Category: Contemporary Fiction

Mar 19

King’s March: The Green Mile

Contemporary Fiction, Psychological, Supernatural 36

Greetings Bookworms,

Let it never be said that I am not susceptible to peer pressure. When I saw that Rory from Fourth Street Review and Wendy from Wensend were putting together a Stephen King event for March, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Now, if you’ve been here a while, you’ll know I’m a big ridiculous chicken about my Stephen King. I have to be careful about what I read because of nightmares. I figured The Green Mile would be a safe choice for me, since I’d seen the movie and remained nightmare free. (Tear free? Not so much, but that’s another story.)

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The Green Mile is narrated by an aged Paul Edgecombe. In 1932, Paul was middle aged prison guard in Alabama… Paul isn’t just your garden variety guard, though. He oversees “The Green Mile” where inmates condemned to die in the electric chair serve out their last days. As an added bonus duty, Paul and his crew have to carry out the sentences. Because strapping convicted murderers into Old Sparky is still better than being unemployed during the Great Depression.

When John Coffey is brought onto the Mile, strange things begin to happen. John Coffey is remarkable. He’s and enormous African American man, standing 6’8 and full of muscle. Coffey landed in prison after being convicted of raping and murdering a pair of young white girls. Something about the story never quite adds up for Paul. Coffey is accused of the most horrific crime, but is mild mannered and sensitive to the point of being afraid of the dark. His mannerisms are remarkable enough, but Coffey’s hidden talents are mind boggling.

This book, you guys. THIS is what people need to read when they think Stephen King only does horror. Holy cats, this foray into magical realism was LEGIT. Because I’d seen the movie before I read the book, I had a pretty clear idea of what was going to happen, but I’ve never been particularly bothered by spoilers. For a dude who does so much scary and horrible, King’s got a soft spot for redemption and goodness. I doubt I’ll ever feel warm and fuzzy after reading a King novel, but this one came pretty close… Hot sticky tears and warm fuzzies are basically the same thing, right?

Alright Bookworms, sound off. Have you read any Stephen King? What’s your favorite? 

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

 

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Mar 10

Real Happy Family by Caeli Wolfson Widger (A TLC Book Tour)

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction 17

Ciao Bookworms,

I feel like I should be greeting you with air kisses today, because we’re going to Hollywood! Actually, we’re going more to the seedy underbelly of show business, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I was contacted by TLC Book Tours to take part in the tour for Caeli Wolfson Widger’s new novel, Real Happy Family, and OF COURSE I accepted. *I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Lorelai Branch is your classic desperate actress, completely absorbed with fashion, parties, and getting noticed. Her mother Colleen is content to live vicariously through Lorelai, playing the role of obsessive stage mother to a T. Robin is Lorelai’s long-suffering sister-in-law and agent, battling infertility and marital strife. Set against the backdrop of Hollywood excess and reality television, Real Happy Family gives the reader a glimpse into the dark side of show business. 

Getting into this novel was a challenge for me, because I found Colleen and Lorelei’s personalities so repellent. I mean, I love watching a train wreck as much as the next gal, but yikes. I don’t think this book would have worked for me at all if it hadn’t been for Robin. Robin makes some astonishingly poor choices, but compared to Lorelei and Colleen, she’s a beacon of normalcy.

Real Happy Family is a book about Hollywood, but its look at the plight of the “might-have-beens” is a refreshing change of pace from the lifestyles of the rich and famous tomes that dominate the genre. As it turns out, you can be a hot mess without fame and fortune. The single minded pursuit of fame can destroy people just as easily. And dear lord, the drugs! So. Many. Drugs.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. If the trials and tribulations of the overprivileged and beautiful get stuck in your craw, avoid this one. However, if you’re a fan of the occasional reality TV show (I know some of y’all watch Real Housewives on the regular), this might just be your jam. Thanks to the awesome folks at TLC Book Tours and New Harvest, you can enter to win your own copy of Real Happy Family! (Open to residents of the US and Canada.)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Mar 03

The Peach Keeper By Sarah Addison Allen

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction 25

How Y’all Doing, Bookworms?

I have really been digging some Southern Fried Fiction lately! I recently finished Sarah Addison Allen’s The Peach Keeper, and now I want to talk about it. (Novel concept, right? I should probably write a book blog! Oh wait…)

peachkeeprWilla Jackson lives in Walls of Water, North Carolina. Her family were once fancy folks, but after falling on hard times in the 30s, they had to sell off the fanciness and go back to being normal. Also in town is the resident perfect princess, Paxton Osgood. She’s well dressed, well mannered, and appropriately ensconced in the local women’s society club. These two gals have very little in common, until fate sees fit to push them together.

Fate and a skeleton. Yup. The site of Willa Jackson’s once proud family home was in the midst of a glorious renovation via Paxton Osgood, when a tree transplant leads to the discovery of a body. In order to attempt to solve the mystery of the dude planted under the peach tree, Willa and Paxton seek answers from their respective grandmothers, who were besties back in the day.

I had fun reading The Peach Keeper. There was a supernatural undercurrent I wasn’t expecting, but rather enjoyed (very Alice Hoffman-esque.) There was one particular scene that stuck out to me, and I can’t just not discuss it, because it involves Sarah Michelle Gellar. That’s right. She who was Buffy. Midway through this book, the ladies club has a lunch with a super swanky caterer, and the caterer seems to have some special powers. It’s a tertiary plot point, but it reminded me SO MUCH of SMG’s masterpiece of a Rom-Com Simply Irresistible. You know. The one where she became a cook and somehow the food absorbed her feelings? People would start crying and/or floating while eating dessert? No? Ah well. When you have a couple of hours to kill and you need something ridiculous, check it out.

Credit: http://whataslayeris.tumblr.com/

Credit: http://whataslayeris.tumblr.com/

Sorry for the digression there, the 90s, you know? I get distracted. In addition to the mystery, the magic, and the mayhem, there are some romantic entanglements and a whole lot of ladies realizing the value of friendship. In short, The Peach Keeper was sweet. If you are in the mood for something to pull you out of a wintery funk, this could be just the ticket.

 Because I’m constantly getting off topic, I may as well ask. Do any of you have a favorite Rom-Com from the 90s? Or some random movie you watched too often with your college roommate? 

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

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Feb 03

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Flowers, Women's Studies 21

Howdy Bookworms,

Ah, comfort fiction. For me, it typically involves gardening, women supporting one another, and more often than not, it’s set in the South. Sure, sometimes it’s a little on the sweet side, some might argue it’s downright syrupy. Luckily, I never met a dessert I didn’t like, so sweetness is absolutely my thing. I just read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, and I loved it!

saving cee cee HoneycutCecelia Honeycutt has had a rough go of it. As a young girl in Ohio, she plays witness to her mother’s devastating descent into mental illness. Her father is absent as he’s a travelling salesman, so when CeeCee’s mother’s antics move from the eccentric into the psychotic, she is left to handle things on her own.

CeeCee finds her refuge in the library and in the arms of her elderly neighbor. She struggles to deal with her mother making trips to the grocery store in full pageant regalia and withers under the stares of her classmates. Having an untreated mentally ill mother doesn’t make you particularly popular, as it turns out. Then one day, everything changes.

CeeCee’s father arranges to have her move in with her Great Aunt Tootie, a woman she’s never met. She’s uprooted and re-installed in Savannah, Georgia. Aunt Tootie is pretty much the sweetest woman alive, and CeeCee takes to Oletta (Aunt Tootie’s cook and housekeeper) immediately. Unfortunately, a few weeks of good home cooking and affection can’t make up for a childhood rife with neglect. CeeCee slowly learns to accept and acknowledge her past while allowing the love of her new found life to heal her tortured soul.

What can I say? I’m an absolute sucker for this kind of book. It’s the type of novel that leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy about humanity. If you liked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd or Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg, you will adore Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. If you haven’t read any of them, what in the sam heck are you waiting for?! Go forth and feel good!

Have you ever met a novel that makes you feel good about humankind? What are some of your favorites? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site I will receive a small commission, which I will probably use to buy more books. Honesty. It’s what I do.*

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Jan 06

Adé by Rebecca Walker

Contemporary Fiction, Romance 17

Greetings, Bookworms!

I’m not immune to peer pressure, but you already knew that. I kept seeing Adé by Rebecca Walker around the blogoshpere and I simply had to give it a try. I read one of Rebecca Walker’s non fiction books (Baby Love) way back before I started blogging, so I had to see what all the hubbub was about.

ade

The main character and her best friend decide to take a few years to travel through Africa after graduating college. They galavant through Egypt for a while and eventually end up on a small island off the coast of Kenya. Love blossoms when our narrator meets a young wood carver named Adé.

Adé  and our narrator soon become an item, and get so serious that he decides she needs a culturally appropriate name. The narrator is thus dubbed “Farida.” It’s interesting to watch Farida’s attempts at assimilating into Adé’s culture. Though her Ivy League feminism remains in certain aspects of her life, Farida slowly begins to accept the more traditional aspects of life on the island. I was a little surprised at how readily she adapted to wearing traditional head scarves and robe-like coverings, but love has the ability to make us all do things we never thought we would. Heck, I never thought I’d have a case full of transformers in my basement, but there it is… (Grimlock is the coolest Dinobot, FYI.)

Adé and Farida’s love story is complicated by tradition, bureaucracy, political unrest, and malaria, but it is beautifully rendered. The prose is quite lovely. Unfortunately, having read Walker’s earlier non-fiction proved to be a detriment for me. I was thrown by this book because Farida’s life had SO MANY parallels to Walker’s. Farida is the biracial child of divorced parents who live on opposite coasts. Her white father is Jewish, her African American mother is a writer. I don’t necessarily have a problem with authors writing “what they know” so to speak, but this was awfully specific. I felt like Walker was describing her own life, which REALLY bothered me, because I kept trying to rectify this with details I already knew from Walker’s non fiction… Also, I kind of wanted to shake Farida, because I’m not sure any amount of love would entice me to stay on an island where you’re expected to do laundry using only three cups of water. (Unless, of course, I were drawn back in time and the love in question involved a dashing redheaded Scotsman…)

In all seriousness, this book is short and thought-provoking. Just because it didn’t ring all of my bells, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work out well for you. If you’re in the mood for something a little heavier but don’t want to commit to a chunkster, this might be just the ticket.

Let’s talk about love an sacrifices… What have you done for love that you never thought you would? (It doesn’t have to be person love either. If you spoil the crap out of your dog, that counts too.)

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

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Oct 10

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie (Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield)

Contemporary Fiction, Supernatural 40

How goes it, Bookworms?

Remember our very first Fellowship of the Worms selection The Thirteenth Tale?  Believe it or not, that was Diane Setterfield’s debut novel. When I saw that her long awaited followup was available on NetGalley, I could not help myself. I positively jumped at the chance to get my hands on Bellman & Black

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You like honesty, right? 

bellman and blackBellman & Black begins with four ten-year-old boys frolicking in the woods. One of the boys in the group fashions a slingshot and uses it to knock a bird out of its tree. The rook is killed. Though Will Bellman is haunted by his act of childhood cruelty, he carries on with his life. Will proves a quick study at his uncle’s textile mill and is soon groomed to take over the operation. As he grows up and begins his adult life, he begins to lose family members and acquaintances. This isn’t much of a surprise, I mean, it’s the Victorian era, so medical care isn’t exactly stellar. A virulent strain of scarlet fever can (and does) wipe out a good chunk of a town. A mysterious cloaked figure keeps appearing at the funerals Bellman attends. One day, in the grips of extreme despair, Bellman imagines he has struck a deal with the cloaked man and embarks on a new venture.

His new venture? A funeral emporium. Now I GET that people who have suffered great losses often fall into depressive states or fixate on death… But starting a massive funeral emporium? It’s a little macabre. Of course, the Victorians were a little macabre… They did their grieving up in a big way- years of wearing black crepe, hired mourners, fancy pants coffins, all the dark and dreary trimmings. I found it to be a weird move, personally, but I am terrible at handling funerals. Seriously. I see one grieving family member and I’m a puddle of goo, even if it was someone I barely knew. I can’t imagine wanting to marinate in funeral-ness, but William was going through a lot. Plus, the world does need funeral supplies, so I’m willing to overlook the odd choice in industry.

What I can’t overlook is that this book was kind of… Boring. There was a lot of discussion of rooks and their influence on the human psyche

Try knocking THIS out of a tree with a slingshot... Actually don't. It's probably way easier than hitting a bird. (Image Source)

Try knocking THIS out of a tree with a slingshot… Actually don’t. It’s probably way easier than hitting a bird. (Image Source)

and mourning and grief… But you know what rooks are to me? The castle pieces in chess. That’s what we called them. Rooks. Apparently, they are ALSO big ugly black birds like ravens and crows. I’ve never been a big fan of birds that can actually fly. You can blame Hitchcock for that one. I think Setterfield was going for a Poe vibe, but it just fell completely flat for me. I’m really bummed about this. Setterfield’s debut, The Thirteenth Tale was SO incredible. Any offering she came out with was bound to suffer in comparison, I just never thought it would fail to hold my interest.

Of course, this is all a matter of opinion, and I am nothing if not aware of the fact that my taste in literature tends away from the poetic. I’m pretty literal when it comes to interpretations as well… I think for the right audience, this book might be wonderful. I’d recommend this to readers who enjoy novels with dark overtones and elements that are open to interpretation. Fans of ghost stories and gothic Victorian settings may just revel in the linguistically lovely descriptive passages. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.

What about you, bookworms? Have you ever been disappointed in a favorite debut author’s sophomore work? 

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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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Sep 03

Classic and Contemporary: School Stuff (Top Ten Tuesday)

Classics, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction 34

Hola, Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, but since yesterday was a holiday (at least in the US) it’s basically a Monday. To combat the blues, we’re gonna get a little listy. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have come up with a fantastic topic for today. We could take this two ways: pair contemporary books with classics OR list out 10 books that we think should be required reading in school. I’m going to take it half and half. Ready?

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Classic and Contemporary: The Perfect Pairings

1. The Odyssey by Homer with The Penelopiad by Margaret AtwoodThe Odyssey by Homer (or at the very least, excerpts of it) is required reading for tons of high school students. Everybody heard about Odysseus and his epic journey, but what about poor Penelope who is stuck on the homefront fighting off suitors? Margaret Atwood tackled the story from her perspective, and it’s very cool to see the retelling of a classic in such a way.

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath with Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is a largely autobiographical novel about a young woman who despite her youth, talent, and beauty is suffering from a mental breakdown. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is a memoir of a woman who spent time in a mental institution following her own suicide attempt and crippling depression. Two tales of mental illness with a very personal bent, one classic, one more contemporary. Both powerful.

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3. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson with World War Z by Max Brooks. You like monsters and end of the world scenarios? Try either of these! I am Legend deals with a vampire takeover, and World War Z is about the zombie apocalypse. Both are awesome and will probably give you nightmares (if you’re like me.)

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. This pairing is a lot of fun. Bridget Jones is a not so subtle homage to Jane Austen’s classic. It’s full of witty little asides and silly tributes. It’s also about finding love with people who initially annoy the crap out of you. Good times all around.

5. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The non-fiction classic account of a Jewish girl and her family living in hiding from the Nazis during World War II pairs well with Markus Zusak’s fictionalized version of life for dissenting German citizens under the Nazi regime. Both heart wrenching and fantastic.

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Why Didnt’t They Assign Me This High School?

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is one of my all time favorite dystopias, and so enthralling I couldn’t put it down. It’s full of important lessons and stuff, I don’t see why spending a thousand pages on Moby Dick was so critical…

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. They may teach this in school, but they didn’t teach it in my school. Actually, I’m lying a little bit. The scene with the Christmas tree was in several of my English textbooks, but never the whole thing. And the whole thing rules!

3. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. This book was awesome, for starters. I think it would be good for kids to read for a couple of reasons. First, all the cranky for no good reason kids (like myself) might realize that their lives totally DON’T suck. Second, if the abuse that is presented in this book is discussed in the classroom, perhaps kids who are suffering would be encouraged to ask for help. At least, I’d hope for that.

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4. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. This is a great book, and it discusses the difficulties of people of Asian decent living in the US during World War II. It focused on the Japanese internment camps, but ALL people of Asian decent suffered as a result. The Japanese internment camps have been swept under the rug, and it’s an important lesson for kids to learn that their government sometimes does stupid things. Maybe they’ll pay more attention to what goes on around them?

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’m of the opinion that if a kid ends up actually enjoying assigned reading, they might decide to read more in their spare time. What better way to get kids to dig a book than dishing up some teen angst? Teen angst that, while at this point in time is still out of touch, is more accessible than The Catcher in the Rye. Even better, read them both!

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Aug 27

Hiya! Top Ten Sidekicks!

Classics, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday 46

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

It’s a beautiful day for a list, don’t you think?! The fabulous ladies at The Broke and the Bookish have come up with a fantastic concept for today’s list. We’re talking about our favorite secondary characters in books. I’ve always believed that if I were in a movie or a book, I’d be the quirky best friend and not the romantic lead, so sidekicks have a special place in my heart. Let’s count down some of the best, shall we?!

toptentuesday

1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by JK Rowling. It is super hard to choose a favorite “secondary” character from Harry Potter, because there are so many that I love. You might even be able to argue that Hermione isn’t a “secondary” character because she’s a big deal. Whatever. The books don’t have her name on the cover, she’s awesome, and it’s my blog. Yay Hermione!

2. Young Ian from The Outlander Novels by Diana GabaldonThe youngest son of Ian and Jenny Murray is just a firecracker. Whatever shenanigans he gets himself into (and Ian is big on the shenanigans) you can’t help but love him.

3. Fermin from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Who doesn’t love Fermin? The outrageous homeless man turned bookseller had an endless supply of amusing stories as well as an endless supply of mysterious skills. Also, though he’s a slender fellow, he has a seemingly endless stomach capacity. Who doesn’t love a ham sandwich?

the-shadow-of-the-wind-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon4. Horace from Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I don’t know what it is, but a dude with a big growth on his face makes my underdog radar go off. He also kicked butt at cards and took that banty rooster Walt down a few pegs every time they played gin rummy.

5. Chiron (the Centaur) from Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. What’s not to love about a freaking centaur?! He tutors Achilles and Patroclus in the arts of war and medicine… Plus he doesn’t make a big deal about their man love blossoming on his mountain. Pretty cool guy-horse, that Chiron.

6. Toby from Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I absolutely adored Toby, Finn’s “secret” lover. Oh Toby. It made me SO SAD that Finn’s family didn’t accept his life with Toby. The reasons were complicated, but it broke my heart. When he lost Finn, Toby had nobody left. I LOVED the relationship he forged with June. Gah. The whole thing is making me tear up again!

tellthewolvesimhome

7. Cinna from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Katniss’s stylist in the Capitol proved that not everyone in the Capitol was heartless. I was really excited to see Lennie Kravitz cast in the movie, because he was pretty darn fantastic. I kind of wish Cinna would make me a dress with pyrotechnic capabilities…

8. Gavroche from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I flipping love this feisty little street urchin. He is well versed in the Parisian underworld and he freaking LIVES in an ELEPHANT statue. Swagger.

9. The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Speaking of street urchins, The Artful Dodger was London’s answer to Gavroche. A plucky young pickpocket, ‘The Artful’ was  one of the few in Fagin’s gang who had a good heart.

10. M from Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. Ah yes, the Mercutio to R’s Romeo. He’s one of the few zombies that can articulate… after a fashion. They’re brain eating, grunting, bachelor zombie buddies. I found him amusing.

What about you, Bookworms? Who are some of your favorite secondary characters? Do you prefer underdogs and weirdos or are you more a fan of the logical sidekicks?

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Aug 26

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway

Blogging, Contemporary Fiction, Flowers 28

Holy Moly. Bookworms!

Do you remember that reading slump I was whining about last week? It is so freaking BUSTED. I finished reading The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway all of 10 minutes ago and I am positively agog. Like… If this book were a dude, my husband might have something to worry about. All these things I love were wrapped up in this dainty little package and WHERE is my fainting couch?! I do believe I have the vapors!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It’s a good thing I’ve written more balanced reviews of books from publishers in the past, or you’d never believe I hadn’t been bribed. Apologies for the forthcoming unbridled enthusiasm. 

IMG_2911Gal is a 36 year old biology teacher. She has spent her life battling kidney disease and undergone two transplants. Her current bout of dialysis has been going on 8 years. When she isn’t having her blood filtered by machines or desperately trying to get her students to study, she breeds roses. Ordinary gardening just won’t do for this budding horticulturalist. She creates her own breeds of roses by cross pollinating and making hideously stinky batches of specialty fertilizer. She lives alone, as she’s never dated, and enjoys her life of solitude. One day, out of the blue, her 15 year old niece Riley is unceremoniously dropped into Gal’s life. What follows is a story of emotional restructuring, growing together, and, um, the de-thorning of souls. Or something. I’m waxing poetic because it’s just too much!

I’ve explained my love of flowers to you before. In case you somehow missed it, check out my review of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh or my excitement for this year’s planting season. When I was a senior in high school I got a job in a flower shop. I’d always liked flowers well enough. I mean, who doesn’t? But over the course of two summers and some holiday seasons (college breaks and the like) I fell HARD for horticulture. I am fairly useless at the artistry of arranging, but nothing thrills me more than fresh blooms. Combining my love of flowers with my love of reading is a heady mixture, but the best part about this book for me was learning so much about rose breeding.

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All art eludes me, floral arranging to photography. Still. You must admit the orange roses are stunning in the hands of my bridesmaids.

I suppose that won’t strike YOU as terribly funny, because you don’t, in fact, live in my head. My middle name is Rose, but roses themselves have never been my favorite. I think the biggest reason is that I like to root for the underdog. Roses are just so… Done. Even my unartistic self could put together a vased arrangement of red roses. Yawn. They’re beautiful, but I’ve always felt they get too much of the spotlight. In fact, my bridal bouquet had not a single rose in it. My bridesmaids’ bouquets had roses in them, because OMG those Chelsea orange roses were just impossibly gorgeous, but still. I was stingy with them. Perhaps if I’d realized all that goes into cross breeding these suckers, I’d have been a little more open to the awesomeness of the rose!

It’s not just the flowers, though. Margaret Dilloway crafted a gorgeous narrative. Flaky family members, chronic illnesses, and Gal’s unyielding academic integrity enveloped my from the first pages. I was already completely hooked and loving this story. Then? Then she went and threw a penguin into the mix! I very nearly threw down the book and shrieked with utter delight. Ms. Dilloway, your rose vines have grown all up around my snarky little heart. Please excuse me now as I start thrusting copies of this book into the hands of unsuspecting strangers.

Bookworms, have you ever encountered a book that felt like it was written just for you? How do you feel about roses? What book would you use to accost random pedestrians? Talk to me, wormy worms! (But stay off my roses. Because you will RUIN them with your worm juices! Don’t act like you weren’t planning on inviting the aphids to your feast. I know you…)

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