Month: February 2015

Feb 27

Conversations With My Husband

Personal 18

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

Sometimes I feel that the conversations that go on in my house need to be shared with the world. It might explain some things. The following exchange occurred last weekend.

conversations

Jim: If your blog were a celebrity, who would it be?

Katie: Hmmm… I’m not really sure. Visions of Reese Witherspoon are dancing in my head, but I think that’s just because we share a birthday. What do you think?

Jim: John McEnroe.

Katie: WHAT? Seriously? I’m really nice, and my blog has never ONCE thrown a tennis racket!

Jim: Yet.

I’ve told you about my snarky eyebrow, right? My right eyebrow raises involuntarily and gives away whatever I’m thinking. Jim has named said eyebrow “Johnny.” All of which is necessary information to understand the following…

Jim: Johnny, why are you here? What do you have to add to this conversation?

Katie: You know I can’t control it!

Jim: I could take him in a fight. (To my eyebrow) I WILL REPLACE YOU WITH A SHARPIE!

Do any of you Bookworms out there have oddball conversations with your spouses?

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Feb 26

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach is Out of This World!

Audio Books, Non Fiction, Science 18

Bookworms, We Have a Problem.

I’m LYING. I’m just trying to make space jokes because I just finished listening to the awesome audio book version of Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. I don’t read a lot of non fiction, but now that I’ve discovered Mary Roach, that may all change.

packingformarsPacking for Mars is ostensibly about what a mission to Mars would entail mingled with a history lesson of human space travel. Sound awesome? Not so much? Well what about if I tell you that Mary Roach researched all the interesting bits of space travel for you? I mean, you were always curious about motion sickness in zero gravity, right? And what happens when you have to go to the bathroom? What about keeping yourself clean in space? Or, you know, what would happen if a pair of astronauts fell in love and, well, stuff happened in space?!

Mary Roach told me all the gross stuff that I really care about. I mean, sure, there’s plenty of science in there, but it’s the science of every imaginable bodily fluid in space. It’s about just how long an astronaut can go without bathing before stinking their suits up so badly they make themselves ill. It’s about how teams of dietitians study which foods to feed space travelers that will produce the least amount of solid waste. It’s about filtering pee, you guys! If you were ever THAT KID in science class who was interested in the science of boogers, Packing for Mars is 100% your guide to space travel. Take my word for it, kids, this book is a winner!

Talk to me Bookworms! Did you ever daydream about being an astronaut?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Am I too old to go to Space Camp?*

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Feb 24

Being Your Own Hero: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 20

Hi Ho Bookworms!

Oh Tuesday, my Tuesday. It is the most glorious day to make a list. This week the folks at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list our Top Ten Heroines. I’ve played this game before, with fictional ladies, so this time, I’m going to list ladies who are heroes of their own lives and talk about memoir-istas. I just made that a thing. You can thank me later.

beingyourownhero

1. Amy Poehler- I recently listened to Yes Please (I highly recommend the audio.) I love Amy more now than I did before. “Good for you, not for me” is my new personal mantra.

2. Tina Fey- Uh, Bossypants (review) pretty much rocked my world. Tina for president!

3. Mindy Kaling- Mindy’s memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) makes me feel less alone in my neuroses. (review)

4. Cheryl Strayed- Deciding to take on the Pacific Crest Trail wouldn’t be MY first choice of activity if I were feeling lost, but I’m not Wild like Cheryl Strayed (review). I like living vicariously.

5. Jenny Lawson- The great and powerful Bloggess opens up even more than usual in her delicious memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (review). The woman makes me furiously happy.

memoiristas

6. Jeanette Walls- Holy crap on a cracker, The Glass Castle (review) KILLED ME. The fact that she emerged from her childhood (mostly) unscathed is a miracle.

7. Susanna Kaysen- I read Girl, Interrupted in high school and I was blown away. In fairness I’ve not read it with “grown up” eyes, but I think it holds up. Mental illness is an important topic, y’all.

8. Rachel Dratch- I might have a weakness for the ladies of SNL but Dratch’s memoir Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle was awesome. (review)

9. Sloane Crosley- I recommend you read I Was Told There’d Be Cake. SOMEBODY needs to talk about the mysterious turd on the carpet, you guys. (review)

Talk to me Bookworms! Who are some of your favorite female memoir-istas?

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

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Feb 23

Ruth Reichl’s Debut Novel is Delicious!

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction 23

Bon Appetit, Bookworms!

I’ve never considered myself a foodie, but I sure do like to eat. My aunt-in-law (is that a thing? It is now. Howdy, Barb!) recommended Delicious! to me recently and it it totally made me want to eat all the fancy cheese in the land. Because I’m not a foodie, I had no idea until after reading this book that the author, Ruth Reichl, is a noted restaurant critic and food writer. It now makes ALL THE SENSE that she’d wax philosphical about seasonal parmesan cheeses in her novel, but I digress.

deliciousBillie Breslin is at a crossroads. She’s just uprooted her life from California and moved cross country to New York City. She soon lands a job at iconic food magazine Delicious, which she owes in part to her perfect palate (which is like perfect pitch but for food.) To the entire food world’s utter consternation, though, she refuses to cook. Because REASONS. When Delicious closes its doors, Billie is forced to confront her past, her reticence toward cooking, and, you know, luuuurve.

I found Delicious! charming, if a bit predictable. I immediately knew Billie’s REASONS even though they weren’t officially revealed until midway through the novel, and it included a lot of your standard rom-com tropes. That said, it also had a host of fun colorful characters and incredible food descriptions. After reading this book, I wanted to eat my weight in fancy cheese and gingerbread. If you’re a foodie or you just like fun, give Delicious! a taste.

Yeah, I’m going to talk about cheese now. What’s your favorite cheese, Bookworms? And can you tell the difference between parmesan that’s made in the spring versus the fall?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use that commission to purchase fancy cheeses. I’m seriously fixated.*

 

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Feb 19

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Vampires, Young Adult Fiction 17

I Vant To Suck Your Blooooood, Bookworms!

I’m LYING. I do NOT want to do that. There are just so few vampire jokes out there, you know? Ah well. In case you hadn’t guessed it, today we’re talking vampires. Because why not? I’ve heard a lot about Holly Black and when I heard that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was on sale for super cheap (thanks for the head’s up, Ethel!) I decided to give it a go. (It was a Kindle Daily Deal, I think. If you’re an Amazon shopper, sign up for those notices. Or don’t. Amazon gets a lot of my money that way…)

coldestgirlincoldtownIn The Coldest Girl in Coldtownvampires are totally a thing. When the vampires came out of the coffin, so to speak (stole that phrase from Charlaine Harris, clever minx) things went a little crazy. Holly Black added a new twist to the whole vampire thing, because when vamps went public, they neither integrated into society nor brought about an apocalypse. Instead, the vampires were quarantined into walled cities known as Coldtowns where they hang out and do vampire-y things like feed on goth child wannabes. As one does. Our heroine Tana wakes up the morning after a typical high school rager to find that she is one of two survivors of a vampire massacre. (Passing out in a bathtub is the way to go unnoticed, in case you’re curious.) Her ex boyfriend is on the verge of a full scale draining, but she also encounters a mysteriously chained up vampire. Because it’s ALWAYS a good idea to let the vampire out of captivity, she does. Then, she embarks on a road trip with her ex, a vampire, and a boatload of survivor’s guilt. Their destination? Coldtown. (DUN DUN DUN!)

I thought this book was a lot of fun. I mean, if you can’t handle the inherent silliness that comes with vampire lore, this probably isn’t for you. If you don’t mind a little bloodsucking, I think it’s a winner. I liked the take Black took on the traditional vampire trope and I LOVED the inclusion of LGBTQ characters. It’s YA, it’s about vampires, and it’s a good time. If you’re feeling it, pick up a copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and vamp it up!

And now for the all important question, Bookworms. Vampires or Zombies. In the battle of the undead, which is more awesome?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission, every penny of which will go right back to Amazon because I have a PROBLEM with the Kindle Daily Deal.*

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Feb 17

Bookworm Problems: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 62

Darling Bookworms,

It’s Tuesday again, and you know we gotta celebrate THAT, right? What better way to get our Tuesday on than creating a list with The Broke and the Bookish? I’m excited about this week’s prompt, “top ten book related problems.” Bust out the hashtags, y’all, it’s time to talk about #BookwormProblems.

#bookwormproblems

1. Most of my conversations begin with “I read a book once where…”

2. I’ve already read most of what my book club chooses.

3. I mispronounce words because I’ve only read them, not necessarily heard them in conversation. (Like so.)

4. My books seem to spontaneously multiply. It’s like the classics are hooking up with the historical fiction and having beautiful book offspring.

5. Few people in my day-to-day life appreciate my (often obscure) literary references.

6. I feel like an evil mad scientist when I convince people to read Outlander and they get hooked on it. It’s like I’m spreading the greatest virus EVER.

7. The fashion industry has yet to accept my time-turner-as-statement-necklace campaign.

8. The fact that Hogwarts isn’t real has caused me anguish on a number of occasions. (Ravenclaw, REPRESENT!)

9. My dream home includes a library with a sliding ladder. If I owned a million dollar house it still wouldn’t be dreamy enough without the sliding ladder.

10. I become irrationally attached to fictional characters.

Alright Bookworms, I know you’ve got them. What are some of YOUR #BookwormProblems?!

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

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Feb 16

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Contemporary Fiction 18

Hellooooo Bookworms!

Do any of y’all pay attention to The Tournament of Books? I don’t usually, since it’s rare I’ve read many (if any) of the contenders. This year, though, I’ve been hearing oodles of great things about An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. I was lucky enough to have a copy of this one sitting on my night table thanks to Shannon at River City Reading, so on Superbowl Sunday, I took the plunge and started the book. I missed the entire game (not upset) and the commercials (mildly disappointing) because I was completely engrossed in this book!

anuntamedstate I was kind of surprised at how hooked I was because this is not my normal fare. Mireille is the daughter of a pair of Hatian immigrants. The Duvals emigrated to the US to make their fortune and raise their family but chose to return to Port au Prince as wealthy business owners. Mireille, her husband, and her infant son were visiting Port au Prince and on their way to the beach when they were ambushed. Mireille was kidnapped and held for a huge ransom. It soon becomes clear that Mireille’s father is not willing to capitulate to the kidnappers’ demands, and Mireille pays the price for her father’s desire to negotiate and her own stubbornness. She is held for thirteen days, and suffers unimaginably.  An Untamed State covers Mireille’s ordeal and her struggle to regain her life in the aftermath.

Holy smokes, you guys. I tend to shy away from books that I know are going to be utterly tragic, particularly if they’ve got a sexual abuse element. It’s not like I’ve got any personal experience on the subject (and thank heaven for that!) but it’s heart wrenching to read about. (It also bears noting that this book could be a MAJOR trigger for survivors of sexual abuse, kidnapping, or other trauma. Be gentle with yourself and skip the book if you must.) Mireille was abused and broken and tormented, but the book was so compelling and so well done I didn’t even want to hide. This book was, in a word, fabulous. Even if you’re hesitant to tackle it because of the subject matter, I urge you to give it a shot (assuming it’s not going to trigger all sorts of unpleasantness for you. Mental health trumps literature every time, y’all!)

Talk to me, Bookworms! Have you ever been blown away by a book you very nearly didn’t read?

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

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Feb 12

Literary Love Connection: Swashbuckling Hearthrobs

Literary Love Connection 6

My Darling Bookworms,

It is with great excitement and ALL THE BUTTERFLIES that I present today’s Valentine’s Day edition of Literary Love Connection. As per usual, I will be choosing two fictional characters from different books and setting them up on a date. Because it is magical. Trust me. *This contains some spoilers for Game of Thrones. If you’re up to date with the show and/or books, it’s a safe read. Still, proceed with caution.*

literaryloveconnection

Today’s Bachelor is Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride by William Goldman (review.) Montoya has mad sword skills honed in a desire to avenge the death of his father. He enjoys high adventure, dueling, and freelance henchman-ship.

Today’s Bachelorette is (a grown up version of) Arya Stark from The Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin (assuming she lives long enough to grow up, MARTIN.) Arya has mad sword skills honed in a desire to avenge the deaths of her father, brother, mother, etc… She enjoyed spending time with her family (before she lost them), her direwolf (before she lost her), and isn’t afraid to disguise herself as a dude when necessary.

Date Takes Place in The Thieve’s Quarter of Florin

Inigo: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father… Wait, no. Sorry. Old habits die hard. Just, um, hello.

Arya: You lost your father? So did I. Among others. I’m on a quest to kill all the people who have hurt my family. Winter is coming, and revenge is a dish best served cold. You any good with that sword?

Inigo: The best. I’ve been training since the day my father was murdered by the six fingered man.

Arya: I learned the art of swordplay from my Braavosi dancing master… Before he was murdered by the Lannisters.

Inigo: I don’t mean to question your losses, but you’re sure everyone is dead, right? Not just mostly dead? Because I know a guy…

Arya: Death has plagued House Stark. Full death. Really. There’s no coming back from decapitation.

Inigo: My beautiful warrior of justice, I couldn’t live with myself if I let you continue on this quest alone. Allow me to accompany you and lend you my sword… And my heart.

Arya: Well, I mean, it might be nice to have some company who wasn’t trying to hold me captive. Sure. As long as you don’t slow me down. You better not expect me to wear a dress though, because that is SO not happening.

Inigo: (Kisses her hand with courtly flourish) I will follow you to the ends of the earth, my lady.

Arya: I like you, but if you call me “my lady” again, I’ll stick you with the pointy end.

literaryloveconnectionmontark

And with the slash of a sword, ARIGO is born! They proudly join the ranks of Snaponine, Scarcliff, and Minurtagh. Heaven help them all.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Who would you choose as YOUR bookish valentine?

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

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Feb 10

What I Love/Hate About Romances in Books

Romance, Top Ten Tuesday 27

Hello Bookworms!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a great topic, and perfectly appropriate for Valentine’s week. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have challenged us to list what we love and/or hate about romance in books. Hoooo boy, I’m excited about this one!

romanceinbooks

I’m a softy, really I am. I do love romance in books. However, I can be a little picky about it. I’m going to start with a list of a few things that drive me bonkers in bookish romances. And follow it up with what I love. Ending on a happy note is important, no?

The Hate List

1. Insta-Love: I am firmly in the Elsa camp on this one. No, little sister, you are NOT going to marry the dude you just met today. You are NOT in love with this person after 10 minutes and a musical interlude. You do NOT abandon your entire life to follow your latest infatuation. Just. No.

2. Girls without Identity- I like my romantic heroines to be a little spunky. I’m not saying that every heroine has to know exactly who she is, but girls with no sense of self who just throw themselves into crazy relationships and morph into femme-bots who only like what their boyfriends like? Not cool. (I’m throwing some serious shade at you, Ana Steele. Hmph.)

3. Poorly Executed Love Scenes- Book Riot put together a list of some hilarious (and horrible) euphemisms used in romance novels to describe human anatomy. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. If a love scene makes me giggle, it’s not a good thing. (Well it kind of is a good thing, because I like laughing, but it’s unlikely that’s what the author intended so… Yeah.)

4. Secret Keeping- I read a romance novel once in which the male character tried to convince himself not to get too close to the female character because (get this) there was a CHANCE he had an incurable (but non contagious) blood disorder. He’d basically convinced himself he was going to die without getting confirmation from a doctor and therefore couldn’t selfishly start a relationship. REALLY? “We can’t be together because SECRETS” is a terrible plot device. Stop using it, please! (The character in question turned out NOT to have said disorder, he married the heroine and I think they had babies. I didn’t want to leave you in suspense.)

5. Gorgeous People Who Seem Unaware of their Hotness: I’m all for humility, but the prevalence of women who find themselves revolting despite hoards of men falling at their feet are tiresome. Nobody is that deluded, unless they have serious psychological issues. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be in a romance novel, they should be getting the fictional help they need from a fictional therapist. Sheesh!

allyouneedislove

 

Well, now that I’ve got that vitriol off my chest, let’s talk about some of the things I love about love in books. Loooove!

The Love List

1. Awkward People Finding Love: Some of my favorite love stories are all about the weirdos. Suave debonair gentlemen with all the right lines bore me. Give me a cantankerous bookseller with a heart of gold or a case of verbal diarrhea on a first date. That’s the good stuff.

2. Witty Banter: Inside jokes, pop culture references, and trivia make my world go round. Having had a number of these sorts of goofy conversations with my husband, I realize they don’t often translate easily (I’m pretty sure nobody would find our nonsense charming who wasn’t us) but I appreciate the effort. Yay for witty banter!

3. Well Executed Love Scenes: I’m not a prude when it comes to love scenes. I enjoy them when they’re thoughtfully put together. I’m not sure there’s a great way to define what separates the cheesy from the steamy, and it’s likely all in the opinion of the reader. Still. When done well, love scenes can be a great addition to a novel.

4. Love for the Non-Traditional Body Types: Rainbow Rowell has written some of the best plus size romantic heroines ever. I just get really happy when someone who isn’t the media standard of beauty finds love. Tall, short, heavy, thin, buxom, tattooed, birth-marked, pale, and what have you. Real people in normal life aren’t usually breathtakingly beautiful. That doesn’t mean they aren’t appealing, and that sure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t find love.

5. Historical Romance: Wait, did I just admit to digging bodice-rippers? I might have. And it might be true. Eeep!

Talk to me Bookworms! What do you love and hate about romance in books?! 

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Feb 09

The Fellowship of the Worms: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Club, World War II 11

Happy Monday Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be chewing on the brain food that is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 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 All the Light We Cannot See 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 questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of All the Light We Cannot See on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

1. Marie-Laure is stricken blind at a young age. Despite her disability, she goes on to do some pretty amazing things. Were there any instances in Marie-Laure’s experiences that surprised you?

I am amazed at the way the human mind compensates for a compromised sense. Marie-Laure’s acute senses of smell and hearing were impressive. Of course, I think she’d have been in much rougher shape were it not for her AMAZING father. Oh that Daniel LeBlanc! Creating a miniature model of their neighborhood in Paris? Teaching Marie-Laure to navigate? The lengths he went to protect her? Their relationship was so incredibly sweet.

2. Werner has, without question, a brilliant mind. Unfortunately, being raised an orphan he is afforded few opportunities. When he is accepted into the prestigious Nazi school, his sister Jutta is opposed to his attending. What would you have done in Werner’s shoes?

Oh goodness, how I felt for Werner! And for Jutta! Seriously, there were so few options. Could Werner have declined the invitation to join the school? Maybe. Without consequences? That’s hard to say. I mean, did you SEE what happened to Frederick? The Nazi regime was really effing scary. I’d like to think I’d be noble and amazing, but I think I’d have taken Werner’s route. He had the best of intentions to make a difference from the inside, but it proved impossible. Luckily he managed to hold on to his humanity in the end, poor kid.

3. When Etienne and Marie-Laure are working for the resistance and broadcastingallthelightwecannotsee coded messages, Etienne frets that his actions will certainly get people killed. Marie-Laure tries to console him by telling him that they’re “the good guys.” Etienne expresses that he hopes so. Do you think there are ever any clear “good guys” or “bad guys” in war?

Ooooh, Katie, GOOD QUESTION. There’s nobody who would argue that the Nazi regime was a good thing. (Well, nobody who isn’t horrible on a fundamental level.) However. How many Werners were there in that army? How many innocent civilians would be caught in the crossfire? How many Allied soldiers did awful things of their own accord? War is such a big nightmarish sticky mess. Could we maybe stop having them already?! Gah!

4. That doggone Sea of Flames! It’s got quite the tale attached to it, what with its curse and all. A number of people believe this to be true, Von Rumpel among them. In fact, it’s almost as though the curse of the diamond started the whole dang war. Do you think it was cursed and/or brought protection to the one who held it?

Yeah I’m not big on superstitions, but wouldn’t it be nice to blame WWII on an evil diamond? I think Von Rumpel’s buy in was based directly on the fact that he was dying of cancer and desperate. You can’t deny that Marie-Laure, despite some super dangerous extra-curriculars survived. I doubt that Doerr really meant for the reader to believe a supernatural stone had all kinds of power, but it provided a nice narrative element.

5. Do you think if Werner hadn’t succumbed to illness, he and Marie-Laure might have had a future together?

Hi, I’m Katie and I want people to be happy! It would have ruined the book and I’d have hated it for having a cheeseball ending, but there’s a significant part of me that REALLY wanted Werner and Marie-Laure to have a happily ever after! They could move to Switzerland and she could have studied things and he could have made scientific breakthroughs and had babies. Jutta and Etienne could have lived with them in their modest ski chalet and they could collectively have worked to heal all their various broken psyches. Siiiiiiiiigh.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of All the Light We Cannot See. 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! 

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

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