Category: Tear Jerkers

Oct 26

The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell

Cozy Lady Fiction, Romance, Tear Jerkers 5

Olá Bookworms!

You know that thing where you do or say or think something only to realize later that it was a dumb thing to do or say or think? That’s basically my life, to be honest: I’m in a constant state of revision. But, among the dumb things I’ve done or said or thought as it pertains to this blog was that I would not accept pitches for self published books. It was snobby and shortsighted of me. I’m sure there are a lot of self published books out there in which I have zero interest, but there are a lot of traditionally published books that fall into that category too. So. I’m wrong a lot. To nobody’s surprise. All this is to say that I received a pitch from a self-published author I was completely unfamiliar with (which is totally different than reading a book written by a blogger I already love, though that has happened) and I accepted a review copy. Are you ready to hear about The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell? *Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the author. The following review reflects my honest opinions.*

brazilianhusbandDetermined to honor her husband’s final request, Judith embarks on a trip from London to Brazil with her reluctant daughter in tow. The trip turns out to be a bit more than Judith bargained for as she begins to uncover secrets to her husband’s past. She soon encounters Ricardo, the dreamboat/human rights lawyer/activist who helps Judith unravel the tangled web of her husband’s life in Brazil. All of this is set against the backdrop of Brazil’s favelas, corrupt city officials, and familial drama.

I can’t recall having read another book set in Brazil, so I was a little concerned a book about Brazil written by a British woman wouldn’t be terribly authentic. I needn’t have worried. A quick review of  Ms. Powell’s bio revealed she spent a year in Brazil working for a women’s shelter, so she knows a little something about the country. Plus, since the protagonist is a British woman visiting Brazil, it was the ultimate “write what you know” scenario. Although, I sincerely hope that the author’s story doesn’t totally mirror this book, because while it was a page turner, it was also heartbreaking.

It reminded me a little of Kate Morton’s work (The Forgotten Garden in particular), the way historical elements were revealed in snippets and the reader discovered the truth of the narrative right along side the protagonist. If you’re into family sagas with a bit of romance, a lot of secrets, and a smattering of tears, definitely give The Brazilian Husband a read. It’s a good one, I promise.

Talk to me Bookworms! I want to read more books set in Brazil. Bonus points if they’re written by Brazilian authors. Recommendations?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. You’ll also be supporting an independent author, which is pretty great. Given the fact that the editing and formatting were on point, I imagine a professional editor was involved as well, so you’ll be supporting THAT person too. Just in case you needed to feel warm and fuzzy about indulging in the written word.*

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Jan 25

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Audio Books, Cozy Lady Fiction, Tear Jerkers 12

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

You know what my favorite thing is? No? I don’t really know either, I have so many favorite things. One of the things I do happen to love, though, is when I pick up a book by an author I’ve not read before and upon finishing it want to add said author’s entire back list to my TBR pile. Loving new-to-me authors is a blessing and a curse, the never ending TBR list makes me shake my fist toward the heavens. I took a little road trip to visit some friends and family recently, nothing huge, just a weekend away, but as I was driving solo I simply had to have an audio book to keep me company. I was lucky in that a copy of Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson was available for immediate download from my local library. Score!

someoneelseslovestoryI’ve actually had a paper copy of Someone Else’s Love Story sitting on my shelf for a while now, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I have reasons for this. Terrible reasons, but reasons nonetheless. The big one? I do the vast majority of my reading in bed. Like, while my husband snoozes next to me. This means overhead lighting is not an option. Juggling a book light is a pain in the tush, but the light in my Kindle Paperwhite is magical and perfect. Hence, my time reading actual paper books is super limited. Of course, I don’t want to purchase a copy of a book I already own just because I’m lazy and it’s easier for me to read digitally, so it sat and floundered sadly. The cool thing about libraries? They’re free. Heck yes!

I should probably tell you about the book, shouldn’t I? Shandi Pierce is a 21 year old single mother of a precocious 3 year old with a genius level IQ. Her life consists of juggling college, motherhood, and attempting to keep her long divorced parents from all out warfare. As she’s moving from her mother’s house into a condo her father owns (much to her mother’s chagrin) Shandi finds herself in the middle of a gas station holdup. Because she obviously didn’t have enough going on.

It is inside this gas station where her path crosses with geneticist William Ashe, who, in addition to being brilliant, looks fantastic in a pair of jeans. His entire world fell spectacularly to pieces a year previously, and Shandi feels their destinies have collided for a reason. It’s a charming book full of heart, humor, and a cannily crafted plot.

Two things stick out to me about this book. First. William Ashe is on the autism spectrum. This is easily one of the best portrayals I’ve ever read about someone on the spectrum, and it seemed very authentic. I’m no expert on Asperger’s or autism, but my reading experience leads to polarized portrayals; either a quirky, humorous angle or a desperately tragic one. William Ashe had a good dose of both, he was a masterfully drawn character.

The second thing that sticks out to me is a less awesome one. Shandi came to have her son under some pretty upsetting circumstances. I don’t want to hit y’all with spoilers, buuuuuuut I think that Jackson may have done better to take a different angle on Natty’s paternity… I’m all for understanding the shades of gray in a situation, but I wasn’t super keen on how she dealt with it.

Still, that’s not enough to keep me from plowing head first into Joshilyn Jackson’s collected works. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be checking those out. In short? Someone Else’s Love Story is definitely worth your time.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have y’all read this book? Or anything else by Joshilyn Jackson? I want to talk about all the things. In code, probably, because I like to pretend I’m a spy sometimes.

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

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Jun 27

Tell The Wolves I'm Home. No, Seriously. Tell Them.

Art, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Tear Jerkers 43

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I don’t use the term “favorite” often when it comes to books, because it’s too difficult. All sorts of books have all sorts of great reasons to love them. However,  Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt tugged at all the right heartstrings for me. Dare I say that this may just land on my list of FAVORITES? Oh, I dare. And now I’m going to gush all over the internet. Ready?

tellthewolvesimhome

It’s 1987. June and her sister Greta are posing while their Uncle Finn paints their portrait. The girls spend every Sunday at their uncle’s apartment in the city while he paints. (Oh I should clarify. “The City” in this instance means NYC. “The City” if I use it generally means Chicago. People who grow up in the suburbs of major cities tend to refer to the major cities simply as “The City.” I confused the bejeesus out of one of my book club pals by not clarifying my usage once. It was pretty funny.)

Sadly, these portrait sessions are some of the last hours the girls will spend with their uncle, because he is dying of AIDS. Like I told you earlier. It’s 1987. The AIDS crisis is blowing up. There is no treatment- AZT isn’t even available yet. At this point in time, AIDS is a death sentence, and a quick one to boot. June is exceptionally close with Finn. She spends more time with him than Greta does- they have pretty much the coolest uncle-niece relationship ever. Greta has no trouble making friends whereas June’s favorite activity is to wander in the woods pretending she’s in the Middle Ages. (Right there, June had my heart. We had a little wooded area near our house when I was growing up. Wandering around while pretending to be in another time? Been there.) Finn took June under his wing and gave her an outlet for all her eccentricities, and some sweet boots.

With no antiviral medications, AZT, or drug cocktails, Finn isn’t long for this world. At his funeral, June notices a man lingering outside the funeral home. Greta tells her that the man is responsible for Finn’s death. That he maliciously gave Finn AIDS. A few days later, June receives a mysterious package with a note from a man named Toby. The package contains her Uncle Finn’s beautiful Russian teapot. The note from Toby begs June to meet him.

Fun fact, I collect teapots. Now I desperately want a magical Russian teapot like Finn's!

Fun fact, I collect teapots. Now I desperately want a magical Russian teapot like Finn’s!

June soon realizes that she’s not the only person torn to pieces by Finn’s death. Her friendship with Toby introduces her to facets of Finn she never knew- a whole segment of his life that was kept from her at her mother’s behest. The sibling relationships in this book are painful, but so REAL. Greta and June have this antagonistic love-hate thing going on that really resonated with me. Plus, we eventually learn some of the history behind Finn’s relationship with his sister. Even it was a dick move to  refuse to allow her children to have any interaction with Finn’s life partner, I still sympathized with June & Greta’s mom.  That’s good writing. Flawed characters acting like REAL people are some of my absolute favorites. Seems to me that most of the time people are just trying to do the best they can, it’s just that pesky humanity business goes and gets in the way.

The thing that struck me most about this book was the historical context. By the time I was old enough to have any real understanding of HIV/AIDS, people were pretty well aware of how the disease was spread. There is a scene in the novel where Greta’s mother catches her using Finn’s lip balm and has a bit of a meltdown. At one point June is ashamed to be fearful of getting a kiss from her uncle. Heck, even in the late 90s some of that paranoia remained. When I was in high school, I recall my health teacher saying that he might shake the hand of a person known to be infected with HIV… But he’d immediately wash his hands very, very well. Ten years AFTER this book took place, there were people who refused to listen to the scientific evidence… And they were allowed to pass that attitude on to young teens.

Thanks, Liz. My sentiments exactly. Source

Thanks, Liz. My sentiments exactly. Source

This book isn’t about science or virology. It’s about love, loss, and forgiveness. It’s a coming of age tale where June learns that things aren’t always what they seem. My words feel clumsy and I’m not doing this book any justice. Just trust me and read it, okay?! You won’t be sorry.

Alright Bookworms. I need to know. Anybody out there have an awesome relationship with an extended family member? I want to hear about it! Let’s share the love for our eccentric aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, shall we? (I hope someday my Squishy has such stories to tell about me!)

He already things I'm nuts.

He already thinks I’m nuts.

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Jun 20

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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

Good Day Bookworms!

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

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

Me-Before-You-Cover_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 14

The Tough Stuff: Top Ten Tuesday

Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Frightening, Memoirs, Non Fiction, Psychological, Tear Jerkers, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction 59

Hola Bookworms,

Today is another Tuesday, and another GLORIOUS list, the topic of which was provided by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is to list out books that deal with difficult subject matter, and the ones I’m choosing are all kind of a downer. That doesn’t mean they aren’t BRILLIANT books, because they are. It just means that they’re emotionally draining, so, you know, don’t read them all in a row.

TTT3W1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This book is amazing, but such a tough read. Speak is about a girl entering high school. She is date raped at a party, and while she calls the police to break up the party, she can’t bring herself to tell the authorities what happened to her. She starts her high school career as the narc who ruined the best party of the summer all while dealing with the emotional hurricane of attending school with her rapist. It’s a rough read, but really worth it. I highly recommend it.

2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Race and incest and violent relationships and homosexuality and secrets and lies and children and turning gender roles upside down… It’s pretty amazing. It’s exceptionally powerful because it’s written in an epistolary format in a regional dialect. Try to get through it without crying. I dare you.

3. Room by Emma Donoghue. This choice seems even more appropriate now given the news coming out of Cleveland of the three women held captive in a home for a decade. Room is about a young woman who is abducted from her college campus parking lot. She is locked in an inescapable sound-proof shed and regularly raped by her captor. Eventually these systematic rapes result in a successful pregnancy and she raises her little boy, Jack, in this shed. Jack is five and he narrates the book. I think this was a brilliant choice on Donoghue’s part, because hearing this horror story through the eyes of “Ma” would probably have been too much to bear. The innocent goggles of a child make things tragic and yet, in a way, hopeful.

Don't let the colorful cover fool you, this is NOT for the faint of heart.

4. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Teenagers with cancer! Watching mere children face down their own mortality won’t tear at your very soul or anything. Young love cut tragically short by disease won’t make you bawl your eyes out. Living with a debilitating illness that is slowly eating your body from the inside when you should be out shopping for prom dresses and going through your angsty phase in giant baggy pants won’t mar your psyche! So heartbreaking. So good.

5. Smoke Over Birkenau by Liana Millu. Talk about the tough stuff. It simply does not get any “tougher” than books about the Holocaust. There are a lot of books on the subject, and I’ve read a number of heart wrenching personal accounts. It’s difficult to pick just one, but since I really have to pace myself on reading these (so I don’t get overwhelmed by humanity’s ability to inflict horror on itself for incredibly stupid reasons) I thought it might be overkill to fill this list with Holocaust books.

6. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. Whooo boy this one’s a doozie. Depressed teenagers. Eating disorders. Young love denied. Unbelievable acts of violence. Dealing with the aftermath. This is a draining read, but it’s really well done. Sure, it feels a bit like you’re being stabbed in the heart with a dull spoon, but it’s a good pain. It’s NOT a true story, thank God. At least you can tell yourself that when you’re sobbing into your pillow…

everylastone

7. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. I don’t care how open and honest and cool you are with your kids. It is awkward as heck to discuss periods with your prepubescent daughter (this, coming of course, from a former prepubescent daughter. The thought of having this conversation with my own offspring makes me preemptively uncomfortable.) Thank GOD for Judy Blume. Thank GOD for this book. That GOD it existed when I was 12. Margaret made all the late bloomers out there feel less alone. Thank you, Judy Blume, for being awesome.

8. Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Yeah, it’s tough to be a teenager, Margaret, but it’s even tougher to be an adult with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As you follow Alice’s mental decline you feel her frustrations and her anguish, as well as her moments of hope and triumph. It’s a beautifully rendered story, and it will make you keenly aware of your own precarious mental state. You may want to order a lot of fish oil caplets or whatever antioxidant thingies they have on the market today that are supposed to help keep your brain going strong to old age and beyond…

still alice

9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. What would you do if the most basic part of your identity, your biological gender, were called into question? Our protagonist is raised as a female but due to a gene mutation, she’s biologically male… At least, mostly. A coming of age story with the added bonus of some sweet historical fiction elements plus all the psychological turmoil that goes on when a person doesn’t fall neatly into a gender category. Powerful.

10. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. Forget everything you saw in that movie. I don’t care if it won Angelina Jolie an Oscar, the book was MUCH better. It’s Susanna Kaysen’s true life account of her time in a mental hospital. I read this a long time ago, but there was one part that seriously resonated with me. Kaysen described her descent into crippling depression as the world slowing down and time crawling by. She said that there were two ways to go crazy- for everything to slow down or for everything to speed up. I’ve always thought that if I ever needed to be institutionalized, it would be due to the super fast worst-case-scenario in flashes of horror kind of crazy, at which point my brain would completely short circuit and the slow would set it. It probably says a little too much about me and my mental state that I’ve given this so much thought, but you know. I’m bad at lying.

So Bookworms, tell me. What are your top picks for books that deal with the tough stuff? I’m all ears (at least until my psychotic break, but I think we’ve got some time.)

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Mar 26

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recommended Books

Frightening, Historical Fiction, Romance, Tear Jerkers, Top Ten Tuesday 72

Greetings, Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, and you know what THAT means. No, no, it is not time for tacos. (But dangit, now I want tacos!) It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish! Today they’ve asked me to list out the ten books I recommend most often. So. Without further ado…

toptentuesday

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I have foisted this series upon countless friends. I love to recommend it because it’s got a little bit of something for everyone. It’s one of those rare finds where I’m confident most of my pals will enjoy it. There are few things as awkward as giving someone a book and hearing they hated it, you know? Outlander has a little sci fi, some historical fiction, a touch of steamy romance novel, and, well, Jamie Fraser. (Siiiigh)

2. Harry Potter by JK Rowling. This is kind of a throwaway answer because it’s not like it’s possible for someone to have never heard of Harry Potter. However. Anyone who seems skeptical about the series? I implore them to read it. Like… I’m sincerely concerned about people who don’t enjoy HP. How can you not like MAGIC and WHIMSY and AWESOMENESS?!

My patronus is a penguin. Demetors don't stand a CHANCE against the impossible cutness... And pecking.

My patronus is a penguin. Demetors don’t stand a CHANCE against the impossible cutness… And pecking.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is amazing and I think everyone should read it. Everyone. I’ve loaned out my copy on multiple occasions. It’s a cautionary tale for the ages, my friends.

4. Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross. Some of the best historical fiction I’ve ever read. It’s about an accidental lady Pope. Timely, what with a new Pope being elected and all.

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Occasionally, people will ask me for recommendations on classics I really enjoyed. I won’t lie, it’s a long ass book, but it’s totally worth the read. If you’re familiar with the musical already, it gives you a great back story on Fantine, which is fabulous. Oh and did you know that Gavroche and Eponine are siblings? I know. I. KNOW! Crazy right? You need to read this.

les-miserables-176x300

Cosette is still little more than a plot catalyst, though.

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I try to get people to read this all the time. It’s another one of those that I’ve found is almost universally appealing. This one, of course, requires you to have an entire box of tissues on hand as you engage in the catharsis of bawling your eyes out. Worth it.

7. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This book tells the most incredible love story. Miller did such a great job of drawing her characters’ personalities that you get completely engrossed in their love story. You follow Achilles and Patroclus from childhood and watch their relationship grow and mature. Just beautiful. And yeah. It’s about two dudes. Which is a nice change of pace from what I normally read, you know? (You probably need tissues for this one too.)

8. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s just really well drawn historical fiction. I love it to pieces. It’s another chunkster, but it moves fast. Don’t be intimidated by its length, you’ll enjoy yourself! (And then you’ll be really grateful that you have indoor plumbing and floors that aren’t dirt and stuff, because the Middle Ages were DIRTY, y’all.)

Starz did a mini series based on the book. Eddie Redmayne played Jack. You're welcome. (Image from Oprah.com)

Starz did a mini series based on the book. Eddie Redmayne played Jack. You’re welcome. (Image from Oprah.com)

9. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. No, having seen the movie is NOT the same thing. Not at all. It leaves out Scarlett’s first two children, for heaven’s sake! (That’s really not a spoiler, they aren’t major plot points, and the fact that they aren’t makes Scarlett all the more Scarlett-y.)

10. World War Z by Max Brooks. I don’t read a whole lot of zombie literature, but I thought this book rocked in a big way. I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead (TV series, I haven’t read the comics) so the zombie lore intrigues me. I thought this book gave an awesome and realistic account of how a zombie apocalypse might go down. You’ll probably have nightmares. Fair warning.

There we are- ten books I recommend to people on the regular. What are some of your favorite titles to pass around?

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Mar 18

Emotions: This Book Will Make You Feel Every Last One (by Anna Quindlen)

Family, Psychological, Tear Jerkers 48

Hey Bookworms,

It’s Monday, so let’s wallow in our collective case of the Mondays, shall we? I’ve got the perfect book to put you in the appropriate mood. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen will make you feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

Mary Beth Latham is a landscape designer and mother of three. She and her husband live an upper middle class life in an upper middle class suburb and have upper middle class problems. Their beautiful teenage daughter Ruby had a bout with an eating disorder, but seems to be recovering well. Though Mary Beth worries about Ruby leaving for college in a year, she’s proud of her remarkable girl. The twin boys pose a bit of a challenge, but they’re at an age when you’d expect them to be complicated. Alex is a soccer star and popular in school. His fraternal twin brother Max, on the other hand, is withdrawn and depressed. But, you know. What’s a little teen angst between twins? Nothing a little cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication can’t help with. After their experience with Ruby, the Lathams take Max’s suffering seriously.

everylastone

To add to this little dramatic suburban slurry, Ruby has recently dumped her boyfriend Kiernan, which has been tough on the whole family. He’s been a fixture in their lives since he was a small child. Kiernan’s family makes the Lathams look like the Waltons, so he was extraordinary attached their “happy” family. Kiernan is heartbroken. Ruby feels guilty. Everyone is hurting. It’s a recipe for a highly rated TV drama, don’t you think?

 

And then… Tragedy strikes. Serious horrible nightmarish tragedy. Your heart will break. You will cry. A lot, probably. I did. Telling you what happens would ruin the book for you, and I gave up massive spoilers for Lent. I will tell you that I didn’t see it coming, and that it hit me like a punch in the gut.

This is going to sound a little masochistic, but the way this book bites into the reader… It’s a good pain. Even if it scars your psyche, a book that can make you FEEL this much is worth the read. It reminds you of how trivial every day annoyances in life can seem when you’re confronted with true unimaginable horror. I definitely recommend this book, but with the caveat that it WILL be a difficult read, emotionally. If you’re in a vulnerable place, it might be a good idea to pass on this one. At least for the time being.

traumapaperback

In solidarity, let us all lament this Monday with our own tales of traumatic reads. What are some of your favorites, bookworms?

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Feb 12

Top Ten Tuesday: The Language of Romance

Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tear Jerkers, Time Travel, Top Ten Tuesday 37

Hola, Gusanos de Libros!

I just spoke SPANISH. Badly probably. Whatever. Today is Tuesday which means… TOP TEN TUESDAY with The Broke and The Bookish!

TTT3W

Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, today’s theme is, appropriately, Top Ten Romances (ooh la la!) <— See that?! FRENCH! Without further ado, I shall list for you the Top Ten Greatest Romances in the History of Literature… And Time Eternal. (I have a flair for the dramatic.)

1. Jamie and Claire of Diana Gabaldon’s impossibly wonderful Outlander series. If this were a contest, they’d have out romanced everyone else on this list because no time warp, monarchy, bodily attack, war, illness, or kidnapping can conquer them! (They are remarkably difficult to kill off, I must admit.)

2. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that this is one of the greatest love stories ever written. It’s like the loose premise for 90% of romantic comedies for a REASON, people!

3. Gus and Hazel of John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsGo ahead. Try to read this story about teen love and cancer and not cry. I dare you!

fault in our stars

4. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from (obviously) JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. You know you were transported back to your high school days when Ron didn’t ask Hermione to the Yule Ball. You know you loved their breakup and reunion in The Deathly Hallows. You know you completely dug every millisecond of their happily ever after. Hermione, the idol of every bookish girl. Ron, the ultimate underdog. It’s a thing of beauty.

5. Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane EyreYes. I KNOW Mr. Rochester kept his crazy wife in the attic. I KNOW he was an attempted bigamist. But I also KNOW that he loved Jane, and she had a big enough heart to forgive him… Eventually. Talk about overcoming obstacles y’all. I bet you never had to deal with a crazy wife in the attic!

6. Achilles and Patroclus of Madeline Miller’s Song of AchillesThere was so much beauty in the love story of Achilles and Patroclus! Achilles’ mean ass sea nymph mother didn’t approve of his loving another dude, but that didn’t stop them. My heart shattered into millions of pieces at the end of this book (that’s so not a spoiler, it’s Greek mythology y’all.) Great romance. Seriously.

song of achilles

7. Jacob and Marlena of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. Marlena was married to the violent and mentally ill August, so for a time, she and Jacob admired each other at arm’s length. August’s violent behavior drives Marlena out of his arms and into Jacob’s. The only thing that could make this romance better would be a murder mystery where the perpetrator was an elephant. Oh, wait…

8. Henry and Claire of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. Be still my heart! How can you compete with love that transcends time?!?! How? You can only beat it if your love ALSO transcends time, plus a bunch of other crazy circumstances (cough cough Outlander.) So basically? This is awesome.

9. Bridget and Mark of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary. A (very) thinly veiled homage to Pride and Prejudice, Bridget’s awkwardness is impossibly endearing. Every girl who has ever been single and/or done something embarrassing can relate. Every man who has ever worn bumblebee socks at the behest of his overbearing mother can also relate. I’m not sure that last part happens that often, but still.

10. Celia and Marco from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night CircusMarco and Celia aren’t just star-crossed lovers, they’re MAGICALLY star crossed lovers. They’re locked into a battle neither of them chose. Little do they know, as their love progresses, that the only end to their “feud” is that one of them must perish. Ah! It is so sad! And yet, it is so magical. It conjures up all the lovey feelings one can feel!

night circus

So, Ratas de Biblioteca (PORTUGUESE!), what are some of your favorite romances? Hearts and candies and flowers and sappiness! Tell me all about it!

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Jan 25

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: A Letter To Science

Contemporary Fiction, Personal, Psychological, Tear Jerkers 39

Dear Science,

I just finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Are you familiar with the work? No? You are Science, after all, I can’t expect you to keep up with literature. I’ll give you a brief synopsis:

Alice Howland is a respected professor of linguistics and cognition at Harvard. When she begins to forget things, she believes she’s going through menopause or stressed. After a couple of harrowing experiences, Alice goes to visit her doctor. Her diagnosis is something she’d never have expected. At the age of 50, Alice is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

still alice

As you are well aware, Science, Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that typically affects the elderly. Alice is a sprightly fifty years old. Fifty isn’t even retirement age! Well, it isn’t retirement age unless you’re really really lucky… Or independently wealthy. You can relate, can’t you Science? What with all the grants you have to beg for? Seriously, how is a person supposed to deal with that kind of diagnosis? How does a spouse react to that news? How can children cope with their parents not recognizing them? It’s unfathomable to me, but so is calculus… Perhaps you’ll understand better.

I think Genova did a beautiful job portraying the emotions Alice feels as things begin to slip away from her memory. I love the way the family’s reactions are written as well. The people felt so REAL. The whole narrative was very genuine and thought provoking. And, well, let’s face it, a bit of a tear jerker. (Yes, Science. I think this would squeeze even YOUR muscular ventricles.)

Tissues aren't a bad idea if you plan to read this...

Unfortunately, Alice’s Alzheimer’s doesn’t just steal her memory and break her family’s hearts. It has a genetic component. Each of Alice’s children have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the early onset Alzheimer’s. This revelation just opens up ANOTHER whole can of ethical worms. The advances in genetic testing are miraculous, but are there any advantages to knowing that you’re destined to succumb to a virtually untreatable illness? I know I shouldn’t be asking rhetorical questions of you, Science, but since I don’t expect an answer, I can’t see the harm.

Now that I’m feeling all the feels and pondering the ethics of genetic testing, I’m going to go ahead and hit below the belt with an extra dosage of sad face. Dementia sucks the big one no matter how old you are when it hits. I don’t want to get all sob story on you, but my Grandma had dementia. I didn’t witness much of my Grandma’s decline first hand, but I DID make sure that she got a crap ton of greeting cards. (You’re WELCOME, postal service!) It would be a big fat lie to tell you that I knew the pain of having her not recognize me or that I had to calm her panic in the middle of the night when she didn’t know where she was. I really didn’t know how bad things had gotten until she was gone, and “dementia” was always the word being tossed about because “Alzheimer’s” was too frightening. Reading this book was a revelation to me- I felt like I finally understood what she must have gone through… THAT is really what turned on the water works.

Pose_104

Psst. Science, if you’re not too busy, could you explain to Jim that I will not, in fact, shrink to Grandma size in my old age? I honestly don’t think she was ever very tall to begin with…

Here’s my plea to you, Science. There are other Grandmas out there. Let’s get to fixing this crappy disease now, okay? I know, Science. You’re very busy. Hypotheses don’t prove themselves, and there are lots and lots of diseases that need curing. I’m sure you’ll get around to revealing your secrets in your own good time. Until then, I, and the rest of the world, will be waiting. Impatiently.

Yours,

Katie

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Jan 02

The Fault In Our Stars (Is That We Haven't Enough Tissues) by John Green

Coming of Age, Family, Psychological, Romance, Tear Jerkers, Young Adult Fiction 33

Good Day My Dear Bookworms,

I typically don’t read a ton of young adult literature, but I’m beginning to branch out into the genre more and more. There’s some amazing stuff out there geared toward teens these days. After seeing this book on a crap ton of “Best  Books of 2012” lists, I decided to read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

I started reading this at 11 pm one night. I stopped reading this at 3 am that same night/morning. Why did I stop reading? Because the book was over. Quick synopsis: girl meets boy… At cancer support group meeting. Love blossoms amid oxygen tanks and prosthetic legs. They love books together and music together and fight cancer together… Even when cancer wins. So. Spoiler alert. Have like 10 boxes of tissues on hand. Seriously. I cried through 40% of this book, then I had dreams about my friends getting cancer and sleep cried. I woke up looking God-awful. Yay for vacation days! (No, I didn’t TAKE a vacation day because I looked terrible, I was already on vacation. I wouldn’t have started a book at 11 pm on a work night anyway. It’s past my bedtime, y’all!)

Star crossed teen lovers, and yet, original.

Star crossed teen lovers, and yet, original.

This was a fabulous book, but I have a couple of teeny tiny bones to pick with it. First. When I was in grade school, I went through a Lurlene McDaniel phase. In the mid nineties, Lurlene McDaniel was a staple of the school book order list. All of her books were about terminally ill teenagers. Do you know what happens to a kid who reads too many novels about terminally ill teenagers? She thinks every ache and pain is a tumor. True story. You know what freaked me out even more? The fact that I was taken for head x-rays a couple of years before the McDaniel phase. It occurred to me that they were looking for brain tumors! (Turns out the headaches were sinus headaches, but I really felt like I’d dodged a bullet there.) I am slightly concerned for impressionable young minds with higher than age appropriate reading abilities having their psyches damaged by this book. Who am I kidding? I just wanted to share that story about my hypochondria and Lurlene McDaniel. Because how often do you get to type out Lurlene? Not often enough, in my opinion.

Second bone to pick! This is a legit bone. The dialogue was witty, fast paced, and used astoundingly good vocabulary. Teenagers DO NOT talk like this. Not even the exceptionally smart ones. I was in nerd classes, I was pals with some of the exceptionally smart kids. You know what they did? They drew comics about tapeworms and wrote out song lyrics on the backs of their notebooks. They were infinitely more concerned with the art of the mix tape than with the brilliance of their favorite author. True, none of them were terminally ill, but nobody banters like the kids in this book. Nobody. However, nobody realistically banters like the characters on Gilmore Girls did, but that didn’t stop me from loving them like crazy!

If you plan to read this, have tissues on hand.

If you plan to read this, have tissues on hand.

This was truly a great read. If you are in need of a tear jerker, skip the Lifetime Original Movie and dig into this book. The dialogue, while unrealistic, is charming as heck. You’ll get attached to Hazel and Augustus and Isaac. It’s a delight. A heart-wrenching, tear-jerking delight. Read it!

Maybe it’s a girl thing, but tear jerkers… Why are they so wonderful? What about you, bookworms? Do you enjoy the occasional tear jerker, or do you hate them? Tell me about it. Let’s all gather around the box of kleenex and have us a good share session.

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