Tag: Book Club

Feb 10

Fellowship of the Worms: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book Club, Romance 32

G’Day Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s that time again. The Fellowship of the Worms is now in session! This month’s selection was The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Rosie Project 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, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed The Rosie Project on their own blog. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. Pop Culture question here. Did anybody else get a SERIOUS Sheldon Cooper vibe out of Don? The whole time I was reading this book, I was imagining Don’s mannerisms as those of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. I don’t even watch The Big Bang Theory very often, but I could not escape Don’s Sheldon-y qualities.   I tried really hard to break myself of the habit of hearing Don’s dialogue in Sheldon’s voice in my mind’s ear, because I LOVE Australian accents and it seemed a shame to deprive myself of the opportunity to “hear” one just because I’ve been bazinga-ed by pop culture.

sheldon2. Don’s social interactions are awkward at best, but his logic and adherence to routine give him some interesting habits. What’s your favorite Don-ism?

Is it just me, or did Don’s lobster salad sound crazy delicious? Maybe a weekly repeating meal plan is a bit much, but a two-week plan, I could totally get behind. It sounds less intimidating than dealing with “uuuugh what am I going to make for dinner?” on the regular. He might be onto something. I’m just saying.

3. Don’s “Wife Project” involves an elaborate questionnaire designed to weed out unsuitable matches. Have you ever made a list of qualities that are important to you in a potential partner? Do you think it’s realistic to expect any one person to live up to all of them? 

I don’t recall ever making a list of qualities I wanted in a partner… Well. Not a physical list anyway. But sometimes I think people rosieprojectdon’t know what they really NEED. I think that the whole “opposites attract” thing is a cliche and, frankly, pretty inaccurate. BUT there’s a lot to be said for not dating someone who is basically YOU. You need a balance, you know? Don needed to break out of some of his routines, and Rosie needed some structure. Complimentary weirdness can be a good thing.

4. What is it about Rosie that manages to break down Don’s defenses? Do you think that love requires a certain abandonment of logic? 

My husband came home from work the other day with a novel definition of love he’d heard during a work presentation (he works in a hospital, doctors talk about whatever the heck they want to.) He told me that love is the willingness to  support another person’s illusions. That’s not a fuzzy warm romantic definition, but I think it works. I mean, you’ve got to be willing to take the other person’s weird and roll with it. Rosie was able to get through some of Don’s quirks and appreciate his soft underbelly. Don looked beyond Rosie’s hotness and into her brain because that’s all he could think to do. Sometimes love just works, and it’s rarely a purely logical proposition.

5. What was your favorite scene in The Rosie Project?

I’ve got a tie here. The scene where Don deliberately throws his dance with Bianca thrilled me. I was able to envision the whole debacle and it was hilarious and cringe-inducing in equal measures. I ALSO simply ADORED the scene where Don and Rosie provided cocktails for the medical school reunion. I laughed so hard when Don was offering all these elaborate drinks he’d studied while the bar staff had no idea how to prepare them. A pineapple and sage margarita. Who knew, right?

Have you reviewed The Rosie Project on your blog, or tackled these discussion questions on your own? Please link up, I’m dying to know your thoughts!

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Jan 10

The Fellowship of the Worms Announcement

Book Club 38

Hey Bookworms,

It’s a new year and therefore a great time to talk about our awesome book club! I think I’ve been doing everyone a disservice by listing the monthly book at the end of the previous book’s discussion, so now announcements will be getting their very own posts. I assure you this is not simply a tactic I’m using to fill up post space. No sir-ee-bob. Without further ado, the book for this month’s installment of The Fellowship of the Worms, to take place on Monday, February 10th will be (drumroll please… drumroll?)

rosieproject

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion! Because I haven’t read it yet myself, I feel unqualified to give it a synopsis. Here’s what Goodreads has to say:

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

How fun does that sound?!?! Show of hands, Bookworms, who is joining the Fellowship this month?! (Any bloggers who have written a review of The Rosie Project will be invited to link up in our discussion post. Hope to see you there!)

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Nov 18

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: The Fellowship of the Worms

Book Club, Mystery, Romance, Uncategorized 33

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300Hello Bookworms,

Before we start here today, I want to let everyone know that I am a-okay. You probably saw on the news the devastation wreaked on Central Illinois from a tornado outbreak. Some of those touchdowns were a few miles from us, but luckily we are safe and sound, as is our home. Thanks to everyone for your concern!

Now, without further ado, let us get our Fellowship on! This month we’re discussing the classic tale of gothic mystery Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. 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 Rebecca 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, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed Rebecca on their own blog. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1.Talk about your whirlwind courtship! Our heroine agrees to marry Maxim de Winter after knowing him only a few short weeks. Her decision is fueled in no small part by her wish to escape her snobby employer. Anybody think she should have thought the decision over a bit more carefully, or does love, as they say, conquer all? I am of the opinion than if something SOUNDS too good to be true, it ALWAYS is. I’m also of the opinion that if on one of your first “dates,” your suitor gets lost in a creepy fantasy on the edge of a cliff, you should cut and run. Being able to spell an unusual name correctly is NOT a good foundation for marriage. I’m not sure saying “yes” was your best move, No-Name Girl.

2. Could Mrs. Danvers possibly BE any more creepy and evil? That woman had wicked written all over her from day one. Sherebecca1 was a combination of Mean Girl and psychopath. Mrs. Danvers had an unnatural attachment to the late Rebecca de Winter (Maxim’s mysteriously departed first wife) and was none too pleased to have a new lady of the house. She was a bully and dead set on wreaking havoc. The stunt she pulled at the fancy dress ball? That nutjob even tried to coax No-Name Girl into suicide. Not cool, Danny. Not cool.

3. Rebecca’s presence was palpable throughout the novel despite the fact that she was deceased. How does Rebecca’s memory torment No-Name Girl? Poor No-Name Girl is haunted. Everything she hears she interprets as Rebecca’s perfection. Mrs. Danvers doesn’t help matters by discussing how fashionable, well bred, intelligent, and active Rebecca was. No-Name Girl is convinced the Maxim is still grieving Rebecca and that she’s a piss-poor replacement.

4. Were you surprised by Maxim’s revelation about what really happened to Rebecca? I wasn’t surprised, because I think I’d read a spoiler somewhere. More than that though, Maxim’s behavior where she was concerned was pretty sketchy. What I hadn’t anticipated was that Rebecca was a full on sociopath. Gah! That woman! She makes Mrs. Danvers look like a well adjusted and productive member of society! The debauchery, the promiscuity, the intentional meanness to the mentally disabled guy… I can’t say it was too great a loss to the world as a whole, though it sounds like Mother Nature was taking care of that bit of business before Maxim stepped in. Yikes! 

5. Who do you think burned down Manderley? My money is on the collusion of the evil Mrs. Danvers and the drunken incestuous (yeah yeah I know it didn’t USED to be incest to hook up with your first cousin, but EWWW anyway) Jack Favell. Team of crazies, those two. I can’t imagine that the place went up in flames purely by coincidence, especially since old Danny had removed all her personal belongings earlier in the day. Seriously though, it was MAXIM’s house, NOT Rebecca’s. There is just no reasoning with sociopaths.

What did you think, Bookworms? If you would like to share your thoughts in blog form, be sure to link up below! 

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Next month’s selection will be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I know it’s a book that’s been out for a while, but I haven’t read it yet, okay?

gurnsey

On a side note, I have had several inquiries as to my address recently, as I’m sending out holiday cards and bookmarks this year to any reader who wants one. If you’re interested, I’m mailing internationally- all you need to do is send your address to wordsforworms@gmail.com! There is no need to send me anything, but since I was asked, here you go:

Katie Kelly

PO Box 3078

Peoria, IL 61612-3078

P.S. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Rebecca for your own collection, please use this link. Any purchases made through this site on Book Depository will net me a small commission. 

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Oct 14

The Passage by Justin Cronin: A Fellowship of the Worms Spooktacular

Book Club, Dystopian, Frightening, Vampires 27

smarty mcwordypantsSalutations, Bookworms!

The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was The Passage by Justin Cronin, and an excellently creepy selection for October (if I do say so myself.) WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Passage 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 The Passage on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so if you’ve reviewed this don’t hesitate to get your link on.

1. Did anybody else find the beginning section of this book a little hard to follow/get invested in? The book begins a few years in the future- not far enough for flying cars and robot housekeepers, but not exactly in the now. There’s some kind of super secret research going on to create a virus that will turn people into evil monster weapons. The US government is monkeying around with and they’re looking for subjects. They decide to work with death row inmates until someone gets a bee in his bonnet and wants to recruit an abandoned child. Because that’s not completely horrendous or anything. The whole plot I totally got. What I couldn’t keep straight were the 8 zillion FBI/CIA/Mad Scientist guys that were working on the project. So many last names floating around! I seriously could have used a flowchart explaining the chain of command. Seriously. That’s an idea for the next release- add it in as a little bonus. The readers will love you for it. It did take me quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated to really get invested in the book, so that was a bit of a bummer. Once it picked up speed though? Holy heck I couldn’t put it down!

2. What did you think of the vampires? How did they live up to your horrific expectations? What about the psychic/telepathic/dream stuff? I hate to be a giant comparison drawer, but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s how I roll. The vampires in this book reminded me of those in I Am Legend. Then all the dream stuff (not to mention the journeying) made me think of The StandThe Vampires themselves were spectacularly scary. The shark teeth? Creepy. The super speed and strength? Creepy. The psychic connection to their minions and the ability to give nightmares to the living? Creepy, creepy, creepy!

Creepy!

Creepy!

3. Was anybody else jarred by the time jump and the introduction of the colony? Were you able to connect with the colony character as well as you connected with characters from the first portion of the book? Yeah, I so did not see that coming. We just jumped forward in time a hundred years? It didn’t take long for me to become completely invested in the colony and its characters, but I’ve got to admit the pacing seemed a little weird. I kept expecting the time to shift again. I suppose it did to a certain extent- there were some passages with headings labeled a thousand years in the future, but they didn’t introduce any new characters or situations. The odd timeline is my only major complaint with the book, though, so I’m not too terribly upset.

4. How about that Amy? What did you make of her character? Even though she and Lacey had the same version of the virus, Amy still seems to be “special.” What do you make of this? I am so confused by this! Yes, Amy seemed “special” even before she was exposed to the virus, but so did Lacey. Lacey seemed to have some psychic stuff going on back at the convent and in her childhood. What makes Amy so different than Lacey, despite having the same strain of virus, has me completely baffled. Did I miss something? Did anybody else get a good feel for just why Amy is so different? 

5. Were you engaged enough in The Passage to move on and read The TwelveWhat did you make of the fact that Sara’s journal was located in the aftermath of the “massacre?” Are you holding out hope that Sara and the gang survived and that we’ll see them in the sequel or have you given them up for dead? I am TOTALLY invested enough to check out The Twelve. What is killing me is that the final installment of the trilogy is not yet available. Gaaaah! I need to start waiting until things are FINISHED before I start them. I am absolutely holding out hope that Sara and Hollis and Theo and Maus and the baby make it out alive, dangit. I will be too devastated if it is otherwise!

All in all, I thought The Passage was pretty awesome, and a perfect October read. How about you, Bookworms? What did you think? Tell us about it! And be sure to join us next month as we tackle Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Sometimes I just don’t want to read things alone, okay? We’ll be talking about Rebecca on Monday, November 18th!

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Oct 04

Confession Friday: I Didn't Read the Book for Book Club(s)

Book Club, Confession Friday 60

Dearest Bookworms,

I have a confession to make. I’ve been really bad this month. I’m in two book clubs, (in actual visceral face-to-face LIFE) and this month? I didn’t read the book for either of them. I’m so ashamed. I had my reasons… They just weren’t very good reasons.

September’s pick for My Neighbors are Better than Your Neighbors was Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. I’ve heard a lot of conflicting reports on the book, but honestly? I just didn’t feel like reading it. I liked Swamplandia! well enough, but I was just not in the mood for literary fiction, let alone literary fiction in short story format. I caved in two days before book club and downloaded the book on my kindle… I made it through three stories and threw in the towel. Vampires eating lemons? Girls turning into silk worms? Giant seagulls with the ability to steal things from the future? It made my brain hurt and all I wanted were some doggone zombies!

vampires in the lemon grove

(It’s a good thing my neighbors are so awesome. They let me have wine and dessert despite my reading failure. Remind me to tell you about how good an idea it is to have a neighbor with a spare set of keys to your house. There just might come a day when your keys get locked in your car and your unicorn-loving neighbor bails you out. I mean, hypothetically, of course. )

Then… Whine and Whining. The choice for September was Drop City by T.C. Boyle. It is about a hippie commune and has naked butts on the cover… I haven’t even acquired a copy. Book Club was supposed to be on Tuesday of this week and it was postponed until next. Guess who is reading a zombie book instead of Drop City? This girl. Shameful goings on for a self professed bookworm, no? Perhaps I’ll catch up this weekend, but I know myself. I will likely be drinking wine by myself at home come Tuesday evening… And reading something that isn’t Drop City. 

drop city

On a positive note, as a result of skipping my “assigned” book club reading, I’m ahead of the game for The Fellowship of the Worms
I’m looking forward to discussing Justin Cronin’s The Passage with everyone. It helps me feel like less of a tool for not doing my homework. Bookworms, I’m falling into a shame spiral. Share your stories about skipping the assigned reading for school or book club. Please? 

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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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Aug 15

The Shadow of the Wind: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience

Book Club, Mystery, Psychological 29

smarty mcwordypantsGreetings, Bookworms! The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Shadow of the Wind 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. :)

1. When Daniel describes Carax’s novel within the novel (of the same name… because that’s not even a tiny bit confusing) The Shadow of the Wind, he says, “As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within” (p. 7).This book contained the threads of narratives for several different stories. Did you find yourself intrigued by following the pieces of the puzzle or confused by the similarities in the tales?

Brutal honesty here: I had a hard time getting into this book. I don’t know if it was just that I kept reading while I was really tired, but I got a little frustrated keeping the characters straight. Because Julian and Daniel’s tales in particular were so similar, I found myself thinking things like “Wait… Was this Julian? Was this Daniel? Gah! Go back three pages!” That said, once I did get sucked in, I was hooked. There was a certain beauty in the similarities of the characters’ stories. I think Daniel’s description of the Russian dolls is most appropriate.

Things you shouldn't be surprised that I own... Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

Things you shouldn’t be surprised that I own… Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

2. Were you able to guess Lain Coubert’s identity before it was revealed?

I didn’t immediately realize that Coubert was indeed Carax, but I definitely had it figured out before it was laid out in plain language. Once it was revealed that Fermin (who didn’t LOVE Fermin?!) was tormented with a blowtorch by Fumero, I was CONVINCED that Fumero had somehow tracked down Julian and tortured him in a similar fashion resulting in his burns. I was wrong… Though I still think that would have been an interesting twist. 

3. What is with all the incest? Seriously. We are now 2 for 2 on the incest in our Fellowship choices. This time it was purely accidental, thanks to the elder Aldaya being a man whore AND being vain enough to want his illegitimate offspring within his grasp. Were you shocked by the revelation?

I wasn’t. Why? I’d seen very similar storylines play out on both House, MD and Law & Order: SVU. In each of those cases, a philandering father had messed around outside his marriage and tried desperately to keep his star-crossed offspring away from each other. Come on, guys. If you’re going to screw around and you see your kids falling in love, or even hanging out? You come clean. The worst part was that it was all Aldaya’s own fault that Julian and Penelope even MET because he was disappointed in Jorge, his legitimate heir. HUBRIS. UGH.

the-shadow-of-the-wind-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon

4. Dreams and premonitions come up quite a bit in this book. Jacinta and Carax in particular had their dreams come to fruition. Since Miquel was so obsessed with Freud, let’s take a psychological approach. How do you interpret the various characters’ dream-induced premonitions?

I am not great with dream interpretations, since I only ever have anxiety dreams. I suppose the manifestation of the devil in Jacinta’s dreams could have been a sigh of her future heartbreak… Julian and Penelope dreamed of eachother, but that wasn’t really a good thing since they were siblings! Mostly though? The dreams were just sort of creepily psychic.

5. Since we’re playing psychologist here, how’s about a nature vs. nurture discussion? Julian Carax was the bastard son of his musically inclined mother and Aldaya, the unscrupulous business man, though he’s raised by the cuckhold hatter, Fortuny. Fumero is the son of an honest groundskeeper and a status seeking attention starved mother. How are the sins of the parents meted out on their offspring? Given their similarly screwed up childhoods, what do you think was the largest factor divergence of Carax and Fumero’s paths?

Sins of the parents? Whooo boy. Julian is raised by a “father” who is well aware that Julian is not his biological son. Fortuny is emotionally and physically abusive of both Julian and his mother, so that sucked pretty hard. As if that weren’t punishment enough for his mother’s misdeeds, poor Julian unwittingly knocks up his half sister, thanks to his biological father’s douchbaggery. That’s pretty grim punishment for the sins of one’s parents, wouldn’t you say?

And Fumero. That kid’s mom did a number on his psyche, what with the implied sexual abuse and her parading around in her underpants… Not to MENTION that god awful sailor suit. Personally, I think Fumero’s mom had a whole lot of mental illness going on and that she passed some of that to her son on a genetic level. He was displaying serial killer tendencies as a child, and the older he got the crazier and more violent he got. Things that are not the hobbies of mentally stable people: torturing other people with blow torches. Just. No. (I may have done a little cheer when that son of a gun got his comeuppance!)

6. All in all, how’d you like this one, Bookworms?

I very much enjoyed this book, despite my early reluctance with it. I’m rather attached to Daniel and Bea and want to know what becomes of their son and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books! I’m thinking I may need to read the rest of this series to put my curiosity to rest! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this month. For next month, I’m excited to announce that our selection will be Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! (Not only is she completely amazing, she also responded to my weird tweet. I LOVE YOU, RAINBOW!!!)

attachments

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Jul 08

The Thirteenth Tale: A Fellowship of the Worms Extravaganza

Blogging, Book Club, Historical Fiction 33

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

smarty mcwordypantsToday is the day we’ve all been waiting for! The Fellowship of the Worms is officially in session. Our inaugural book club choice was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Thirteenth Tale and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I thought the book club questions for this book listed in the back were exceptional, so I’ve borrowed those ideas liberally as discussion points. Some of these I re-worded, some of these were born of my own brain juices, some of these are random and off topic. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. 🙂

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

Ready? Set? Here we go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 06

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

Book Club 48

Ta-Da!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

smarty mcwordypants

Wormy McSmartypants!

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

There once was a blogger named Joules.

She was sassy and suffered no fools.

She’s just like my sister

I didn’t know how I’d missed her

‘Till the internet gave me the tools.

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

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

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May 30

It's Time To Play Name That Book Club!

Blogging, Book Club 60

Hola, Bookworms!

We have come to day three of Armchair BEA and I am SO EXCITED! Today’s topic is… FREE STUFF! Actually, today is the day that Armchair BEA suggested that we hold giveaways on our blogs to thank everyone for being awesome and hanging with us. Yay!

Design Credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Design Credit: Nina of Nina Reads

About a month ago, I asked the delightful Bookworms on the Words for Worms Facebook page (which, by the way, if you do not already “like” you can do so HERE) if they’d be interested in participating in a book club hosted by MOI. The response was OVERWHELMING. Y’all want a book club! I live to serve, so I’m pleased to announce the formation of…

Yeah. I couldn’t think of a NAME. So. I’m going to hold a CONTEST! It’s easy to enter. Just leave a comment with suggestions of names for our book club. You can enter as many times as you want- leave anything you pretty little head can come up with. Tell your friends, perhaps they’ll have ideas. I’m partial to terrible puns, cheeky literary references, and pandering to my ego.

I will choose a name from among the reader suggestions. The person who comes up with the winning name will win FABULOUS PRIZES! Should the winner be a US resident, they will receive a box of assorted goodness so glorious that I cannot list it all here (partly because I’ve yet to assemble it.) It will definitely contain a $25 gift card to Amazon, which will be supplemented by do dads and fun things (possibly even… a dingelhopper!) Should the winner be a non US resident they will receive a $25 gift card to Amazon. And that’s it. Because, you guys. SHIPPING. Seriously. Alright. I’ll also throw in a personalized limerick for any potential international winners. (My limericks are legendary. Here’s PROOF.)

I will announce the winner a week from today along with our inaugural book club selection. I hope you’re all as excited as I am! Now, pretty please? Name! That! Book Club!!!!!!

***In the event that I get multiple entries for the same name, I’ll count the earliest time stamped suggestion. I know that it’s 100% plausible that multiple people come up with the same idea independently, but I’ve got to have some rules in place, you know?

On a completely unrelated note, today is the 30th and GOLDEN birthday of my butter churning best friend from a past life, Chrissy of Quirky Chrissy. Stop by her blog today to wish her a happy birthday. I can’t tease her for being old because I already turned 30, but if you’re younger and want to give her crap? I fully support your shenanigans. Happy Birthday, Jelly Bean! XOXO!

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