Category: Coming of Age

Apr 05

Bookish Boombox: A Mix Tape Masterpiece

Blogging, Classics, Coming of Age, Fantasy, Personal 18

Are you ready to ROCK, Bookworms?

The thing about writing a book blog is that if you have a slow reading week, you start running out of material. When I was composing yesterday’s Eleanor & Park review, I spent a lot of time thinking about high school and the parts of it that didn’t suck. One of my FAVORITE high school pastimes was making mix tapes. I’d comb my CD collection and pick out the best tracks to put together. I liked to theme it up, you know? I’d try to impress my friends by putting “obscure” songs off of popular albums on there, so they didn’t think I only listened to the hits. I WAS DEEP, I TELL YOU! Then I’d make cover art and use crayons and stickers… Ahhh good times. So. Since I am out of books to review for the time being, I’m making y’all a little mix tape. In honor of the sweet boom box I used to make those mix tapes, I’ve created a thematic homage to books. I’m calling it “Bookish Boombox: A Mix Tape Masterpiece.” Forgive me for the lack of crayon artwork.

Track One: “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin. This song is based on The Lord of the Rings. Did you know that? I didn’t. (Thanks, Internet!) It’s one of those songs I mutter along with until the chorus. Anyway, I’m working on The Fellowship of the Ring right now, and, uh, “Ramble On?” Pretty darn appropriate, if you know what I’m saying….

Track Two: “Romeo & Juliet” by Dire Straits. Obviously, this song goes with Romeo & Juliet. I like to think of it as what would have become of Romeo and Juliet if they hadn’t been so impulsive and killed themselves. It’s a sad love song, and those are the best kind! This is one of my favorite, favorite songs EVER. Enjoy it!

Track Three: “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police. Every single time I hear this song I shout “just like the- old man in- that book by NABOKOV!” It’s about Lolita, obvi, and I feel that having read Lolita, it is my right to be very smug and sing that lyric at the top of my lungs.

Track Four: “Yankee Bayonet” by The Decemberists. Pretty much every song by The Decemberists is a story unto itself, because they’re completely amazing. Anyway, “Yankee Bayonet” is probably my favorite Decemberists track and it’s about the civil war- from a Southern perspective, no less. Therefore, I’ve decided it totally goes with Gone With The Wind. I suppose it would go better with GWTW if Scarlett had actually been in love with Charles Hamilton and he had been killed in battle rather than by disease, but whatever. It’s a good song and it’s MY MIX TAPE.

Track Five: “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” by Concrete Blonde. Funny story about this song. My very eccentric dance teacher choreographed a tap number to this song. We wore Raggedy Ann costumes complete with yarn wigs, then threw in some fangs and capes. It was seriously creepy watching a pack of 20 adolescent girls being all evil and stuff. As if it weren’t painfully obvious, this song is about vampires, so I associate it with the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. It works!

There you have it, my friends. A little literary mix tape from me to you. Are there any songs you associate with books?

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Apr 02

I've Got a Crush on You! And you, and you, and you, too!

Classics, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Historical Fiction, Humor, Personal 85

Hey There Bookworms,

Before I get into today’s Top Ten Tuesday list, I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to the Hubs. That’s right, today Jim turns 31. Happy Birthday! The thing that makes this birthday extra super special is that it is ALSO the anniversary of our first date. The TENTH anniversary. (For a first date that took place on a 21st birthday, it was shockingly wholesome.) Yay, Jim! Happy Birth-iversary! I totally still have a crush on you.

First photo of us as a couple, a mere 10 days after that first date. Which reminds me... Happy Almost Anniversary to Meresa and Scott! (Yeah. He went to a wedding with me after a week and a half. Keeper.)

First photo of us as a couple, a mere 10 days after that first date. Which reminds me… Happy Almost Anniversary to Meresa and Scott! (Yeah. He went to a wedding with me after a week and a half of dating. Keeper.)

You know what the best part about a stable relationship is? Jim’s not even a tiny bit threatened by the fact that I’ve got crushes on other boys. Sure, it helps that all the boys are fictional characters… Like any bookworm, I have an active imagination. Since The Broke and The Bookish asked so nicely, today I shall list my Top Ten Fictional Character Crushes.

TTT3W

1. Fred and/or George Weasley. So, here’s the thing. I hate to admit to this, but, I didn’t read Harry Potter until after the first movie came out. This means, among other things, that my mental images of characters were tainted going into the series. I LOVE the Weasley twins, and the movie twins are pretty cute. I know they’re shorter and rounder in the books, but they’re so funny and awesome. Laughter is a big deal to me, and I’m pretty sure a Weasley twin would keep me in stitches. (Maybe not as well as Jim, though. His sense of humor is incredibly absurd and he frequently makes me laugh until my tummy hurts.)

2. Jamie Fraser. I know, I know. I rave about Outlander constantly, but SWOON, Jamie! He’s strong and smart and he speaks lots of languages and he looks hot in a kilt. Plus, he’s so head over heels for Claire, it’s redonk. I mean, really.

3. Jon Snow. The new season of Game of Thrones started up the other night. I watched season 1, but for whatever reason I fell off the wagon after that. I’m considering jumping back on. I mean, I’ve read all the books, you know? And. JON SNOW. Ned Stark’s bastard child is one hot piece of ice, if you know what I’m saying. Really though. I love book Jon. I love TV Jon. Long live Jon Snow!

Celibacy on The Wall? What a waste! Source.

Celibacy on The Wall? What a waste! Source.

4. Mr. Darcy. Oh yeah, I just pulled out the old Pride and Prejudice card. How could I not? I mean, he’s MR. DARCY. Proud. Prejudiced. Secretly in love with the feisty Elizabeth Bennett. Be still my heart!

5. Gus. You remember, the dreamboat cancer patient from The Fault In Our StarsSure, he didn’t speak the way any REAL teenager would. He was far too smart and witty and self assured. But. That’s what Tiger Beat dreams are made of.

6. Charlie. Yep. My teenage self had a big old crush on Charlie from The Perks of Being a WallflowerI loved his brilliant socially stunted antics. And his wounded puppy psyche. Sigh.

7. Marius Pontmercy. I think every girl on the planet imagines that she’s Eponine when they listen to “On My Own.” Who among us has never tasted the bitter pill of unrequited love?! Les Miserables the book gives Marius a much juicier backstory than the musical. It certainly doesn’t hurt Marius’s swoonworthiness that Eddie Redmayne played the part in the movie…

Oh, Eddie. You only love me when I'm gutshot and bleeding out in the gutters of Paris... Source

Oh, Eddie. You only love me when I’m gutshot and bleeding out in the gutters of Paris… Source

8. Stu Redman. Why yes, I DO have a thing for the no-nonsense leader of the “good-guy” pack from The Stand. He is immune to the super flu, plus he’s got a cowboy vibe. I don’t know, maybe I was swayed by the fact that Lieutenant Dan played him in the mini series. The heart wants what the heart wants!

9. Roger MacKenzie. Yeah. He’s from Outlander too. Roger is one dishy time traveler. Green eyed, Scottish accented, folk song crooning, tall drink of water. Mmmmhmmm.

10. Jim. Yes, I am cheating and making my husband into a fictional character. Public display of affection, blog style. Oh. Fictional Jim may or may not also be Batman. Or just own tasteful Batman statues. XOXO.

Bookworms, tell me. Who are your bookish fictional character crushes? We’re equal opportunity here. Dudes, ladies, whatever floats your boat. Share the lurve!

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Mar 11

Tutu Girls Walk Into a Barre: The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Art, Coming of Age, Historical Fiction 28

Bonjour, Bookworms!

Please excuse the pun, I cannot help myself. I’m incorrigible. Today we are taking a trip to 19th Century Paris as we discuss The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. I don’t know about you, but when I think of ballet, I think of frothy tutus and toe shoes. I danced growing up, so I can tell you that dance apparel is not inexpensive. Thus, I was surprised to learn that the ballet dancers of the famed opera houses were often more Gavroche than Baryshnikov. (It’s probably also part of the reason ballet loves super svelte dancers… The early ones were half starved!) The youngest of the ballet girls were known as the “petite rats,” and successful dancers were frequently, uh, sponsored? by creepy old dudes. So. Yeah. The beautiful ballet had a dirty, seedy, underbelly. Scandalous.

paintedgirls

I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked by this whole thing- this novel takes place a few decades after Les Miserablesit’s not as though a comprehensive initiative to eradicate poverty had been undertaken. This is a society where a girl could legally prostitute herself at the age of 16 (assuming she was declared STD free, of course. Syphilis was colloquially known as “French Pox.”) When artists were looking for ladies to model in the nude, they didn’t go knocking on the doors of aristocrats, what with all the young nubile flesh for sale. Edgar Degas was one such artist, and if you know anything about his art, you’ll know that ballet girls were among his favorite subjects. Much in the way Tracy Chevalier brought to life the subject in Vermeer’s painting in Girl With A Pearl EarringBuchanan does for Marie Van Goethem, the model for Degas’ sculpture Little Dancer Aged 14.

Marie lives in a sketchy Parisian neighborhood with her widowed, absinthe-swilling mother and her two sisters Antoinette and Charlotte. Antoinette had been a ballet girl, though she’d been tossed out of the company for mouthing off to the director. Instead she began working as an extra in the opera, earning a ridiculously small salary. After the death of their father (and the loss of his income) it is decided that Marie and Charlotte must audition to join the ballet school. Underfed “rats” from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks they may be, but super flexible hips are a commodity worth paying for. Both Charlotte and Marie begin their dance careers, in large part to contribute to the family baguette fund. Dancing for their suppers, as it were.

Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is the sculpture in question. Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Eventually Marie catches the eye of Degas, and she is more than willing to pose for him in varying states of undress if it keeps her family from starving (absinthe isn’t cheap, you know.) While Marie is busy being naked in front of weird old men, Antoinette strikes up a romance with a potentially sketchy fellow named Emile, who seems incapable of saving money but terribly fond of spending it (bad combination, Antoinette!) Both Marie and Antoinette (LET THEM EAT CAKE!) try to find ways to hustle for cash so tiny Charlotte will be less affected by their poverty.

In the spirit of not being a major spoilsport, I shall tell you that this novel contains prostitution, petty theft, murder, guillotines, alcoholism, scientific misinformation, and one rather disturbing incident of animal cruelty (you’ve been warned.) It’s all based on true events! A triumph of historical fiction, my friends.

So, Bookworms, how much do you love it when art imitates art?! I even made a list of such novels on Riffle! (Not on Riffle and want to be?! Let me know and I’ll send you an invite.) Tell me, Bookworms. Ballet, street urchins, Paris, art. and scandal- you’ve got to have thoughts on some of those things. Tell me, tell me, tell me!

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Mar 04

We’ve “Reached” the End

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 21

Hello Dear Bookworms,

I’ve been a bit grouchy with Ally Condie’s Matched series so far, so it is with great pleasure that I announce: I liked Reached! How is this even possible?! Read on my friends, read on.

Condie-Ally-Reached

When we last left the gang, Cassia, Ky, Indie, and Xander has all joined The Rising. Ky and Indie are sent to flight school while Cassia and Xander have been assigned to serve The Rising from within The Society. Now they’re double agents.

You know how The Rising decides to take over The Society? Biological warfare. A plague “mysteriously” breaks out that renders people comatose. If they’re left untreated, they die. Now, I’m not giving Condie a free pass here. The “plague” sounded an AWFUL lot like being petrified by the basilisk in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. The Rising plans to take over things by riding in on their white horse of a vaccine and cure. (Which, thankfully, is not made of mandrake root…) I realize The Society eliminated most pre-society history, but seriously. Why do people never learn? Viruses mutate! If you release a virus on a large population, you should expect it to mutate. For heaven’s sake, they have to make new flu vaccines every year! Ugh. People. No matter how much science they get, they still do dumb things.

So. Now there’s a plague. Cassia and Ky are separated. Indie is still kind of a sociopath. Xander is busy being a doctor and trying to do the right thing. I’m just so thankful that Cassia and Ky were separated because Cassia finally becomes her own person! She stops being the “OMG I LOVE KY” single minded teen-bot and starts writing poetry and organizing an art gallery and thinking thoughts. Thank heavens, because she was a few pages away from being thrown into the uninspiring heroine category with Ana Steele and Bella Swan.

How is it that I don’t even want to get all spoiler-y on you when I’ve been so mean to the rest of this series? Really, I didn’t HATE the other two books, they were just formulaic and seemed to “borrow” a bit too liberally from everything that had gone before. But then. THEN! Condie like, recognizes that and ADDRESSES it in one of Cassia’s “A-Ha” moments. She comes out and says something to the effect of “there is nothing original and someone has already done it better, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create.” Self awareness.

Leichtlins_Mariposa_Lily,_Yosemite

This flower SAVES THE WORLD. Well. Mostly anyway.

Remember the people who lived outside The Society? The farmers who were chilling in the Carving? The Rising has is flabbergasted by the mutation of the plague and is on the cusp of killing off the very people they tried to “liberate.” As a last ditch effort, the illustrious Pilot sends Ky, Cassia, and Xander out into an agrarian village to try and work on a cure for the mutated plague. Now, I love the idea that the antidote to the plague was a flower, but… I’m a big fan of Western medicine. Like, if you’ve got, oh I don’t know, LEPROSY, I think you should get thee to a doctor and get some antibiotics. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go digging up flower bulbs to try and cure ailments that have clear effective established treatments. However. When regular medicine isn’t working? Maybe trying some herbal remedies wouldn’t hurt.

I don’t know if it was the plague (because, HELLO The Stand) or the fact that the characters seemed to mature emotionally or the idea that a FLOWER saved humanity. Probably the flower part. Katie loves flowers.  But. The Matched series was saved by Reached. I feel a whole lot less hostile now, which is always a good thing. What do you think, Bookworms? Anybody else finish the series?

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Mar 04

We've "Reached" the End

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 21

Hello Dear Bookworms,

I’ve been a bit grouchy with Ally Condie’s Matched series so far, so it is with great pleasure that I announce: I liked Reached! How is this even possible?! Read on my friends, read on.

Condie-Ally-Reached

When we last left the gang, Cassia, Ky, Indie, and Xander has all joined The Rising. Ky and Indie are sent to flight school while Cassia and Xander have been assigned to serve The Rising from within The Society. Now they’re double agents.

You know how The Rising decides to take over The Society? Biological warfare. A plague “mysteriously” breaks out that renders people comatose. If they’re left untreated, they die. Now, I’m not giving Condie a free pass here. The “plague” sounded an AWFUL lot like being petrified by the basilisk in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. The Rising plans to take over things by riding in on their white horse of a vaccine and cure. (Which, thankfully, is not made of mandrake root…) I realize The Society eliminated most pre-society history, but seriously. Why do people never learn? Viruses mutate! If you release a virus on a large population, you should expect it to mutate. For heaven’s sake, they have to make new flu vaccines every year! Ugh. People. No matter how much science they get, they still do dumb things.

So. Now there’s a plague. Cassia and Ky are separated. Indie is still kind of a sociopath. Xander is busy being a doctor and trying to do the right thing. I’m just so thankful that Cassia and Ky were separated because Cassia finally becomes her own person! She stops being the “OMG I LOVE KY” single minded teen-bot and starts writing poetry and organizing an art gallery and thinking thoughts. Thank heavens, because she was a few pages away from being thrown into the uninspiring heroine category with Ana Steele and Bella Swan.

How is it that I don’t even want to get all spoiler-y on you when I’ve been so mean to the rest of this series? Really, I didn’t HATE the other two books, they were just formulaic and seemed to “borrow” a bit too liberally from everything that had gone before. But then. THEN! Condie like, recognizes that and ADDRESSES it in one of Cassia’s “A-Ha” moments. She comes out and says something to the effect of “there is nothing original and someone has already done it better, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create.” Self awareness.

Leichtlins_Mariposa_Lily,_Yosemite

This flower SAVES THE WORLD. Well. Mostly anyway.

Remember the people who lived outside The Society? The farmers who were chilling in the Carving? The Rising has is flabbergasted by the mutation of the plague and is on the cusp of killing off the very people they tried to “liberate.” As a last ditch effort, the illustrious Pilot sends Ky, Cassia, and Xander out into an agrarian village to try and work on a cure for the mutated plague. Now, I love the idea that the antidote to the plague was a flower, but… I’m a big fan of Western medicine. Like, if you’ve got, oh I don’t know, LEPROSY, I think you should get thee to a doctor and get some antibiotics. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go digging up flower bulbs to try and cure ailments that have clear effective established treatments. However. When regular medicine isn’t working? Maybe trying some herbal remedies wouldn’t hurt.

I don’t know if it was the plague (because, HELLO The Stand) or the fact that the characters seemed to mature emotionally or the idea that a FLOWER saved humanity. Probably the flower part. Katie loves flowers.  But. The Matched series was saved by Reached. I feel a whole lot less hostile now, which is always a good thing. What do you think, Bookworms? Anybody else finish the series?

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Mar 01

Crossed by Ally Condie: Simpsons Did It!

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Romance 26

Top O’ The Morning, Bookworms!

You knew I couldn’t read just one book of a trilogy, right? Even if it wasn’t my favorite? Sooo… Let’s talk about Crossed!

crossed

At the end of Matched, Ky is shipped off to the Outer Provinces, Cassia’s family is relocated, and Xander is left at the homestead being all brokenhearted and whatnot. Cassia finagles her way into a work camp. Her plan is to hunt Ky down in the Outer Provinces. Because, you know. Putting your life on the line for a boy you’ve kissed once is a BRILLIANT idea. (Sorry. Angry feminist moment. I’m just really OVER young girls doing stupid things for “love.”)

Persons unknown are trying to blow up The Society. Whoever this enemy is, they’ve already killed off all the real inhabitants of the Outer Provinces, and The Society is trying to pretend they’ve got a disposable population. Ky is sent here and realizes what’s going on. Fortunately, he grew up in the area and manages to escape with two compadres.

Cassia shows up in Ky’s village a few days after he’s disappeared. Not to be outdone in the “I can survive in the wild” contest, Cassia takes her new pal Indie (who seems to have developed a major crush on Xander, despite never having met him) and runs off into some geologic oddity (they refer to it as “the carving.”) Y’all remember in Son, the final book of The Giver series where Claire spends a crap ton of time scaling a cliff? Yeah. They do that too. Anyway, they all wander around and the groups connect and everybody learns a lot about The Rising (AKA The Society’s opposition.) After a lot of walking and talking and theorizing, we finally meet some members of The Rising. The reader is left to ponder whether The Rising is really any better than The Society. Dun dun dun!!!

Are any of you South Park fans? I won’t judge you one way or the other. I don’t watch regularly, but there’s an episode of South Park where every time a new plot point is introduced, someone pops up and yells, “Simpsons did it!” The whole time I was reading this I kept thinking, “The Giver did it! The Hunger Games did it!”

I’m probably being too hard on this series. It’s hard to find something truly original anymore, especially in such a prolific genre. I was chatting with my pal June about this, and we agreed that the society in Matched is a whole lot more believable than many that have been described before. Aside from having limited choices, being in the Society is pretty sweet. You get all of your meals delivered to you. You don’t have to worry about what you want to be when you grow up. You don’t even have to worry about finding the love of your life because the Match program sounds pretty doggone successful at putting together happy marriages. It’s a lot more believable that people would submit to this sort of a society and not riot constantly than it is to believe in a society where an oppressive regime starves its citizens and forces their children to fight to the death for sport…

What do you think, Bookworms? Am I being to much of a curmudgeon, or should I cut this series some slack?

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Feb 26

Matched by Ally Condie: It's A Little Like A Lot

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 38

Hi Bookworms,

Remember when I promised to read Matched by Ally Condie? Let it never be said that Katie does not keep her promises! Matched is the first book of a young adult dystopian trilogy. We begin the story with Cassia, a 16 year old girl on her way to her Match Banquet. The Match Banquet is like a cross between a debutant ball and an arranged marriage ceremony (you’ll be disappointed to hear, fans of Gilmore Girls, that there was no fan dance. Not entirely a debutant ball, then.)

Yeah, so the Society in which our story is set is a bit of a mashup of those in The Giver, Brave New World, 1984,The Hunger Games and basically every dystopian novel ever. That sounds really bitchy, but let’s be realistic. The scenario laid out in this book is pretty derivative. Fortunately, I can’t get enough of this genre, so I don’t mind terribly much.

matched

Cassia wears this pretty green dress to her Match ceremony.

Our heroine Cassia is put into a tricky predicament when her Match and BFF Xander may NOT in fact be her Match. She’s given a card that shows her not Xander’s handsome mug, but the beautiful face of the mysterious Ky Markham. (Are you seeing the Hunger Games-esque love triangle forming?) It’s all so angsty and confusing!

This society also has PILLS (like The Giver) but these pills aren’t for repressing feelings and sexuality. The blue pills are a nutrition supplement to be used in case of emergency. The green pills are to calm one down (cough cough SOMA cough.) The red pills are to wake up from the Matrix a mystery. The Society not only chooses your mate, they also give you personalized meals, monitor your exercise, and determine your choice in career. You die (whether you want to or not) on your 80th birthday and you have children at the proscribed time… (You can’t have a kid after 31. You’re supposed to have them when you’re around 24. Because SCIENCE. But. Eff, you, Science. If I decide to have babies after my 31st birthday, it’s none of your beeswax, mmmkay?)

Hey Society, you and me would be having WORDS.

Hey Society, you and me would be having WORDS… for Worms. Don’t worry. I smacked myself for that one.

Pretty much the whole book revolves around Cassia’s confusion in falling for Ky in spite of her affection for Xander. Being adored by two boys is HARD. I guess. I wouldn’t know. Boys weren’t lining up to take me out when I was 16. Pfft. The further Cassia gets into her love life drama, the more the oppression of the Society begins to show. Cracks form, rules are broken, craziness happens. Oh. And they all RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT. I mean. I dig Dylan Thomas, but this poem always reminds me of Dangerous Minds, and then I get “Gangsta’s Paradise” stuck in my head, and I’m forced to rock out.

So bookworms, who’s read this? Did you find it to be a mash-up of what’s gone before, or is my inner crotchety old man coming out?

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Feb 18

Gold! Always Believe In Your Soul: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Coming of Age, Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural 40

Bonjour Bookworms!

I like getting my reading material for free when I can, so I’m constantly checking up on my library’s digital selections. Though they’re not as extensive as I would like, sometimes I’ll get the chance try something out that I’m too “on the fence” about to purchase. In my most recent foray, I sampled The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist tells the tale of a young shepherd from Spain who dreams of traveling the world. The entire book is written in parable form, and it focuses on finding the truth in life and discovering one’s own personal legend. The meaning of life and whatnot. Deep stuff.

Our hero decides to take his chances in the wide world and sells his flock of sheep on the advice of a gypsy and a “king” (I have doubts of his actual monarchical pedigree.) The little shepherd is advised to seek his own personal legend and find his treasure near the pyramids of Egypt. Along the way, he gathers lessons from a crystal merchant, a British man obsessed with alchemy, a really cool camel, and a lovely lady from a desert tribe. All seem to be pointing him toward his purpose in life.

the_alchemist2 (1)

Y’all, this book was just not my thing. I’m not great at getting into this kind of head space. Like… I take yoga, right? I find it relaxing, I appreciate the stretching and the way it makes my body feel. However… At the beginning of each class we’re taken through a sort of mini meditation. We’re instructed to clear our minds and concentrate on the present and our sense of being.

You know what I concentrate on? The fact that we’re trying to meditate in the basement of a recreational center that has a basketball game going on directly overhead and a Zumba class across the hall. I think about the old dude and his shiny blue pants. Are they pants? Are they tights? Were they made for cycling? Does this dude shop at a fancy yoga store I know nothing about? Perhaps my cheap Target yoga pants are laughable to this master of yoga. Wait. Did somebody just fart?!

I'm seriously concerned about the man tights.

I’m seriously concerned about the man tights.

I have no doubt that this book really resonated with a lot of people. I mean, it must have, because it’s a best seller. I am NOT a risk taker, so I have a hard time with encouraging people to, um, metaphorically sell all their sheep and go treasure hunting at the pyramids of Egypt. I don’t want to sound like a big grouch who lives to crush dreams. By all means, have dreams! Pursue them… But, you know. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Or something. And thus, I leave you with this random song my eccentric dance instructor once choreographed and has thus become an earworm in my brain for all of time. Gold = Alchemy + “Always Believe In Your Soul” Lyric = Appropriate. (The beauty of fake math is that it need not make sense.)

Bottom line? I’m glad I got this from the library and didn’t pay for it.

Anybody else read this book? What did you think? Anybody else take yoga? Are the blue man tights a thing?

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Feb 01

Complaints and Compliments on An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Coming of Age, Humor, Romance, Young Adult Fiction 31

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

A few weeks back I wrote about how much I loved The Fault in Our Stars so I decided to pick up another John Green novel. I settled on An Abundance of Katherines for a couple of reasons. First, it was the only John Green book available from the library for my kindle. Second, I’m very self involved. Fun fact! Did you know “Katie” is short for “Kathryn?” I know you’re shocked. Kathryn with a “y” and Katie with an “ie”?! I know. Sadly, I had no part in naming myself, so I couldn’t prevent this travesty. However. Since the main character in this book had a fixation with “Katherines” I thought I’d get a little ego boost for my awesomeness of name. Sadly, this was not to be…

AbundanceKatherines

Complaint #1: Early in the book our “hero” Colin explains that he only likes K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E-S. No Katies, Kates, Kathryns, Catherines, Kathys, Kats, or Katrinas will do. This revelation started Colin and I off on the wrong foot, and I’m afraid we never got quite onto the right one. Colin is a “prodigy.” He’s got a super sharp brain and he is fluent in 11 languages. Now, I really like nerds. I like awkward folks. I root for the underdog. But…

Complaint #2: Colin is not likable AT ALL. He’s a smug little jerk. He’s whiny and his teen angst lacks the charm of, say, a Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower type character. Maybe I’m just jealous. I’m sure that plays a part in my distaste. I would love to be brilliant, but I know deep down that at best I’m an A minus student. I knew kids who memorized digits of pi for fun, but I liked them better than I liked Colin. I suppose they were more humble because they weren’t brought up as prodigies? Who knows. And why isn’t Colin seeing a therapist? I mean, really? The kid is obsessed with girls named Katherine. That isn’t healthy. Which brings me to…

Complaint #3: How did Colin get 17 (yeah, he dated one Katherine twice) girls to agree to go out with him? I was a much more likable child/adolescent/teen! He got more dates than I did in high school, and THAT IS NOT FAIR! Ugh.

Complaint #4: Colin and his buddy said “fug” all the time. Now, I’m not one to go around dropping F-bombs like they’re hot, but it annoyed me. I know, I KNOW it was in homage to Norman Mailer, but still. If you want to say the F-word, just say it. If you want to avoid saying it, come up with a more amusing alternative. I enjoy “frick” or “flim-flamming” myself. “Fizzing Whizbees” anyone?

jobs

Colin is obsessed with his “Eureka” moment in which he can move from being a prodigy to being a genius. Not everyone can be a genius, Colin, but everyone needs a doctor. That’s a noble profession. GO SAVE LIVES!

I know, I’m being hard on this book. It’s just tough to appreciate something when you spend most of your time wanting to shake some sense into the main character. I hate to be totally negative on a Friday, so I’ll discuss a few of the things I liked.

Compliment #1: Colin’s BFF Hassaan was pretty cool. What’s not to like about a Muslim kid who embraces his chubby physique and has an unhealthy obsession with Judge Judy?! 

Compliment #2: Even though the premise of Colin and Hassaan ending up in Gutshot, Tennessee was ludicrous, I liked the idea of a small town kept afloat by a tampon string factory. And the lengths the factory would go to in order to keep supporting their retirees.

Compliment #3: Lindsey hangs out with old people. I like that John Green makes it seem cool to chill with the old folks. Everyone, go call a grandparent right now! (If you’re lacking in the grandparent department, send a greeting card to Great Aunt Shirley or something. It’s good karma.)

Compliment #4: The title of this book gets “27 Jennifers” by Mike Doughty stuck in my head, and you just don’t hear that song enough these days.

judge judy

She’s got to self promote. Syndication deals aren’t what they used to be.

Have any of you bookworms read much John Green? Do you think I should give him another shot or cut my losses? If you have no opinions on John Green, you certainly have an opinion on the color green. Tell me about that. (The correct opinion on the color green is that it is the AWESOMEST COLOR IN THE RAINBOW. I’m open to your varying levels of incorrectness, however.)

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Jan 28

Cinder (ella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay) by Marissa Meyer

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 35

Hey Bookworms!

So you all remember that I’m doing the whole Project Fairy Tale thing in February right? Well. While I was out trolling the interwebs, I noticed that there’s a brand spanking new version of Little Red Riding Hood due on the scene February 5th. The only issue I had was that it was the second in a series… OBVIOUSLY, I needed to read the first book in the series, especially since I’ve seen a bunch of YA book bloggers fawning all over it. The first book in the series is a fractured version of Cinderella- Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

On her way to the ball, she really could have used Rhianna's Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay.... Just saying.

On her way to the ball, Cinder really could have used Rhianna’s Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay…. Just saying.

Meyer takes the traditional Cinderella story and short circuits it. Instead of being set long ago in a land far, far away, Cinder is set in the distant future. 126 years after the end of the 4th World War, to be precise. Funnily enough, aside from the technological advances, it’s not so different from medieval times. There’s a big fat ugly plague that looks and sounds awfully close to the Bubonic plague. Only this one wasn’t perpetuated by fleas on rats. (Also, in case you were curious, I’ve heard that Bubonic plague, at least the version that decimated a quarter of Europe’s population was caused by a bacterium that would easily lose in a battle against penicillin. Don’t be hating on mold, y’all.)

There’s also, um, robots. Lots of robots. Our heroine is bionic. She was in a terrible accident as a child and instead of spending her life in a wheelchair, surgeons made her part robot. Unfortunately, cyborgs are treated as second class citizens. I had a couple of issues with this bit. Like… The whole cyborg thing basically evolved from making really fancy prosthetic limbs and stuff. I can’t believe a culture that evolved from ours would have too big a bone to pick with advanced prostheses. The prejudice against cyborgs is universal, even if the person’s only got a robot foot. Cinder’s case is a little more complicated though. She’s nearly 40% manufactured and she’s got a computer all up in her brain. It wouldn’t be fair to, say, have her play chess against a normal human, but otherwise I have a hard time believing cyborgs would be so poorly treated. She still has FEELINGS!

Full on androids have no rights at all.

Full on androids have no rights at all. Their feelings are manufactured on personality chips.

Anyway. Cinder is a badass lady mechanic. She gets all greasy and fixes robots and hover cars (sweet right?) and the iPad’s great great great grandbaby. She’s super good at it because A. she’s got a computer in her brain and B. because she learned how to tweak her own mechanical bits and pieces. One day, the Chinese equivalent of Prince Harry shows up and is all “hey Cinder, wanna fix my robot?” And she’s all “ooooh hottie hot hot.” Here’s my other big objection to the book. Monarchy. Seriously? You’re telling me that a peaceful society was able to form based on a monarchy with no apparent checks and balances for 126 years? No uprisings from the unwashed masses? No spoiled royal black sheep in the family tree made a mess of things? I just don’t see it. But it IS Cinderella. I suppose we need a prince.

So anyway. Cinder’s got a pretty rotten stepmother, one mean stepsister, and one nice stepsister (kind of like in Drew Barrymore’s Ever After.) Cinder’s got to fix this robot, deal with plague, and find out all about her mysterious past because there are these evil moon people who want to cause trouble. Yes. You read that right. EVIL MOON PEOPLE. They’re called Lunars, but I can’t hear “Lunar” without hearing Christy Carlson Romano singing “We went to the moon in 1969, that’s when we made a landing that was luuuuuunar!” (Any Even Stevens fans out there? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah. I hear the crickets. I’ll shut up now.) The theory behind the Lunars is that they’ve evolved from a human colony that settled the moon hundreds of years before our story begins. Somehow, they’ve evolved an ability to manipulate people into doing their bidding. It’s sort of like a vampire’s glamour brainwashing. Only they’re from the moon. They’re another monarchy led by the most evil queen who has ever existed. The Lunars keep threatening to go to war with Earth (and despite the fact that the moon is way smaller than the earth, somehow the Lunars have superior technology and would probably decimate mankind.) Also, it’s suggested that the plague was advanced biological warfare sent to earth by the Lunars. Naturally, humans aren’t the biggest fans of the evil moon people.

Now I'm VERY suspicious of you, MOON!

Now I’m VERY suspicious of you, MOON!

When I write it all down with a wee bit of snark, it sounds like the most ridiculous premise ever. I won’t go so far as to say that this was my FAVORITE BOOK EVER ZOMG,  but I was totally drawn in. I embraced the sci fi and found myself hating the evil moon people. I really wanted Cinder and the prince to hook up and live happily ever after! Unfortunately, this is the first book in a series, so I was stuck with a cliffhanger. Luckily, Scarlet comes out in less than a week, so I don’t have long to wait!

Science Fiction at this level of robot-itude is a little out of my reading comfort zone. Do you bookworms like to dabble in different genres, or do you prefer to stick to reading what you’re sure to like?

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