Month: October 2016

Oct 31

Happy Halloween 2016

Holidays 10

Trick or Treat, Bookworms!

I just thought that y’all might enjoy seeing the ridiculousness of my costume this year. I cannot help but crack up every time I look at the thing- hopefully it has the same effect on you. BEHOLD!

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I’m a dragon, RAWR!

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No, NOT Barney. For heaven’s sake if you must make a comparison, I prefer Figment.

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I HAVE WINGS, YOU GUYS!

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Handing out candy at the neighborhood parade like a boss.

Happy Halloween!

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Oct 28

Bite Size Reviews: October 2016

Audio Books, Bite Size Reviews 11

Greetings Bookworms!

In all my Halloweening, I nearly forgot that the holiday coincides with the end of the month, and I totally owe y’all some bite size reviews. As usual, I’ve been reading more than I’ve been blogging and I’m perpetually behind schedule. I say “schedule” like anybody but me cares. I am beholden to nobody. I am the free-est of birds. Now, before you go singing all the Lynryd Skynyrd, let’s talk about some BOOKS!

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ONE: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig- This is not a drill folks. This book is about TIME TRAVELING PIRATES! It’s a delightful romp of a YA novel, and I’ll forgive the love triangle aspect because one of the love interests has a pet beagle. I love me some beagle related shenanigans. I would recommend that if you read this, read the end with your eyeballs. Or at least, don’t try to listen to the audio version while you’re multi-tasking. Because my brain got a little tangled in the maps and the time and the back and forth. Totally looking forward to the next installment, though.

TWO: Bird Box by Josh Malerman- I chose this book for my neighborhood book club because October was my month to host and I wanted something a little creepy. I tapped into the hive mind of twitter and I can’t remember who pointed me toward this book, but THANK YOU. Because it was perfect and creepy and wonderful. Apocalypse via eyeballs. It’s intense.

THREE: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson- Freaking gorgeous prose, which makes all the sense because Woodson is a poet. The intensity of adolescent girlhood plus oodles of 1970s atmosphere makes for a fabulous novel. Well, fabulous and gut wrenching and everything that makes a book great. You know how it is.

FOUR: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini- Oh my heart. This book just about BROKE ME. I realize it’s been out for quite a while and I’m basically the last person to have read it but being late to the party didn’t make the book any less intense. It’s set partially in Afghanistan and partially in the US and it’s devastating in the best way. Just read it, y’all. Read it.

Alright Bookworms. That’s what I’ve been reading. But what I’m really curious about? Who is dressing up for Halloween and what are you gonna be???

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

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Oct 26

The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell

Cozy Lady Fiction, Romance, Tear Jerkers 5

Olá Bookworms!

You know that thing where you do or say or think something only to realize later that it was a dumb thing to do or say or think? That’s basically my life, to be honest: I’m in a constant state of revision. But, among the dumb things I’ve done or said or thought as it pertains to this blog was that I would not accept pitches for self published books. It was snobby and shortsighted of me. I’m sure there are a lot of self published books out there in which I have zero interest, but there are a lot of traditionally published books that fall into that category too. So. I’m wrong a lot. To nobody’s surprise. All this is to say that I received a pitch from a self-published author I was completely unfamiliar with (which is totally different than reading a book written by a blogger I already love, though that has happened) and I accepted a review copy. Are you ready to hear about The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell? *Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the author. The following review reflects my honest opinions.*

brazilianhusbandDetermined to honor her husband’s final request, Judith embarks on a trip from London to Brazil with her reluctant daughter in tow. The trip turns out to be a bit more than Judith bargained for as she begins to uncover secrets to her husband’s past. She soon encounters Ricardo, the dreamboat/human rights lawyer/activist who helps Judith unravel the tangled web of her husband’s life in Brazil. All of this is set against the backdrop of Brazil’s favelas, corrupt city officials, and familial drama.

I can’t recall having read another book set in Brazil, so I was a little concerned a book about Brazil written by a British woman wouldn’t be terribly authentic. I needn’t have worried. A quick review of  Ms. Powell’s bio revealed she spent a year in Brazil working for a women’s shelter, so she knows a little something about the country. Plus, since the protagonist is a British woman visiting Brazil, it was the ultimate “write what you know” scenario. Although, I sincerely hope that the author’s story doesn’t totally mirror this book, because while it was a page turner, it was also heartbreaking.

It reminded me a little of Kate Morton’s work (The Forgotten Garden in particular), the way historical elements were revealed in snippets and the reader discovered the truth of the narrative right along side the protagonist. If you’re into family sagas with a bit of romance, a lot of secrets, and a smattering of tears, definitely give The Brazilian Husband a read. It’s a good one, I promise.

Talk to me Bookworms! I want to read more books set in Brazil. Bonus points if they’re written by Brazilian authors. Recommendations?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. You’ll also be supporting an independent author, which is pretty great. Given the fact that the editing and formatting were on point, I imagine a professional editor was involved as well, so you’ll be supporting THAT person too. Just in case you needed to feel warm and fuzzy about indulging in the written word.*

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Oct 19

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 12

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been on an Octavia Butler kick lately. After I read Fledgling (review) wherein Octavia Butler turned vampire lore upside down, I decided it was time to tackle dystopian/post apocalyptic Butler. When an author totally blows your mind in multiple genres (because Kindred too!), it only makes sense to explore their entire backlist of titles, right? Enter Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

parable-of-the-sowerParable of the Sower opens with a world rocked by environmental and economic crises. The US has devolved into complete social chaos wherein even gated communities cannot be guaranteed of their safety. Food prices have skyrocketed, crime runs rampant, and emergency services are available only to those who can afford to pay the fees. Lauren Olamina lives in Southern California with her family when their relatively safe existence behind walls goes down in flames. Literally. In an attempt to survive in the aftermath, she flees northward, hoping to find a safe haven in which to explore and establish her newfound faith. Parable of the Talents continues Lauren’s story as she tries to establish a community and eek out an existence in what is left of society. Her efforts at rebuilding some semblance of life are hard won, but making headway. Unfortunately, shparable-of-the-talentse must contend with slavery, human trafficking, religious fundamentalists, and nightmarish political leaders. Suffice it to say that things don’t go particularly smoothly.

I won’t sugar coat it- these books scared the ever-loving crap o
ut of me. I hadn’t had a book related nightmare in ages (and I read Joe Hill this summer!) but these novels were chilling. CHILLING. There were so many terrifying and startling parallels to current political cycle, I can’t even. DOWN TO THE CAMPAIGN SLOGAN, YOU GUYS. I can only hope Butler is simply an insightful genius and not an actual oracle, because I am fifty shades of
freaked out. I’m not saying that a certain candidate’s presidency would bring about an apocalyptic hellscape, but, I HAVE CONCERNS.

Despite the nightmares, these books were phenomenal, insightful, and generally awesome. I would recommend that all of humanity (and probably a few extra terrestrial species) read these books. I apologize in advance for your bad dreams, bookworms, but these books are SO GOOD.

What is the last book that gave YOU bad dreams? 

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

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Oct 17

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Shakespearean 15

Howdy Bookworms!

Did everyone have a lovely weekend? It feels very sneaky of me to write such a thing because technically it’s Friday night even though you won’t read this until Monday morning. Weird, right? The Internet, man. What a place. Anywho, you’ll recall a while back when I told you about Vinegar Girl (review), and how it was a fun retelling of The Taming of the Shrew? I’m happy to report that the Hogarth series is still going strong and I just got my mitts on Margaret Atwood’s contribution, Hag-Seed. It’s a retelling of The Tempest and let me tell you, it’s… Weird. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration through NetGalley. Because libraries exist and I can also get free books there, you shouldn’t be too suspicious of my intentions here. No penguins exchanged hands, so.*

hag-seedThis series is kind of amazing for me personally, because I suuuuuuck at reading Shakespeare. I can’t do it, I need to see it performed or read a translated to modern vernacular version. I’ve tried to read Shakespeare on my own, but the only plays I’ve ever made it through have been those I studied in school. Nerd fail. Unfortunately, The Tempest isn’t one of the plays we covered in school, nor did it spawn any teen friendly movie versions. Thus, I really had no idea what I was getting into. But, you know. Margaret Atwood? Hard to go wrong there.

In Atwood’s version, the artistic director of a theater troupe is thwarted in his creative endeavors and finds himself living a hermetic life while teaching Shakespeare to inmates in a prison. (Prison seems to be kind of her thing lately… I mean The Heart Goes Last (review)?) Our protagonist turns the inmates into quite an inventive set of actors, directors, and costume designers. Eventually he decides to put on the play that he was working on when he was fired while simultaneously seeking revenge on those who destroyed his career. The play was, of course, The TempestWhich is also about revenge seeking. It’s a play within a play. Turtles all the way down.

My favorite Atwood has always been dystopian Atwood, but it was quite fun to see her tackle The Bard. Although I finished reading this quite a while ago (because I’m hideously behind schedule) I can’t help but giggle a little when I think of folks attempting to make Shakespeare relevant to a less than enthused audience because Lin-Manuel Miranda, our glorious national treasure, did this on SNL. If you dig Shakespeare retellings or The Tempestyou should totally read this book. And then ruminate on the parallels between Shakespeare and hip hop. And then go listen to Hamilton. Just because.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? And is there a movie version available with a rocking soundtrack? Asking for a friend…

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

 

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Oct 10

Raise a Glass to Blog Friends

BEA 2016, Blogging, Friendship, Personal 11

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I trust you all had excellent weekends. I know I did. ADVENTURE was in the air. I drove up to the Chicago Suburbs to attend a little BEA buddies reunion with three of my favorite ladies- Julie, Marisa, and Stacey. Since I live in the middle of Illinois (more or less) this shindig necessitated a bit of a road trip, which necessitated an audio book, which is easily the biggest perk of the solo road trip. Don’t worry, I’ll fill you in on the audio book when I finish it. But let’s talk about the main event, shall we?

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Photo Credit: Hubs of Julie AKA Shortman, AKA “Mr. Internet Anonymous”. Thank you so very much for being an excellent sport as we invaded your home.

FIRST: Julie’s house is impossibly bookish. She’s got a room dedicated to non fiction that makes me want to sip scotch and binge read F. Scott Fitzgerald. But she’s also got AN ACTUAL FREAKING LIBRARY. And her guest room is dedicated to Alice in Wonderland which is the epitome of whimsy. Of course, should I ever stay the night, I’ve already called dibs on sleeping in the bathtub in the Harry Potter bathroom. THAT IS A THING AND IT IS GLORIOUS! (If you click on those links you can creep on pics of Julie’s house via her blog posts. You won’t be sorry.)

SECOND: Julie makes delicious cocktails that do not taste alcoholic. It was fine because, you know, it was mid afternoon and I am a responsible adult, but I could have drained that punch bowl. Which ALSO would have been fine, probably, seeing as I already plan to sleep in the bathroom should I stay the night. Next time, perhaps.

THIRD: Stacey recently took a trip to Iceland. ICELAND! And she came back raving about how great skyr is, which caused me to demand that she read Burial Rites immediately, and then read an old post of mine in which I connected books based on yogurt. It was a weird and glorious time.

FOURTH: During BEA, Marisa had been talking about wanting to get back into teaching, and SHE DID! She’s now changing lives and molding minds. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. She’s a good egg, that one.

FIFTH: There is a limit to how often one should mention Lin-Manuel Miranda in casual conversation, and I exceeded it. Also, I shouldn’t rap. Ever.

SIXTH: Apparently I’ve been remiss in not yet having tackled Amor Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow.

SEVENTH: I almost cried laughing when we discussed David Bowie’s costume in Labyrinth. It’s entirely Julie’s fault, though, because she is a TERRIBLE INFLUENCE. In the best way, of course.

As you can tell from the highlight reel, I had a blast hanging out with these ladies. I mean, I have people in my day to day life with whom I can discuss books and things, but there’s something magical about hanging out with book bloggers. There’s just this warm fuzzy feeling of knowing THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. Sigh. What a wonderful day. Huge thanks to Julie for hosting. Let’s do it again soon! 

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

 

 

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Oct 07

Once Upon a Fitbit

Personal 13

Howdy Bookworms!

I realize I normally talk about books almost exclusively, but bear with me here. I have some thoughts a-percolating in the old gray matter and I need to get them out. I’m talking about my personal relationship with exercise. I don’t normally go OMG EXERCISE on the internet for a few reasons. Foremost among them being that if one were to take a glance at my physique, one would not immediately scream “you are a superfit lady!” and ask me for workout tips. Similarly, I’m not going through a major life overhaul where I want motivation and accountability either. Just like, I go to the gym sometimes. It simply isn’t terribly exciting.

The whole exercise thing has only been at the forefront of my mind because I started playing around with a Fitbit a couple of weeks ago. Hubs got the Fitbit for Christmas. He used it for a while, but he’s got sensitive skin and it started giving him trouble. Plus, he has issues with wearing any kind of jewelry, watches, etc. It’s a sensory thing, I think. Just drives him batty. Anyway, I thought I’d take ye olde Fitbit for a spin. Current observations… (In case it wasn’t already super obvious, nobody is paying me a darn thing. I got nothing for free. This is the most unbiased nonsense in the history of ever.)

I am just nailing this whole blogging thing.

I am just nailing this whole blogging thing.

ONE: The fact that this bad boy is a basic pedometer is no joke. You get exactly the same amount of step credit for taking a step as you do for doing a tuck jump. I think you have to do some fancy pants thing to get the appropriate amount of “credit” for exercise that isn’t running/jogging/walking. There’s an app. I am very lazy and have no intention of figuring it out.

TWO: I logged ZERO ACTIVE MINUTES for a BodyPump weight lifting class. Despite sweating my face off, feeling like an overcooked noodle immediately afterward, and having soreness in muscles I didn’t know I possessed the following morning. I feel cheated.

THREE: Complaints aside, it does give me lots of credit for stairs I didn’t actually climb, so maybe that kind of sort of makes up for the fact that it cheats me out of steps and active minutes?

FOUR: Ten thousand steps is WAY harder to reach than you might think. Especially when your exercise efforts aren’t step-heavy.

FIVE: I thought the sleep feature would be super cool, and it is. Except. The Fitbit thinks I’m sleeping when I’m reading in bed at night. I glanced at the clock when I put the kindle down last night at it was past 11, but the Fitbit registered my sleep time at 10:15. Reading puts my into a meditative state, I guess? (It also thinks I’m sleeping sometimes when I’m laying on the couch watching TV. Why you gotta judge my binge watch of Say Yes to the Dress, Fitbit?!)

SIX: Does anyone have a recommendation for headphones to use during a workout? If I’m not taking a class of some sort, I’m spending quality time with an elliptical machine and Hamilton or an audio book (Yaaaaaaay now this post is book related. Sort of.) Only my sweaty, disgusting ears keep making my standard issue apple earbuds fall out.

Are you still reading this? I probably would have stopped after I saw that pathetic phoned-in image, so YOU ARE AMAZING. If you’re still here, and you have a Fitbit, do you feel like it’s judging your television choices?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Again. Nobody paid me anything to say anything about anything in this post.*

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Oct 04

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi

Audio Books, Book Club, Non Fiction 5

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve discussed before that I’ve got a rather tenuous relationship with non fiction. Luckily, my relationship with bread, wine, and chocolate has always been top notch. Thus, when one of my neighbors chose Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi for book club, my curiosity was piqued.

breadwinechocolateThis  tome focuses on a series of five foods- the aforementioned bread, wine, and chocolate, as well as beer and coffee. Sethi takes the reader on a journey to explore the history and cultural importance of each of these foods, as well as delving deeply into the flavor profiles of some of the world’s most complex tastes. From far flung cacao fields to craft beer breweries, Sethi’s research is extensive and thorough. I learned a ridiculous amount from reading this book. I mean, genetic biodiversity? I didn’t even know this was a thing I should be concerned with. And now? I am CONCERNED, y’all.

I will forever sing the praises of listening to non-fiction audio books. I don’t know why they work so much better for me than just, you know, eyeball reading, but they do. I found the scientific bits fascinating and didn’t get bogged down at all even when things got super technical and scientific. My mind was legit blown several times. I mean, do you KNOW how chocolate comes to be? Like REALLY know? I’m willing to bet that a lot of you don’t. I always imagined little beans growing on a bush somewhere that were picked and ground and VOILA chocolate. Oh no. So many more steps. And bizarrely shaped fruits. And fermentation. And don’t even get me started on coffee.

Bread, Wine, Chocolate is the stuff of foodies’ dreams. It’s awesome, though, I’ll admit that NOT being a foodie, some of it was lost on me. I love to eat and drink and all, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to muster the intensity and enthusiasm Sethi and the professionals she interviewed had for flavor profiles. If you happen to BE a foodie though? THIS IS YOUR BOOK. SIMRAN SETHI IS YOUR PEOPLE. GO READ THIS.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Are you well versed in wine or does it mostly make you feel like a (tipsy) nincompoop?

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

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