Category: Book Club

Jul 30

Start With a Bang and End With a… Bang? (Top Ten Tuesday)

Blogging, Book Club, Children's Fiction, Classics, Humor, Top Ten Tuesday 44

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

As you know, I love making lists for Top Ten Tuesday. This week the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list out ten books with awesome beginnings and/or endings. It was tough to narrow it down, but miracles can happen, people!

TTT3WBeautiful Beginnings

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I can’t help but adore the opening line of this book. It can be adapted for so many purposes! “It is a truth universally acknowledged that…”

…Coleslaw is icky.

…Penguins are awesome.

…You are never too old to wear electric blue nail polish.

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I realize it’s not the first line or anything, but Alice going down the rabbit hole is so iconic. How else could one be expected to begin such an adventure?

Curiouser and curiouser...

Curiouser and curiouser…

3. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. The desire to be special is part of the human condition. The feeling of liberation that Harry gets when he realizes that everything in his mundane life is about to change, and the fact that his idiosyncrasies are MAGICAL? In that moment, there was not a reader alive who didn’t long for their Hogwarts letter! (Okay, so I’m sure not everyone wanted a Hogwarts letter… But I did. And I like hyperbole. Stop with the logic, it hurts!)

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This book is one of the few I’ve read more than once. Little Amy saying that “it won’t feel like Christmas without presents” tore at my ten year old heartstrings. I started reading it shortly after I’d opened the package that Christmas at my grandparents’ house. The March sisters and their generosity and their hardships and their archaic underpants took hold of me and never let go!

The copy I got for Christmas was a large hardcover. It still lives in my closet at my parents' house, as I've got a small paperback on my shelves.

The copy I got for Christmas was a large hardcover. It still lives in my closet at my parents’ house, as I’ve got a small paperback on my shelves.

Engaging Endings

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s a full fledged ride down to crazy town, but I didn’t see the ending coming. It may have caused some shouting. I believe a “holy crap!” was uttered on my part.

2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It was our first selection for The Fellowship of the Worms (have y’all started reading The Shadow of the Wind yet?) and the twist toward the end of the book caught me totally off guard. In this case, I pulled a full on Joey Lawrence “WHOA!”

Because Blossom was awesome. (Source)

Because Blossom was awesome. (Source)

3. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. Can you spoil a Harry Potter book? Since the series was SOOOOO publicized and the final volume came out 6 years ago, I’m going to go with “no.” I am a sucker for a happy ending, and coming full circle at Platform 9 3/4? I was a hot mess of snotty tears.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Again, I’m a sucker for a happy ending, but I LOVED this. Jane and Rochester’s journey was all messy and crazy and full of wives stashed in attics and life threatening injuries… But in the end? There was happiness. Sigh. Happy, happy Katie.

I know, this is a list of 8, not 10, but I’m still recovering from BlogHer. I am old, boring, and unused to concentrated amounts of awesome. What about you, bookworms? Which books have hooked you with their fabulous beginnings and knocked you flat with their amazing endings?

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Jul 08

The Thirteenth Tale: A Fellowship of the Worms Extravaganza

Blogging, Book Club, Historical Fiction 33

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

smarty mcwordypantsToday is the day we’ve all been waiting for! The Fellowship of the Worms is officially in session. Our inaugural book club choice was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. 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 Thirteenth Tale 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 thought the book club questions for this book listed in the back were exceptional, so I’ve borrowed those ideas liberally as discussion points. Some of these I re-worded, some of these were born of my own brain juices, some of these are random and off topic. 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. 🙂

Please chime in, so I am not talking to myself. Though I do enjoy my own company, carrying on a full conversation with oneself, even electronically, is a bit worrisome. You’re welcome to leave as many comments as you like- long, short, tackling all the questions, answering none of the questions, whatever. If you have your own blog and have written a review of The Thirteenth Tale or would like to answer any of these questions in your own forum, a linky will be at the bottom of this post so you can link up and play along.

Ready? Set? Here we go!

1. Being a twin is discussed at length in this novel, in particular, the advent of a twin language. Do you think this is unique to twins, or have you had a similar shorthand with your siblings? Also, is this not the cutest video ever?

So I’m kind of fascinated by the whole twin thing. I think it’s pretty well established that most twins share a bond closer than that of ordinary siblings. The twin language is, at least according to Youtube, a real thing. I think it’s most common between twins because they’re the same age, but I think if you had children close enough together, they might develop their own little shorthand too. My sister was 3 when I was born, so she was good and fluent in English by the time I started talking. I’d be willing to bet kids would figure out ways to communicate without formal language, regardless of twinship.

2. I’ve reviewed several books about books in this blog, notably The Bookman’s Tale and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. The Thirteenth Tale took the books about books category in a whole new direction. Let’s talk about the various roles that books and writing play within this novel.

Yes. Books and writing, writing and books. In this novel Ms. Winter escapes her own outrageous story by creating other stories. She sends journalists on wild goose chases trying to figure out her origins. Stories are a way to mask the pain she experienced at the hands of reality… Then there’s our sweet little bookshop clerk, Margaret. Books for her allow her to retreat almost entirely from the world at large. I don’t know that I can blame either character for their obsessions with writing and literature, but they certainly made for an odd set of circumstances.

3. The nature vs. nurture debate runs rampant throughout this novel. We see it in Charlie and Isabelle and then again with Adeline and Emmeline. Charlie and Isabelle have a very… unique… relationship as siblings. Charlie is clearly disturbed as he seeks out pain and cruelty. Do you think Isabelle shares his tendencies because of some inborn trait, or do you think Isabelle picked it up because Charlie brought her into his “games” at such a young age?

I don’t have a strong opinion on this one. I suppose I do find it unusual that a small child who is scratched to the point of bleeding doesn’t cry out… Then again, it’s hard to know what goes on in a child’s head. I used to like to suck on marbles. One of my earliest memories is of the day I choked on one (I was probably about 3.) The incident didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for marbles. So… Kids are weird all on their own. Do weird stuff to them when they’re little and you’re going to screw them up even worse. So, um. Don’t do that!

4. Nature vs. Nurture Part 2… Was anybody else curious as to just HOW the twins could have become feral? I know the Missus was old and John the Dig was rather distant, but do you think the fact that the twins grew as they did was simply a result of gross neglect or do you think their parentage may have messed around with the gene pool a bit?

Do I think it’s a little farfetched that our twins ended up being feral despite the fact that there were people around? Yes. I do. However, I’m of the opinion that given their, uh, questionable parentage, they may have had some neurons misfiring on a biological level. I have a hard time believing they would continue speaking in twin language and not even manage to pick up ordinary English given their circumstances. I think they had some crappy genetics to contend with. Incest is just never a good idea. Did we learn nothing from Oedipus (I know it was an ACCIDENT… And his children turned out okay…maybe a bad example…) What about that awful, awful Joffrey from Game of Thrones? Proof that incest (or twincest) is bad with a capital B.

5. In the middle of the book, Vida begins shifting her pronouns around while telling her story and referring to herself in the first person. How did you interpret this as you were reading? Did you assign it much significance?

I noticed this change, mostly because Margaret was all like “ooooh she switched her pronouns!” I interpreted this at the time as Vida breaking down and connecting more with her own past. I didn’t assign it the significance I later learned it deserved, that’s for sure!

IMG_6180

6. Diane Setterfield never gives us an exact date for any of the events in this book, though she does leave some clues. Did any of you put your detective hats on and hit google? Anybody have a theory as to the time frame?

You bet your sweet fanny I hit google. I hate not knowing things. In “present” time (at least, the time where Margaret is chatting with Vida) I noticed a lack of cell phones, and zero mention of computers. Margaret writes everything with pencil and paper, and in spite of the availability of telephones, writes plenty of letters to accomplish her widespread correspondence. This makes me think she fears long distance phone charges, perhaps? I suppose she could have just been a bit of a luddite and shunned technology, but I’m placing the “current” time roughly in the 1960s-70s. I mean, they were snowed in for 5 days with a dead body, for heaven’s sake. I blame old timey snow plows.

The early story makes no mention of technology. The books that are already in publication in the library give a concrete era for the book to be set AFTER but it lacks specifics. Titles mentioned include Jane Eyre (1847), Wuthering Heights (1847), The Woman in White (1859), and Sense and Sensibility (1811). Cumpulsory education in England started somewhere around 1870, and since Hester Barrow expressed concern over the mysterious village boy not being in school, it’s safe to assume this was written after that. I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1890-1900… Which if Vida is in her 70s jives fairly well with my time frame for the “present.”

7. When Margaret falls ill after running about on the moors in the rain, Dr. Clifton comes to her aid with medicine, and diagnoses her with “an ailment that afflicts ladies with romantic imagination.” Did you find this condescending, or did it ring true for you given Margaret’s obsession with the Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, etc.?

Personally, I found the doctor’s diagnosis rather condescending, dismissing Margaret as a silly woman obsessed with silly romances. However… There may have been a grain of truth to it. She certainly spent the majority of her time wrapped up in old books as opposed to interacting with other human beings… Also, can I just mention how glad I am that things like aspirin and antibiotics exist? I swear, everything I’ve ever read claims that body temperature has nothing to do with getting sick, because getting sick is all about germs, but my word. The characters in the romantic novels Margaret loves have TERRIBLE immune systems. It pleases me that my getting caught in the rain is not a death sentence…

8. At one point Aurelius mentions that his adoptive mother preferred lighter stories than heavy ones. What effect has knowing the truth had on the characters in the novel? Do you think Margaret would have been better off if she hadn’t stumbled across the fact that she’d been born a twin? Would Vida’s life have been different if she’d been honest about her past from the beginning? Would Aurelius have gained anything knowing his story early on in life? Do you think it’s advantageous to know such heartbreaking truths, or do you agree with the old adage that ignorance is bliss?

Would Aurelius and Vida and Margaret have had easier lives if they hadn’t known all sorts of dastardly and heartbreaking secrets? Probably. Does that mean they didn’t have a right to know their history? Nope. I think Vida in particular would have had a worse time of things if she had told the public about her upbringing from the beginning. Lots of looky-loos would have been prying- I can’t blame her for keeping that to herself! As far as Margaret goes, it sucked to know she had a conjoined twin, but at least it explained why her mother was so aloof toward her… It certainly doesn’t excuse it, but it helps Margaret understand the hot mess of her mom’s psyche. And Aurelius? Sure he uncovered some painful secrets, but then? Then he got a FAMILY. And that made me really really happy!

9. Hester Barrow, the twins’ governess, is obviously very intelligent, yet is relegated to a role as childcare provider when she is clearly suited to a more academic career path. She gets involved with Dr. Maudsley because she knows that any research she produces will not be taken seriously. Many of the 19th century female writers that feature in this book originally published their work under male names. Do you feel that this stigma still exists? Did I really have to throw a feminist question in here? Of course I did.

I got a little ragey when Hester couldn’t do her own research. She had terrible methods, of course, but they were no worse than any other science of the times. She had the best intentions and was all sorts of scholarly. I mean, I’m glad she was able to hook up with Dr. Maudsley (in more ways than one) but it annoyed me that she couldn’t go it alone.

10. Did you see that ending coming?!?!?! Did you believe that Adeline could have turned into a functional 13 year old girl out of the blue or did you suspect something fishy? Did you catch any of the early clues? Did your head feel all explodey?

At first, I thought Setterfield was going to say the girls were triplets, at which point I would have rolled my eyes and thrown the book at a wall, because it was really much too good to have taken a soap operatic turn like that. I had caught onto the idea that maybe the twins were so effed up in part because they were likely fathered by Charlie, but when when it turned out that Vida was a child of Charlie’s on some random poor girl he’d raped, I was like “ooooooh!” Because there had totally been clues about that early on. Lightbulb moment.

11. So, Bookworms, yay or nay on The Thirteenth Tale? Did you like it?

Personally, I loved this book to pieces. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did!

UPDATE on LINKY: I’ve removed the Linky code because I angered the internet gremlins somehow and can’t get it to work properly. If you wrote anything on your own blog, throw a link in the comments section. I’ll try to collect and highlight them in a wrap up post of some sort. Sorry about the tech fail, y’all!

For next month, we’ll read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafron. Discussion date will be Monday, August 12! I hope you’ll join me again!

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Jul 03

Finders Keepers? The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

Book Club, Family, Historical Fiction 36

G’day Bookworms!

Today we’re taking a trip to Australia. Actually, we’re taking a trip to an island outside of Australia that is completely uninhabited except for a lighthouse keeper… And any immediate family members he might acquire. That’s right. I finally read The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. (Thanks in no small part to BOTH of my real-life book clubs for choosing this as a summer read and to my Mother-in-Law for loaning me a copy… And to my Mother-in-Law’s friend who loaned the copy to my Mother-in-Law in the first place. Whew. That felt like an Oscar speech.)

THE-LIGHT-BETWEEN-OCEANS

Alright. So. It’s the 1920s. There’s this Australian dude named Tom Sherbourne. He fought in WWI and came back in one piece (at least physically.) He decided to work for the Australian lighthouse agency to make sure ships didn’t go crashing into things at night. It doesn’t hurt that he is still recovering from, you know, WAR, and he finds it beneficial for his psyche to be isolated. One day he meets Isabel while on shore leave. She lost both her brothers in the war and wants to get the heck out of her parents house and her small town… Plus she thinks Tom is cute. After a courtship that takes place mostly through letters (and even the letters are only delivered once every three months- this lighthouse island is way remote) the two get hitched and move out to their island. Where their only companions are each other. And some goats. Romantic, no?

Things are going along just peachy keen until Isabel starts having miscarriages. She is absolutely heartbroken that she’s been unable to carry a child to term. One night, a week or two after a third tragic loss, something strange happens. A boat washes up on the beach of Tom and Isabel’s island carrying a dead man… And a baby. Isabel sees it as a miracle and that God has delivered her a child. Tom wants to alert the authorities, but after watching his wife become immediately attached to the child, he caves. He’s been through psychological turmoil and he just can’t bear to see his wife suffer that way. They rationalize to themselves that the child’s mother likely drowned before the boat washed up and that they’re doing a good deed by keeping the baby… And passing it off as their own. Because, you know. That ALWAYS works out just fine. (Old Testament, anyone?)

I liked this book… But I did not LOVE this book. Unfortunately, it came to me at a time in my reading when I’d  just finished several INCREDIBLE books that knocked my doggone socks off. For me, it dulls in comparison to some of those titles (Me Before You, Tell The Wolves I’m Home) I also think I may have been at a disadvantage reading this because I don’t have kids. The whole maternal bond and the loss of children thing… I mean, I get it in theory, but I think it’s one of those things you can’t really FEEL until you know what it’s like to have a kid. The sort of insane lengths someone would go to in the depths of grief. The unbelievable pain of having your child vanish without a trace. I know this book has gobsmacked a lot of readers, and I don’t want to take anything away from it, because it’s very nicely done. It just didn’t sing to me the way some others have.

That said, this book got me to thinking of other titles with similar themes, what with the baby theft and family secrets and all. If haven’t read The Light Between Oceans but you loved The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (Australia, baby swapping, heartbreak), Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald (baby swapping and heartbreak in Canada- an all time fave of mine), or Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve (forced adoption and scandalous affairs at the turn of the 20th century), give it a shot. And of course, if you loved any of those titles and haven’t read The Light Between Oceans, it’s probably something you’d enjoy.

Soooo my Bookworms. I must know. Do you think you’d enjoy living on an isolated island like Tom and Isabel? Are you more of a social butterfly? Do you simply like the idea that you can escape your spouse if they happen to be driving you bananas one day? Isolated island living: paradise or claustrophobic? Tell me about it!

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Jun 25

Happy Half-Birthday, 2013! Let's Celebrate with… TOP TEN TUESDAY!

Audio Books, Blogging, Book Club, Historical Fiction, Humor, Top Ten Tuesday, Women's Studies, Young Adult Fiction, Zombies 76

G’day Bookworms!

It’s TUESDAY, so we’re going to get our list on with the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish! Today they’ve asked us to list the Top Ten Books we’ve read so far in 2013. I’ve read some AWESOME books this year, so it’ll be tough to narrow it down to ten, but here goes…

toptentuesday

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. How much more can I say about my adoration for Eleanor & Park? This book summed up the high school experience in a way that a lot of other YA books are missing these days. It’s a slice of awesome.

2. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I realize my review for this has not yet been posted, but WOAH. It’s a whole lot of awesome. Should be up on Thursday. Be sure to come back to read me fumbling all over myself trying to explain the greatness! (No seriously. It’s coming out all weird and stupid. Something to look forward to, no? Me being inarticulate?)

tellthewolvesimhome

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I’m so excited to be able to list this as one of my “best of” because it’s the first pick for The Fellowship of the Worms! I finished it last week and I’m working on preparing questions for thought provoking and/or ridiculous discussions on July 8th!

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Will and Louisa! Eye opening insight into the world of a quadriplegic. Ethical conundrums. Love story. And a castle. What more do you want?!

5. The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls. I love Jeanette Walls! Her new book explores some familiar themes- parental abandonment, childhood poverty, and the like. Nobody can pull that off the way Walls can. Even the horrible parents are portrayed with compassion. Plus, there are EMUS. Those are some funny looking birds, y’all.

silverstar

6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Spies! WWII! Airplanes! Ladies breaking gender roles. Badassery of all sorts. Excellent book.

7. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. This title has plenty of detractors, but I loved it. New take on zombies. A little lighthearted fun? Yes please.

8. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. I simply adore stories behind the art… Even when they’re fictionalized. I thought Buchanan’s portrayal of the girl behind the famous Degas sculpture was fabulous. Historical fiction buffs will adore this!

paintedgirls

9. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. A book about books with a little bit of mystery… And a glow-in-the-dark book cover. It’s whimsical fun times for the bookworm detective in all of us.

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. This book isn’t new, but it took me forever to get around to reading it. Actually, I listened to it and I thought it was awesome. The way Christopher’s mind worked! It gave me so much insight and compassion for what struggling with Aspberger’s and autism spectrum disorders is really like. Such a good read (and listen. English accents are a delight.)

What about you,  Bookworms? What are some of your favorite books you’ve read this year?

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Jun 24

Dome Along: We're Half Way There!

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Frightening, Psychological, Supernatural 44

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

Remember how I said I’d joined a read along for Stephen King’s Under the Dome through Coffee and a Book Chick? I’m about half way through the book right now and I thought I’d give you a little synopsis of my feelings…

Under the Dome lengthwise

So. There’s this town called Chester’s Mill. It’s in Maine because that is Stephen King’s thing. One day these invisible walls go up all over town. People crash their cars into it. Planes crash. Limbs are severed. Woodchucks are bisected… And Katie reveals spoilers, probably. (Skip this bad boy if you want to know nothing.)

I was pretty upset about the woodchuck, I've got to admit. (Image Source)

I was pretty upset about the woodchuck, I’ve got to admit. (Image Source)

So this dome thing goes down. Nobody can get in, nobody can get out. Chester’s Mill is completely cut off from the world, save cell phones and sporadic internet coverage. Maybe this isolation wouldn’t be so bad if anybody had any idea who or what caused it. It’s a big fat mystery and people inside that bubble? They’re kind of freaking out. Not that I blame them.

Also, the town is full of big evil meanies. Big Jim Rennie is the bad dude in chief, and he’s so freaking evil he’s practically a cartoon character. I don’t know how he’s not constantly twirling a mustache and/or petting a cat. His son, creatively named Junior isn’t any prize either. He has violent tendencies and an undiagnosed brain tumor. Given his parentage, I doubt the brain tumor is responsible for the homicidal tendencies so much as his father’s super wicked DNA.

Sort of like these two... only less amusing. Source

Sort of like these two… only less amusing. Source

So Big Jim is rotten to the core and he’s in power. He assembles a gang of Junior’s douchey friends to be police officers. Big Jim is ALSO a “devout” Christian (you know, if you ignore the whole Ten Commandments bit…) There are a lot of dirty dealings going on in Chester’s Mill, and now that the Dome has fallen, the threat that they’ll come to light has increased… Not in the least because he has STOLEN all the propane tanks in town to power the METH LAB he’s been running because he’s so damn evil. His pastor was totally in on it too. Not making Christianity look good, these two.

You know when you’re reading Stephen King there are going to be bad guys. I’m a little frustrated with this because the bad guys have NO DIMENSION. Like… In The Stand. Yes, Randall Flagg was basically the devil incarnate… At least he was actually supernatural. But his minions? It’s hard to blame the Trashcan Man for being all crazy… I mean, his brain is broken. And the guy Flagg rescued from the prison? Sure he’s no saint, but his badness had layers. None of these people have layers. They’re all just rotten to the core and horrible and GAH!

Oh and the good guys? They are dropping like flies. False arrests and murders and douchebaggery of all sorts. The good guys better catch a break soon, or I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hang in there for the last 500-600 pages. Oh yeah. So the government thinks that there’s probably aliens involved. Maybe that’s why Big Jim is so evil? And his gang of jerks? Pod people? Can I hope for that? Because I’m LOSING FAITH IN HUMANITY here, people!

Who am I kidding? We ALL know it's gonna be Aliens.

Who am I kidding? We ALL know it’s gonna be Aliens.

I need a pep talk, here, fellow Dome Along-ers! Will the good guys ever get anywhere? Will an alien show up and LASER Big Jim Rennie? Will people stop being stupid? Will they break the damn dome? I am to the point where I can only read this on the treadmill because I get so grouchy at it. Someone tell me there’s something good on the horizon. Pretty please?

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Jun 20

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Family, Friendship, Psychological, Romance, Tear Jerkers, Travel 42

Good Day Bookworms!

Have you ever paid attention to the stuff you do every day? I’m not talking about the chores or the errands or the work. I’m talking physical stuff. Walking. Climbing stairs. Getting dressed. Bathing. Eating. Driving. Typing. What would you do if you couldn’t do ANY of that for yourself anymore? The thought probably makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me sad. It makes me feel guilty for being able bodied when others may not be, but extremely grateful for my independence.

I don’t typically give this line of thinking much attention, because it bums me out. However, several people recommended this book about a quadriplegic to me and I figured I’d give it a shot.  Somehow Jojo Moyes managed to make Me Before You devastating, uplifting, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming all at the same time. Don’t ask me how she pulled it off. The talents of authors are beyond me, but this one, THIS ONE got to me.

Me-Before-You-Cover_

Louisa Clark is a 28 year old girl living in an English tourist town that features a castle. She has spent several years working in a local cafe and is caught completely off guard one day when she’s told the cafe is going to close. Suddenly, Louisa finds herself out of work in a terrible economy. She has no college education (or, uh, University, as the British would say) and is qualified to do little more than work in a chicken processing plant, which is just exactly as gross as it sounds.

Louisa’s qualifications will allow her to be a “caregiver,” and it is one of the few positions available through the unemployment agency (which is called something different in England but it sounds like roughly the same thing.) She’s sent on an interview with no real idea of what’s in store for her. To her shock (in spite of an embarrassing skirt splitting incident during the interview) she lands a job helping to care for Will Traynor. Will was hit by a motorcycle while crossing a street. A serious mover and shaker in his previous life, Will has been without the use of any of his limbs for over 2 years. As you can imagine, he’s not too happy about it.

Louisa and Will don’t start off especially well, what with his intentionally trying to make her uncomfortable and all, but over time they grow rather fond of each other. Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly (or, at least, as smoothly as possible when catheters, muscle spasms, and infection are par for the course) when Louisa is hit with some dizzying news. I AM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT IT IS! But. The rest of the book is about Louisa trying to get Will to get out of his grumpy funk and have some adventures. Will is from a very wealthy family and was very successful before his accident, so the fact that he is practically a sommelier and has a penchant for evenings at the symphony come as no surprise. Apparently rich people are very fancy and predictable that way. No mention of cheeses. Pity.

Read this and your next long trek through the parking lot in the rain won't seem so inconvenient.

Read this and your next long trek through the parking lot in the rain won’t seem so inconvenient. (SOURCE)

I was not expecting to like this book. I thought it was going to be a complete downer, but, while there are some seriously sad elements, there are also some uplifting bits, and occasionally, it’s downright funny. Me Before You also raises some ethical conundrums that will leave you reeling. I’ve got so many FEELINGS, you guys! I want you to feel them too.

Bookworms, have any of you read Me Before You? What did you think? We can’t really discuss the elephant in the room because of SPOILERS, but we can talk about how much it sucks when people who don’t need it steal the disabled parking spots. That is some nasty karma y’all. I have many, many faults, but I never park in a handicapped space. I also return my shopping cart to the cart corral. Perhaps this will keep me from being reincarnated as a turd. How about you?

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Jun 18

Summertime, and the Reading is Easy (Top Ten Tuesday)

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 48

Howdy Bookworms!

In case you hadn’t noticed, it is summer! Well. It’s summer here in the northern hemisphere at least. Australia just blows my mind with the opposite seasons. And the awesome marsupials. (I want to visit you, Australia. I am not good at being a tourist, but I think I love you.) Aaaanyway. Today is TUESDAY! So. The Broke and The Bookish have asked me to give y’all a list of the Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR list. Right now I’ve got a big old stack to tackle, so let’s do this thing!

TTT3W1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It’s the very first book we are reading for The Fellowship of the Worms and I am SO EXCITED! I know that once I finish it I’m going to have a hard time not talking about it immediately, so I’m trying to restrain myself. I’ve heard good things from a few of the participants already. I can’t wait! Eeeep!

2. The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. We are reading this for BOTH of my IRL book clubs this summer and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been on my radar for a while and it’s set in Australia! I didn’t even realize when I started this post and went on my marsupial tangent that there would be an Australia book on this list. I love it when the universe does things like that.

3. The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hangarne. I have this waiting for me thanks to NetGalley. I’ve seen a lot of great reviews on this one so I’m pretty stoked to read it. Josh Hangarne is actually a book blogger (cool right?!) His life story is crazy interesting though. He has Tourette’s and is a body builder and a bunch of other stuff I don’t know about yet because I haven’t read the book. I’ll be sure to fill you in!

worldsstrongestlibrarian

4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I have to hurry up and read this one because it’s on my kindle and it’s a library loan, but I’m really excited about this one, too. It was recommended to me by a fellow Bookworm (none other than the winner of the Name That Book Club contest, Ashley!) I’ve seen it floating around the blogosphere, too, always with rave reviews.

5. Under The Dome by Stephen King. I’m actually just about at the midway point on this one. I’m reading it for Coffee and a Book Chick’s summer read along. It’s been different for me because I don’t normally read more than one book at a time, but I’ve taken to reading this while I’m on the treadmill. Since I’m currently busy being VERY ANGRY with some of the characters, it’s best to read while I’m getting some aggression out!

6. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. There’s a funny story behind this one. You know I like Tracy Chevalier. I’ve mentioned that enough times and even wrote a full review of her latest novel, The Last Runaway. My pal Lillian over at It’s A Dome Life hosted a little game. She’s an artist, but sometimes her paintings don’t turn out the way she planned. She’s got this horse painting that she’s always hated and asked her readers to turn it into a meme. I told her it needed a horn, because “fillies dig unicorns.” Then she made this hysterical meme and I was all “I need to put this on my blog! I need a book about a unicorn, damnit!” And thus, this title was added to my TBR list.

Nothing like laughing at your own jokes, but seriously. This kills me!

Nothing like laughing at your own jokes, but seriously. This kills me!

7. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I loved Eleanor & Park so much, I obviously need to read more. RAINBOW! I LOVE YOU!

8. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I know. It’s not new or anything, but I haven’t read it, it was on sale, and now it’s just languishing on my kindle along with…

9. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. Same story. Acclaimed book. Sale price. Katie, being distracted by shiny new things, has thus far not attempted to read it.

10. More stuff by Jennifer Crusie. I really liked Bet Me and I just found a bundle of 4 Crusie books for under 10 bucks on Amazon for my kindle. These are great palate cleansers and a nice escape from some of my more intense reading. I don’t know what I’ll read first, but does it really matter?

That’s my list. What do you have on your radar, Bookworms?

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Jun 11

Hot Temps and Hot Tempers: Top Ten Tuesday Beach Reads

Book Club, Chick Lit, Classics, Friendship, Top Ten Tuesday 44

Howdy Bookworms!

I hope life has been treating you well. Today is Tuesday which means it’s time to make lists! Yaaaaaay! This week’s topic via The Broke and The Bookish is Top Ten Beach reads! It sounds like an easy topic, but I’m kind of at a loss. The thing about Illinois is that it’s landlocked. I can’t just go to the beach. And lakes, even the Great Lakes, are stinky. We also have rivers, which are probably stinkier than lakes. I don’t like swimming in water with fish as a general rule, but I will break my rule when it comes to wading in the OCEAN. WADING, not swimming, mind you. I tried snorkeling when I was like 13 and had a panic attack, so I’m sticking to dry land and chlorinated pools thankyouverymuch. Occasions when I’m near an actual ocean are few and far between, so I’m breaking my “beach” reads into two pieces. Books set on beaches, and books about summertime (when the living’s easy.)

toptentuesday

Top 5 Books Set on the Beach

1. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I don’t read a whole heck of a lot of books set on beaches. At least, not a whole heck of a lot of books I actually like (cough cough The Best of Us.) I read this a long time ago, but I recall beaches and tributaries and a confused married woman having an affair with a Catholic priest. So. Scandal? Check. Sandals? Check. Beach read. Boom. Nailed it.

2. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. This is sort of set on a beach. I mean, it’s on a Hawaiian island… That also happens to be a leper colony. It’s a pretty good book if a little depressing. Leprosy sucked, especially if you were a surfer and then had your toes fall off. Not cool, man. Not cool.

3. Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. This is my all time favorite Anita Shreve novel. She’s written an entire series of books revolving around one specific beach house. I’ve read several of them (so far) and it’s a really cool life of a house type scenario. Fortune’s Rocks is begins in 1899. In a society bound by convention and old timey bathing costumes, scandalous affairs are bound to pop up between teenaged daughters of the elite and well to do doctors. I mean, those bathing costumes were HAWT.

Try and resist this. I dare you. (Image Source)

Try and resist this. I dare you. (Image Source)

4. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve. This was my second visit to our woebegone beach house. Set in the 1930s, this tale features a newly married couple, Sexton and Honora Beecher. Honora spends her days collecting sea glass while her husband (who turns out to be a bit of a slime ball) sells typewriters. In the nearby town, textile mills have workers laboring under deplorable conditions. McDermott is a sexy Irish mill worker who catches Honora’s eye as the Beechers are drawn into a massive labor dispute. There’s some scandal and plenty of learning to be had.

5. Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. And we’re baaaaaaaaaaaack at the same beach house! Only now it’s modern-ish times and our protagonist is a 29 year old underemployed divorcee and widow named Sydney. A lot of living went into her 29 years, what can she say? Sydney decides to take a job as a private summer tutor for the 18 year old daughter of the Edwards family who summer at (you guessed it) the mythological beach house of Shreve’s imagination. Julie (the daughter in question) has two older brothers and once they arrive, Sydney is plunged into a set of circumstances bound to make her relationship history even MORE interesting. Families are crazy, especially when you pop into one already in progress.

Top 5 Books About Summertime

1. Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg. Fannie Flagg makes me happy with almost everything she writes, but her version of summertime in 1940s Elmwood Springs, Missouri is just a treat. I felt like I was part of the small town and desperately wanted to get a milkshake from the pharmacy soda fountain.

2. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Shush! I can list the same authors over and over again if I want to! Fannie Flagg knows how to do SUMMER, you guys! Ruth and Idgy’s summer before Ruth gets married? Ruth and Idgy at the cafe? The shenanigans of summertime in depression era Alabama?! Makes me want to sit on a porch swing and drink a gallon of lemonade, dang it!

3. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik. So, this book centers on a neighborhood book club (which is NEARLY as cool as The Fellowship of the Worms, but not quite.) A large part of the story goes on in the summer. Every time I think of this book, it conjures up images of pools and kool-aid stands. Summertime. Charm. These are things I like.

angryhousewives

4. Summer by Edith Wharton. Awww yeah, you didn’t see THAT coming did you? I like Edith. I like her sarcastic take on society. I like Charity Royall’s air of self importance in spite of her humble origins. I like that she works at the library. Sure, she may be naive and begin a love affair with a society fellow looking to slum it for the summer… Summer fun times sometimes lead to springtime babies… So… Be careful, kids.

5. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. I know, it’s a little overexposed right now, but I can’t even think about this book without feeling a little sweaty, and I don’t mean that because of the steamy affairs. I mean the blasted temperature. My word, how did anyone survive the summer before air conditioning? Heat rises and people do crazy booze fueled things… Love triangles, feuds, affairs, CHAOS. A good time was had by all… Who didn’t end up dead.

Shakespeare said it best in Romeo & Juliet, “For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.” Benvolio knew what was up. Hot temps lead to hot tempers. Keep cool this summer. Leave the drama to the books! What are YOUR picks for beach reads, Bookworms? Anything awesome that’s set on a beach that I haven’t read but ought to?

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Jun 06

The Fellowship of the Worms (It's the Book Club, Y'all!)

Book Club 48

Ta-Da!!!!

Bookworms, it is time. You guys gave me some FANTASTIC ideas for Book Club names. Sadly, I could only choose one. The WINNER of the BOX OF AWESOME (including a $25 Amazon gift card) is ASHLEY ZIZICH! She suggested the name I chose which is: The Fellowship of the Worms!!!!!!

I’ve got to give some shout outs for honorable mention, because so many of you cracked me up.

1. Books, Tea, & Me suggested “The Words and Waddlers Book Club” which was soooo cute. PENGUINS!

2. Lyssa of Psychobabble suggested “Katie Wordypants and the Order of the Bookworms” which I loved because HARRY POTTER!

3. That Artsy Reader Girl suggested “Readers of the Lost Ark.” INDIANA JONES!!!

You win nothing, other than my undying affection… But that should be enough, right? Finally, Joules from Pocketful of Joules inspired the name for our book club mascot. Meet Wormy McSmartypants!

smarty mcwordypants

Wormy McSmartypants!

In appreciation for providing me with something I wasn’t aware I needed, I shall now present Joules with a limerick.

There once was a blogger named Joules.

She was sassy and suffered no fools.

She’s just like my sister

I didn’t know how I’d missed her

‘Till the internet gave me the tools.

Alright people. The time has come. I’ve chosen the first book!!! We’re going to be reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I will be posting discussion questions on July 8th. I’ll include a linky (if I can figure out how) so that if any bloggers out there want to participate on their own blogs answering the questions or posting their own reviews, we can all talk about it together. I’m super, super excited! I hope you are, too!

On a side note, I’ve created some Fellowship of the Worms SWAG in my Zazzle store. I might be a little obsessed with putting Wormy McSmartypants and Le Kattoo on various items. You can make a friggin teapot, y’all. It’s the most fun! CLICK HERE!

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Jun 04

Top Ten Tuesday TRAVELS!

Book Club, Children's Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Time Travel, Travel 42

G’Day Bookworms!

It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish! Today’s topic features books with a travel element. This should be fun. Shall we?

TTT3W1.Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple. This book rocked for a number of reasons. Quippy sarcasm, ridiculous situations, clever forays into the seedy underbelly of suburbia. My absolute favorite part of this novel? The trip to Antarctica. What would you expect of a self professed penguin enthusiast?

2. Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan. The Griswolds have got nothing on THIS vacation’s crazy turn of events. A group of American tourists tries to travel down the Burma Road and ends up being held captive by a local tribe led by child soldiers believed to have mystical powers. It’s a very cool book, but you may want to stay in your country of origin after reading this bad boy…

3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. Hemingway and his first wife Hadley move to Paris during the Jazz Age. Earnest is is search of inspiration, Hadley is in search of a pleasant life. Though they live in Paris, they’re able to do so cheaply thanks to the slow recovery of European economies after WWI. The Hemingways galavant all over Europe spending time in Spain for the bullfights and ski holidays in the Alps. For as “poor” as they’re supposed to be, their travel schedule reveals none of the supposed hardship.

pariswife

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The whole doggone series is travel-tastic. From Scotland to France to a rickety boat taking them to the Caribbean and the American colonies, Jamie, Claire, and the gang never stay in one place for long. Plus, TIME TRAVEL absolutely counts as traveling. YOU pass through a rock and head back two centuries and try to tell me it’s no big deal.

5. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris. Sedaris takes you along on his travel adventures in this hilarious essay collection. Mugged in Honolulu? Check. Suffering at the hands of a lost passport sticker? Check. Appreciate the sterile disinfectant style of Japan? Checkity check! All sorts of countries, all sorts of weirdness. David Sedaris is my kind of crazy.

6. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. A road trip out of Kentucky leads Taylor into a strange set of circumstances that land her with a toddler. Taylor and the child continue to travel and make their way to Arizona, where they establish a life for themselves. Life changing cross country road trips. They’re the stuff great books are made of!

7. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. Travel in the traditional sense? There’s some of that. But when Lyra and Will start ripping holes and traveling between dimensions? Awww yeah. Travel-saurus-rex.

8. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. You don’t just travel in this book. You travel to OTHER PLANETS! Intergallactic!

9. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Chase the legend of Dracula from Amsterdam to Istanbul to Budapest to Romania to Bulgaria to… Epic crazy travel, vampire lore, and a side of spooky. It’s good times.

10. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. TIME TRAVEL! That is all.

What about you, my globetrotting Bookworms? What are some of your favorite travel tomes?

*If you haven’t done so already, there’s STILL TIME to enter the contest to NAME THAT BOOK CLUB!

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