Category: Book Club

Feb 10

Fellowship of the Worms: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book Club, Romance 32

G’Day Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s that time again. The Fellowship of the Worms is now in session! This month’s selection was The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Rosie Project and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed The Rosie Project on their own blog. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. Pop Culture question here. Did anybody else get a SERIOUS Sheldon Cooper vibe out of Don? The whole time I was reading this book, I was imagining Don’s mannerisms as those of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. I don’t even watch The Big Bang Theory very often, but I could not escape Don’s Sheldon-y qualities.   I tried really hard to break myself of the habit of hearing Don’s dialogue in Sheldon’s voice in my mind’s ear, because I LOVE Australian accents and it seemed a shame to deprive myself of the opportunity to “hear” one just because I’ve been bazinga-ed by pop culture.

sheldon2. Don’s social interactions are awkward at best, but his logic and adherence to routine give him some interesting habits. What’s your favorite Don-ism?

Is it just me, or did Don’s lobster salad sound crazy delicious? Maybe a weekly repeating meal plan is a bit much, but a two-week plan, I could totally get behind. It sounds less intimidating than dealing with “uuuugh what am I going to make for dinner?” on the regular. He might be onto something. I’m just saying.

3. Don’s “Wife Project” involves an elaborate questionnaire designed to weed out unsuitable matches. Have you ever made a list of qualities that are important to you in a potential partner? Do you think it’s realistic to expect any one person to live up to all of them? 

I don’t recall ever making a list of qualities I wanted in a partner… Well. Not a physical list anyway. But sometimes I think people rosieprojectdon’t know what they really NEED. I think that the whole “opposites attract” thing is a cliche and, frankly, pretty inaccurate. BUT there’s a lot to be said for not dating someone who is basically YOU. You need a balance, you know? Don needed to break out of some of his routines, and Rosie needed some structure. Complimentary weirdness can be a good thing.

4. What is it about Rosie that manages to break down Don’s defenses? Do you think that love requires a certain abandonment of logic? 

My husband came home from work the other day with a novel definition of love he’d heard during a work presentation (he works in a hospital, doctors talk about whatever the heck they want to.) He told me that love is the willingness to  support another person’s illusions. That’s not a fuzzy warm romantic definition, but I think it works. I mean, you’ve got to be willing to take the other person’s weird and roll with it. Rosie was able to get through some of Don’s quirks and appreciate his soft underbelly. Don looked beyond Rosie’s hotness and into her brain because that’s all he could think to do. Sometimes love just works, and it’s rarely a purely logical proposition.

5. What was your favorite scene in The Rosie Project?

I’ve got a tie here. The scene where Don deliberately throws his dance with Bianca thrilled me. I was able to envision the whole debacle and it was hilarious and cringe-inducing in equal measures. I ALSO simply ADORED the scene where Don and Rosie provided cocktails for the medical school reunion. I laughed so hard when Don was offering all these elaborate drinks he’d studied while the bar staff had no idea how to prepare them. A pineapple and sage margarita. Who knew, right?

Have you reviewed The Rosie Project on your blog, or tackled these discussion questions on your own? Please link up, I’m dying to know your thoughts!

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Jan 10

The Fellowship of the Worms Announcement

Book Club 38

Hey Bookworms,

It’s a new year and therefore a great time to talk about our awesome book club! I think I’ve been doing everyone a disservice by listing the monthly book at the end of the previous book’s discussion, so now announcements will be getting their very own posts. I assure you this is not simply a tactic I’m using to fill up post space. No sir-ee-bob. Without further ado, the book for this month’s installment of The Fellowship of the Worms, to take place on Monday, February 10th will be (drumroll please… drumroll?)

rosieproject

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion! Because I haven’t read it yet myself, I feel unqualified to give it a synopsis. Here’s what Goodreads has to say:

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

How fun does that sound?!?! Show of hands, Bookworms, who is joining the Fellowship this month?! (Any bloggers who have written a review of The Rosie Project will be invited to link up in our discussion post. Hope to see you there!)

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Nov 18

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: The Fellowship of the Worms

Book Club, Mystery, Romance, Uncategorized 33

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300Hello Bookworms,

Before we start here today, I want to let everyone know that I am a-okay. You probably saw on the news the devastation wreaked on Central Illinois from a tornado outbreak. Some of those touchdowns were a few miles from us, but luckily we are safe and sound, as is our home. Thanks to everyone for your concern!

Now, without further ado, let us get our Fellowship on! This month we’re discussing the classic tale of gothic mystery Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of Rebecca and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed Rebecca on their own blog. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1.Talk about your whirlwind courtship! Our heroine agrees to marry Maxim de Winter after knowing him only a few short weeks. Her decision is fueled in no small part by her wish to escape her snobby employer. Anybody think she should have thought the decision over a bit more carefully, or does love, as they say, conquer all? I am of the opinion than if something SOUNDS too good to be true, it ALWAYS is. I’m also of the opinion that if on one of your first “dates,” your suitor gets lost in a creepy fantasy on the edge of a cliff, you should cut and run. Being able to spell an unusual name correctly is NOT a good foundation for marriage. I’m not sure saying “yes” was your best move, No-Name Girl.

2. Could Mrs. Danvers possibly BE any more creepy and evil? That woman had wicked written all over her from day one. Sherebecca1 was a combination of Mean Girl and psychopath. Mrs. Danvers had an unnatural attachment to the late Rebecca de Winter (Maxim’s mysteriously departed first wife) and was none too pleased to have a new lady of the house. She was a bully and dead set on wreaking havoc. The stunt she pulled at the fancy dress ball? That nutjob even tried to coax No-Name Girl into suicide. Not cool, Danny. Not cool.

3. Rebecca’s presence was palpable throughout the novel despite the fact that she was deceased. How does Rebecca’s memory torment No-Name Girl? Poor No-Name Girl is haunted. Everything she hears she interprets as Rebecca’s perfection. Mrs. Danvers doesn’t help matters by discussing how fashionable, well bred, intelligent, and active Rebecca was. No-Name Girl is convinced the Maxim is still grieving Rebecca and that she’s a piss-poor replacement.

4. Were you surprised by Maxim’s revelation about what really happened to Rebecca? I wasn’t surprised, because I think I’d read a spoiler somewhere. More than that though, Maxim’s behavior where she was concerned was pretty sketchy. What I hadn’t anticipated was that Rebecca was a full on sociopath. Gah! That woman! She makes Mrs. Danvers look like a well adjusted and productive member of society! The debauchery, the promiscuity, the intentional meanness to the mentally disabled guy… I can’t say it was too great a loss to the world as a whole, though it sounds like Mother Nature was taking care of that bit of business before Maxim stepped in. Yikes! 

5. Who do you think burned down Manderley? My money is on the collusion of the evil Mrs. Danvers and the drunken incestuous (yeah yeah I know it didn’t USED to be incest to hook up with your first cousin, but EWWW anyway) Jack Favell. Team of crazies, those two. I can’t imagine that the place went up in flames purely by coincidence, especially since old Danny had removed all her personal belongings earlier in the day. Seriously though, it was MAXIM’s house, NOT Rebecca’s. There is just no reasoning with sociopaths.

What did you think, Bookworms? If you would like to share your thoughts in blog form, be sure to link up below! 

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Next month’s selection will be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I know it’s a book that’s been out for a while, but I haven’t read it yet, okay?

gurnsey

On a side note, I have had several inquiries as to my address recently, as I’m sending out holiday cards and bookmarks this year to any reader who wants one. If you’re interested, I’m mailing internationally- all you need to do is send your address to wordsforworms@gmail.com! There is no need to send me anything, but since I was asked, here you go:

Katie Kelly

PO Box 3078

Peoria, IL 61612-3078

P.S. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Rebecca for your own collection, please use this link. Any purchases made through this site on Book Depository will net me a small commission. 

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Nov 04

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Book Club, Historical Fiction, World War II 33

Bonjour Bookworms,

Look at me! I read the book for Wine and Whining (one of my IRL book clubs) this month! Wahoo! I’m doing a little dance in celebration of being a responsible book club member. Today we’re going to France… During WWII. The Nazi occupation was a nasty time, y’all. We’re going to talk about The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Because I do not live in a society policed by the Gestapo, I have no fear of reprisal should I have any negative commentary. Wahoo, freedom of speech!

parisarchitect

Lucien Bernard is an architect. He lives in Paris under the Nazi occupation and lives tries to maintain something approaching a normal life. It’s tough to get a gig when your homeland is controlled by a hostile army, and money is a pretty big deal when you’ve got both a wife and a fancy mistress. Lucien starts out as a pretty big jerk. In addition to being a big fat cheater face, he’s pretty antisemitic. The Nazis are easy to pinpoint as the worst of the worst in terms of antisemitism (deservedly so, I mean, HOLOCAUST.) However, Europe (in addition to other parts of the world) have been pretty unfriendly to the Jewish people throughout history. Spanish Inquisition, anybody?

Lucien meets up with a wealthy man named Manet about a job. In exchange for putting in a good word with the Germans and getting Lucien a commission to build a factory, Manet would like Lucien to design a hiding place for Jewish refugees. Lucien is appalled, but he’s also greedy. He doesn’t care about the Jews he may be helping, he cares about money. He also cares about his ego, and likes the idea of outsmarting the Gestapo. Nobody likes having their country invaded.

As it turns out, designing hiding places is Lucien’s gateway drug into becoming a decent human being. One hiding place leads to another and another. Lucien’s cold dead heart slowly begins to thaw and he sees the plight of the Jews for what it is- a horrendous abomination that needs to be stopped.

I kind of loved this book, you guys. It reminded me a bit of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, as it was one of the first books I read about French Jews during WWII. I have read so much about the Jews in Poland and Germany, but for some reason France’s situation came as a surprise to me. It shouldn’t have, I mean, it was OCCUPIED BY THE NAZIS. Could this war have GOTTEN any uglier? Makes me ashamed to be a human… But then I read a lovely story of redemption like The Paris Architect, and I think humanity may not completely suck.

Since we’re on the subject and there’s no lack of material, what are some of your favorite books that explore WWII? Tell me about them, Bookworms. I’d love to get some more recommendations. 

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Paris Architect for your own collection, please consider using this link and purchasing through Book Depository. Any purchases you make garner me a small commission, the proceeds of which I fully intend to invest in the purchase of more books. 

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Oct 14

The Passage by Justin Cronin: A Fellowship of the Worms Spooktacular

Book Club, Dystopian, Frightening, Vampires 27

smarty mcwordypantsSalutations, Bookworms!

The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was The Passage by Justin Cronin, and an excellently creepy selection for October (if I do say so myself.) WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Passage and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review of The Passage on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so if you’ve reviewed this don’t hesitate to get your link on.

1. Did anybody else find the beginning section of this book a little hard to follow/get invested in? The book begins a few years in the future- not far enough for flying cars and robot housekeepers, but not exactly in the now. There’s some kind of super secret research going on to create a virus that will turn people into evil monster weapons. The US government is monkeying around with and they’re looking for subjects. They decide to work with death row inmates until someone gets a bee in his bonnet and wants to recruit an abandoned child. Because that’s not completely horrendous or anything. The whole plot I totally got. What I couldn’t keep straight were the 8 zillion FBI/CIA/Mad Scientist guys that were working on the project. So many last names floating around! I seriously could have used a flowchart explaining the chain of command. Seriously. That’s an idea for the next release- add it in as a little bonus. The readers will love you for it. It did take me quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated to really get invested in the book, so that was a bit of a bummer. Once it picked up speed though? Holy heck I couldn’t put it down!

2. What did you think of the vampires? How did they live up to your horrific expectations? What about the psychic/telepathic/dream stuff? I hate to be a giant comparison drawer, but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s how I roll. The vampires in this book reminded me of those in I Am Legend. Then all the dream stuff (not to mention the journeying) made me think of The StandThe Vampires themselves were spectacularly scary. The shark teeth? Creepy. The super speed and strength? Creepy. The psychic connection to their minions and the ability to give nightmares to the living? Creepy, creepy, creepy!

Creepy!

Creepy!

3. Was anybody else jarred by the time jump and the introduction of the colony? Were you able to connect with the colony character as well as you connected with characters from the first portion of the book? Yeah, I so did not see that coming. We just jumped forward in time a hundred years? It didn’t take long for me to become completely invested in the colony and its characters, but I’ve got to admit the pacing seemed a little weird. I kept expecting the time to shift again. I suppose it did to a certain extent- there were some passages with headings labeled a thousand years in the future, but they didn’t introduce any new characters or situations. The odd timeline is my only major complaint with the book, though, so I’m not too terribly upset.

4. How about that Amy? What did you make of her character? Even though she and Lacey had the same version of the virus, Amy still seems to be “special.” What do you make of this? I am so confused by this! Yes, Amy seemed “special” even before she was exposed to the virus, but so did Lacey. Lacey seemed to have some psychic stuff going on back at the convent and in her childhood. What makes Amy so different than Lacey, despite having the same strain of virus, has me completely baffled. Did I miss something? Did anybody else get a good feel for just why Amy is so different? 

5. Were you engaged enough in The Passage to move on and read The TwelveWhat did you make of the fact that Sara’s journal was located in the aftermath of the “massacre?” Are you holding out hope that Sara and the gang survived and that we’ll see them in the sequel or have you given them up for dead? I am TOTALLY invested enough to check out The Twelve. What is killing me is that the final installment of the trilogy is not yet available. Gaaaah! I need to start waiting until things are FINISHED before I start them. I am absolutely holding out hope that Sara and Hollis and Theo and Maus and the baby make it out alive, dangit. I will be too devastated if it is otherwise!

All in all, I thought The Passage was pretty awesome, and a perfect October read. How about you, Bookworms? What did you think? Tell us about it! And be sure to join us next month as we tackle Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Sometimes I just don’t want to read things alone, okay? We’ll be talking about Rebecca on Monday, November 18th!

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Oct 04

Confession Friday: I Didn't Read the Book for Book Club(s)

Book Club, Confession Friday 60

Dearest Bookworms,

I have a confession to make. I’ve been really bad this month. I’m in two book clubs, (in actual visceral face-to-face LIFE) and this month? I didn’t read the book for either of them. I’m so ashamed. I had my reasons… They just weren’t very good reasons.

September’s pick for My Neighbors are Better than Your Neighbors was Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. I’ve heard a lot of conflicting reports on the book, but honestly? I just didn’t feel like reading it. I liked Swamplandia! well enough, but I was just not in the mood for literary fiction, let alone literary fiction in short story format. I caved in two days before book club and downloaded the book on my kindle… I made it through three stories and threw in the towel. Vampires eating lemons? Girls turning into silk worms? Giant seagulls with the ability to steal things from the future? It made my brain hurt and all I wanted were some doggone zombies!

vampires in the lemon grove

(It’s a good thing my neighbors are so awesome. They let me have wine and dessert despite my reading failure. Remind me to tell you about how good an idea it is to have a neighbor with a spare set of keys to your house. There just might come a day when your keys get locked in your car and your unicorn-loving neighbor bails you out. I mean, hypothetically, of course. )

Then… Whine and Whining. The choice for September was Drop City by T.C. Boyle. It is about a hippie commune and has naked butts on the cover… I haven’t even acquired a copy. Book Club was supposed to be on Tuesday of this week and it was postponed until next. Guess who is reading a zombie book instead of Drop City? This girl. Shameful goings on for a self professed bookworm, no? Perhaps I’ll catch up this weekend, but I know myself. I will likely be drinking wine by myself at home come Tuesday evening… And reading something that isn’t Drop City. 

drop city

On a positive note, as a result of skipping my “assigned” book club reading, I’m ahead of the game for The Fellowship of the Worms
I’m looking forward to discussing Justin Cronin’s The Passage with everyone. It helps me feel like less of a tool for not doing my homework. Bookworms, I’m falling into a shame spiral. Share your stories about skipping the assigned reading for school or book club. Please? 

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Sep 16

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Humor, Romance 34

Greetings, Bookworms! The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was Attachmentsby Rainbow Rowell. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of Attachments and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review of Attachments on your own blog! :)

smarty-mcwordypants-199x3001. Attachments features an unconventional love story. In the late 1990s, Lincoln is hired to monitor the e-mail activity of a newspaper staff. He comes across regular exchanges between a woman named Beth and her best friend Jennifer. Lincoln begins to fall for Beth despite having never caught a glimpse of her. Do you think “love before first sight” is a romantic ideal, or do you believe it could happen in real life? 

I love the idea of falling in love with someone purely on the basis of their ideas. I really WANT to believe that seeing someone’s kicky digital exchanges could lead to unconditional love… Unfortunately, in the age of Catfishing, I don’t know how realistic this idea is. I mean, when Lincoln finally sees Beth, he’s attracted to her. Sure it helps a TON that he’s already got an idea of how great she is as a human being, but if there were absolutely zero physical attraction? I’m not sure how that would play out. Of course, stranger things have happened. I would love love love to be proven wrong on this one!

2. Rowell has a gift for creating characters that you feel astonishingly real. Was there anyone in Attachments that reminded you of someone in your real life? 

Rainbow Rowell writes some of the quirkiest and most fabulous characters I’ve ever read. While reading FangirlI was struck by how much Levi was like one of my friends. I didn’t have as intense a reaction to any of the characters in Attachments, but of COURSE I had a moment. I was sitting on the couch reading the very beginning of the novel when I busted out laughing. My husband was sitting next to be and wanted to know just what I was cackling at. Remember Beth’s sister Kiley? She of the awful wedding? When Beth was describing Kiley’s fiance to Jennifer, she mentioned that she always made fun of him for having an homage to his fraternity tattooed on his ankle. My brother-in-law (whom I love to pieces, he’s an awesome guy) was TOTALLY in the SAME fraternity as Kiley’s fiance. He ALSO has a frattoo on his ankle. I could have died. attachments-rainbow-rowell

3. After Lincoln has been monitoring Beth and Jennifer’s e-mails for a while, he begins to see himself referenced as “My Cute Guy.” Beth has a giant crush on him in spite of being in a long term relationship, and even resorts to very nearly following him home. Confess! What’s the “creepiest” thing you’ve ever done while pursuing a crush? 

I think “creepy stalker” has taken on a while new meaning since the advent of social media. It’s easy to learn a lot about a person based on what they’ve got up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. At least with social media allows the creator of the account decides what is available to be seen (unlike someone reading your personal email… LINCOLN!) Of course, a little light stalking is a time honored tradition when it comes to courtship.  John stole Meg’s glove in Little Women, right? I spent an awful lot of time hanging around the audio-visual labs when I was trying to get Jim to notice me… I mean, it’s not like I looked up his name in the student directory, found out his middle initial, and daydreamed about what the P might stand for or anything… (It’s Patrick, just as I’d hoped.)

4. How did you feel about the Beth and Lincoln’s encounter in the movie theater? 

That was pretty intense, right? I mean, that crazy pent up sexual tension had to go somewhere. I was a little surprised it progressed so quickly, but you know. You find out someone loved you before he knew what you looked like, you meet him in a dark theater, you’ve had time to get over the shock of his enormous invasion of privacy… Make out sessions are bound to happen!

5. If you were Beth and Lincoln, would you publicly admit your “how we met” story to your friends and family?

I think Beth and Lincoln were pretty smart to keep the details of how they met to themselves… And Jennifer, naturally. Heck, people even now are sometimes embarrassed to admit they met online even though it’s pretty commonplace. I think that given the late 90s early 2000s era of this novel, it was best for Lincoln and Beth to keep their circumstances quiet. I really don’t think that Lincoln’s hippie chick mother or Beth’s troupe of sisters would understand their back story and find it as charming as I did.

So Bookworms, how did you feel about Attachments as a whole? I adored it, much like everything Rainbow Rowell has written. Now I shall wait in suspense for the 2014 release of Landline. Sigh. Seems so very far away! In the meantime though, let’s talk about our plans for October. In the spirit of Halloween I thought we should read a little something spooky. October’s book club selection will be The Passage by Justin Cronin.

Creepy!

Creepy!

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Aug 15

The Shadow of the Wind: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience

Book Club, Mystery, Psychological 29

smarty mcwordypantsGreetings, Bookworms! The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Shadow of the Wind and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. :)

1. When Daniel describes Carax’s novel within the novel (of the same name… because that’s not even a tiny bit confusing) The Shadow of the Wind, he says, “As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within” (p. 7).This book contained the threads of narratives for several different stories. Did you find yourself intrigued by following the pieces of the puzzle or confused by the similarities in the tales?

Brutal honesty here: I had a hard time getting into this book. I don’t know if it was just that I kept reading while I was really tired, but I got a little frustrated keeping the characters straight. Because Julian and Daniel’s tales in particular were so similar, I found myself thinking things like “Wait… Was this Julian? Was this Daniel? Gah! Go back three pages!” That said, once I did get sucked in, I was hooked. There was a certain beauty in the similarities of the characters’ stories. I think Daniel’s description of the Russian dolls is most appropriate.

Things you shouldn't be surprised that I own... Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

Things you shouldn’t be surprised that I own… Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

2. Were you able to guess Lain Coubert’s identity before it was revealed?

I didn’t immediately realize that Coubert was indeed Carax, but I definitely had it figured out before it was laid out in plain language. Once it was revealed that Fermin (who didn’t LOVE Fermin?!) was tormented with a blowtorch by Fumero, I was CONVINCED that Fumero had somehow tracked down Julian and tortured him in a similar fashion resulting in his burns. I was wrong… Though I still think that would have been an interesting twist. 

3. What is with all the incest? Seriously. We are now 2 for 2 on the incest in our Fellowship choices. This time it was purely accidental, thanks to the elder Aldaya being a man whore AND being vain enough to want his illegitimate offspring within his grasp. Were you shocked by the revelation?

I wasn’t. Why? I’d seen very similar storylines play out on both House, MD and Law & Order: SVU. In each of those cases, a philandering father had messed around outside his marriage and tried desperately to keep his star-crossed offspring away from each other. Come on, guys. If you’re going to screw around and you see your kids falling in love, or even hanging out? You come clean. The worst part was that it was all Aldaya’s own fault that Julian and Penelope even MET because he was disappointed in Jorge, his legitimate heir. HUBRIS. UGH.

the-shadow-of-the-wind-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon

4. Dreams and premonitions come up quite a bit in this book. Jacinta and Carax in particular had their dreams come to fruition. Since Miquel was so obsessed with Freud, let’s take a psychological approach. How do you interpret the various characters’ dream-induced premonitions?

I am not great with dream interpretations, since I only ever have anxiety dreams. I suppose the manifestation of the devil in Jacinta’s dreams could have been a sigh of her future heartbreak… Julian and Penelope dreamed of eachother, but that wasn’t really a good thing since they were siblings! Mostly though? The dreams were just sort of creepily psychic.

5. Since we’re playing psychologist here, how’s about a nature vs. nurture discussion? Julian Carax was the bastard son of his musically inclined mother and Aldaya, the unscrupulous business man, though he’s raised by the cuckhold hatter, Fortuny. Fumero is the son of an honest groundskeeper and a status seeking attention starved mother. How are the sins of the parents meted out on their offspring? Given their similarly screwed up childhoods, what do you think was the largest factor divergence of Carax and Fumero’s paths?

Sins of the parents? Whooo boy. Julian is raised by a “father” who is well aware that Julian is not his biological son. Fortuny is emotionally and physically abusive of both Julian and his mother, so that sucked pretty hard. As if that weren’t punishment enough for his mother’s misdeeds, poor Julian unwittingly knocks up his half sister, thanks to his biological father’s douchbaggery. That’s pretty grim punishment for the sins of one’s parents, wouldn’t you say?

And Fumero. That kid’s mom did a number on his psyche, what with the implied sexual abuse and her parading around in her underpants… Not to MENTION that god awful sailor suit. Personally, I think Fumero’s mom had a whole lot of mental illness going on and that she passed some of that to her son on a genetic level. He was displaying serial killer tendencies as a child, and the older he got the crazier and more violent he got. Things that are not the hobbies of mentally stable people: torturing other people with blow torches. Just. No. (I may have done a little cheer when that son of a gun got his comeuppance!)

6. All in all, how’d you like this one, Bookworms?

I very much enjoyed this book, despite my early reluctance with it. I’m rather attached to Daniel and Bea and want to know what becomes of their son and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books! I’m thinking I may need to read the rest of this series to put my curiosity to rest! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this month. For next month, I’m excited to announce that our selection will be Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! (Not only is she completely amazing, she also responded to my weird tweet. I LOVE YOU, RAINBOW!!!)

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Aug 08

Everything You Never Knew You Wanted To Know: A Bookish Q&A

Blogging, Book Club, Children's Fiction, Classics, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, E-Readers, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor 43

Hey Bookworms!

What’s this? Why it’s a survey about books! Why am I doing this? I may or may not be slightly behind in my reading. Plus, I like to change things up from time to time. So, I’d like to thank Rory at Fourth Street Review for inspiring Sarah of Sarah Says Read to complete this survey… I’d also like to thank Sarah for posting it so that I’d have something to jabber about today. My blog friends are the coolest.

Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

The octopus is a bookmark I got from a friend. Delightful, no?

Plus, my bookmark totally matched.

Your Favorite Book Cover:

I don’t think I can really claim to have a “favorite book cover.” Cover art usually isn’t something I get all swoony over. However, I really dug the cover of FangirlI’m in a coral and turquoise phase right now. Which leads me to this particular turmoil:

Katie: I really love coral and turquoise

Inner Snarky Voice: Oh really? You love coral and turquoise? Maybe you should move to Miami in the 80s and see if The Golden Girls need another roommate.

Katie: Ouch, Inner Snarky Voice. But kudos on working The Golden Girls into a blog post. Bea Arthur would be proud.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently ping ponging between Peter and Wendy by JM Barrie and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafron. (Fellowship of the Worms pick, you guys! Although, a little housekeeping. Instead of tackling this on Monday the 12th, we’ll be doing it on Thursday the 15th. The blogoversary is on Monday and I’ve got a SWEET giveaway I want to do.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

Oh goodness, I’ve got quite a stack. It’ll just depend on how the mood strikes me when it’s time to pick up the next one.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to? 

Oh yes. These too.

Oh yes. These too.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Yeah, they’re all classics. I need to fill in the holes left by my education.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?

We don’t get any magazines. Is that weird? And if we did, they wouldn’t be in our bathrooms. We wouldn’t want our reading material to be flagged, now would we?

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

That’s a bit of a sticky question, now isn’t it? There’s plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of books that I don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. To somebody. Somewhere. Who has terrible taste… Nah. Really, I can’t think of one. I’m going to abstain.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I just can’t. I don’t understand what all the hoopla was about. I’m either not smart enough or not cool enough to appreciate it. Probably a little bit of both. But. Meh.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. (Sarah and I concur on this one!) Seriously, I do recommend this to just about everyone because it’s got a little something for everyone. Sci-Fi? Historical Fiction? Romance? Naked Time? Trauma? Family Relationships? Practical applications of leeches? I’m telling you. Ev. Ry. Thing. And it’s completely amazeballs. So there’s that too,

Mmmm. Jamie Fraser... (Source)

Mmmm. Jamie Fraser… (Source)

What are your three favourite poems?

I don’t read a whole lot of poetry. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, it’s just that… If poetry were music it would be classical. I prefer my music to have guitars and lyrics. That said, Emily Dickinson is my homegirl.

Where do you usually get your books?

Most of the time I order titles for my Kindle from Amazon. I do occasionally get books via NetGalley, and the library, of course.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

None that I remember. I do recall climbing trees a lot and wanting to drag a book up there with me, but a tree limb isn’t a comfortable lounging situation for more than a few minutes. Even a 10 year old backside could tell you that.

Gratuitous cute childhood photo.

Gratuitous cute childhood photo. I am like 3 or 4 here. Not 10. Late bloomer I was, but not THIS late.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

I stayed up way too late finishing Fangirl last week. What can I say? I HAD TO KNOW THINGS.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Sometimes when I take those “have you read this” quizzes and they list “the collected works” of someone, I’ll go ahead and mark it if I’ve read  a handful of their stuff. No, I have not read ALL of Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe or Oscar Wilde. It seems unfair to have to have read the ENTIRE catalog to get credit. Humph.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

I barely notice covers these days thanks to my digital predilections. I have, however, bought plenty of books just because they were on sale. I’m a sucker for a bargain bin.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

When I was really small, we had this book about an owl. I remember it had a dark purple cover. No idea what it was called, but that was a frequent bedtime request. Once I could read to myself, I dearly loved pretty much anything by Beverly Cleary.

MORE gratuitous cute childhood photos...

MORE gratuitous cute childhood photos…

What book changed your life?

Changed my life? That’s a tall order, now isn’t it? I don’t know that it changed my life, but Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret soothed my tortured tween soul in ways nothing else could have.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

I’ve always loved Alice’s famous line “Curiouser and curiouser.” Because she was always messing up her words. Much like Amy in Little Women. I have a fondness for reaching beyond one’s vocabulary…

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Tough call but… Diana Gabaldon, JK Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Jojo Moyes, and Margaret Atwood. Aaaaand basically the only thing any of them have in common is that they’re female. Which is unintentional, but whatever. High five to my literary ladies!

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Yes, it was an Oprah’s book club pick, but it’s one that’s sort of been glossed over. I don’t hear much about it and it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

Uhhh… I kind of hate the term “evangelist” because it has negative religious connotations for me. Although, since we’re on the topic of religion, let’s talk about ladies and their roles in it. How’s about The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? All awesome.

My brother got a Broadway musical, and all I got was this (awesome) book.

My brother got a Broadway musical, and all I got was this (awesome) book. Nobody bought me a technicolor dreamcoat.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Go read this right now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

What is your favourite classic book?

That is a tough call, because I love me some classics. Probably Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Five other notable mentions?

Notable classics I actually enjoyed? Sure. Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Right. Now I’m supposed to tag people or something? Well I’m not doing that. But if you’re a blogger and you need a topic one day, I recommend this survey. Fun times, I tell you. Fun times. 

Anybody have anything to add to this list of goodness? Another question to me to answer? Your own answer to some of these? Talk to me, Bookworms!

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Aug 01

The Silent Wife… Says Farewell

Book Club, Mystery, Psychological 36

Hey There, Bookworms!

In case you’re new here, you should know that I’m an equal opportunity bookworm. Much as I absolutely ADORE you, my digital community, I sometimes interact with people face to face. In fact, I am a part of not one but TWO in-real-life book clubs. I refer to one as “Wine and Whining” and the other as “My Neighbors are Better Than Your Neighbors.” I’m very literal in my descriptions. Anyway. This month’s selection for My Neighbors are Better Than Your Neighbors was bittersweet.

That’s right, one of my neighbors is moving and shall no longer be my neighbor… Except in spirit, obviously. I don’t know that she’d be pleased with me using her actual name, so I’ll give her a pseudonym. We’ll call her Agatha. Agatha is a fabulous neighbor and a great book club member. She is retired now, but she used to work as a psychologist (or something closely related) PLUS her brother lives on a mountain with goats. You really can’t beat a book club member who can speak with authority on the human mind AND goats. (Alright, she’s not a goat expert or anything, but any time you can work goats into conversation, you do it!)

silentwife

Since Agatha is moving, she chose this month’s book. She toyed with the idea of choosing Gone Girlbut since most of us had read it already, she opted for The Silent Wife: A Novel by A.S.A. Harrison. (No lie, I totally Freudian slipped while typing that and put in A. S. S. I wouldn’t mention it if it weren’t COMPLETELY APPROPRIATE for this book. Seriously, the dog was named Freud!) Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, “So and so would LOVE this!” The Silent Wife is SUCH an Agatha book.

So here’s the deal. Jodi and Todd are married. Well, married-ish. They’ve been living together 20+ years and consider themselves to be in a common law marriage. They live in Illinois, which is NOT a state that recognizes common law marriage (this fact becomes rather important.) Jodi cooks, keeps house, and sees patients in her part time practice as a psychologist. Todd is a real estate developer who divides his time between his comfortable “marriage” and his busy adultery schedule. He likes ’em young, and sometimes, professional (oh yeah people. I’m talking hookers.) Jodi’s not dumb. She’s aware of the infidelity, but since Todd always comes home to her, she’s willing to overlook it. A very modern approach, if you will.

This all works out fairly well, the denial, the cheating, the cute dog named Freud… Until Todd knocks up his young chippy (who happens to be the daughter of his best friend.) Todd is SUCH a slimeball. I mean, he’s got a back story that explains WHY he’s a slimeball, but still. Gross, right? So, the pregnant side girlfriend throws a major monkey wrench into the whole business, and craziness ensues.

Freud also suffers from Snarky Eyebrow Syndrome. (Source)

Freud also suffers from Snarky Eyebrow Syndrome. (Source)

The Silent Wife was billed as the next Gone Girl. I think the blurb writer was aiming too high in that description. That’s probably part of the reason this book fell flat for me. There were some twists, the occasional turn… But overall I felt like I could see them coming. I had too much knowledge of each character’s past and motivations to be well and truly SHOCKED by anything. Plus, well… This isn’t typically my genre. Psychological thrillers (really, thrillers in general) tend not to be my cuppa. That said, to a receptive audience, this book would be great. It’s solidly written and well characterized, just not really my bag. It is, however, a TOTAL Agatha read. If you gravitate toward this genre (Charleen of Cheap Thrills, I’m looking at you. And Lyssa of Psychobabble. You too.) The Silent Wife might just be a winner.

It makes me a little sad to know Agatha won’t be around in the coming months to push me out of my reading comfort zone. Perhaps we can just Skype her into the meetings. Just because we’re an IRL book club doesn’t mean we can’t utilize technology, right?

Since we’re on the subject of neighbors, I’m sure you’ve ALL got stories. Good neighbors, bad neighbors, apartment neighbors who regularly bring home strange men and give you fleas (oh wait, was that JUST me?) Tell me your neighbor stories!

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