Tag: The Fellowship of The Worms

Sep 04

A Tale for the Time Being: A Fellowship of the Worms Discussion

Book Club 6

Konichiwa Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be discussing the heart wrenching novel, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. 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 A Tale for the Time Being 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 questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of A Tale for the Time Being on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

  1. One of the things that struck me about this novel was how quickly Ruth became attached to Nao through her writing. Have you ever found yourself becoming attached to someone you don’t actually know through their writing? Have I ever! Some of my blog friends I feel as close to as anyone I’ve ever met in real life. Heck, there’s usually even a period before I pluck up the courage to “talk” to a blogger I admire where I feel like I know them only to realize they literally have no idea I exist. And still I care about them. Worry about them. Want to know that things turn out okay. I totally get Ruth’s predicament!

2. How much did you love Old Jiko? Do any of you have an impossibly wise older relative who has shaped who you became? I don’t know that I could say that I’ve ever had a relationship with a relative the way Nao bonds with Jiko, but reading about Jiko’s life in the temple, I couldn’t help but think of my great aunt. She was a Catholic nun and lived in a convent. People (myself included most of the time) tend to imagine that those who devote themselves entirely to religious pursuits tend to by stodgy and out of touch. That certainly wasn’t the case with Jiko and it definitely wasn’t true of Sister ataleforthetimebeingBernard either. While she never left me with cryptic words of wisdom, but she used to send THE BEST mail. That’s partially why I’m so fond of greeting cards. And stickers. A number of you have received mail from me, and I’d be willing to bet that there was at least one fun sticker on it. Sis used to include sheets of stickers in my birthday cards. She was pretty much the best, much like Jiko.

3. Did any of y’all break down when reading about the bullying Nao went through at school? Um, are you kidding me? I might have started crying a bit when Nao’s mom discovered her physical injuries, but hearing Nao describe her OWN FUNERAL and thinking that everyone pretending she was dead was an improvement in her situation? Why are people so awful? Whyyyyyyyy??? And that teacher. I can’t even. I literally can’t even. FICTIONAL RAGE PUNCHES ALL AROUND!

4. I feel like we can’t actually discuss this novel without addressing the elephant in the room, suicide. Despite Haruki #1’s kamikaze mission, Haruki #2’s failed suicide attempts, and Nao’s suicidal thoughts, the overall tone remains hopeful. How do you think Ozeki pulled that off? I am of the opinion that Ruth Ozeki is of Japanese, American, and unicorn descent. That magical gift had to come from somewhere, and my money is on unicorn. Don’t ask me how that works, I have no answer. I think that this book that the potential to be the most depressing book in the history of ever, but I think the humor injected into Nao’s narrative helped to lighten the mood. That and Jiko. Have I mentioned how much I love Jiko? “Up, down. Same thing.”

5. Nao’s narrative finding Ruth is pretty much the ultimate message-in-a-bottle scenario. Have you ever fantasized about leaving your story for an unknown reader to discover? What would you tell them? Sometimes I daydream about this sort of thing. I blog about books, and though I often discuss my personal life, I’m not really interested in publicly airing my dirty laundry, so to speak. I think the idea of a full Nao-style confessional document thrown out into the world for posterity is appealing, but I don’t think I could ever do it. I’m afraid that even if I made an attempt, I’d end up presenting something less than true and very tainted by my mood of the day. I mean, how often does something drive you ABSOLUTELY BONKERS when in hindsight it really wasn’t that big a deal? I’d be worried my mythical reader would think I was a whiny brat. I recognize my privilege and all, but those first world problems, man.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of A Tale for the Time Being. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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Apr 27

The Fellowship of the Worms Blasts Off: The Martian

Audio Books, Book Club 20

Happy Monday Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be discussing the impossibly suspenseful novel, The Martian by Andy Weir. 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 Martian 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 questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of The Martian on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this! 

1. Does anybody else have a bit of a crush on Mark Watney after reading this? 

Um, heck yes! Super smart botanist/astronaut/engineer with a killer sense of humor and survival instinct? If MacGuyver, Bill Nye, and, I dunno, Tina Fey? got together and conquered Mars with science, duct tape, and hilarity, it might come close to matching Mark Watney’s awesomeness. Yes, please.

2. Do you think the crew was right in leaving Watney behind?

I’m with Mark on this one. I absolutely cannot blame the crew for leaving Watney. All their evidence pointed towardthemartian his being dead. It’s not like they were just like “he wasn’t back in time let’s go.” They were like “noooooo our friend is dead and Mars is evil!” The data all said “dude is dead, get out before you get sand stormed to death” so they did.

3. Do you think it’s realistic that Mark could have kept his sense of humor throughout his ordeal?

If it were me, I’d have given up early on and gone to a cold Martian grave. Watney’s maintenance of spirit is impressive, but I kind of believe it could happen. In listening to Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars (review), I learned that they have some crazy methods of picking astronauts. Would a person with an “ordinary” temperment have reacted the way Watney did? No. But they choose some pretty unusual characters to go into space. It makes sense to me, on some level. Plus, I loved Watney’s snarky humor so I’m talking myself into his being plausible.

4. Matt Damon is going to be playing Mark Watney in the upcoming movie version of The MartianHow do you feel about the casting decision? 

I listened to the audio version of this book (which was spectacular, BTW) and I can TOTALLY hear Matt Damon delivering Mark’s lines. I think he’s probably more handsome than what I imagine a botanist/engineer/astronaut would look like, but it’s Hollywood. Everybody is prettier than normal and that’s just something that happens in movie versions of books.

5. How many times did you think Mark was really, truly, going to bite it? 

The suspense killed me. Every time I thought Mark was really getting somewhere something insane would happen. Something would blow up or crash or get fried or be sucked into the Martian atmosphere and ruined. I was seriously stressed out reading and didn’t believe Watney would make it several times. Of course, in the earlier catastrophes, I tried to figure out what would fill the rest of the book if they killed off Watney but holy cats I don’t know HOW he made it out alive. Fictionally. Whatever. This has all been very intense and real for me, okay?!

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of The Martian. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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

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Mar 20

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Club 14

Greetings Bookworms!

I think it’s about time for The Fellowship of the Worms to reconvene, don’t you? I’ve had my eye on The Martian by Andy Weir for a while now and I want to read it with you! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

themartianSix days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Sounds awesome, right?! I’ll be posting discussion questions on Monday, April 20. Who’s in?!

*If you purchase your copy of The Martian through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Feb 09

The Fellowship of the Worms: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Club, World War II 11

Happy Monday Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be chewing on the brain food that is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 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 All the Light We Cannot See 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 questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of All the Light We Cannot See on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

1. Marie-Laure is stricken blind at a young age. Despite her disability, she goes on to do some pretty amazing things. Were there any instances in Marie-Laure’s experiences that surprised you?

I am amazed at the way the human mind compensates for a compromised sense. Marie-Laure’s acute senses of smell and hearing were impressive. Of course, I think she’d have been in much rougher shape were it not for her AMAZING father. Oh that Daniel LeBlanc! Creating a miniature model of their neighborhood in Paris? Teaching Marie-Laure to navigate? The lengths he went to protect her? Their relationship was so incredibly sweet.

2. Werner has, without question, a brilliant mind. Unfortunately, being raised an orphan he is afforded few opportunities. When he is accepted into the prestigious Nazi school, his sister Jutta is opposed to his attending. What would you have done in Werner’s shoes?

Oh goodness, how I felt for Werner! And for Jutta! Seriously, there were so few options. Could Werner have declined the invitation to join the school? Maybe. Without consequences? That’s hard to say. I mean, did you SEE what happened to Frederick? The Nazi regime was really effing scary. I’d like to think I’d be noble and amazing, but I think I’d have taken Werner’s route. He had the best of intentions to make a difference from the inside, but it proved impossible. Luckily he managed to hold on to his humanity in the end, poor kid.

3. When Etienne and Marie-Laure are working for the resistance and broadcastingallthelightwecannotsee coded messages, Etienne frets that his actions will certainly get people killed. Marie-Laure tries to console him by telling him that they’re “the good guys.” Etienne expresses that he hopes so. Do you think there are ever any clear “good guys” or “bad guys” in war?

Ooooh, Katie, GOOD QUESTION. There’s nobody who would argue that the Nazi regime was a good thing. (Well, nobody who isn’t horrible on a fundamental level.) However. How many Werners were there in that army? How many innocent civilians would be caught in the crossfire? How many Allied soldiers did awful things of their own accord? War is such a big nightmarish sticky mess. Could we maybe stop having them already?! Gah!

4. That doggone Sea of Flames! It’s got quite the tale attached to it, what with its curse and all. A number of people believe this to be true, Von Rumpel among them. In fact, it’s almost as though the curse of the diamond started the whole dang war. Do you think it was cursed and/or brought protection to the one who held it?

Yeah I’m not big on superstitions, but wouldn’t it be nice to blame WWII on an evil diamond? I think Von Rumpel’s buy in was based directly on the fact that he was dying of cancer and desperate. You can’t deny that Marie-Laure, despite some super dangerous extra-curriculars survived. I doubt that Doerr really meant for the reader to believe a supernatural stone had all kinds of power, but it provided a nice narrative element.

5. Do you think if Werner hadn’t succumbed to illness, he and Marie-Laure might have had a future together?

Hi, I’m Katie and I want people to be happy! It would have ruined the book and I’d have hated it for having a cheeseball ending, but there’s a significant part of me that REALLY wanted Werner and Marie-Laure to have a happily ever after! They could move to Switzerland and she could have studied things and he could have made scientific breakthroughs and had babies. Jutta and Etienne could have lived with them in their modest ski chalet and they could collectively have worked to heal all their various broken psyches. Siiiiiiiiigh.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of All the Light We Cannot See. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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

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Jan 09

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: All the Light We Cannot See

Book Club 19

Howdy Bookworms!

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mark Zuckerburg decided to start a book club in 2015. I think it’s awesome, I’m ALWAYS in favor of encouraging people to read. But really. Move over, Zuck, you’ve got nothing on The Fellowship of the Worms, yo! Let’s kick off the new year in style and tackle one of last year’s most celebrated works of fiction, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Check out the Goodreads Synopsis:

allthelightwecannotseeMarie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

I know, right? It sounds pretty awesome to me. I’m going to be listening to this one as I won an audio copy during Armchair BEA this spring, but I’m really excited. I love me some historical fiction, and it’s been a while since I visited WWII. I’ll post discussion questions on Monday, February 9, 2015. Who’s with me?!

*If you purchase your copy of All the Light We Cannot See through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Dec 15

Tiny Beautiful Things: A Fellowship of the Worms Event

Book Club, Memoirs 26

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s time, it’s time! I’ve been really excited to talk about Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things with you and it’s finally time! Yaaaaaaaaaay! WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. This isn’t a novel, so I’m not sure how you can really spoil it, but I feel like I should warn you anyway. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of Tiny Beautiful Things 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 Tiny Beautiful Things on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so if you’ve reviewed this don’t hesitate to get your link on.

smarty-mcwordypants-199x3001. Did you ever read the “Dear Sugar” column on The Rumpus or frequent any other advice columns? I’ve mentioned before that I think I’m part bear, right? I mean, the minute it starts getting cold, I get the uncontrollable urge to eat everything in sight and hibernate for the winter. Apparently I also live in a CAVE because I didn’t know Dear Sugar was a thing before this book. Pitiful. But, more evidence of my bear-dom, so I’ve got that going for me.

2. Sugar uses a lot of terms of endearment in her responses. Do you like them? Does it bother you when you’re addressed with a term of endearment in real life? There’s something about being called “honey bun” and “sweet pea” that makes hearing difficult advice more bearable, in my opinion. Strayed’s use of the terms just made me want to hug her. In real life, it’s a whole lot more complicated. If a woman addresses me as “honey” in a genuine tone of voice, I kind of like it. It feels sweet and sisterly. If a dude calls me “sweetheart” condescendingly, my blood gets to boiling. That feels creepy and/or douchey. If a dude of any age has a English/Irish/Scottish/Australian accent and calls me “love” in virtually any tone of voice, I’ll squeal with delight. I have a wildly varying and unfair set of standards, don’t I? Maybe I should just stick with encouraging people to call me “Katie” and leave it at that.

3. Did any of the advice/questions make you uncomfortable? I wasn’t necessarily made uncomfortable by any of tinybeautifulthingsthese stories, but some made me desperately sad. I mean, the girls she mentored? The ones who’d “make it” if they grew up to hold a job at Taco Bell? My heart, my heart, MY HEART!

4. Did any of Sugar’s advice resonate with you? There were a number of essays I found touching (some hit closer to home than I’m willing to admit publicly), but “The Ghost Ship that Didn’t Carry Us” really hit me in the feels. It’s not so much that I’m torn about wanting kids, it’s more the idea that major life decisions lead you down a certain path that completely eliminates certain other possibilities. If you’d gone to a different college, what would have happened? If you’d taken a different job, where would you have ended up? If you chose to take a big risk or chose the path of least resistance, what would have happened IF? Sugar just GETS it, and MY WORD I want to hug the woman!

5. Strayed infused the “Dear Sugar” column with a heaping helping of memoir. Did her personal anecdotes add or detract from the advice she was trying to give to her readers? For me, Strayed’s personal asides only added to the book.What made Tiny Beautiful Things so powerful for me was that it felt like Sugar had been there. I don’t want to take advice from someone who’s always made the right decisions. I want to hear from someone who has royally effed things up and managed to come out wiser on the other side. We’re all broken, but we’re all going to be okay. Even when we’re not. It’s complicated, but you know what I’m saying, right?

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your thoughts. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 
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*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Oct 31

‘Salem’s Lot: The Fellowship of the Worms is Traumatized by Stephen King

Book Club, Vampires 11

Happy Halloween, grim grinning Bookworms!

Halloween Katoo

The penguin wanted to come in costume.

I am super stoked today! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I LOVE handing out candy to the oodles of Trick-Or-Treaters who come through our neighborhood. Today is extra super spooktacular because OMG THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE WORMS! This month we tackled a classic Stephen King tome, ‘Salem’s Lot. 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 ‘Salem’s Lot 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 ‘Salem’s Lot 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. Was this book as frightening as you anticipated?

No! I have been such a chicken about Stephen King for so long I fully expected to need to use my penguin nightlight on the regular. I found the book rather soporific, actually, it took me longer to read than usual because I kept conking out. At first I thought I’d just been desensitized by The Walking Dead but then I remembered I’d been watching the show before I read World War Z (review) and The Passage (review) and they BOTH scared the pants off me. I mean, they didn’t scare me as much as books about ghosts and evil spirits would have (I don’t believe in vampires and zombies. The others? Let’s just say I’m a bit on the terrified eccentric side.) Still. I was surprised by my relative lack of fright while reading this.

2. Did you have any nightmares while reading ‘Salem’s Lot?'salem's lot

I’m happy to report I had but one nightmare during the reading of this book, in which a childhood friend who is currently living in Europe was killed under suspicious circumstances. I’m not entirely sure I can attribute it to the book at all, as I don’t believe vampires were involved in her demise, but whatever. (Don’t worry, I emailed her about the dream just in case I’m psychic and told her to be careful. I’m sure she loved that. Right, Mary?)

 3. What’s your favorite part of vampire lore that was incorporated into ‘Salem’s Lot?

The piece of vampire lore that makes me feel better about the whole thing is that you HAVE to invite them into your home for them to get to you. Depending on the novel, this invitation clause isn’t always in play, but I feel safer when it is. I know they have hypnotic eyeballs or whatever, but shoot. I don’t even answer the door for my incredibly nice neighbors delivering holiday decorating prizes.

4. Young Mark Petrie’s parents dismiss the warnings from Ben, Dr. Cody, and Father Callahan as hokum. How long do you think it would take YOU to believe a vampire apocalypse was taking place? If this weird crew showed up at your house, how would you react?

I’m a chicken. Have I mentioned that?  I think I’d have a hard time dismissing a doctor, writer, priest, AND my own child, but I mean, a vampire infestation is a tough story to swallow. King described the town feeling super creepy and evil, and people kept going missing… I think given the circumstances I might be persuaded. Although, if face-to-face with Barlow, I’m afraid my cross might stop glowing too. Yikes!

5. Alright Bookworms, what’s the overall verdict on this one? What did you think, all-in-all?

I know this sounds ridiculous coming from ME of all people, but I was disappointed that this book didn’t frighten me! I mean, Stephen King, yo! I had EXPECTATIONS! I enjoyed it on the whole except for one thing. The copy of the book I got from the library tacked a bunch of deleted scenes onto the end of my copy… Only, I didn’t realize what they were at first. I mean, I thought everything ended at the epilogue, but then there was all this extra stuff and I got confused about the timeline of events. If I discount the confusion toward the end, though, it was certainly a Halloween appropriate read, and I should probably be grateful I was still able to sleep!

If you’ve reviewed ‘Salem’s Lot on your own blog or have tackled the discussion questions, please link up! I’m all kinds of interested in what y’all thought!

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

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Sep 26

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Book Club, Vampires 32

Greetings Bookworms!

You’ll remember that Halloween is one of my FAVORITE holidays. You may also remember that I’m a ginormous chicken about scary books. 'salem's lotI’m feeling brave this month, as long as y’all are willing to join me. To get us in the Halloween spirit, we’re going to tackle a Stephen King novel, and NOT one of the carefully chosen less-horrifying tomes I normally pick. I’ve decided on ‘Salem’s Lot for a few reasons. First, Rory of Fourth Street Review (AKA my go-to Stephen King expert) assures me that it’s excellent. She also said it was terrifying, BUT it’s about vampires. I can handle vampires because I’m one thousand percent sure they could never be real. (How am I sure? I am DELICIOUS to mosquitoes. If vampires were a real thing, I’d be long gone.) I do better with nightmares when it comes to mythological creatures like vampires and zombies than do with ghosts and demons and psycho killers (which could TOTALLY BE REAL!) Check out the Goodreads synopsis:

Something strange is going on in Jerusalem’s Lot … but no one dares to talk about it. By day, ‘Salem’s Lot is a typical modest New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window. Stephen King brings his gruesome imagination to life in this tale of spine tingling horror.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN!!! Are you nervous-cited?! I know I am… Or at least I WILL be if I have your moral support! We’ll be talking about this big scary book on HALLOWEEN, Friday, October 31. Please join me? I have a penguin night light for these situations. I have a feeling it’s going to be getting a workout.

Talk to me Bookworms! Who’s in? What’s your favorite scary book?

*If you purchase your copy of ‘Salem’s Lot through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 12

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A Fellowship of the Worms SHOCKER

Book Club, Coming of Age 27

How Now, Bookworms?

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300 The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session! As you know, this month we read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It occurred to me that this book title would have been equally appropriate had it been by G. Lockhart, but I can only assume he’s still chilling in St. Mungo’s thanks to his own treachery. Way to be an ass, GILDEROY. 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 We Were Liars 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 We Were Liars on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up! Oh, and since the whole hook of this book is a surprise ending, please remember to issue spoiler alerts to your readers if appropriate.

1. Normally I attempt to work through these questions chronologically, but I simply can’t help myself. Was anybody well and truly shocked by the revelation at the end of this book? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Disappointment. Seriously, you guys. I wrote myself a note when I was 20% of the way through this book saying “the twist had better not be that the other three liars are dead, because that’s not much of a shocker.” I feel like I played a big part in my own disappointment though. If I hadn’t been on such high alert to suss out the shocking ending, maybe I wouldn’t have seen it coming. I mean, I probably still would have, because even hands-off parents don’t allow teenagers a house to themselves with zero family interaction on vacation, particularly if one of the teenagers has recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. Plus, even the most self absorbed youth respond to the emails and texts of their severely injured friends/cousins. Nobody’s that big a jerk. Maybe I should blame pop culture though… I’ve seen The Sixth Sense, and am now abnormally attuned to we were liarsthe details that might give away the secretly dead.

2. That said, do you think Cadence was lying about interacting with dead people? Having full on hallucinations? Or, you know, were there legit ghosts hanging around? I think she was hallucinating. Cadence was troubled, no doubt, and the Sinclairs were a hot mess, but I don’t think she was manipulative enough to have played off memory loss the way she did. And, despite my willingness to embrace the paranormal, I don’t think Cadence was being haunted. Brains do weird things when they experience trauma. Score one for hallucinations.

3. Despite the tragic end of the crime perpetrated by the Liars, did they in any way succeed in their goals? That’s tough to say. I mean, they wanted the family to quit fighting about money. They wanted their grandfather to quit pitting his daughters against each other. In some ways I suppose they were successful, since the Sinclairs were hit with a mega-dose of perspective when they compared the loss of their children to the money squabbling they’d been engaged in. Still though, they didn’t magically become the Cleavers or anything. Moral of the story? Arson is never the answer, kids!

4. Did you like the allusions to King Lear, Wuthering Heights (review), and fairy tales, or did you find them distracting? I love a good literary allusion. When Gat started explaining how he was Heathcliff to Cadence, I was all “YES! Spot on!” He also went on to talk about how Catherine and Heathcliff were horrible characters and in no way an appropriate model for romance (okay, maybe I’m projecting a little…) at which point I wanted to high five him. It made a nice change to want to high five a character instead of punch him. Way to go, Gat.

5. The Sinclairs own their own island and have named all the houses on it. Clairmont, Windmere, Red Gate, and (gag) Cuddledown. Would you ever name your home? I am neither especially wealthy nor especially pretentious, but I have been calling my home “The Gingerbread House” since the day we bought it. Of course, I’m also the sort of person who names cars, house plants, and the occasional penguin statue, so I’m not sure I’m a great case study. Seriously though, at least it’s not “Cuddledown.” I’m of the opinion “cuddle” should only be a part of something’s name if that thing is inherently fluffy. Or especially unfluffy, because irony is fun.

Talk to me Bookworms! What did y’all think of We Were Liars? If you’ve reviewed We Were Liars on your own blog or have answered the discussion questions, please link up! 

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*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Proceeds will be put toward the “buy Katie an island” fund.*

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Jul 18

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: A Fellowship of the Worms Fun-fest

Blogging, Book Club, Contemporary Fiction 15

Salutations Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300Who is excited and has two thumbs? THIS GIRL! Why? The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session!!! This month we took on The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. 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 Storied Life of A. J. Fikry 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 Storied Life of A. J. Fikry on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up! (I’m looking at YOU, every book blogger ever!)

1. First things first. How much did you love all the book references? A.J. was constantly talking about the books he carried in his store, the books he recommended to his customers, the books he despised. What was your favorite book reference moment? I very nearly died laughing when the old woman came back to the store and yelled at AJ for recommending The Book Thief (review). The minute she said that it was narrated by Death I knew what she was talking about and I couldn’t help myself. It certainly IS rather traumatizing, if you’re not prepared for it. I’m not sure it’s worth berating a bookseller over, but I love quirky elderly characters.

2. How much did you love the AJ and Maya relationship? Am I the only person who got a MAJOR Silas Marner vibe here? Bitter man hoards riches and has heart opened by mysteriously abandoned child? I absolutely ADORED the thawing of AJ. I loved the way he interacted with Maya and conversed with her. Such a funny pair, these two! I think George Eliot would approve.

3. How did you like AJ and Amelia’s love story? Did you find it believable that such an intense relationship could AJFikrydevelop at a distance, especially considering the rocky start they had? I really enjoyed AJ and Amelia as a couple. Thank heaven for Maya- if it weren’t for her melting AJ’s frosty exterior, he never would have opened up to Amelia. I also rather liked the scene at the wedding when Maya gave Amelia the orange nail polish, “A Good MAN-darin is Hard to Find.” My not-so-secret career ambition is to be the nail polish namer for OPI. I’m so good at puns. SOMEBODY HIRE ME!

4. The book Amelia first tries to pitch to AJ was marketed as the memoir of an old man falling in love and getting married late in life. It is later revealed that the “memoir” was a work of fiction by a young female writer. Do you find it problematic that a book be falsely promoted in such a manner? Since I already name dropped George Eliot, let’s talk about pen names. Back in the day, it was SUPER common for female writers to use a male pseudonym to publish their work because a female name wouldn’t be taken as seriously. Even now, I see a lot of female writers using initials to publish as opposed to using their full names in an apparent effort to avoid being pigeon-holed into a lady genres (which is a sad reflection on the state of gender equality, but I digress.) I found it rather interesting that the author not only chose a pen name, but chose to call her novel a memoir. It actually reminded me of the whole hullaballoo when it was shown that James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces embellished his “memoir” so significantly that Oprah felt betrayed. I really liked that Zevin found a way to incorporate some of the dirty little secrets of publishing into her lovely book about books.

5. It turns out in the end that Ismay stole AJ’s copy of Tamerlane. Do you think his story would have gone the way it did if he’d been able to hold on to the valuable manuscript? I did not see this one coming! I mean, it made sense that is was Ismay, because she was one of the only people who knew he had it, but holy smokes! Much as I would have liked to, I found myself unable to hate Ismay. She was a hot steamy mess, that one, and I felt more pity for her than anger. I always love when I see flaws in a books heroes and humanity in the villains. It was really a blessing that AJ lost that dang book though. If he’d kept it, he’d have no Maya, no Amelia, and a whole lot more vindaloo on the wall.

Your turn, Bookworms! Tell me what you thought of this one! If you’ve responded to these discussion questions or reviewed The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry on your own blog, please link up!
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