Month: August 2015

Aug 31

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Contemporary Fiction, Family 14

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

For those of you back in the office today, I’m pleased to bring you a book about someone who is probably having a crappier day at the office than you are! A few weeks ago I was itching for something new to read when I saw A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan on NetGalley. The cover art was pretty and it was marketed toward fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette (review) so I decided to give it a whirl. *I received a complimentary copy of this novel for review consideration.*

awindowopensAlice Pearse is a happily married mother of three living in New Jersey. She works part time for a magazine as the books editor and keeps her household running with the help of a crackerjack babysitter. Alice’s life is chugging along at a smooth clip until a major upheaval in her lawyer husband’s career path sends her back into the workforce full-time. She thinks she’s landed the job of her dreams when she is hired by fancy pants startup Scroll, an e-book retailer promising swanky cafe style reading space as well as first edition novels. Of course, things are rarely as miraculous as they seem, especially when it comes to jobs. At the same time her new career is taking flight, Alice’s dad gets sick, her marriage hits some speed bumps, and her world devolves into general chaos. When it seems like “having it all” isn’t working out the way she planned, Alice is forced to take stock and decide what it is she really wants. 

As someone who works full time but does not (yet, hopefully) have children, sometimes this type of novel falls a little flat for me. I suppose I just get frustrated many women’s reality; the fact that a work-life balance seems nearly impossible to achieve. The majority of novels I’ve read in this vein definitely tend toward favoring women scaling back their careers and focusing on their families. While I think focusing on one’s family is awesome, it bugs me that women are always the ones who are expected to scale back, a sentiment I find perpetuated in this type of novel. That’s part of why I found A Window Opens refreshing. It was very honest in its exploration of Alice’s situation and doesn’t present a super clear cut answer. It doesn’t end exactly the way I’d have liked, but at least it doesn’t preach the value of a particular lifestyle. Alice focuses on what Alice wants and what will make Alice happiest. I can get behind a story like that.

What do you think, Bookworms? When you’re reading books about working moms, do you feel that a certain solution is presented as ideal? Do you ever wonder why there are so few books about men’s work-life balance? (Look at me getting all feminist up in here today. Whew.)

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

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Aug 27

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 13

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I know I’m constantly shoving book recommendations in your faces, but I like to think we have a symbiotic relationship. I mean, when one of my friends says “OMG Katie, read this book right now” I’ll do it… Eventually. Case in point! My friend Ash told me that I needed to read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I totally did. Seriously, it was in a timely fashion and everything. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

theredqueenMare Barrow is a 17 year old “Red” girl from a poor working class background. She lives in a society where there are two classes of people. Reds like Mare and her family are ordinary folks. They put their pants on one leg at a time and bleed red. They’re also second class citizens because some quirk of evolution has created a group of people with superhuman powers who actually bleed silver. They’re called “Silvers,” natch, and they got a little drunk on their god-like powers and subjugated all the normal folk. The Reds think this sucks, because it does, but it’s pretty tough to win a fight against someone who can manipulate metal or hop into your brain and take over. Mare and her fellow Reds can only look forward to a life of poverty- if they live long enough, that is. All Reds are conscripted to fight in an endless war on behalf of the Silvers once they turn 18, assuming they aren’t already doing something useful for society (ie sewing fancy clothes for the Silvers. Silvers like pretty things.) After a chance encounter, Mare finds herself employed in the Silver Palace, surrounded by demi-gods and with an unexplained power of her own. Let’s just say that being Mare gets a whole heck of a lot more complicated from there.

Alright you guys. This book is the start of yet another trilogy in the glut of YA dystopias on the market. It combined a number of elements I recognized from Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy (review of book 1, as I didn’t finish the series) and The Hunger Games Trilogy. That said, Red Queen was different enough to catch my attention, and not in an eye-roll-y way. Well, except for this love quadrangle thing that was going on, but I feel like that’s par for the course in these sorts of books so I’m willing to overlook it for a hot minute. The book got under my skin and the characters stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio narration and it was excellent? Perhaps I’d have been less engaged if I’d done a strict eyeball read, I don’t know. Still, I think I might give book 2 a whirl and see where it takes me. If YA dystopias are your jam, Red Queen is definitely not to be missed. It may have thawed the heart of even this cranky skeptic.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If you could have the power to manipulate an earthly element, what would you pick? (I’m torn between water nymph skills and the power to do lots of back flips. I bet there’s a Silver whose only talent is doing back flips and their parents are terribly disappointed by it, but I think it would be awesome.)

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

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Aug 25

Apocalyptic Fiction 101

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 31

Greetings Bookworms!

Today I’m putting on the professor hat I will likely never wear otherwise and curating a list of books for my pretend syllabus. This is all the fault of The Broke and the Bookish who prompted the book blogosphere to create a syllabus for their imaginary master class in a certain genre. Or something like that. Let’s go back to school with some apocalyptic fiction, y’all. It’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Now, before I get to the listing, I would like to point out that this list of books has to do with apocalypse scenarios and the immediate aftermath. This DOES NOT include dystopian societies. All the scary government rules, policed reproduction, oppression, and death sports will be covered next semester.

apocalyptic fiction

1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (review): This book is the perfect primer. It was written during the Cold War and deals (unsurprisingly) with the aftermath of a nuclear war. A poignant view of the human condition, Frank’s classic totally holds up. A lack of electricity is truly the great equalizer.

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (review): I’m toting out the big guns early in the semester because this level of bleakness explored after daylight savings time ends is a recipe for severe Seasonal Affective Disorder. We never really learn what disaster befell humanity, but McCarthy’s stark portrayal of the aftermath is haunting.

3. The Stand by Stephen King (review): Any list of apocalyptic novels that doesn’t include The Stand will get the side eye from me, I’ll tell you what. Far and away my favorite King novel, the story of Captain Tripps and what lies beyond is masterful. Even if it does stray a little into the supernatural. A lot of apocalypse tales do. Stay tuned, folks.

4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review): This book was the darling of the literary world for good reason. In case you needed more of a reason to stock up on hand sanitizer, another flu pandemic decimates the world’s population. Mandel’s novel takes a fascinating look at the role of art in rebuilding society.

5. California by Eden Lepucki (review): Just when you think it’s a good idea to go completely off the grid and fend for yourself in the woods, California offers a troubling portrayal of societal breakdown and the fact that it’s nearly impossible to escape.

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6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (review): I know it’s fully supernatural. Vampires happen and ONE DUDE is left. There’s a reason this book has been around for as long as it has, you guys! And seriously, don’t judge the book based on the movie in this case. I mean, I love Will Smith as an action hero as much as the next gal, but it wasn’t a great adaptation.

7. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (review): It’s not the flu and it’s not a monster that takes aim at humanity this time. It’s Earth. The rotation of the planet decides to slow the heck down which wreaks utter havoc on the fabric of society. Told from the perspective of a 12 year old girl, this novel will hit you in the feels.

8. The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey (review): Yes, more supernatural stuff. But only because it’s AMAZING. Zombies and evolution and science and disease and WHOA.

9. MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood (review): You didn’t think this list would be without Atwood, did you?! This trilogy is insanely good what with the human foibles ultimately leading to their own destruction. This is a wee bit of a hybrid because the society pre-breakdown was traipsing into dystopia territory, but the aftermath was pure apocalypse. Seriously, check it out.

10. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): I know I talk about zombies and this book in particular a lot, but it’s simply one of the best of its kind. When your friends and neighbors suddenly think it’s a good idea to feast upon your flesh, crazy shiznit is bound to go down.

apocalypse2Tell me, dear Bookworms, did I leave anything excellent and apocalyptic out of my syllabus? Also, what haven’t I read in this genre that I should? 

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

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Aug 24

Armada by Ernest Cline

Audio Books, Science Fiction 12

Hello Bookworms!

Remember when Ready Player One (review) got me hooked on audio books? It was an AWESOME book and Wil Wheaton as narrator SLAYED. I’ve been waiting on baited breath for Ernest Cline’s followup novel and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that Wil Wheaton would be narrating again. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find out that Armada was being released WITH Wil Wheaton narrating AND it was available on Scribd. The “Hallelujah Chorus” sang, y’all.

armadaArmada begins with high school senior Zack Lightman. He’s a video game geek to the core and constantly pines for more adventure in his mundane suburban life… And then a flying saucer shows up outside the window of his math class.

As it turns out, the Earth is being invaded by aliens, and the government has been slowly conditioning the world’s population to defend itself through science fiction culture and video game simulations. Giant conspiracy. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!

Because Ready Player One was so utterly fantastic, it was inevitable that Ernest Cline’s followup wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. I read several reviews that were disappointed in Armada, so I went in with my expectations tempered. I’m not sure they really needed tempering, though, because I thought Armada was great fun! I mean, Wil Wheaton does a Carl Sagan impression that is spot freaking on. I cannot recommend the audio book highly enough. My word. Wil Wheaton needs to read all the things. Well. All the things that Neil Gaiman isn’t reading, anyway.

If you liked Ready Player One I recommend giving Armada a try. It’s not the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a darn good time. Video games and aliens and conspiracies, y’all. It’s a whole lot of fun. And you can totally make “pew pew pew” noises the whole time you’re reading it. Because lasers.

Talk to me Bookworms! Do you think it’s detrimental to have your debut novel be TOO good?

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

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Aug 21

Questioning Katie: Book Universe

Q&A, Questioning Katie 9

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

Aren’t discussions fun? I realize I’ve been abysmal at replying to comments lately, but I am SO loving reading all your thoughts on these crowd sourced interview questions. Let’s continue, shall we? Today’s question comes from Jancee at Jancee’s Reading Journal (thank you darling!) If you had to live in the universe of one book or series, but it was a permanent move, which universe would you choose? 

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My answer to this question is super obvious and cliche. It’s also honest because if the Harry Potter universe actually existed, I would want to go to there. I’m not entirely sure how this whole transfer thing would work, but I’m going to operate under the assumption that I would have magical powers if I were to enter this universe. I don’t know if Hogwarts offers classes for recently discovered 32 year old witches, but if they did, I’d be sorted into Ravenclaw and suffer the shame. This is MAGIC we’re talking about, guys! Any sacrifices would be worth it. On the off chance I got no powers, I’d hop into the HP universe anyway. As long as I could get a job at the Ministry in muggle relations I’d be cool. I think Arthur Weasley and I would get along like a house on fire. It would be a little awkward explaining to him that I named my car after his wife, but I’m sure he’d be okay with it once I showed him all the buttons and things. At least my house could get hooked up to the floo network for my commute. How amazing would that be? Free travel to London any time I felt like it? Access to wizard sweets and pranks? The chance to meet Hermione?! Yes indeedy, I am so in.

What’s your book universe of choice, Bookworms? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Aug 20

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Contemporary Fiction 3

Hello My Darling Bookworms,

One of the very first books I ever reviewed on Words for Worms was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (which you can read HERE if you’re so inclined.) I loved that book. Adored it, even. That’s why I was so extra super excited when I saw that Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s sophomore novel We Never Asked for Wings was available on NetGalley. I snapped that puppy up faster than you can say “Mexican feather art.” Not that that’s a thing you would ordinarily say, but it makes sense within the context of this book so I’m going with it. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through NetGalley. I was not compensated in any way and all the opinions expressed are my own. They’re also honest as heck because I have no filter.*

weneveraskedforwingsWe Never Asked for Wings revolves around the Espinosa family. Letty Espinosa has been working three jobs for 14 years in the San Francisco area to help support her family. Her parents are undocumented Mexican immigrants and when Letty found herself pregnant as a teenager, her parents stepped in to raise her son, Alex, and later her daughter, Luna. When her parents decide to move back to Mexico, Letty is left trying to navigate life assuming full responsibility for her children and her role as sole breadwinner.

Alex and Luna are struggling with the implications of their grandparents’ move as well. They are as unaccustomed to Letty as she is to them. Alex funnels his frustration into schoolwork and a budding romance. Luna responds with the sort of clinginess only a 6 year old can offer. When Letty comes up with a plan to improve the family’s situation and get her children out of their dangerous school district, one wrong move could send their whole world spinning out of control.

When your first novel is a showstopper, it can be tough to follow up, but Vanessa Diffenbaugh does it with aplomb. We Never Asked for Wings visited some of the themes and tones that made The Language of Flowers such a great book while still differentiating itself as a great stand alone novel. If you’re in the mood for an emotionally wrenching yet ultimately heartwarming read, you need to check out We Never Asked for Wings!

Let’s chat, Bookworms! What are some of your favorite sophomore novels? What are some that have disappointed you? (Because I always answer myself, my biggest disappointment in a sophomore novel to date was Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield… Review here if you dare.)

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

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Aug 18

Bite Size Reviews

Bite Size Reviews 14

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

You know how sometimes you read a book and you don’t have a ton to say about it? It seemed like a good time to catch up on some of my latest reads with some bite size reviews. Also, I made a graphic with a cookie on it. A cookie, you guys! This is how much I love you. I hope the cookie helps make up for the whiny pants post in which everything is “meh” and I love nothing. Just focus on the cookie, okay?

bitesizereviews

1. Plan B by Jonathan Tropper- My IRL book club chose this as a recent read because This Is Where I Leave You (review) was a pretty big hit with the group. Plan B was just okay for me, I mean, I guess I have a low tolerance for movie star kidnappings or something? That and that fact that I’m 32 and the characters made me feel extra old when they were all “OMG I AM 30. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LIFE?!” I am two years OLDER than you, fictional people. IT DOESN’T GET BETTER. Sorry. Minor existential crisis there. Moving on…

2. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire- This wasn’t quite what I had expected. It was Cinderella turned on its head making the “ugly” stepsisters less villainous. It also made Cinderella significantly less mentally balanced and she totally couldn’t charm forest creatures into doing her housework… I liked it better than I liked Mirror Mirror (review) but it lacked that Wicked zing. Unlike most of Maguire’s work it didn’t really have any weird mystical elements and stuck pretty closely to the historical fiction angle. It was enjoyable, but again, not my favorite.

3. Paper Towns by John Green- I’m afraid I’ll never love any John Green book the way I did The Fault in Our Stars (review). After the Paper Towns movie came out I thought it was time I picked up this highly rated John Green novel. The top John Green novels according to the universe are The Fault in Our Stars (obvi), Looking for Alaska (review), and Paper Towns… Am I too old for YA? Why can’t I empathize with these characters? I wanted to shake the resident manic pixie dream girl and tell her to quit taking herself so seriously. College is for reinvention, MARGO, there is no need for these insane “adventures” of yours! Now GET OFF MY LAWN!

Sooooo Bookworms. Do you like cookies? What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Focus on the cookie…

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

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Aug 17

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Fairy Tales, Roaring 20s 5

What’s the word, Bookworms?

The word as in the secret password. To the speakeasy. We’re gonna rouge our knees and pull our stockings down and all that jazz fairy tale style! I love a good fairy tale retelling, don’t you? A few weeks back I was in the mood for a good trip into “once upon a time” and I came across The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.

thegirlsatthekingfisherclubThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club takes the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses and injects an infectious dose of 1920s flair. Truth be told, I wasn’t familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses before I read this book, so if you live under that rock with me, I’ll paraphrase. Once upon a time there were twelve princesses sequestered in a castle. They seem to live a sheltered life but every morning their dancing shoes are worn through as they secretly sneak out to dance every night. Move that scenario to New York City in the 1920s and you’ve got The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. The twelve Hamilton girls live their lives in the captivity of a brownstone. Their tyrannical father keeps them at home because he’s a big jerk and he’s ashamed that he has twelve daughters and no sons. Did I mention he’s a big jerk?

Jo and her sisters have a single rebellion in that they sneak out to speakeasies and dance the nights away. Foxtrots, waltzes, and Charlestons, these gals know how to cut a rug. This wildly entertaining novel seamlessly blends fairy tale magic with historical fiction. I absolutely adored the 1920s fun and the rebellious “princesses.” If you’re in the mood for a fairy tale retelling OR a jaunt that’s the cat’s pajamas, pick up a copy of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Talk to me Bookworms! Is there a fairy tale that you feel like you missed somewhere along the way? 

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

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Aug 14

Questioning Katie: What Constitutes a Spoiler?

Personal, Q&A, Questioning Katie 15

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s time for some chit chat, Words for Worms style. I’ve been collecting questions from y’all over the last few weeks because I’m a big cheater face and I’m all about having you hit me with writing prompts. Thank heavens you beautiful bookworms are willing to keep giving me material!

questioningkatie

Today’s question comes from the delightful Jenny at Reading the EndAt what point in a book does information about the book become spoilers if someone tells it to you? Like if someone dies in the first chapter, is that a spoiler? Third chapter? Middle? (This is a selfish question because I do not understand how human brains comprehend spoilers, but I am trying to learn so I don’t accidentally spoil things for people.)

This is SUCH a good question. If y’all don’t read Jenny’s blog you probably should because it’s fabulous, but she’s the type of reader who revels in spoilers and, as her blog’s name suggests, reading the end of books before she reads the middle. There is no hard and fast rule to figuring out the perfect level of spoiler tolerance. I mean, on one hand you have the Jennys of the world where virtually nothing is a spoiler simply because their enjoyment of a book isn’t hindered by knowing the outcome in advance. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are so fiercely spoiler averse that they won’t even read the synopsis of a book on the jacket. Pretty extreme, right? I mean, how do you know if you want to read something if you don’t even have an inkling as to what it’s about?

spoiler

 

Personally, spoilers only bother me when there’s a big mystery to be had or when it’s part of a major series I’m invested in. Like, I’d have been REALLY upset if someone hit me with Harry Potter spoilers for the last few books, but of course that was nearly impossible to do as I purchased the books immediately upon their release and holed up until I finished reading them. I’ve totally been guilty of oversharing plots in the past, so I’ve adopted a simple rule. If the publisher revealed it in their blurb, I’m not going to feel guilty about “spoiling” anything. Do publishers sometimes reveal too much? Maybe? But if it’s THAT easy to find at least it’s not MY fault. Guilt absolved. (My Catholic roots are showing, aren’t they?)

What do you think, Bookworms? Where do you fall on the spoiler tolerance spectrum?

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

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Aug 12

Three Year Blogiversary Giveaway!

Blogging, Giveaways 43

Holy Smokes, Bookworms!

It’s been THREE YEARS since I started Words for Worms. THREE YEARS! They’ve been years full of books, reviews, and zillions of weird lists. Also penguins. Oh my gosh I love this corner of the internet so so so so so much! To thank all of you awesome readers I’m going to do a giveaway so you can win cool stuff. I thought about compiling a box of weird fun things (socks with donuts on them, random excellent books, miscellaneous weirdness) but I realized that would discourage international readers because shipping miscellaneous weirdness overseas is very expensive. So. I’m going to give the winner an option. They can choose $25 to spend at Amazon (or other book retailer of winner’s choice because I am sensitive to the fact that not everyone is on board with Amazon) OR if the winner is a US resident and decides they want a box of crazy, I will compile something exceptionally fun and SURPRISE-Y for the winner worth at least $25. (I tend to go overboard with oddball merch if that influences your decision.) So, enter below. And thank you for three fun and fabulous years. High five!

blogiversary

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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