloggers (and generally awesome human beings) who never steer me wrong. My girl Heather at The Capricious Reader thought the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness was amazing and, as usual, she was right. I’m going to talk about the books The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men as a unit (a spoiler-free unit) because it’s making me think all the thoughts. This one’s for you, Ethel!

chaoswalkingWhat would you do if all your thoughts were suddenly audible? Every secret, every desire, every flash of anger and inappropriate thought broadcast for the world to hear. THAT is the world Todd Hewitt lives in. Todd is coming of age in a place called Prentisstown, a place full of angry men and their angrier Noise. All animals have Noise, too (and lemme tell you, dogs in Prentisstown think EXACTLY the way I believe actual dogs think.) One day Todd and his dog Manchee stumble across a shockingly quiet area in the swamp. With men and animals constantly broadcasting their thoughts, there’s no escape from the relentless Noise. Until now. Of course, mysterious silence comes with secrets, revelations, and the need to run for their lives.

The books themselves provide a good adventure story, great world building, and funky science fiction elements. My heart was SHATTERED several times, but I could not stop reading. I just couldn’t. There were all sorts of moral dilemmas and discussions of war, empathy, forgiveness, and the inner workings of animal minds that provide plenty for any brain to chew on. But what really blew my mind? The idea of a world where thoughts are audible. It has my mental wheels spinning and they will not stop.


I have uncharitable thoughts ALL THE TIME, usually in the grocery store. I don’t know what it is about shopping carts and aisles and checkout lines, but they turn my inner monologue into an aggressive, nasty place. After reading books featuring telepaths (this is the fault of Sookie Stackhouse, obviously) I’ve occasionally been extremely grateful that nobody actually can read my thoughts. The idea that EVERYONE could hear them (including Office Beagle!) was seriously disturbing.

Talk to me Bookworms. How would you feel if everyone around you knew exactly what you were thinking? How would you feel if you could hear everyone else’s thoughts? Am I the only person who turns into a raging lunatic at the grocery store?!

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Dec 18

I’m a Three Decker Sauerkraut and Toadstool Sandwich… With Arsenic Sauce

Holidays, Personal 53

Merry Grinchmas, Bookworms!

I’ve had a post percolating for a while now and I’m afraid it’s about to boil over. Before I start, I should mention that this post is meant to be lighthearted and silly. If you’re overly attached to “pop” Christmas songs, you may want to skip this, because I’m putting on my heckling pants. (You should probably mentally play “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” whilst reading this as it is appropriate mood music.) And now, I shall eviscerate a selection of holiday songs that get on my last nerve…

grinch gif

Holiday Music Complaint The First: Why is “My Favorite Things” considered a Christmas song?! It is not at all about Christmas. It’s about distracting children from a thunderstorm. Sure it mentions a few winter-related things, but The Sound of Music takes place in the Austrian mountains, they have snow like 10 months a year probably (I am terrible at knowing the weather conditions of places I don’t live.) Raindrops on roses? That’s springtime, y’all. Whiskers on kittens? That’s always. Cream colored ponies? Everybody loves a pony regardless of season. I’m calling shenanigans on whomever put this into heavy rotation on Christmas radio stations. Hmph.



Holiday Music Complaint The Second: Do They Know It’s Christmas” was originally produced in 1984 to raise money for an African famine. I get that, and YES, FEED THE WORLD. But. The song is, at best, melodramatic, and at worst, imperialistic. “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time.” Well there won’t be snow in Florida either, but I don’t hear anybody griping about THAT. “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?” Well, you’ve got a 50/50 shot on that. According to my very scientific Wikipedia research, only about 45% of Africa is Christian. There’s a fair chance that the remaining 55% of the population DOESN’T know it’s Christmas time and really doesn’t give a figgy pudding. Why would they need to know it’s Christmas if they don’t celebrate the holiday? Also, “the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom”? We’ve turned the corner into teenage dramatics there. “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.”That’s kind of a dickhead way to tell someone to count their blessings… Thumbs down, Band Aid.


Holiday Music Complaint The Third: This one gives me pause, because it’s catchy and I kind of dig it. That is, I DID kind of dig it until I really paid attention to the words. It’s time to face the facts, people. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is the holiday jingle of sexual assault! Dude relentlessly tries to persuade date to stay in his home using such classic creepster phrasing such as, “What’s the sense in hurting my pride?” and “Think of my lifelong sorrow if you got pneumonia and died.” Really, dude? You’re trying to scare your lady into staying by threatening deadly infection? When that fails, though, ply her with alcohol. “Say, what’s in this drink?” Roofies, probably. Get out of there, girl! “The answer is no.” NO MEANS NO, DEAN MARTIN! Maybe just a cigarette more…” Nooooo! Now we’re promoting date rape AND tobacco usage?!

Now that I’ve proven that my heart is indeed two sizes too small, I could use some company (aside from Office Beagle, who has been eyeing me dubiously since I mentioned the idea of strapping antlers to his noggin.) Are there any holiday songs that annoy the sugarplums out of you, Bookworms?

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Dec 16

Top Ten Tuesday: My Faves of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 48

Howdy Bookworms!

‘Tis another Tuesday, so I shall supply you with another list, inspired, as usual, by The Broke and the Bookish. Today we’ve been challenged to list the favorite books we’ve read in 2014. I’m afraid a lot of this will be a repeat of last week’s list but I don’t care. If I love it, I’m singing it from the mountaintops (but it’s a metaphorical singing, because I cannot carry a tune.)


1. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (review): For the love of Pete, it’s a hooker book. With a cross-dresser. And an unsolved murder. Explain to me how this is in any way NOT awesome. You can’t. It’s impossible.

2. The Green Mile by Stephen King (review): Yay! Another Stephen King that didn’t give me nightmares! Excellent and touching. You probably want tissues once you get close to the end.

3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: I’m going to be discussing this awesomeness later this week but holy cow, you guys. Holy cow.

4. I Am Livia by Phyllis T Smith (review): Historical fiction makes me unreasonably happy. I’ve kind of OD’d on the Tudors, but Roman historical fiction? Sign me up for more!

5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (review)- This is the nerdiest book ever written and I loved every minute of it. I say “minute” rather than “page” because I listened to it. Wil Wheaton, you guys!


6. Landline by Rainbow Rowell (review)- I found this book charming. I know a lot of people had problems with it because of the, well, magic f*cking phone, but I’m always up for a little bit of magic.

7. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (review-ish)- I am so stupidly involved with the lives of these characters that my critical eye goes as blind a Jocasta Cameron’s whenever I read one. This series is up there with Harry Potter for me. Leave the criticism to the professionals. I’m gonna hang out in my happy place for a while, k?

8. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (review)- I want to hug this book.

9. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (review)- I want to hug Cheryl Strayed.

10. Headhunters on My Doorstep by J Maarten Troost (review)- I want to put J Maarten Troost and David Sedaris on an island together and watch what happens.



What are some of the best books YOU read this year, Bookworms?!

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Dec 15

Tiny Beautiful Things: A Fellowship of the Worms Event

Book Club, Memoirs 26

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s time, it’s time! I’ve been really excited to talk about Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things with you and it’s finally time! Yaaaaaaaaaay! WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. This isn’t a novel, so I’m not sure how you can really spoil it, but I feel like I should warn you anyway. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of Tiny Beautiful Things 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 Tiny Beautiful Things on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so if you’ve reviewed this don’t hesitate to get your link on.

smarty-mcwordypants-199x3001. Did you ever read the “Dear Sugar” column on The Rumpus or frequent any other advice columns? I’ve mentioned before that I think I’m part bear, right? I mean, the minute it starts getting cold, I get the uncontrollable urge to eat everything in sight and hibernate for the winter. Apparently I also live in a CAVE because I didn’t know Dear Sugar was a thing before this book. Pitiful. But, more evidence of my bear-dom, so I’ve got that going for me.

2. Sugar uses a lot of terms of endearment in her responses. Do you like them? Does it bother you when you’re addressed with a term of endearment in real life? There’s something about being called “honey bun” and “sweet pea” that makes hearing difficult advice more bearable, in my opinion. Strayed’s use of the terms just made me want to hug her. In real life, it’s a whole lot more complicated. If a woman addresses me as “honey” in a genuine tone of voice, I kind of like it. It feels sweet and sisterly. If a dude calls me “sweetheart” condescendingly, my blood gets to boiling. That feels creepy and/or douchey. If a dude of any age has a English/Irish/Scottish/Australian accent and calls me “love” in virtually any tone of voice, I’ll squeal with delight. I have a wildly varying and unfair set of standards, don’t I? Maybe I should just stick with encouraging people to call me “Katie” and leave it at that.

3. Did any of the advice/questions make you uncomfortable? I wasn’t necessarily made uncomfortable by any of tinybeautifulthingsthese stories, but some made me desperately sad. I mean, the girls she mentored? The ones who’d “make it” if they grew up to hold a job at Taco Bell? My heart, my heart, MY HEART!

4. Did any of Sugar’s advice resonate with you? There were a number of essays I found touching (some hit closer to home than I’m willing to admit publicly), but “The Ghost Ship that Didn’t Carry Us” really hit me in the feels. It’s not so much that I’m torn about wanting kids, it’s more the idea that major life decisions lead you down a certain path that completely eliminates certain other possibilities. If you’d gone to a different college, what would have happened? If you’d taken a different job, where would you have ended up? If you chose to take a big risk or chose the path of least resistance, what would have happened IF? Sugar just GETS it, and MY WORD I want to hug the woman!

5. Strayed infused the “Dear Sugar” column with a heaping helping of memoir. Did her personal anecdotes add or detract from the advice she was trying to give to her readers? For me, Strayed’s personal asides only added to the book.What made Tiny Beautiful Things so powerful for me was that it felt like Sugar had been there. I don’t want to take advice from someone who’s always made the right decisions. I want to hear from someone who has royally effed things up and managed to come out wiser on the other side. We’re all broken, but we’re all going to be okay. Even when we’re not. It’s complicated, but you know what I’m saying, right?

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your thoughts. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 
[inlinkz_linkup id=475947]

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Dec 12

Santa Baby: Bookworms Be Shopping

Bookish Accoutrements 15

Ho ho ho, Bookworms!

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping! If your loved ones are stumped on what to give your glorious bookish self, I’ve made them a handy dandy guide including some fun things on my own personal wish list. Ready?!


1. Awesome Alice in Wonderland necklace from ModCloth. It’s the perfect addition to your bookish accessory stash. (I know I’m not the only one with a bookish accessory stash, so y’all just own up to it!)


2. Long Sleeve Jane Eyre T-Shirt from Out of Print Clothing- It comes in short sleeves, too, but it’s cold outside! It’s a great way to represent my girl Jane and the best of the Brontës!


3. Ravenclaw T-Shirt from Harry Potter Shop- You’ve got to represent your Hogwarts house, you know what I’m saying?!


4. Outlander Christmas Ornaments from The Author’s Attic- Remember that time I wrote about my obsession with Christmas ornaments? I lurve them. And these would be a brilliant addition to my collection. I see a bookish tree in my future…


5. Austen is Elemental T-Shirt from Zazzle. For the love of Jane Austen. And SCIENCE!!!

austentshirt austentshirt

 I hope this helps ease the stress of your holiday shopping! Tell me, Bookworms. Is there anything special on your wish list this holiday season?


Dec 11

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Dystopian, Plague, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 16

Good Morrow, Bookworms!

I’m feeling rather Shakespearean today, and it’s the fault of Emily St. John Mandel’s new (and awesome) novel, Station ElevenThere’s been a lot of buzz floating around about this book, but don’t believe the hype. Well, no. DO believe the hype. But believe it because I said so. (Shhhh, it makes me feel important.)

stationeleven Station Eleven explores a world twenty years after a flu pandemic knocks out 99% of the population of earth. It’s a little bit like The Stand (review), minus any supernatural elements or government conspiracies. It’s just good old fashioned viral mutation that wreaks havoc. It should freak you out a little, because it’s a totally plausible thing that could happen. (Shivers.)

When the proverbial shiznit hits the fan, it’s fascinating to see how the survivors react. Dude, 99% of the population is GONE. That’s EVERYONE you know, except maybe that weird cashier from the grocery store. So you go wandering. You’re searching for meaning, and probably company other than that weird cashier.

In Station Elevenone of the primary groups that forms is the Traveling Symphony. They wander through towns performing Shakespeare and classical music, because “survival is not enough.” Cool, right? An attempt to preserve art in the face of mass extinction? Heck yes.

Of course, not everybody goes around getting their Bard on. And some of the groups that have survived post apocalypse are less than savory. I don’t want to reveal too much because spoilers! But I will say that this book is an excellent, thought provoking read that will leave you pondering civilization, spirituality, and hand sanitizer. Go check it out!

I’m feeling deep, Bookworms. Do you feel that art helps keep civilization from self-destructing? 

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Dec 09

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I “Met” in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 38

Hiya Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday again and I’m getting back in the saddle with the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday. Wahoo! This week we’ve been asked to list some of our favorite authors we read for the first time this year. I have a thrilling list, I tell you. THRILLING. Shall we?


1. Cheryl Strayed- I am SO EXCITED to discuss Tiny Beautiful Things with y’all next week for The Fellowship of the Worms! Fabulousness, I tell you!

2. J Maarten Troost- Boy oh boy, am I glad I discovered Troost this year! I did ALL THE LAUGHING while reading Headhunters on My Doorstep (review) and The Sex Lives of Cannibals (review).

3. Patrick Ness- I started the Chaos Walking trilogy on the recommendation of my gal pal Ethel (or Heather from The Capricious Reader, if you like.) I’m finishing up book 3 and I CAN’T EVEN!

4. Ernest Cline- You guys, I LOVED Ready Player One (review) so so so much. I recommended it to multiple people immediately upon finishing it, and credit Wil Wheaton’s narration with my new found obsession with audio books.

5. Jo Baker- I actually met Jo Baker in PERSON! Which was awesome, because I really enjoyed Longbourn (review). You can read more about my first author encounter HERE. It’s ridiculous and wonderful.

It's a look that says either "I'm amused" or "I'm glad I live on another continent."

It’s a look that says either “I’m amused” or “I’m glad I live on another continent.”

6. Gabrielle Zevin- Another huge winner of a Fellowship of the Worms selection in The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (review)! I loved this book and have vowed to read more of Gabrielle Zevin’s charming work.

7. Grahame Simsion- TRIFECTA! A third Fellowship of the Worms author made the list! I’m super stoked to dive into my copy of the sequel to The Rosie Project (review), The Rosie Effect! (Big plans for that in January, I’ll keep you posted!)

8. Laura Moriarty- The year started off with a bang with my Jazz Age January (signups going on now at Books Speak Volumes!) pick, The Chaperone (review).

9. Beth Hoffman- I cannot believe it took me so long to read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (review). I had to chase down a copy of Looking for Me (review) shortly thereafter, of course.

10. Erika T Wurth- It was tough subject matter, but Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend (review) blew me away!

Sound off, Bookworms! Who are some of the authors you “met” this year that you adore?

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


Dec 08

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio (Or, How Pop Culture Ruined My Life)

Chick Lit, Flowers, Romance 17

Hello Bookworms!

I think that pop culture may have ruined my life. I may have gone into Sarah Jio’s new novel, The Look of Love, tainted, simply because certain associations it aroused in my psyche…My word, I’m digressing before I’ve even started. *Before further tangents take wing, I should inform you that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.This in no way hampers the honesty of the following review, as you will no doubt notice in short order.*

29 year old Jane Williams is a Seattle florist (yay flowers!) She’s lived her whole life with what she believes to be a neurological condition that causes her vision to blur at unpredictable moments. One Christmas she receives a greeting card telling her that this condition is actually a rare gift that allows her to *see* love. Unfortunately, the “gift” comes with strings, and if Jane can’t identify the six different types of love before her 30th birthday, she will have to live without romantic love in her life FOREVER.


I’ve read and enjoyed Sarah Jio novels before, but, to be blunt, this one just did not work for me. I have to give Jio credit though, this is the first of her novels I’ve read that breaks from the dual narrative formula, so high five for branching out. Unfortunately, the book and I had some issues, most of which I blame on popular culture and my ravenous absorption of it…

First, the song “The Look of Love” evokes creepy for me, not romance. There’s a scene in Austin Powers where the song plays, and I can’t help but associate it with skeezy 60s men of mystery. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Austin Powers movies (though maybe I shouldn’t admit that my sense of humor is that of a 12-year-old boy.) It’s just that I can’t think of that song as in any way romantic, so I went in with a pre-conceived expectation of cheesiness.

Second, did any of y’all watch That’s So Raven on the Disney Channel? I was WAY too old to be watching it when it was on, but I used to binge watch Disney shows to combat hangovers in college. No real rationale behind this, it just was a thing my roommate and I did. In any case, the title character Raven was psychic, and every time she’d have a vision, they’d do a weird closeup on her eye and it would be all melodramatic and crazy-like. Every time Jane’s vision went blurry, I heard the That’s So Raven theme song play in my head.


Thank you, internet, for animated gifs.

Finally, I am a big cynical grump. I have a problem with insta-love. I simply cannot buy into the idea that someone could walk into my kitchen one day and I’d instantly fall for them. The first time I saw my future husband, I said to my companions once he left the room (direct quote here) “Is it just me, or is that one good-looking lab monitor?” (Yes, my husband was an audio-visual lab monitor. We are the dorkiest couple EVER!) So, I thought he was hot, sure, but even my sappy 19 year old self didn’t buy love at first sight. There were several instances of love at first sight in this book, most of which popped up despite the characters having other romantic entanglements and responsibilities (spouses, children, the odd cat.)

Love can certainly be a messy business, and I appreciated that even thought Jio had a lot of insta-love going on it wasn’t always an easy road to happily ever after. That said, I felt like she was trying to juggle SO MANY tales of love that I found it difficult to connect to any one of them in a meaningful way. It’s pretty clear that my personal associations and experiences made this book a no-go for me, but hopeless romantics who loved the movie Valentine’s Day might just discover a new favorite in The Look of Love.

 Let’s chat, Bookworms! Have your personal associations with pop culture ever ruined a book for you?

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Dec 04

Winter Wonderland: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Idiosyncratic Lit List 9

Well, Bookworms, it seems the Starks were right.

Winter is no longer just coming. Winter is HERE. Now that it’s cold and crappy out, I may as well make a list of books with a wintry theme. Why the heck not, right? Now, put on “Winter” by Tori Amos, and let’s do this thing!


1. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon- Oh hey. You didn’t honestly think I was going to make a list and NOT include an Outlander tome, did you? It gets cold up on Fraser’s Ridge, y’all. It snows. Best get your woolen cloaks out before you freeze.

2. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (review)- Raise your hands if you like Norse mythology! (I’m imagining that everyone has their hands raised, because it is fun stuff!) This book provides a little mythology for kids (and grownups who like to pretend they’re still kids.) Also, FROST GIANTS. Brrrr!

3. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah- Ooooh this book. It’ll do a little bit of tearing your heart out, but you’ll be happy it did. It will also make you happy you’re warm and well fed, and being grateful is good for everyone!

4. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley- Got an Outlander hangover? Check this one out! It might just cure what ails you… Plus there’s snow and wintry stuff… And handsome Scottish men to keep you warm.


5. Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio- This book is about a girl with Tourette’s syndrome, but her name is Icy so she gets to be on my list. Funny things happen when I make up my own rules. Muahahahaha!

6. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin- Winter is HERE, Ned Stark. I love me some Starks, but I’m really hoping they catch a break in the next book. I just can’t take any more!

7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (review)– Okay, so it doesn’t have a ton to do with winter, but the girl’s name is Snow Flower, for heaven’s sake.

8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis- This is the book that pops into my head when I think of Winter Wonderlands. The White Witch did Frozen before Frozen was cool. Only, she was actually evil, so Elsa definitely wins on that score. (Side Note: I’ve had Turkish Delight and it’s totally gross. Edmund was a complete jerk face to betray his family for such a lame sweet.)

9. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton- Who wants to go sledding?! Hahahahaha, just kidding. But really. This book is supremely wintry, and you may never look at sledding the same way again.


Well, Bookworms, as you can see I’ll be spending an awful lot of time in the near future curled up in blankets with hot beverages and books. Any recommendations for wintry reads?

PS: If you’d like to receive REAL MAIL from me this holiday season, be sure to sign up!

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