Month: October 2015

Oct 31

This Is Halloween

Personal 5

Happy Halloween, Bookworms!

If you weren’t aware, Halloween is kind of a big deal here at the Gingerbread House. We’re pretty into it. I thought you might want to see a sample of our decor. And no, this isn’t all of it…

Halloweenie1 halloweenie2

What are you doing for Halloween, Bookworms? Are you dressing up? What’s your costume? What are your kids’ costumes? Are you dressing up your pet? It’s not abnormal to have two separate Halloween trees, right? 

Divider

Oct 29

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction 6

Greetings Bookworms!

Let’s all just come out and admit it. Every last one of us secretly pines for our Hogwarts letter. It’s not even necessarily that we all want to do magic (though, who doesn’t want to do magic?) it’s more that there’s a piece of each of us that wants to be special, you know? Ordinary life is all fine and dandy, but wouldn’t it be great to be plucked from obscurity and told that you are exceptional? Heck, I wrote my entire college entrance essay based on the fact that while I lacked a sob story or excessive brilliance, I was a darn good bet to graduate on time and with good grades. I may not have been a superstar, but I was plenty reliable. And I totally sold it. We had to write it as an English assignment and my teacher gave me extra credit. (I also got into college, but I probably would have done that with any old essay because I didn’t go to a fancy pants school, but I’m going to pretend the essay had everything to do with it.)

therestofusjustlivehereEnter Patrick Ness’s latest offering The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Our protagonist is Mikey. He’s an ordinary kid struggling with real life problems. He just wants to graduate high school, hook up with his crush, and go to prom. He’s never going to be the one chosen to defeat soul eating ghosts, vampires, or blue lights of doom. All of which happen from time to time. Because of course. It’s like every YA apocalypse novel is swirling around Mikey’s hometown and he’s just trying not to get caught in the crossfire. Heck, even his best friend holds a bizarre sway over all things feline!

It sounds like a recipe for irreverent fun, and it is, but it goes much deeper than that. Patrick Ness manages to somehow blend campy cliches in with real issues that teenagers face. Sexuality, dating, family dynamics, and growing up are all rendered with a heart wrenching truthfulness. I seriously want to give Patrick Ness the biggest hug for his compassionate portrayal of mental illness. No, nobody is imagining the soul eating ghosts. Those are real. So is OCD. And Anorexia. And Depression. And probably aliens, but I can’t back that up.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the type of novel teenagers need to be reading. This is YA at its very best. I want to shove it into the hands of unsuspecting adolescents. This one hit me hard in the feels, y’all. Read it. READ IT!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do any of you feel like it’s ridiculous to expect 17 year old kids to write about turning points in their lives in order to get into college? 

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

Divider

Oct 27

Scary Books That Kept Me Up At Night

Top Ten Tuesday 33

Greetings Bookworms!

This week the folks at The Broke and The Bookish have graciously offered up a Halloween Freebie as a topic. In the past I’ve talked about cool literary costumes and the like, but today I thought it would be fun to talk about some books that scared me to the point that it affected my sleep. Nightmares, fear of turning off the lights, whatever. Of course, it should be noted (and has been several times) that I am a big giant chicken when it comes to scary books. Therefore, my definition of scary might not be the same as yours. Still. We’re going to talk about it anyway. Ready?

upatnight
  1. Bag of Bones by Stephen King: This was my first Stephen King novel and it freaked me out so badly it was a good 10 years before I read another one of his novels. It’s not even one of the super scary ones! I was 16 and had a wild imagination, okay? I seriously couldn’t look at refrigerator magnets for a while after I finished it. And the night I finished it? I was up until 3am because I was powering through the fear, only to be left too afraid to turn out the lights and close my eyes. When I finally fell asleep, I totally had nightmares. Because chicken.
  2. The Passage by Justin Cronin (review): In the years since I read that initial Stephen King, I’ve branched out and will read frightening books periodically. (As long as they don’t involve ghosts or evil spirits. I can’t afford to be afraid of inanimate objects.) I can’t think of a book that made my chest tighten in panic the way The Passage did. The unholy union of vampire lore and zombie apocalypse was intense and unequivocally terrifying. I had to switch to reading a classic for a while just to calm my nerves enough to sleep.
  3. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): I’ve been known to have the occasional Walking Dead inspired nightmare (and don’t even get me started on this week’s episode because I just CANNOT), but World War Z kicked those nightmares up several notches. This was another book I had to follow up with an innocuous book in order to fall asleep.
  4. The Stand by Stephen King (review): Since the Bag of Bones incident, I’ve tried to avoid any Stephen King involving ghosts and/or unsettled spirits. Luckily, that leaves plenty of novels for me to read, and The Stand is one of my all time favorite books. All time. Seriously. I’ve read a lot of books and it’s really high on the list. It’s about a super flu apocalypse and believe you me, that is some scary stuff. It wasn’t much of a nightmare inducer but it sure as heck kept me up late because I couldn’t put the darn thing down.
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (review): Bleak bleak bleak! I had nightmares involving shopping carts and cannibals after finishing this one. Super good, and though not traditionally spooky, it’ll stick with you.

I’m going to tap out at five books this week because Hocus Pocus just came on. You can’t expect me NOT to watch it. While I’m running amok amok amok, why don’t y’all tell me about some of the scariest books you’ve ever read? What gave you nightmares, Bookworms? What was that last book you read that left you too scared to turn out the lights?

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

Divider

Oct 26

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Audio Books, Humor, Psychological 12

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

Y’all know I’m a sucker for audio books and celebrity memoirs… But only funny celebrities, because the amount I don’t want to read about some celebutaunt’s spiritual awakening is STAGGERING. But. Basically anyone who was a regular on Parks & Recreation who writes a book? I will give that a whirl. (I haven’t gotten to your books yet, Ron Swanson, but I will one day. One day when I somehow stop thinking of you as Ron Swanson and remember you have an actual name. Nick Offerman. Right?) Aziz Ansari wrote a book, so I thought “I should read that with my ears because Tom Haverford’s inflection would be entertaining.” YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE YOUR CHARACTERS! PAWNEE FOR LIFE!

modernromanceWhat was most interesting about Modern Romance was that it was NOT a memoir. It was pretty funny, but also full of social commentary and some sciencey goodness. Sounds like a winning combination, doesn’t it? Ansari and his impressively credentialed counterparts explore the ways in which dating has changed in the digital age, and the ways in which it hasn’t. Relationship dynamics have gone into hyper-drive with the advent of internet dating sites and texting. And this whole emerging adulthood thing where people don’t typically get married and start procreating right after high school graduation? Talk about a whole new world of dating opportunity. But like anything, it has its drawbacks. Now you have the stress of finding the PERFECT person. I mean, you have the WHOLE internet now and nobody will give you the side eye for saying you met online. It’s not like you’re limited by your small town anymore, but in some ways the pressure is more intense. Fascinating stuff. Really.

OF COURSE this led to a crap ton of self reflection for me, so let’s not talk about the book for a minute and talk about ME. My dating experience is extremely limited, although I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone who ever showed any interest in me, was pursued by me, or actually dated me. I have an overdeveloped fight or flight response and an underdeveloped sense of tact. Seriously, I’m SO sorry. I live in fear of the day I see my adolescent self portrayed in a book or movie. Which is ridiculous because it’s so few people. Still. I was beyond horrible at dating. BEYOND HORRIBLE. Have I mentioned that? The worst. Right here. It ended up working out in my favor though, because by the time I met the guy who’d eventually become my husband, I had virtually no old relationship baggage. I mean, it’s hard to acquire baggage when your longest relationship was 6 weeks… In other news, my husband should probably be sainted for putting up with me.

If you are feeling like an old fart because you met your spouse the old fashioned way, I think you’ll find Modern Romance fascination. And if you’re out there in the big bad dating world? Modern Romance will feel like a chat with a friend about the foibles of dating, and it might just renew your faith in the process.

Alright, Bookworms! Spill it! Those of you in committed relationships, how did you meet your person? We’ll call it science, even though it’s just me being nosy. Those of you in the dating pool: is it as terrifying as I’m imagining?

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

Divider

Oct 23

Ramble On

Personal 8

Happy Friday Bookworms!

This is going to be a post of pure randomness because even though I’ve been reading and listening a-plenty, I’m not in the mood to write a proper book review. It’s fine though because this week has been nuts. I’ve been having tech issues with the blog (bleh) and I know absolutely nothing about code or hackers or anything other than that I want the problems to staaaaaaaaaahp. Hubs is eleventy billion types of awesome though and he managed to cure what was ailing me- at least temporarily. Let’s hope this marks the end of the nonsense. If it doesn’t, well, I’m sorry in advance.

In other news, Gilmore Girls is coming back!!! Oy with the poodles already! I can’t tell you how excited I am or how desperately I’m hoping they can get Melissa McCarthy to reprise her role as Sookie. I loved Sookie St. James and all her craziness. The deep fried turkey episode?! It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

oywiththepoodlesalready

Also, Halloween is fast approaching. I had every intention of making myself a tutu to wear with my Minnie Mouse ears, but seeing as I’ve yet to do a darn thing, we’ll see if that actually happens. I haven’t made up the Halloween treat bags for our oodles of trick-or-treaters yet either. Our house, however, is Halloweened TO THE MAX. We’ve got lights and two Halloween trees and pumpkins coming out our ears. Since Hubs is a significantly better photographer than I am, I’ll see if he’ll treat us to a pictorial tour next week. Here’s hoping.

What else? Oh! Last weekend, I became a Godmother again! Little miss Emma Jane (who you met earlier) was baptized and Jim and I were asked to be her Godparents. In case you’re keeping count, I’m now a Godmother 4 times over and they are all adorable, brilliant, and delightful children in spite of my influence.

Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Katie adore you, Emma-Saurus!

We were all trying to make her smile. Smiles on two-month-olds are fleeting and difficult to capture. She really does like us though, I swear.

I finally started the The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I’m sure I’ll talk about it more later, but since it’s all up in my brain, I felt it deserved a mention. I’m reserving judgement until I finish the series, but so far it kiiiind of feels like a mashup of Twilight, The Sookie Stackhouse books, and a dash of Outlander, though heaviest on the Twilight. Because apparently male vampires with consciences are total prudes. And vampires always mix with the fancy dancy movers and shakers of the world and never, like, work construction. I realize construction typically is done during daylight hours, but this book’s mythology doesn’t fry vamps in the sun (or make them sparkle, for that matter.) It’s a darn shame, because vampire strength would be pretty sweet when it comes to construction. Heck, a vampire road crew could probably do a much better job maintaining highways than the current system.

So that’s what’s going on in my world. What’s up in yours, Bookworms?!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will invest that commission in an army of internet ninjas to protect my blog from future compromises. That’s how this works, right?*

Divider

Oct 20

Wishes from a Book Genie: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 19

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

I had planned on putting together a lovely post for you last night buuuut I had some technical difficulties with website-y things and you know the old addage. The best laid plans of mice and Katies, yadda yadda, yadda. But I’m here today and we’re going to play the imagination game. (It’s really the best game, isn’t it?) The folks at The Broke and the Bookish have posed a doozy of a question. What are the top ten things you’d wish for if you had a Book Genie at your disposal?

bookgenie
  1. More Wishes! I realize this is cliche, but I’d start the proceedings by asking if I could wish for more wishes. It’s probably against the rules, but I’m a greedy Gus and I’d always wonder if I didn’t ask.
  2. A Way to Get More Books Into My Brain! It’s depressing to realize that even if I quit my job and did nothing else ever, I would never ever be able to get through all the books I’d like to read in my lifetime. If books could be like, injected into my brain, I’d be pretty stoked.
  3. A Way to Jump Into my Favorite Scenes Temporarily! There’s an element in The Eyre Affair (review) that has literary tourism going on. I wouldn’t mind giving that a whirl. Mostly so I could ogle Jamie Fraser in the flesh. I mean… Who am I kidding? That’s exactly what I mean.
  4. More Harry Potter Books! They don’t have to be Harry’s adventures, necessarily, but I need more time in the magical world. I just do.
  5. The Ability to Read an Entire Series Even When It Hasn’t Been Released And/Or Written! There is little that is more frustrating than being super into a series and having to wait for the next installment. It’s AGONY. My Genie would save me from that fate. It would probably involve time travel, but hey. Genie. Right?!
  6. The World’s Coziest Reading Nook! Wouldn’t it be loverly? I mean, I’ve got some delightful places to read, but the WORLD’S COZIEST READING NOOK? How could that not be amazing? (If you don’t have show tunes stuck in your head right now, you should go watch My Fair Lady. For educational purposes.)
  7. A Home Library Complete With Sliding Ladders! THIS. IS. THE. DREAM.
  8. The Ability To Judge A Book’s Awesomeness Before Investing In It! Precognition of a sort. I’m not demanding to know what is in each and every book, but it would be so awesome to know that every single book I picked up would seem like the most amazing thing I’d ever read.
  9. The Ability To Function Without Sleep! Think of how much more reading I could get done! I really do like sleeping, but it would be nice if it were optional as opposed to necessary.
  10. Oodles of Cash! I’d settle for one oodle, really, but the idea that I could acquire any book I’d like at any time and/or purchase said books for anyone ever would be delicious. Plus I wouldn’t have to work because that oodle would pay my mortgage so it would truly be a win-win.

What would you wish for, Bookworms?! Tell me your hopes and dreams and Genie things!

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

Divider

Oct 15

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Chick Lit 4

Happy Thursday, Bookworms!

I’ve been reading, as per usual, and there is just something delicious about Sophie Kinsella. I resisted her charms for far too long and I really had no reason to do so. When I finally broke down and read I’ve Got Your Number (review) I was a goner. My Mother-in-Law actually recommended I try The Undomestic Goddess next. She’s got pretty good taste in books, so I figured it was a safe bet. Ooooh Mama Kelly. You were right. Such fun!

undomesticgoddessSamantha Sweeting is a high powered attorney working in London. She’s just turned 29 and is on the fast track for partnership in her firm. Who cares that she doesn’t know what type of vacuum bags her machine uses (or that it uses bags at all…) And sewing on buttons? That’s what dry cleaners are for! And if cooking were truly necessary, would so many delicious takeout options exist? Work is life, all the rest can be hired out.

Of course, that’s all before a single mistake derails Samantha’s entire existence. Panic sets in and Samantha flees without a plan. She soon finds herself in the countryside being mistaken for a potential housekeeper. A housekeeper. Ms. “I didn’t know vacuums had bags.” You can imagine the hijinks, can’t you?

As a rather undomestic gal myself, I found Samantha endlessly amusing. I mean, I’m not much of a cook and I certainly couldn’t pull together a fancy pants dinner, but dude. I can sew a button on, I know what kind of vacuum bags we use, and despite my dislike of household chores, I can competently complete most of them. Even though I’m kind of a mess in the kitchen, I CAN, in fact, cook more than toast. This book made me giggle and made me feel like a regular Martha Stewart. Heartwarming humor with a generous dash of romance made The Undomestic Goddess a winner in my book.

Talk to me Bookworms! What is your least favorite household chore? 

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

Divider

Oct 13

Dream Author Duos: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday 17

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday and therefore we should be making lists, don’t you think? This week the folks at The Broke and the Bookish have proposed a delightful topic! We’re talking about our dream author duos. I KNOW, RIGHT? Like take two amazing authors. Make them write a book together. MAGIC ENSUES. I have visions of author buddy comedies dancing in my head. This shall be glorious!

dreamauthorduos

1. Diana Gabaldon and George RR Martin. They’re already BFFs, I’m actually terribly confused as to why this is not already a reality. Epic adventure series unite!

2. Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman. Magical realism with a dark twist plus magical realism with a light twist. I’m terribly curious to find out whose magical realism would win out. Also, I feel like apples would be involved somehow. So few fruits get the literary attention that apples do. Let’s work on this fruit elitism, world, okay?

3. Fannie Flagg and Sophie Kinsella. What? You think neurotic British chick lit can’t meld with Southern Fried Fiction? Well, I think I’ll be the imaginary judge of that. And as said judge? It is awesome and you are all the wrong. So there.

4. Maggie Stiefvater and Neil Gaiman. They’re both sort of obsessed with creepy British Isles folklore. Can you imagine what sort of craziness they’d come up with together? It would be dark and mysterious and delicious.

5. Rainbow Rowell and Jojo Moyes. I have no good reasoning behind this pairing, I just like them both a whole lot and they both have new books out and I’ve read neither of them. WHY AM I BLOGGING WHEN I COULD BE PUTTING BOOKS IN MY BRAIN?!

6. Mark Twain and Jane Austen. Okay, you guys, Mark Twain said some suuuuuuper douchey things about Jane, but in my mind he did so only because he was secretly in love with her and it’s not socially acceptable to be in love with a dead author. I shan’t listen to anyone who argues otherwise. LALALALALALAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

7. Jenny Lawson and David Sedaris. This would be so weird and irreverent and magical and bizarre. There would be taxidermy and neuroses and hilarity would ensue. I want it to happen.

My brain is exploding with the awesomeness of the imaginary potential of these author pairings. Seven is a powerful number, maybe if I stop my list here, the universe will make one of these happen? (I’m definitely not stopping because I’m too lazy to come up with anything else. Definitely not.) So tell me, Bookworms. Who are your dream author duos?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. There’s even a little dohickey on the sidebar that’ll let you search Amazon right from here. Maybe keep that in mind for your holiday shopping. Or don’t. Whatever.*

Divider

Oct 08

The Raven Cycle (well, most of it) by Maggie Stiefvater: A Cautionary Tale

Audio Books, Supernatural, Young Adult Fiction 11

Good Day Bookworms,

When I wax philosophical in certain moods, I like to think that my missteps might help other people. Here’s a lesson for you. If you go into a series planning to binge read the whole thing, you’d better make DARN SURE you know that the series is finished. Making the assumption that a Paranormal YA series is, in fact, a trilogy would be a good bet, but we’re not in Vegas. We’re in book land. And you know what’s worse than reading a series you’re super into and then finding out you have to WAIT for the next installment?! NOTHING. IT. IS. AGONY. AGONY, I tell you! And it’s my own fault. Also Maggie Stiefvater’s fault for making The Raven Cycle an impossibly delicious ride. Probably her publisher’s fault for taking too long with the editing or something. Maybe I can blame the time space continuum? I don’t knoooooooooow but I want time to move faster so I can find out what happens next!

I suppose I should explain a little. I started reading (alright, alright, listening) to The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater a couple of weeks ago. I read The Scorpio Races (review) by Stiefvater and liked it well enough, but it wasn’t my favorite. Hence, my expectations for The Raven Cycle (The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves , and Blue Lily, Lily Blue) were sufficiently tempered. I figured I knew what I’d be getting into with a paranormal YA series, more or less. I was wrooooooooooooooong!

ravencycle

It’s hard to talk about a series without spoiling, oh, everything, which was my main motivation for reading the whole series in one go and giving you a single write up. I really need to start paying more attention. It’s like I learned NOTHING from the whole Diviners debacle… But I digress. The Raven Cycle takes place in rural Henrietta, Virginia. Blue Sargent is a teenage girl living in a family a psychics, exceptional only in that she serves as a cosmic antenna to clarify other people’s clairvoyance. Blue doesn’t reap any benefit from her antenna-hood; in fact, it’s a pain in the tush to find out that you will be the cause of your true love’s death. Henrietta is home not only to an odd clan of psychic women, but also an elite boy’s-only prep school called Aglionby. A group of four Aglionby boys led by wealthy and charismatic ringleader Gansey are on a quest to find something money can’t buy, and Blue is soon swept away by their search. Enter weird paranormal stuff of a decidedly unusual variety. Add awesomeness. Shake until frothy. Then STOP COLD. Because the series isn’t finished. HEADDESK.

Part of the reason I was extra super sucked into this story is that it talks a lot about ley lines (which isn’t really a spoiler, but it wasn’t in the publisher blurbs, so whatever.) Anyway, ley lines are (anecdotally, at least) concentrated lines of energy of mysterious origin that spiderweb across the globe and are often marked by ancient monuments that nobody seems to understand. Like circles of standing stones. Like in Outlander! These books are much less scientific and get way more oogly-boogly than Diana Gabaldon ever does, but if you were intrigued by what Master Raymond may have known, you’ll probably fall hard for these books too. Also, “oogly-boogly” is my new favorite term. In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, I will be waiting until next year at least for the final installment. If you wish to learn from my mistakes, hold off on starting the series. Once you start it, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll join me in the AGONY club. My word. We should make t-shirts. And belt out show tunes. Into The Woods, anyone?

agony

No for reals, Bookworms. Who wants an AGONY t-shirt? I think we could make this a thing, you guys!

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

Divider

Oct 06

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

Chick Lit, Historical Fiction 6

Howdy Bookworms!

I’ve been reading a lot of spooky novels to get me in the mood for Halloween (I’ll tell you all about it, of course, in due time.) Because I’ve been so deep in the dark and broody I decided to lighten things up a bit by picking up The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. The last Fannie Flagg novel I read, I Still Dream About You (review) was kind of disappointing. It was fine, but it didn’t have enough of that “I’m happy to be alive” vibe that I’ve come to expect from her novels. I’m a glutton for the warm fuzzies. Suffice it to say that I was MORE than fulfilled by The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.

allgirlfillingstationlastreunionMrs. Sookie Poole has finally married off the last of her three daughters and is recovering from wedding overload. Just as she and her husband prepare for some R&R, Sookie’s world is rocked by a registered letter informing her that all is not as she expected it was in her family’s past. All her life, Sookie has been failing to live up to the impossible expectations of her formidable/eccentric/overbearing mother, Lenore Krackenberry. Lenore’s fixation on Southern gentility and the family silver perplex and exhaust Sookie, but she good-naturedly puts up with her mother’s airs. When Sookie receives her surprising package, Lenore’s behaviors confuse her more than ever. Determined to learn more about her family, Sookie embarks on an unexpected journey.

Sookie’s quest to uncover her family’s secrets leads her on a cross country trek and into a time and place she’d never imagined. Namely, a large Polish family in 1940s Wisconsin. Told half in present day Alabama and half in WWII era Wisconsin, this book was an absolute treat. I’m sure a large part of my affection for this book comes from the Midwestern setting and the Polish family. Technically I grew up in Illinois and technically I’m not Polish, BUT the Chicago area (where I grew up) has a ginormous Polish population. (Fun fact: I once asked a couple of the immigrant girls I went to high school with to teach me how to swear in Polish. They demurred and taught me the names of fruit instead, assuming that even if I tried to use them in a violent fashion at worst I’d sound like a crazed woman obsessed with produce. At least I wouldn’t offend anyone who spoke the language. Probably.) With a colorful cast of characters in each time and place, the Fannie Flagg I’ve come to love was represented fabulously. Historical fiction, contemporary fiction, warm fuzzies, and polka abound. If you need a pick-me-up, you need to pick up The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do any of y’all know how to polka? I don’t actually know how to, myself, but sometimes I do anyway. Evidence:

I'm dancing with my brother-in-law's mom who actually DOES know how to polka. She tolerated my nonsense beautifully.

I’m dancing with my brother-in-law’s mom who actually DOES know how to polka. She tolerated my nonsense beautifully.

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

Divider