Category: Bite Size Reviews

Jun 24

Bite Size Reviews: June 2016

Bite Size Reviews 11

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

I knew that posting 5 reviews in a row last week was going to zap my blogging mojo! I’m popping in last minute so I don’t have a completely silent blog week. I’ve actually got some good ideas cooking, so maybe there’s something to taking a break. I’ll run away with you for the summer, Eliza! Hamilton references aside, we’re going to do some quick and dirty book reviews today. Small plates you guys. There’s like the tapas of book reviews. Mmmmm… Tapas…

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Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older- I listened to this one and it had some seriously cool use of Caribbean folklore and a fantastic narrator. It’s urban fantasy with a Raven Boys (review) / Diviners (review) sort of vibe. Older’s writing is smart and fearless, and he manages to weave social commentary, a coming of age story, and friggin monsters into a single book. It wasn’t an out of this world read for me, but I think that’s mostly because I’m not super into the urban fantasy young adult thing. If paranormal YA/ urban fantasy happens to be your jam, though? GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW.

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt- What in the actual f*ck is going on here? Honestly I don’t even know how to describe this book. I mean, between the multiple cults and the bizarre extended hiking journey, I’m at a loss. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read this. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY READ THIS. Mostly because I want to discuss it with someone. Super weird book, you guys. In the best way.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen- It’s a bittersweet moment for me, because now I’m all out of SAA books, but when I saw this bad boy was $1.99 in the kindle store I had to snap it up. It was good times, as per usual. Sarah Addison Allen’s blend of magical realism and sweet southern fiction always makes me happy. I actually read the sequel to this, First Frost (review), before I read this one, but it really didn’t matter too much. It’s delightful even out of order. That cantankerous apple tree gets me every time!

What’s up in your worlds, Bookworms? What have you been reading?!

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

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May 24

Bite Size Reviews: May 2016

Bite Size Reviews 19

Well Hello Bookworms,

It’s been a while since I just told y’all about some books! Let’s fix that right now, shall we? I’ve got some tasty little reviewlettes for you today because my brain simply won’t come up with all the words in the land. I blame this on Maggie Stiefvater, actually, because of REASONS.

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater- I told you this was all her fault! You’ll recall my folly when I read what I thought was a trilogy a while back? The final installment of The Raven Cycle was released and I put it right into my earholes. I just finished this bad boy like 4 hours ago. I can’t write a whole review because that’s nigh on impossible when you’re talking about a series, but suffice it to say my guts were wrenched and I found the conclusion emotional and satisfying. Big love to my tweeps with whom I was able to share all the feels!

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney- If you’re in the mood to read about fraught family dynamics, this is the book for you. The four Plumb siblings have lived their whole lives knowing they’ve got a large inheritance on the horizon and have made some questionable decisions as a result. Leo, worst of the bunch, does something super horrible that depletes the family’s nest egg on the eve of the siblings finally getting their share. It’s marketed as a bittersweet comedy, but if it was meant to be funny, it was too cerebral for me. The Plumb family members were each painted with compassion, though their foibles were maddening. Not really my cup of tea.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer- A group of teenage camp friends stick together for life. Their lives, predictably, don’t go necessarily go according to plan. Following the characters from their youthful hopes and dreams to their adult problems is by turns fascinating and melancholy. I don’t want to get into spoilers or anything, but to those who have read it: WTF with Jonah and the gum?! I seriously cannot even. Also, Goodman. Ugh. Worst. I liked the book fine, but I really wanted to punch some characters. Pummel, actually. RAWR.

Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much by Faith Salie- This is the first BEA book I finished! Yay me! I listen to NPR all the time, so when I heard that a regular guest on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me was doing a signing, I figured I ought to get in that line. Faith Salie is good people. The book gets into the deep nitty gritty emotional bits of her life while still keeping a sense of humor about things. I’ll admit it wasn’t as gut busting as some other memoirs I’ve read, but I think the emotion and sincerity made the moments of wry humor all the more enjoyable. Plus she made a Game Of Thrones joke that made me guffaw in an unladylike manner. (Are you on Litsy? You may have seen the quote. I’m WordsForWorms. Say hi!)

Whew! That was a whirlwind, wasn’t it? I’m still not caught up on all my reviews, but it’s a start, right? What have you been reading, Bookworms?

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

 

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Apr 27

Bite Size Reviews April 2016

Bite Size Reviews 19

Howdy Bookworms!

Today I’m going to do a roundup of the books I’ve recently read that I’ve been a little too lazy to review individually. It’s a thing that happens sometimes, I trust you won’t mind terribly? I’m going to include a graphic of a cookie, so I’m assuming you’ll forgive me. It’s hard to stay mad at chocolate chip cookies, even if they are imaginary.

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ONE. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fford: Hold your roll there, folks, I’m not talking about that soft core porn/ Twilight fan fiction (mostly because I already talked about it.) This is a different book. And what an enjoyable romp of a book it was! Jasper Fford’s unique brand of quirky humor and general weirdness thrills me to no end. I mean, remember The Eyre Affair?! (Review) In Shades of Grey, some unnamed tragedy destroyed society as we know it and the mysterious dystopian society that has replaced it is completely based on the levels of color blindness. It is weird and wonderful.

TWO. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: If you have the opportunity to experience this book via your earholes, I highly recommend the audio book. Mindy Kaling’s voice telling her own stories makes it that much more enjoyable. It’s a cute, fun book in which Kaling addresses some of her experiences in Hollywood. Her discussion of body image I found particularly interesting, because it’s complicated. And I totally get that. Also, apparently she and I wear the same size. Which means we should become best friends so I can raid her closet. Obviously.

THREE. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson: Dead Wake is about the sinking of the Lusitania (obviously), which has long been considered a major catalyst for the US entering WWI. I like Erik Lason, I do. But he tends to get bogged down in details I don’t find super interesting. Like, the carrot of the Lusitania sinking is dangled before me and the U-Boat life is all grossly and wonderfully described, but that dang U-Boat sees and sinks or damages boat after boat after boat- none of which are the Lusitania. I’m not good at delayed gratification.

FOUR. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri: I’ve been meaning to read Jhumpa Lahiri for a long time, but you know what finally got me to pick of one of her books? I read that she’s Mindy Kaling’s favorite author. I don’t typically base my reading choices on celebrity endorsements, but since Mindy Kaling and I are sharing clothes now, she’s more of a trusted friend than a celebrity. This book was SO GOOD and the only reason that it’s being lumped into a tiny review is because I don’t feel smart enough to discuss it with the nuance it deserves. Here’s a snippet of the synopsis from Goodreads: “Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel–set in both India and America–that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.” So yeah. You can see why I can’t review this properly, right?!

Whew! What a whirlwind! And what a variety. High five to me on for the complete randomness of reading choices. You can’t plan this kind of thing folks. To borrow a phrase from the brilliant Andi and Heather, this is FREE RANGE READING at its finest! What have you been reading, Bookworms?

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

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Mar 07

Bite Size Reviews: March 2016

Bite Size Reviews 14

 

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I know what you’re thinking. “Katie, the only thing that could possibly make me feel better about today being a Monday is if you would talk about a book. Multiple books, even!” You guys are seriously the sweetest. Because I love you ever so much, I shall oblige your request and serve up a trio of bite size book reviews.

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The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag- I checked this out of the library recently because I remember hearing that Menna van Praag is one of the authors Sarah Addison Allen recommends. The Dress Shop of Dreams shares the sort of sweet magical realism I’ve come to expect from SAA, so I’m quite pleased to report that this was a nice little read. Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin it for yourself by overthinking or letting your inner cynic take over, okay? Just enjoy it and daydream about the dress you’d get from a magical shop. I hope my imaginary magical dress comes with matching shoes…

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen- You know how when you read a trilogy, the second installment is usually the weak link? NOT THE CASE here! The Invasion of the Tearling had me twice as engrossed as The Queen of the Tearling (review), in no small part due to the killer Handmaid’s Taleesque subplot (review). Holy smokes. Now I get what all the fuss is about. When is the final installment due?!

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier- When you pick up a novel based on the Civil War, you can expect it’s going to be a downer. Unfortunately, the bleak tone coupled with the main character’s Odyssean journey didn’t quite work for me. Add to that the fact that I (unwisely) googled the movie version to find out that it starred Nicole Kidman and Jude Law. I have not seen said film, but I have serious doubts about Kidman’s ability to do a convincing American accent. Samesies for Jude Law. Soooo… Yeah. Not really my jam.

What have you been reading, Bookworms? 

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

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Feb 08

Bite Size Reviews: February 2016

Bite Size Reviews 6

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s still winter. I KNOW. Why do I live in a place where winter happens? I’m a creature of habit, I guess. That, and I’m not sure how I’d handle living in a climate of perpetual summer. It would be like in The Age of Miracles (review) where it they’d have super long stretches of sunshine and it threw off everyone’s circadian rhythms. Would I even know how to summer if I hadn’t gone through my annual bear phase? Probably not. But you can see where my head is at, right? Obviously I can’t be expected to write coherent book reviews. Today we’re going quick and dirty, folks. Let’s eat some cookies.

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen- From time to time I like to read young adult fiction of the dystopian/fantasy/science fiction variety. I’ve been kind of meh on the genre lately, though, so it took something of a catalyst to encourage me to pick up this novel. Honestly? I picked up The Queen of the Tearling solely because Emma Watson will be playing the lead role in the upcoming film version. This is what she had to say about it:

“I had kind of said I would never do a franchise again, so I was desperate to hate it,” Watson says to Wonderland. “Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep for about a week because I couldn’t put the bloody thing down. It would be fair to say I became obsessed with the role and the book. Now I am executive-producing it.” – Emma Watson in Wonderland Magazine

I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it as our erstwhile Hermione is, but I will definitely be continuing with the series. I’m interested to see how this develops.

If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers by Hannah Brencher This was a book club read, which I never would have picked up on my own, mostly because it was filed in the Christian section. It’s a memoir and not super religious, but it definitely deals with the author’s struggles with finding God. I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t really any religious angle that got to me. It was just a little overwrought for my taste. This girl was sweet, but so impossibly earnest. Every little thing turned into a deep philosophical moment. I get depressed when I get too far inside my own head, so I have a low tolerance for this sort of navel gazing. Just not a great fit for my personality. It might be a winner for you, though! (See? I feel guilty about not liking it because the girl seemed really nice. It’s not like she’s ever going to read my blog, for heaven’s sake. Ah well. In case she does, you seem lovely, Hannah. I’m sure you’ve made a difference to a lot of people who aren’t cranky, jaded, and snarky like me.)

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes- This book. Jojo Moyes has proven time and time again that she knows how to get in there and toy with my emotions. Heart wrenching and infuriating by turns, The Last Letter from Your Lover had me shrieking in anguish… In the best way. Lost love, missed connections. Gaaaah! Jojo, you saucy minx, I can’t even with you sometimes!

Alright Bookworms, tell me. Have any of you picked up a book just because of some buzz around the movie version?

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

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Jan 19

Bite Size Reviews: Jan 2016 Edition

Bite Size Reviews 8

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been reading more than I’ve been blogging lately, and believe it or not, I’ve been reading things OTHER than Harry Potter. Of course, Harry Potter is so SOUL CONSUMING that I didn’t feel like discussing anything else. Today we’re going to play catch up and take a quick look at some of my recent reads.

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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: I feel like a turd for throwing this into a mini review because I love The Bloggess and I wanted to dedicate a whole post to her. I mean, I love her enough to spend like 6 months worth of Amazon Affiliate commissions on her book. (You think I’m exaggerating, but my affiliate commission account currently has 16 cents in it. When I talk about small commissions, I mean smaaaaaaaaaall.) Of course, I left it so long between reading the book and talking about it, I’ve lost some of my brilliant insights. Mental illness is different for everyone who suffers, but Jenny Lawson tells her stories with such grace (it’s a relative term, okay?) and humor that on the rare occasion I couldn’t relate to an anecdote, I at least felt like I understood on some level. Lawson’s humor is bizarre and random, but I feel like she’s on my wavelength. If you’ve ever read and enjoyed her blog, definitely give her books (both of them!) a whirl.

Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes: I checked this bad boy out of the library digitally because that’s how I roll. What can I say? I felt like exploring the Jojo Moyes backlist because she is some kind of wonderful. Sheltering Rain delivered some serious emotional punch along with painfully gorgeous Irish scenery. I liked it, though not as much as some of her other books. I probably would have liked it more if I knew anything at all about horses. Or if the horses had been penguins. Only that would have been really weird because you can’t ride a penguin. Although, you guys remember Even Stevens? Louis wore a penguin jockey costume one Halloween episode. Man. Now THAT was a Disney Channel show.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez: I’ve had this sitting on my kindle for FAR too long, but since it was a free download (there was some sort of rockin’ special once upon a time, I didn’t pirate it. I denounce all piracy that doesn’t involve parrots, eye patches, and sea chanties), I don’t feel too guilty about the procrastination. A family of four daughters immigrate to the US after being persecuted by a super scary secret police force in the Dominican Republic. The family were essentially the Kennedys of the Dominican Republic- they had money, power, and lived on a massive compound with a whole bunch of staff. When they came to the states, the story was COMPLETELY different. The book was all kinds of interesting and is ripe for the intellectual pickings. Unfortunately I’m not in a very intellectual mood, so I’ll just tell you that you ought to read it.

So, Bookworms. Whatcha reading? 

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

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Sep 28

Bite Size Reviews Revisited

Bite Size Reviews 17

Happy Monday Bookworms!

Ever feel like phoning it in, oh, every Monday of your life? Yeah, me too. It’s been a super busy and fun weekend, and I’ve read several books recently that I’d really have to stretch to make full reviews, so let’s get our chocolate chip cookie on and go bite size!

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1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler- This book was on oodles of awards lists so I figured I should read it to find out what the fuss was all about. It was good, but not at all what I was expecting. At all. It also went into some territory that made me feel a little squidgy, the details of which I can’t reveal without massively spoiling things. If you’ve read this and want to discuss, though, email me. Because… Yeah. (WordsForWorms (at) gmail.com. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Or whatever. I’m all up in the internet, you guys.)

2. The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon- So I was just poking around in my library’s digital offerings when I noticed an Outlander novella available. It was a little weird to pick this one up because chronologically it felt way out of place to me, considering a character who got married in the latest installment was an infant in this novella. Still. You can’t go wrong with Lord John and his intrigues, can you? (No, you cannot.)

3. 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino- I chose this book for my IRL book club this month imagining it would be a fun and funky romp through the 1920s. The description wasn’t clear about time period, and a club called the Cat’s Pajamas? It was a reasonable assumption. I was wrong, of course. It was set in the modern day. I really enjoyed the story… Until the last chapter. Maybe I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen as there was closure just before that point. I will say that throwing magical realism in at the tail end of an otherwise perfectly realistic novel is just mean. Seriously, WTF? Book Club is on Friday night, so it should be interesting. I’d better up my dessert game just in case the gang is disappointed.

Talk to me, Bookworms! How was your weekend? What did you read? What did you do? Was there apple cider involved? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll probably buy more books with it, so you’re all enablers. And I love you for it.*

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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?

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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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