Tag: books

May 22

Flattered and Flummoxed: How I Became a Resource

Blogging, Personal, Uncategorized 20

Hidey Ho, Bookworms.

By some internet witchery, it seems I have become an expert resource on all essay questions regarding Lois Lowry’s The Giver Quartet as well as an opponent of book banning worthy of quotation. My search terms recently have included an awful lot of “what is the symbolism of XYZ in The Giver/Gathering Blue/Messenger/Son” and “why was XYZ book banned?” I can only assume these searches are being performed by students, because I’ve yet to meet another casual reader who is overly concerned with the underlying themes of middle-grade novels, though, in fairness, I’ve been known to google the reasons for book banning. Sometimes they’re hilarious. People are weird.

I’m both flattered and flummoxed. I’m stoked to think that my blog has managed to gain so much traction as to come up in searches like this, but I have some concerns. First, it seems to me that kids who are googling essay questions are kids who haven’t read the book. I’m having serious guilt over the idea that I might be helping some kid out there skate out of doing their reading. It’s the stuff of nightmares, I assure you. Kids, if you’re reading this, READ THE BOOK. Especially if it’s anything written by Lois Lowry. She’s awesome. (If it’s Moby Dick, you have my permission to use Cliff’s Notes. Shhhh, don’t tell you mom. Or your teacher.)


A few months ago, I got an email from a student asking my permission to quote my blog in a research paper regarding banned books. I suppose an opinion piece is simply that, opinion, so it’s not entirely necessary to have credentials to be quoted, but it all seems so weird to me! When I was a wee one writing research papers (particularly in middle school and high school) the internet wasn’t typically an accepted resource. I was expected to sift through encyclopedias and scholarly journals. Made of paper! You know, stuff written by PHD’s, not random weirdos. I have zero credentials that qualify me to write literary criticism. None! I’ve only got a Bachelor’s degree, and it sure as heck isn’t in English Literature. I’m literate and enthusiastic. That’s it. And yet. I’m now a source! This is some Twilight Zone level weirdness, y’all. I can’t even.

What do you think, Bookworms? Has my blog turned into a cheat sheet helping kids ditch their reading, or am I just THAT awesome? (Don’t answer that honestly. I probably can’t handle the truth.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Since I’m an expert and all, I’ll use the proceeds to buy more books. Because that’s not what I already do with all my proceeds or anything. Wait…*



Feb 10

What I Love/Hate About Romances in Books

Romance, Top Ten Tuesday 27

Hello Bookworms!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a great topic, and perfectly appropriate for Valentine’s week. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have challenged us to list what we love and/or hate about romance in books. Hoooo boy, I’m excited about this one!


I’m a softy, really I am. I do love romance in books. However, I can be a little picky about it. I’m going to start with a list of a few things that drive me bonkers in bookish romances. And follow it up with what I love. Ending on a happy note is important, no?

The Hate List

1. Insta-Love: I am firmly in the Elsa camp on this one. No, little sister, you are NOT going to marry the dude you just met today. You are NOT in love with this person after 10 minutes and a musical interlude. You do NOT abandon your entire life to follow your latest infatuation. Just. No.

2. Girls without Identity- I like my romantic heroines to be a little spunky. I’m not saying that every heroine has to know exactly who she is, but girls with no sense of self who just throw themselves into crazy relationships and morph into femme-bots who only like what their boyfriends like? Not cool. (I’m throwing some serious shade at you, Ana Steele. Hmph.)

3. Poorly Executed Love Scenes- Book Riot put together a list of some hilarious (and horrible) euphemisms used in romance novels to describe human anatomy. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. If a love scene makes me giggle, it’s not a good thing. (Well it kind of is a good thing, because I like laughing, but it’s unlikely that’s what the author intended so… Yeah.)

4. Secret Keeping- I read a romance novel once in which the male character tried to convince himself not to get too close to the female character because (get this) there was a CHANCE he had an incurable (but non contagious) blood disorder. He’d basically convinced himself he was going to die without getting confirmation from a doctor and therefore couldn’t selfishly start a relationship. REALLY? “We can’t be together because SECRETS” is a terrible plot device. Stop using it, please! (The character in question turned out NOT to have said disorder, he married the heroine and I think they had babies. I didn’t want to leave you in suspense.)

5. Gorgeous People Who Seem Unaware of their Hotness: I’m all for humility, but the prevalence of women who find themselves revolting despite hoards of men falling at their feet are tiresome. Nobody is that deluded, unless they have serious psychological issues. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be in a romance novel, they should be getting the fictional help they need from a fictional therapist. Sheesh!



Well, now that I’ve got that vitriol off my chest, let’s talk about some of the things I love about love in books. Loooove!

The Love List

1. Awkward People Finding Love: Some of my favorite love stories are all about the weirdos. Suave debonair gentlemen with all the right lines bore me. Give me a cantankerous bookseller with a heart of gold or a case of verbal diarrhea on a first date. That’s the good stuff.

2. Witty Banter: Inside jokes, pop culture references, and trivia make my world go round. Having had a number of these sorts of goofy conversations with my husband, I realize they don’t often translate easily (I’m pretty sure nobody would find our nonsense charming who wasn’t us) but I appreciate the effort. Yay for witty banter!

3. Well Executed Love Scenes: I’m not a prude when it comes to love scenes. I enjoy them when they’re thoughtfully put together. I’m not sure there’s a great way to define what separates the cheesy from the steamy, and it’s likely all in the opinion of the reader. Still. When done well, love scenes can be a great addition to a novel.

4. Love for the Non-Traditional Body Types: Rainbow Rowell has written some of the best plus size romantic heroines ever. I just get really happy when someone who isn’t the media standard of beauty finds love. Tall, short, heavy, thin, buxom, tattooed, birth-marked, pale, and what have you. Real people in normal life aren’t usually breathtakingly beautiful. That doesn’t mean they aren’t appealing, and that sure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t find love.

5. Historical Romance: Wait, did I just admit to digging bodice-rippers? I might have. And it might be true. Eeep!

Talk to me Bookworms! What do you love and hate about romance in books?! 


Feb 03

Burn, Baby, Burn: Idiosyncratic Lit List

Idiosyncratic Lit List 18

Howdy Bookworms!

Y’all know I live in the Midwest, so snow in winter is pretty much a given. That said, after I’ve been out braving the elements, pretty much the only thing I want to do is curl up next to a toasty fire and read a book. This (of course) got me to thinking about a list and books with flaming titles. Shall we?!



1. Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates: The book is subtitled “Confessions of a Girl Gang.” I’m not sure more description is completely necessary.

2. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon: It is my mission in life to include an Outlander book in every list I make. Okay, so that’s kind of a lie, but it seems to happen often enough for me to claim it.

3. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier: Because SOMEBODY needed to write a historical fiction novel with William Blake as a central character. Tyger, tyger indeed.

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review): It’s everyone’s favorite cyborg Cinderella, y’all! Speaking of which, I think there’s a new installment of The Lunar Chronicles floating around out there. I need to check it out.

fire alarm

5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris: I love David Sedaris. There is nobody as bizarre and delightful and dark and hilarious.

6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Of course I went there. The temperature at which books burn? I mean, who hasn’t read this one with the “firemen” and the HORRORS?

7. Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by JK Rowling: You know you wanted to put your name in the Goblet of Fire. Even if it meant battling a dragon and/or certain death. You’re reckless that way.

Got any more fiery titles burning a hole in your brain, Bookworms?

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


Jan 08

Bookish Fun: Memory Challenge

Q&A 19

Howdy Howdy, Bookworms!

Sarah Says Read is always doing the fun stuff, at which point I jump on the bandwagon. I’m basically Sarah’s groupie. She did this memory challenge a while back and I stored it away for a day when I needed something to write about. The rules to this challenge are simple. I’m supposed to answer the questions in the graphic below WITHOUT CHEATING. That means, of course, no internet searching and no bookshelf glancing. It’s all about what’s floating around on my noggin.

memory challenge_thumb

1. Name a book by an author called Michael: The Map Thief by Michael Blanding (I really hope I’m spelling that name right. I reviewed it here.)

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover: Uuuuh… Does Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire have a dragon on the cover? If it doesn’t, it should.

It's the UK version, but I'm still counting it!

It’s the UK version, but I’m still counting it!

3. Name a book about a character called George: He and his brother never got their own book, per se, but Fred and GEORGE Weasley are the best.

4. Name a book by an author with the surname Smith: The Ark by Annabel Smith! (Annabel is lovely, BTW.)

5. Name a book set in Australia: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (The Ark, too, but I feel like I shouldn’t keep double dipping.)

6. Name a book with a month in the title: A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve.

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover: I am so bad with cover art. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (review) or The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman, maybe? There are knives in the titles, there should be knives on the covers!

2 for 2, even though I had to pull ANOTHER UK cover.

2 for 2, even though I had to pull ANOTHER UK cover.

8. Name a book with the word “one” in the title: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (review)

9. Name a book with an eponymous title: Eponymous? That means named for a person, yes? Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (review).

10. Name a book turned into a movie: Ha! Name a book that HASN’T been turned into a movie, more like. Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg is my favorite book-to-movie adaptation, I think, despite it taking oodles of liberties.

Well, that was fun. How good are YOUR memories, Bookworms? Are you as hopeless with cover art as I am?

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


Nov 01

It’s TOTES Time for a GIVEAWAY!

Giveaways 7

Howdy Howdy, Bookworms!

It’s that time again! The Literary Blog Hop (hosted by the lovely Judith of Leeswames’ Blog) is upon us and I have some AWESOME free stuff for you to win… If you live in the US. (Sorry, internationals, shipping is evil. Next time I promise I’ll do an international giveaway, k? There are still tons of international giveaways in the blog hop though, so be sure to scroll down and do some clicking!)


On offer today is this SWEET tote bag featuring the cutest penguin on the internet! You’ll also get a *very* gently used hardcover copy of Anthony Breznican’s novel Brutal Youth (review). Are you excited?! I know I am!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out all the other giveaways HERE!

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

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


Oct 28

Trick Or Treat! (Top Ten Tuesday)

Top Ten Tuesday 27

Hello BOOkworms!

It’s Tuesday my little darlings, and you know what that means! We’re going to do some listing! The crew at The Broke and the Bookish have challenged the blogosphere to list books that get them in the Halloween Spirit. It’s been WELL established that I’m a weenie when it comes to scary books, but as it happens, I’ve managed to collect a handful of titles over the years. They’re mostly vampire and zombie novels, as I can only handle the extremely fictional, but it should be fun nonetheless. Ready?

TTT TrickorTreat

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin (review): It starts out slow, but this book packs a whole lot of heebie jeebies! It’s like vampires meet zombies meet abject terror. Honestly, I’m still a little creeped out by shopping malls…

2. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): Ooooh boy. I think I had more nightmares while reading this book than any other, ever. Totally worth it though. Zombies!

3. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (review): Neil Gaiman is the master of creepy atmosphere without hitting nightmare territory. I could have chosen any number of his books, but I think Neverwhere is my favorite so far. You should read it!

4. Feed by Mira Grant (review): Zombies plus blogging plus pop culture references equeals amazing. That’s some highly scientific literary math for you right there.

5. Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates (review): I rarely read books about scary things that ACTUALLY exist. I picked this up based on the title. I did not get zombies. I got a psycho killer instead. Eeep!


6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: This is a super creepy travel vampire mystery. That’s totally a genre. Seriously though, it has a lovely dovetail with the next book on my list!

7. Dracula by Bram Stoker (review): The original vampire novel! I feel like it would be silly to go into more detail here, I mean, it’s friggin Dracula!

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (review): Atmosphere with a capital A! Find me a creepier house than Manderley, I dare you!

9. The Stand by Stephen King (review): I don’t care if it’s not one of his more monster-centric books, this is CHILLING. If you’re already panicking about Ebola, though, you might want to enjoy this one with some Xanax or something.

10. ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King: Have you read it yet?! We’re going to discuss this bad boy on HALLOWEEN with the Fellowship of the Worms, and you KNOW that’s going to be a good time.


Chime in Bookworms, what are some of your favorite Halloween spirit books?!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use it to purchase ALL THE GARLIC to keep the vampires at bay.*


Aug 19

You Want Me to Read What?! (Top Ten Tuesday)

Top Ten Tuesday 43

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

I’ve been out of the listing game the past couple of weeks, but I am jumping back in with both feet. Today’s prompt (thanks, as always, to the folks at The Broke and the Bookish) is books that people have recommended to us. I’m kicking this bad boy up a notch and calling out some of the insatiable book pushers who have demanded I read all the things. Ready???


1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford: I can’t attribute this one to a single person because pretty much everyone and their mom has told me I need to be reading the Thursday Next series. One of these days, I promise.

2. The Walking Dead Comics by Robert Kirkman: I’m so effing hooked on the show it’s completely ridiculous that I’ve heretofore ignored the source material. I’m ashamed, and publicly shaming myself. Bad Katie!

3. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks: This book has been recommended to me a number of times, because I love me some plague. The most recent recommendation I received came from Rhian, one of my super fantastic regular readers. I’ve got it on hold at the library, girl, I promise!

4. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber: So this one time, THE Emma Donoghue stopped by my blog and she told me to read this book. Because I’m totally the sort of person famous authors are chummy with, Emma knows I dig hooker books in a big way. It wasn’t just a random act of googling that caused her to land here that one time or anything…


5. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: This book has come to my attention on a number of occasions, but the gal who actually got me to make the purchase was Andi from Estella’s Revenge. (Have I mentioned she’s going to be writing for Book Riot’s newest venture? I’m so proud!!!) It’s just sitting on the e-reader. I’ll get to it. Gah, this TBR pile will be the death of me!

6. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness: My girl Heather Ethel from The Capricious Reader simply RAVES about these books and I need to know what all the commotion is about.

7. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: One of my favorite non-book-bloggers in all the land is Lauren from Filing Jointly… Finally. She’s been rather quiet of late in the online sphere because of this ridiculously cute kid she had. But. She’s also a voracious bookworm and has not so subtly demanded that I read Lonesome Dove. She is usually right about these things.

8. Anything by Christopher Moore: Sarah from Sarah Says Read loves her some Christopher Moore, and her descriptions typically make me think I should have read his entire catalog… Yesterday.

9. Anything by Harkuri Murakami: So, there may have been an episode of book shaming involved in my reluctance to try to read Murakami, but that Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall has been relentless in her quiet nudging way… I’m going to cave in soon, I just know it.


10. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I’ve read zero Cheryl Strayed, but every time I see Shannon from River City Reading getting all wistful about this book, I feel like I’m missing something really wonderful.

Your turn, Bookworms! What have people been recommending to you? Since my TBR is impossibly long anyway, a few more won’t hurt. What should I add to the list?

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


Aug 15

Six Degrees of Separation: Gone Girl

Six Degrees of Separation 10

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s time again for my favorite monthly meme, Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. This month’s starting point is Gone Girl (review), which is awesome, as my HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH has shown that if Kevin Bacon were a book, he’d be Gone Girl. Kismet, no?


1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. My first stop on this crazy train is going to be in Hannibal, MO. (Bonus points if you now have “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO” from Damn Yankees stuck in your head.) Gone Girl is set in Hannibal, MO whose most famous alumnus (before the Dunnes got all crazy up in there) is Mark Twain. Hence, the first book in my chain is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. One of my favorite adventures of Huck Finn occurred when he landed in the middle of the Shepherdson and Grangerford family feud. It got me to thinking about literary family feuds so OF COURSE, I landed on the infamous antics of the Capulets and Montagues!

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (review). How did I arrive here from Romeo and Juliet? Well. Doomed lovers, for a start. BUT. The title The Fault in Our Stars is totally a Shakespeare reference. Unfortunately, it’s NOT from Romeo and Juliet, it’s from Julius Caesar. However, now that we’re in ancient Rome, my next book choice totally makes sense!


4. I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith (review). How better to attach two books than with the assassination of a historical figure?! I Am Livia opens with the plotting of Caesar’s demise and goes on to get down with its Roman self. The thing about Rome is not everyone was thrilled to be conquered and stuff. That leads us to…

5. Hannibal: Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane (review). Carthage haaaaaaaaaated Rome. And Rome haaaaaaaaaated Carthage. And the kids who lived there grew up and fought in wars and stuff. But Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginian army, had a flock of WAR ELEPHANTS, which is kind of awesome, and connects to…

6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. War elephants, circus elephants. Potato, potahto. We made it all the way from the crazy media circus of Gone Girl to the actual circus. With elephants. And now you know why I can never get anything done. This is how my brain works. Oye.

#6Degrees Rules


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


Aug 14

Sad Robot Stories by Mason Johnson

Dystopian 16

Greetings, Bookworms!

You know how I’m always rattling on and on about books and how you should read them? Sometimes I actually take other people’s advice. Really. I listen when you give me suggestions, I promise. Case in point. A few weeks ago I put together an Idiosyncratic Lit List dedicated to robot stories. When I posed the question at the end of the post as to what I’m missing in the genre, I heard a loud chorus of “Sad Robot Stories!”

sadrobotcover400Available through small press CCLaP Publishing, Sad Robot Stories by Mason Johnson is a novella that will warm the cockles of even the most robotic heart. Our hero is a robot… Named Robot. Because why not? He was always uncommonly fond of humans for a mechanical being. He even came to befriend and love a human family.

Sadly, that was before the world was destroyed and humanity snuffed out. All that remain are robots, which is perfectly fine with most of the android population, but our poor Robot is heartbroken. Seeing the glimmers of what makes humanity good through Robot’s eyes is a fantastic journey.

It’s not all wistful looks at humankind, though. Sad Robot Stories is darkly comedic and filled with poignant satire. You’ll be hard pressed not to laugh, cry, and fall head over heels in love with Robot. You bookworms have never steered me wrong, and Sad Robot Stories was no exception!

I’d like to thank Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall in particular for her, uh, gentle? persuasion in getting me to read this book. You know, if you consider emailing someone a direct link to a free downloadable copy of the book gentle persuasion (you dirty, dirty book pusher, you.) That said… You can download this book FOR FREE from the CCLaP site. If you love it (and I know you will) you can make a donation commensurate with your enjoyment. OR you can just buy the thing outright. That totally works too. Go get your robot on, Bookworms!

Talk to me, Bookworms. What other gems am I missing out on? Sound off on recommendations, I’m all ears!


Aug 11

The Ultimate Nerdgasm: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Audio Books, Dystopian 35

Hey Bookworms!

I am just starting to get into listening to audio books in situations other than long solo road trips. I’m not exactly tech savvy, but I’m pleased to report that I have figured out how to access audio books through my library’s digital service for ZERO dollars! (It’s embarrassingly easy, actually. There’s an app for that.) I’m happy to report that Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (narrated by the incomparable Wil Wheaton) was a big winner!

ready player oneIn the year 2044, society sucks. A series of economic catastrophes, wars, famine, and natural disasters have rendered the world as we know it nearly unrecognizable. In fact, most of the world prefers to spend their time logged into the ubiquitous virtual reality server known as the OASIS than, you know, exist in their own skins. The OASIS is a multifaceted information and entertainment hub- think the internet on steroids. Times eleventy billion.

Wade Watts is an orphan living in a trailer stack outside of Oklahoma City. He escapes his Dickensian circumstances in the OASIS where he spends his time hunting for the ultimate golden ticket. James Halliday, one of the original creators of the OASIS, died and left a treasure hunt in place of a will. Whoever manages to find his hidden “Easter egg” will receive his entire fortune.

Wade and others like him spend oodles of time studying every facet of Halliday’s life trying to unlock the keys to his puzzle. Halliday’s formative years were spent in that most glorious of decades, the 1980s.

This book is the ultimate nerdgasm, but you don’t need to be hardcore to enjoy it. Despite having never played a role-playing game, being abysmal at every video game ever created, and having only a passing familiarity with Star Trek, I couldn’t get enough of this book. The pop culture references flew fast and furious. Wil Wheaton, narrator of my audio book, got to discuss HIMSELF as a political leader inside the OASIS. How much fun is that?!

Ready Player One is easily one of the most entertaining and fun books I’ve experienced in a good long while. Anybody who appreciates a good Breakfast Club reference, has a collection of vintage Transformers, and/or remembers Atari needs to read this book. Like right now. DO IT!

Any of you Bookworms moonlight as gamers? Anybody as terrible at video games as I am?

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