Category: Dystopian

Apr 30

Word To Your Mother: Top Ten Tuesday Collaborates and Listens

Children's Fiction, Classics, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor, Time Travel, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction, Zombies 45

Salutations, Bookworms!

I know you stayed up all night trying to guess the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish, didn’t you?! This week we’ve been asked to list off the top ten words or phrases that make us want to pick up a book. I’m a refined consumer of literature, see? JUST because a book says something saucy on the book jacket doesn’t mean I’ll buy it, but there are some terms that don’t hurt a book’s chances. I may be a snob, but I’m highly susceptible to marketing tactics.

toptentuesday

1. Time Travel- Awww yeah, I love me some time travel. I typically prefer accidental time travel, so if there’s a deliberate machine involved? Probably not going to be my cup of tea. However. Outlander, The River of No Return, and The Time Traveler’s Wife? Yes, yes, and yes. Break me off a piece of that time space continuum.

2. Penguins- Hi, I’m Katie. Have we met? If we have met in the past, oh, 22 years or so, you know that PENGUINS are my spirit animal. Sadly, they don’t make a ton of appearances in books for grown ups, but hey, kids books are a thing. Remember If You Were a PenguinMr. Popper’s PenguinsOr how about when penguins DO show up in adult books, like the awesomeness that was the trip to Antarctica in Where’d You Go BernadettePenguins can ONLY help you, I say! Penguins forever! (Seriously. Just ask Alfred. Or Josie.)

PENGUIN LOVE

PENGUIN LOVE

3. Plague- This probably makes me horrible, but plagues are fascinating! Reading up on the bubonic plague in Ken Follett’s World Without End was the shiz-nit. And the letumosis outbreak in Cinder? That’s where it’s at! And my heavens, THE STANDThe mother-loving Stand, people!!!

4. Flowers- I LOVE flowers. Darn near as much as I love penguins. It can be pretty intense. So, when flowers feature heavily in a story I do some serious geeking out. Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s Language of Flowers was amazing. More of this, please, author types. (Gardens are good, too, but I don’t grow vegetables. Has anyone else noticed that Alice Hoffman is maybe a little obsessed with growing tomatoes? No? Just me? Moving on then…)

5. Zombie- “What’s in your heeeeeeeeeeeeeeead, in your heeeeeeead, zombie, zombie, zo-omb-a-yuh-a-yuh-a-yuh!” Don’t pretend that you don’t rock out to The Cranberries. And if you legitimately don’t rock out to The Cranberries, don’t tell me, because, yodel-y Irish rock from the 90s kicks arse. But really. I like for real Zombies, too. World War Z and Warm Bodies are my JAM

6. History- I am a sucker for historical fiction. Chilling in ancient Greece like in The Song of Achilles or dabbling in the Underground Railroad and rocking a bonnet like in The Last Runaway or experiencing the scandalous world of the Tudor court in, well, basically anything by Philippa Gregory… It’s the only way I can time travel, and really the only way I WANT to time travel. Indoor plumbing is my favorite.

7. Dystopia- It’s almost ridiculous the amount I adore screwy fractured future scenarios. The Giver and The Hunger Games and Brave New World and 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale just make me feel warm and fuzzy about our effed up present. Let’s face it y’all. It could be a whole lot worse. Gratitude, brought to you by oppressive governments, lack of color, religious persecution, and kids fighting to the death for sport! 

8. Saga- Sweeping epics are right up my alley. The word “saga” implies length and drama and change and grand scale. Les Miserables and Gone With The Wind and The Pillars of The Earth are some of my favorites. If it couldn’t be made into a mini-series or a very long movie, I want nothing to do with it. (That isn’t really true. See this? Terrible liar. I tell you IMMEDIATELY when I lie. I also like books that couldn’t be long movies and mini series, but it didn’t WORK with my POINT there. Ugh. I’m a walking vial of sodium pentothal.)

9. Whimsy- I’ve mentioned how fervently I adore Amy Sherman-Palladino, head writer of Gilmore Girls and Bunheads haven’t I? Yes. I know. I obviously have. One of my all time favorite quotes came out of Kirk, Stars Hollow’s resident weirdo when he was describing his new Condoleeza Rice decorative mailbox: “Whimsy goes with everything.” Whimsy DOES go with everything, books in particular. Alice in Wonderland probably gets to wear the tiara for most whimsical title of all time, but Harry Potter, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, and The Night Circus aren’t in short supply on the whimsy front.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Curiouser and curiouser…

10. Awkward- I spent the weekend with some of the world’s most excellent friends, and we were discussing high school. They both said that they had enjoyed themselves. I said, “I was too busy being morose and wearing really baggy pants.” Both of those things are true, and both are reasons I have a serious soft spot for the awkward characters. Bridget Jones? Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Eleanor & Park? To paraphrase a song I heard far too often at wedding receptions, “These are my people. This is where I come from.” Teen angst is CHARACTER BUILDING, dangit!

Oh Bookworms, my Bookworms, what are some of the words and phrases that make YOU think you’ll like a book?

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Apr 29

Maybe I’m A-Mazed by James Dashner’s The Maze Runner

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Frightening, Mystery, Psychological, Young Adult Fiction 27

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was busy and I got to spend it in Chicago with an array of my FAVORITE PEOPLE EVER! So. I am exhausted, but so happy. However. You are not here to listen me brag about a fun weekend with people I love. No, no. I shall simply keep the epic-ness of it all to myself for the time being. You are here for the books, and a book you shall have!

I recently finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I had several of you awesome readers recommend it to me, so I decided to listen to the voice of the people. The Maze Runner is a young adult dystopian novel, a genre with which I have a love-hate relationship. So. Love? Or Hate?

200px-The_Maze_Runner_coverWell, this novel begins with our protagonist Thomas waking up in a dark box. As he comes to, he’s surrounded by a bunch of boys heckling him. Thomas is a new arrival to a bizarre community of adolescent boys. The boys have created a little agrarian society in the middle of an enormous maze. (Imagine, if you will, a corn maze on steroids where the corn is replaced with enormous super tall ivy covered walls.) Thomas has no recollection of who he is or how he came to be in this place, but all new arrivals go through that. NONE of the boys are entirely sure how they ended up in the Glade or what the freaking deal is with the maze. All they know is that the maze is extremely dangerous (thanks to cyborg-slug-stabby monsters known as Grievers.) The boys aren’t too keen on being marooned there. The guys in the Glade treat information on a strictly “need to know” basis, which annoys the crap out of poor confused Thomas (and, frankly, the reader as well.) While its annoying, all the scintillating little details and the secrecy kept me reading… And annoying a co-worker who’d already read this with questions immediately followed by “No, don’t tell me!!!” (Sorry June, but you brought this on yourself!)

The maze itself smacks of government conspiracy, and the fact that the Glade has an impressive graveyard full of maze casualties reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games, what with the murdered children and all. Fortunately, I shan’t be shouting, “Simpsons did it!” at this novel (unlike, say, Ally Condie’s Matched series.) This book also called to mind Lord of the Flies, but it was amazing how the boys were able to keep order, unlike the English schoolboys of Golding’s imagination. The Glade boys were smart enough to understand that if they didn’t maintain structure, their already confused lives would descend into complete chaos and none of them would survive. If they held it together, they at least had HOPE of solving the maze and getting back to their lives… Not that any of them remember their lives, really, but they figure it’s got to be better than being murdered by a weird cyborg slug monster (can’t argue with that logic.) Basically? I’m hooked on the maze and you bet your shank-klunk-shuck-bloody-weird-Glade slang I’ll be continuing this series.

So, Bookworms. The Grievers in this book are really the stuff that kids’ nightmares are made of. What did your childhood monsters resemble? Cyborg slugs? Big blue monsters with a heart of gold? Villains from Super Mario Brothers come to life? Inquiring minds want to know. (Mostly I want to know that I’m not the only one who was afraid of those ball and chain things with teeth from Mario 3…)

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Apr 29

Maybe I'm A-Mazed by James Dashner's The Maze Runner

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Frightening, Mystery, Psychological, Young Adult Fiction 27

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was busy and I got to spend it in Chicago with an array of my FAVORITE PEOPLE EVER! So. I am exhausted, but so happy. However. You are not here to listen me brag about a fun weekend with people I love. No, no. I shall simply keep the epic-ness of it all to myself for the time being. You are here for the books, and a book you shall have!

I recently finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I had several of you awesome readers recommend it to me, so I decided to listen to the voice of the people. The Maze Runner is a young adult dystopian novel, a genre with which I have a love-hate relationship. So. Love? Or Hate?

200px-The_Maze_Runner_coverWell, this novel begins with our protagonist Thomas waking up in a dark box. As he comes to, he’s surrounded by a bunch of boys heckling him. Thomas is a new arrival to a bizarre community of adolescent boys. The boys have created a little agrarian society in the middle of an enormous maze. (Imagine, if you will, a corn maze on steroids where the corn is replaced with enormous super tall ivy covered walls.) Thomas has no recollection of who he is or how he came to be in this place, but all new arrivals go through that. NONE of the boys are entirely sure how they ended up in the Glade or what the freaking deal is with the maze. All they know is that the maze is extremely dangerous (thanks to cyborg-slug-stabby monsters known as Grievers.) The boys aren’t too keen on being marooned there. The guys in the Glade treat information on a strictly “need to know” basis, which annoys the crap out of poor confused Thomas (and, frankly, the reader as well.) While its annoying, all the scintillating little details and the secrecy kept me reading… And annoying a co-worker who’d already read this with questions immediately followed by “No, don’t tell me!!!” (Sorry June, but you brought this on yourself!)

The maze itself smacks of government conspiracy, and the fact that the Glade has an impressive graveyard full of maze casualties reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games, what with the murdered children and all. Fortunately, I shan’t be shouting, “Simpsons did it!” at this novel (unlike, say, Ally Condie’s Matched series.) This book also called to mind Lord of the Flies, but it was amazing how the boys were able to keep order, unlike the English schoolboys of Golding’s imagination. The Glade boys were smart enough to understand that if they didn’t maintain structure, their already confused lives would descend into complete chaos and none of them would survive. If they held it together, they at least had HOPE of solving the maze and getting back to their lives… Not that any of them remember their lives, really, but they figure it’s got to be better than being murdered by a weird cyborg slug monster (can’t argue with that logic.) Basically? I’m hooked on the maze and you bet your shank-klunk-shuck-bloody-weird-Glade slang I’ll be continuing this series.

So, Bookworms. The Grievers in this book are really the stuff that kids’ nightmares are made of. What did your childhood monsters resemble? Cyborg slugs? Big blue monsters with a heart of gold? Villains from Super Mario Brothers come to life? Inquiring minds want to know. (Mostly I want to know that I’m not the only one who was afraid of those ball and chain things with teeth from Mario 3…)

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Apr 16

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves (Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Kickass Heroines)

Classics, Coming of Age, Crime, Dystopian, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Women's Studies 53

What’s Up, Bookworms?

The ladies at The Broke and The Bookish do an amazing job of coming up with Top Ten Tuesday prompts, you know? They’ve kept this going for a couple of years now, which is kind of incredible. This week’s topic is a “rewind,” so it gives me the opportunity to do one of the top ten lists that were used before I started blogging. I have chosen to make a list of Kickass Heroines! There are so many awesome female characters in literature; this should be a super fun showcase!

TTT3W

1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I really don’t care if The Hunger Games are teetering on the brink of overexposure. Katniss is BADASS. She learns to hunt with a bow and arrow to provide for her family. She steps up to take her little sister’s place in a barbaric contest put on my her oppressive government. She manages to NOT DIE during the tournament. And then? She outsmarts the game makers. I want Katniss on my side in the Zombie Apocalypse. I”m just putting that out there.

2. Caris from World Without End by Ken Follett. World Without End is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth but since it’s set 300 years into the future, it’s only sort of sequel-ish. Anyway. Caris is awesome because she keeps up a rockin’ hospital during the bubonic plague. Nobody at the time understands germ theory,  but she makes some brilliant decisions (face masks, regular hand washing) that keep the medical staff alive. This seriously pisses off the priests who claim only God can prevent illness- the nuns in the hospital that take this approach to healing drop like flies. She may never have gotten the upper hand in the church, but at least she outlived the jerkface Prior. Take that!

3. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by JK Rowling. Hermoine RULES. She is smart and brave and fabulous. She could easily have carried her own series. ADORE. Book Hermione isn’t as drop-dead-gorgeous as Emma Watson, but I think if Hermione were real, she’d totally approve of the casting decision. It may only be a Muggle university, and she may have dropped out, but Emma Watson DID get into Dartmouth.

hermione

4. Claire from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I know I talk about loving Jamie all the time, but Claire is pretty stupendous. I love what she does with all her modern medical knowledge when she goes back in time. Making ether? Making peni-freaking-cillin? Removing tonsils at the dinner table with only whiskey as anesthetic?! Plus, she is really resourceful and accepts some old school remedies that actually WORK. Leeches? Gross, but effective at swelling bruise reduction. She’s pretty fabulous. No wonder Jamie adores her.

5. Arya Stark from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Arya starts out as a spoiled tomboy, but once her father is executed, she’s forced to grow up fast. It’s a good thing she’s not gone through puberty yet, and that she took those fencing lessons. Disguised as a boy? Apprenticing to creepy temple? Keeping herself alive when all the Lannisters in the land would have her head on a pike? I wouldn’t cross her, she’s scrappy.

6. Joan from Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross. Joan loves to read, and she’s smart. Sadly, her dad is a jerkwad who doesn’t believe women should be educated. Thanks to a stubborn tutor, she’s taught the basics and accepted with her less scholarly brother into a real school. She goes to great lengths to ensure her right to learn. After a marauding band of vikings lay waste to her town, she escapes by dressing in her brother’s robes and joins a monastery. Oh, yeah. And she sort of accidentally becomes the Pope. Woops.

IMG_1586

7. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane refuses to believe she’s a horrible human being despite the horrendous treatment she endures in her childhood. She goes on to excel in her studies and become a governess. She’s making her own way in the world when fate steps in, and she falls hard for Mr. Rochester. However, when the whole crazy wife in the attic comes to light, Jane has enough self respect to skip town. Then, when the crazy wife jumps off the roof and Rochester is a broken man, she finds it in her heart to forgive him. Compassion, resilience, strength? Yep, Jane is totally role model material.

8. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Series by Stieg Larsson. Alright. Confession time. I didn’t LOVE these books. They were alright. A lot of talk about Swedish politics I wasn’t crazy about, sexual violence repels me, and Blomquist was a man-whore (he seriously would bang any breathing female, I swear.) HOWEVER! Lisbeth was AWESOME. Super smart, photographic memory, badass hacker with a penchant for leather and exposing corrupt government officials? Oh yeah. She’s nobody’s victim!

9. Colonel Christina Eliopolis from World War Z by Max Brooks. This book is written in vignettes with a wide swath of humanity describing their experiences during the Zombie Apocalypse. This woman was AMAZING. She’s stranded alone in Zombie ridden territory and manages, with the help of another woman on a CB radio (real or imagined, it’s up for debate), to kick a whole lot of zombie butt all by herself. I want her on my team, yo. Can you imagine a Z team with Eliopolis and Katniss? It would be like a Rick and Daryl duo, but they’re sisters killing zombies for themselves. (While we’re on the subject, I want Michonne on my team too. If you don’t know who Rick, Daryl, and Michonne are, you need to stop what you’re doing and check out the first three seasons of The Walking Dead in their entirety.)

10. Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Who doesn’t love Jo?! I could gush about how much I love her, but I’ll let her explain why… “I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Who are some of your favorite literary ladies, Bookworms? Tell me all about it. Girl Power!

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Apr 09

Once Upon A Time, Before Words For Worms… (Top Ten Tuesday- The Prequel)

Blogging, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Dystopian, Family, Friendship, Frightening, Humor, Memoirs, Psychological, Top Ten Tuesday 64

Good Day Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, which can mean quite a number of things… What it means on this blog, however, is that we make LISTS. That’s right, it’s time for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish! This week’s topic is the top ten books I read before I was a blogger. Here’s the thing. A lot of stuff I’ve blogged about, I read before I was a blogger. I learned to read when I was like 5 or 6… And I’ve only been blogging since August… That’s a whole LIFE of reading outside of the blogosphere. I’ve tried to narrow today’s list down to ten books that haven’t gotten a whole lot of attention on my blog… I feel like I’m screaming Outlander and Gone With The Wind and Song of Achilles every week, so I’m trying to feature some of the lesser known heroes of my bookshelf.

toptentuesday1. Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi. If you liked The Book Thief, you will love Stones From The River. It’s about a woman named Trudi who has the bad luck to have been born a dwarf in what would become Nazi Germany. Spoiler Alert: Both books involve books, resisting the regime, and hiding Jewish people at great personal risk. It’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend it!

2. Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. Anita Shreve wrote an entire series of books set at the same beach house throughout different points in history. I don’t know if I should really call them a series, though they are all obviously entwined. The characters and situations are all so different, only the landscape ties them together. Anyway, Fortune’s Rocks is set in the early 1900s (I wanted to say “turn of the century” but the stupid HANDS OF TIME just keep on ticking and that phrase is no longer useful to me!) There’s a young girl, an older man, and the kind of scandal you’d expect from a young girl getting involved with an older man (who happens to be a “fine” “upstanding” married doctor with children.) This is BY FAR my favorite Anita Shreve title, so you should probably read it.

3. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. This book was given to me by one of my dearest friends (who happens to have just recently graduated from veterinary school. Can we all give Dr. Erin a big CONGRATS, Words for Worms Style?) Dr. Erin gave me this book on my 19th or 20th birthday (I cannot remember, I am very, very old.) Sedaris’s humor is quirky and irreverent and bizarre and wonderful. My personal copy may look a wee bit worse for the wear, but it’s one of the books I practically beat people with until they agree to read it. (That may or may not be why it’s a wee bit worse for the wear…)

The Easter Bunny doesn't leave chocolate for French children. Church bells that fly in from Rome do. I know. I KNOW!

The Easter Bunny doesn’t leave chocolate for French children. Church bells that fly in from Rome do. I share David Sedaris’s WTF?! on that one!

4. The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan. Okay, maybe I’ve discussed some of these titles before, but dangit, they’re awesome! I read this for a literature class in college and was astounded to find myself with a taste for eel and sticky rice and a host of other Chinese dishes that I’d never eaten nor cared to taste. The mark of badass prose? Making exotic food sound appealing to a girl with a bland palate. High five, Amy Tan!

5. Fall On Your Knees by Anne Marie MacDonald. I know some of you out there shy away from anything bearing an Oprah sticker, but trust me on this one. It’s practically a Greek tragedy, except that the characters are Lebanese and Canadian. Really amazing, disturbing stuff, and it’s stuck with me for years. Side bonus? The title always gets “Oh Holy Night” stuck in my head, which is among the most beautiful Christmas carols (which has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book, it’s just the way my brain works.)

6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is a YA title, but it deals with THE TOUGH STUFF. Basically? The main character is date raped at a party just before she starts high school. She calls the police who come to bust up the party and is treated as a pariah. Everyone knows she was the narc, but nobody knows WHY. She never reports the rape, but has to attend school with her rapist. The emotional aftermath is raw and real and frightening. It’s a great book, but if you’ve got some of your own personal demons on this subject, you may want to skip this one.

Kristin Stewart starred in a movie version, but since brooding an morose is her default expression, it might not be too bad...

Kristin Stewart starred in a movie version, but since brooding an morose is her default expression, it might not be too bad…

7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Awww yeah. Dystopia time. The premise of this book is that society has begun to breed human clones in order to harvest their organs for the greater good of the population. This novel takes you inside the lives of these clones. It’s a little bit science fiction, a little bit dystopian, and a whole lot of ethical conundrum rolled into a tasty little package.

8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. This book tells the story of an intersex individual from a Greek family that immigrated to the US. Thanks to a genetic mutation, the narrator is raised believing she is a female until hormonal changes at puberty eventually lead to the discovery that she is biologically male… Sort of. It’s a fascinating look at a medical condition I was never aware of, and the impact gender can have on one’s psyche and family unit. If you can read this book without empathizing the crap out of Callie/Cal, I’m concerned about the size of your grinchy heart.

9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. When Susie Salmon is brutally raped and murdered by her creepy neighbor, she continues to keep track of her family from the “other side.” Yes, this book starts out with a horrific tragedy, and it’s not easy to read. That’s really not a spoiler at all, because it’s at the very beginning of the book. The meat of this book is watching how her family deals with the tragedy. It also goes to show that the BEST murder weapon is, in fact, an icicle (which is NOT, by the way, the weapon that is used on Susie.)

IMG_1590

I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie… I get grouchy when they stray too far from the book. That said, Stanley Tucci is one creepy creepster. ::Shivers::

10. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. This is one of Atwood’s lesser known novels. It never gets the accolades of The Blind Assassin or Alias Grace but I thought it was fantastic. It’s about a psychopathic woman who makes it her life’s mission to destroy all of her “friends'” love lives. It taught me a great many things, not the least of which being that one can give oneself scurvy by being bulimic. As if we needed ANOTHER reason eating disorders are horrible. Now you know you can get swarthy pirate conditions. Not cute, y’all.

So, Bookworms. I know that a lot of you aren’t bloggers, let alone book-specific bloggers, but I like to think that this top ten list is more of a memory lane sort of theme. What are some of the best books you’ve read in the not so recent past?

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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 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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