Month: August 2015

Aug 10

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford

Audio Books, Fantasy 20

Greetings Bookworms!

Have you ever wanted to jump right into a book? Like dive into the pages and chill with your favorite characters? My latest read offered just that opportunity! I’ve had people recommending The Eyre Affair to me for years and only just got around to it. I’m kicking myself for this procrastination now because this book was the quirkiest little pile of literary geekery I’ve read in a good long while.
eyreaffair

The Eyre Affair takes place in an alternate reality version of 1985 England. Thursday Next is a Special Operations agent working in literary detection. Special Operations encompasses some zany departments including the Chronoguard who jump around through time making sure miscreants don’t try to rewrite history. Performances of Richard III are performed audience inclusion style a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cloning is totally a thing, so forget tiny dogs in handbags, dodos are the trendiest pets on the block. Though the literary detection agency tends to be a bit heavier on paper pushing than field work, Thursday manages to get herself entangled in danger and mayhem.

This book was so gloriously geeky I want to unabashedly recommend it to everyone I meet. However, I think that in order to really enjoy the novel, you have to have read Jane Eyre (review). It wouldn’t hurt to have read some other classics as well, but since so much of the plot of this book revolves around Jane Eyre, not being familiar with the original story puts the reader at a huge disadvantage. Honestly, though, if you haven’t read Jane Eyre you should. I know classics can be indimidating, but I found it to be much less arduous than I’d imagined and just so darn good! The Eyre Affair is a version of stylized fantasy that won’t work for everyone, but for the right audience it’s amazing. I am that audience. Odds are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re that audience, too. Go forth and enjoy!

Talk to me Bookworms! If you could literally jump into a book, which book would you choose? 

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

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Aug 06

Questioning Katie: What’s With the Penguins?

Personal, Q&A, Questioning Katie 16

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

I’m braving another edition of Questioning Katie even though the internet thinks I’m bonkers. That’s right. The day the post in which I announced I’d be interviewing myself went live, Skype saw fit to show me ads for schizophrenia medication. I’m rather offended that the internet thinks I’m significantly more severely mentally ill than I actually am. Way to be a jerk, Skype. I wasn’t hearing voices, I was just lonely, OKAY?!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the fun. I’m answering a question today from an ACTUAL PERSON. (Thank you for submitting questions!!! I’m going to answer one a week until I run out, which I hope is never, because I do not want to prove Skype right!)

questioningkatie

Today’s question comes from Heather AKA Capricious Reader: Why penguins?  

The penguin thing goes back quite a long way so my memories are all misty and water-colored,  but I believe the obsession can be traced to a third grade project. We had to make a diorama of an animal habitat out of a shoe box. (Is this still a thing children do?) I decided to create a penguin diorama for two reasons. First, I found a wax penguin mold a rama that my household had acquired at some point from the Brookfield Zoo. Second, I knew that a penguin’s habitat would require snow which meant I would get to play with cotton balls and glitter. GLITTER! After the project, things sort of snowballed.

My dad let me pick out a Valentine’s Day stuffed animal later that year and I chose a penguin with a top hat perched on a stuffed iceberg (it was DARN cute. Also, my dad is a giant softie.) I found myself inexplicably drawn to the Chilly Willy the Penguin segments during my morning cartoon fix. I started taking books about penguins out of the school library (because books.) People started to catch on, and it just sort of happened… Then one day I woke up and had a pair of sparkly penguins perched atop my wedding cake.

wedding cake

I really wish I had a photo of the diorama that started it all, but back when I was a kidlet, the cameras and the rolls of film they required were reserved for birthdays, Christmas, ballet recitals, and other big events. Everyday school projects weren’t considered photo worthy because the people who made Instagram probably weren’t born yet. (I have not verified that statement, I just assume that all brilliant internet people are younger than I am.)

At this point in my life, the penguin thing feels like an integral part of who I am. How old is a kid in third grade? Like 8? The vast majority of my life has been spent entrenched in penguiny goodness. I get texts and notes and messages all the time from people who see penguin items and think of me. I mean, how cool is that? People see an adorable animal and they think “KATIE!” I like to think it means that people have a mostly positive association with me, but I can’t be sure. Penguins do tend to poop wherever they feel like it and they can be a little rude with the pecking… Maybe I ought to rethink this…

Got any more questions for me, Bookworms?! Ask me anything*!

*Within reason. There are some questions that you probably REALLY don’t want to know the answers to, you know?*

 

 

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Aug 04

Fairy Tale Retellings: A Top Ten Tuesday List

Fairy Tales, Top Ten Tuesday 12

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

There are very few things I love more than a good list. I’m extra super excited today as the folks at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list our favorite fairy tale retellings. Buckle up your “once upon a times,” bookworms, we’re heading toward a “happily ever after.” It’s TOP TEN TUESDAY TIME!

fairytaleretellings

1. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: I just finished this last week and what fun! It takes the classic The Twelve Dancing Princesses and places it in 1920s New York City. I wasn’t super familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses as it managed to escape my childhood collection of books, Disney movies, and Faerie Tale Theatre episodes. I think that made The Girls at the Kingfisher Club an extra fun experience for me.

2. The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter: This book is a fabulous collection of short stories based on fairy tales with a feminist twist. I highly recommend it for those of you craving empowered heroines.

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review): I couldn’t possibly make this list without including The Lunar Chronicles. Cyborg Cinderella is simply too much fun to be missed!

4. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire: From the dude who gave the Wicked Witch of the West some depth, the “ugly” stepsisters are finally getting to tell their side of the story. It had some unexpected twists I was rather fond of. A great departure from your standard Cinderella

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (review): Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite fairy tales ever. Girl had style, you know? That cape! Marissa Meyer’s crazy Lunar Chronicles continue with Scarlet, driven from the obscurity of her farm in the French countryside and into the arms of the big bad wolf. Rawr.

once upon a time

6. Cress by Marissa Meyer (review): Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! From your satellite where you’ve been imprisoned doing computer things. Muahahahaha! This series is so darn fun. The Lunar Chronicles, FTW! Unfortunately, I haven’t yet tackled the latest installment on the series, but don’t worry. I will get there!

7. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (review): Historical fiction mixed with another retelling of Rapunzel? A winning combination. I love when authors dig down into a fairy tale’s origin story. Delicious.

8. While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (review): Sleeping Beauty, represent! Another historical fiction meets fairy tale. I was kind of hard on this book when I initially reviewed it because I have such low tolerance for insta-love, but you sort of have to expect such things in fairy tales, right?

9. Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (review): In this retelling of Snow White, Gregory Maguire not only delved into historical fiction, but he also used an ACTUAL historical figure in the novel. Though I think he was probably pretty unfair to Lucrezia Borgia, it was a rather innovative interweaving of real happily ever afterhistory, magic, and general craziness.

10. Once Upon a Crime by PJ Brackston (review): Ever wondered what happened to Hansel and Gretel after they escaped the witch in the gingerbread house? Well. Gretel is a private detective solving fairy tale crimes, naturally. Hansel is kind of a drunk, but a lovable one. You can’t expect to be imprisoned and threatened with being eaten and come out of it without some psychological damage.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What are some of your favorite Fairy Tales? And do any of y’all have a recommendation for a fractured or historical fiction or generally fun version of Beauty and the Beast? I’ve got a hankering for MORE FAIRY TALES!

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

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Aug 03

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Audio Books, Supernatural, Young Adult Fiction 8

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I’m feeling pretty accomplished today. That’s right. I finally read a Maggie Stiefvater book. I’m not opposed to YA or anything, but after so many formulaic dystopias flooded the market, I got pretty picky about what I’d read. I’ve heard from a number of reliable sources (Jenny at Reading the End and Heather at Capricious Reader in particular) that Maggie Stiefvater is the bee’s knees, so I had to find out what all the fuss was about. Thanks to my subscription to Scribd and all the audio books my brain can hold, I was able to try The Scorpio Races on for size. Side note: Maggie Stiefvater totally composed the musical accompaniment for the audio book, which is darn impressive.

thescorpioracesThe Island of Thisby is famous for two things: water horses and the annual Scorpio Races. Water horses are basically what they sound like; horses that come from the sea. To be more specific, they’re horses that come from the sea who would rather devour human flesh than oats and are nevertheless captured by islanders and ridden for sport. The Scorpio Races pit water horse against water horse in a combined horse race slash death match spectacle. Riding a water horse in this race is the ultimate extreme sport. Throats are ripped out on the regular. Sean Kendrick is 19 and a four time Scorpio Race champion. He’s got a hand with the monstrous horses that inspires admiration and envy. Puck Connelly is trying her hand in the races for the very first time. She’s also the first female ever to dare to do so. Both Sean and Puck embark on a journey they never expected, all while trying desperately to avoid being eaten by bloodthirsty horses.

The overall tone of this book felt very Neil Gaiman to me. That might be an unfair comparison drawn based on the fact that the actor who voiced Sean Kendrick sounded a bit like Neil Gaiman (which is a very, very good thing), but it was also dark and incorporated a lot of English/Irish folklore which is rather Gaiman-esque in itself. I though it was an inventive story, though I probably would have liked it more if I were a horse aficionado. Still, I’d totally read Maggie Stiefvater again. Her mind seems to be a dark and twisty place, but not in the way that makes me want to cower under the covers. I’d like to see what else she has to offer. If you’re in the mood for something different, give The Scorpio Races a whirl. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Talk to me Bookworms! Would you ever consider riding an animal you coaxed from the sea that totally wanted to eat you? (Spoiler Alert: My answer is a HELL NO. I won’t even swim in water with fish. I’ll wade in the ocean but when it comes to full immersion swimming, it’s a pool or nothing. Fish seriously freak me out. And water horses? Um, no.)

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

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