18 November 2013

OLDIE BUT GOODIE: The Count of Monte Cristo – By: Alexandre Dumas


 
 
I’ve always suspected that Dumas was a bit of a feminist, because his novels have some of the best women in classic literature. In “The Count of Monte Cristo” we have Mercedes. She’s the only person who sees past Edmund’s little charade, and she forces Mr. Angry Eyes to lay off her son. In 19th century novels, that makes her one badass Mama. Not only that, but in the end she takes care of herself, better than anyone else took care of her.

Besides all that, we have: betrayal, the world’s most thorough revenge, and true love. I do realize that it’s a big book, but this classic is jam-packed with awesomeness. I think it’s time you read it.

Bookwyrm Rating: Meat & Potatoes

03 November 2013

M is for Magic – By: Neil Gaiman (Short Stories)




If you’re looking to add just a hint of oddity to your day, this is the book for you. It’s an eerie collection of short stories from one of my favorite authors. Each story is vaguely unsettling. Even in small doses, they're strong enough to put you in a new mindset. They’re clever and sad, perfectly satisfying, and startlingly frustrating. Neil Gaiman’s writing is hypnotic, and breaking free from one of his short stories makes reality just a little too crisp.

Bookwyrm Rating - Dessert

31 October 2013

NaNoWriMo!!!!!!



November is upon us ladies and gentlemen. And, in a fit of commute inspired boredom and probably some kind of genetic defect, (thanks Dad), I have signed myself up for NaNoWriMo.

That's right, National Novel Writing Month. I will be attempting to write 50, 000 words all strung together so that they actually make sense at the end. I've never been short of words...but this might be pushing it just a bit. Wish me luck.

If you'd like to join my insanity, check out their handy-dandy website.

https://nanowrimo.org

08 September 2013

OLDIE BUT GOODIE: Les Miserables – By: Victor Hugo



I love a good tragedy, and Hugo sure knows how to deliver. This is a great novel, but it’s one of the few where I will recommend reading the abridgment. For a first time through, you won’t miss that much. Yea, you’ll miss the nuances, and maybe a general understanding of the human condition. But, you’ll also miss a 200 page description of the lives of good nuns. Ok, maybe it just feels that long. Just save the real deal for when you’re already in love with the story. Oh, you’ll fall in love with the story.

Here there are no saints, nor characters that you can totally hate. Each character’s complexity makes them deserving of genuine attachment on the part of the reader. When you read something at this level of writing, re-reading is like visiting old friends.


Bookwyrm Rating: Meat & Potatoes

02 September 2013

The Humans – By: Matt Haig (Fiction)



As it turns out, there is an odd species in a far-off corner of the galaxy causing trouble; humans. Our no-name narrator is a member of an alien species, sent to earth to erase all evidence,either human or physical, of a mathematical breakthrough. This breakthrough, regarding the prime numbers, would give humans more power than they’re capable of handling responsibly. After his initial horror of the species wears off, the narrator begins to find quaint things about humanity that are worth giving a chance.

I haven’t read anything so funny in a long time. Sometimes it’s nice to see how weird everything really is by exploring it from a fresh perspective.


Bookwyrm Rating: Appetizer 

13 August 2013

The Hero’s Guide to Saving your Kingdom – By: Christopher Healy (Children's Fiction)



Prince Charming is a bit persnickety, Prince Charming doesn't have great impulse control, Prince Charming intensely dislikes his fiancee, and Prince Charming is well…a few bricks short of a wall. Also, Prince Charming is a title that applies to four, count them, four Princes. After these guys made their way into the storybooks, they had a lot to live up to. Other than that, they don’t have a whole lot in common. But, they’re pulled together by chance, and a few feisty Princesses, and they do their best to be the heroes they’re supposed to be.

It’s hilarious and heartwarming, and I can hardly wait to read the sequel.


Bookwyrm Rating: Dessert

P.S. The illustrations cracked me up

14 July 2013

Holy Sh*t: A brief history of swearing – By: Melissa Mohr



The title describes exactly what the book is, and for someone who loves language as much as I do, this was a must read. Melissa Mohr delves into the reasons we swear, and why each swear word is considered vulgar. Vulgarity plays a huge role in how our society perceives the world, and yet, this is an area that’s so rarely looked at from a scholarly perspective. 

The etymology of swear words is much more interesting than the layperson might think, but it’s also slightly uncomfortable. It’s an in-depth look at how western culture has viewed the sacred and the profane for a couple thousand years. Something in there is bound to be a bit touchy for you. After-all, swears are only words, it’s their connotations that makes things obscene. And, the reason that we find certain things obscene was fascinating. 


Bookwyrm Rating: Vegetable

07 July 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman (Fiction)



I don’t know why I’m always surprised when Neil Gaiman’s work surprises me. I should know better than to have expectations. Yet here I am, surprised again. I was left equal parts bemused and delighted, yet slightly disturbed. This new novel for adults finds it’s protagonist finally remembering the odd evens which followed his seventh birthday. And he remembers the girl at the end of the lane whose odd reality briefly overlapped his own.

As the main character encounters his memories for the first time, we’re given an adult’s comprehension of what a child perceived. The result is a strange twist on the supposed innocence of childhood. A must read, and I must go re-read it.


Bookwyrm Rating: Meat & Potatoes

25 June 2013

Smile – By: Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel)



One evening in the seventh grade, shortly before getting braces, Raina has an accident. Her two front teeth are lost, and she’s left with seemingly endless rounds of dentist visits and reconstruction.  In the harsh world of adolescence, her teeth take center stage, effectively taking over her life.

Almost everyone I know had some reason to be insecure as a teen. Usually, our insecurity was blown way out of proportion to reality. This book taps into that insecurity with honest elegance. I found myself sympathizing with Raina’s plight immediately, because our circumstances were so similar. But the theme is universal.

The graphic novel is the perfect medium for the message. It’s fun to read; and the exaggerated expressions display precisely how an awkward adolescence feels.  In the end, what matters isn't how others see us, but how we see ourselves. A good message, from a good book.


Bookwyrm Rating – Appetizer (If you want to see more, check out Raina Telgemeier's "Drama")

02 June 2013

Here I go again: By- Jen Lancaster (Fiction)



In this devilishly fun book, high school’s queen bee finally gets hers. When her life falls apart, Lissy Ryder expects that a return to the scene of her glory days will put everything back together. It’s her class’s 20th reunion, and Lissy just can’t wrap her head around the idea that no one there likes her. In fact, most of them actively hate her. But, with a little help from an unexpected (but fabulously feisty) source, maybe she can figure out where everything went wrong.

Lissy Ryder is everything we expect the evil queen bee to be. She’s casually evil, and leads a completely unexamined life. She dishes out misery morning, noon and night, no one is spared. While the means are only vaguely unusual, her journey follows the usual redemption route. It’s rewarding none the less.


Bookwyrm Rating: Dessert

11 May 2013

Libriomancer – Magic ex libris – By: Jim C. Hines (Fantasy)




In this addictive urban fantasy, our hero is a member of “The Porters”, a mysterious group who polices the magical world through the power of books.  Their Libriomancers can pull objects right out of a story and into their world. They’re up against several species of vampire (Sangiunarius Meyerii…need I say more?) and a mysterious something which is much nastier. Isaac has a little trouble controlling his magic, so he’s been taken out of the field and now works in the most magical place of all…a library.

When a rogue Libriomancer decides to start a war between the magical species, Isaac ends up in the crossfire and back on active duty. He has a spider for a side-kick and a dryad for a (maybe)girlfriend. So really, only chaos can follow.

The only problem I had with the story, if you can even call it a problem, is that I ended up disagreeing (maybe outloud, maybe not), with what the characters decided to pull out of the book. It’s a dangerous pastime and led to a lot of daydreaming.

If you could pull one thing out of a book, what would you choose?

Bookwyrm Rating - Dessert

27 April 2013

Out of my Mind – By: Sharon M. Draper (Teen Fiction)




In my humble opinion, curiosity and imagination are the keys to empathy.  Unless you’re curious about what makes other people tick, or how they experience the world, you’ll never really care about them. One of my favorite things about reading is the way it pulls you from your own world, and places you squarely in someone else’s. It’s practice for empathizing with others in real life. That’s why I feel so strongly that books like this are irreplaceable.

In this wonderfully written story, Melody is a young girl, living with cerebral palsy.  She is physically disabled, but intellectually vibrant. With the aid of new technology, she is finally able to venture out of her own mind and into the world, with that comes school, and all of its challenges. As a reader you are able to watch someone try to carve out her unique place in the world, in harder circumstances than most of us face in our daily lives.

Bookwyrm Rating – Meat & Potatoes

21 April 2013

Unbroken - By: Laura Hillenbrand (Nonfiction)




I was woefully uneducated on the history of WWII in the Pacific. However, this book addressed that lack with its combination of history and biography. This is the story of Louis Vamperini, who grew up became an Olympic hero, joined the air force during WWII and came back to tell about it.

After surviving an aerial battle and his plane crashing into the sea, Vamperini went on to survive 47 days aboard the emergency raft, and internment as a prisoner of war. Laura Hillenbrand is a gifted storyteller, and shipwreck, imprisonment and survival make for a lot of excitement.  But, the real story is the impression that it all made on the men who survived it.

Bookwyrm Rating: Vegetable

26 March 2013

Memoirs of an imaginary friend – By: Matthew Dicks (Fiction)



Budo is an extremely lucky imaginary friend. His eight year old child still believes that he’s real and so he continues to exist. His job is easy, all he has to do is to love the boy that he was created by. But when autistic Max is kidnapped by a woman who thinks that only she can take care of him, Budo has to take charge. He’s up against the world, he’s invisible and incorporeal, so he enlists the aid of other imaginary friends to help his buddy. Max has to learn to see past the fact that his abductor makes sure that things are exactly how he wants them, to the fact that she’s taken him from his family. Budo is forced to make allies and risk his own existence to make Max understand the danger he’s in.

This is a great story, it’s an imaginative view of a child’s world, and all that it creates. It pulls you in, and leaves you believing in magic again.

Bookwyrm Rating: Appetizer

27 January 2013

Nobody – By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Fantasy)




In this book, there are special people in the world who go throught the world without attracting any kind of notice from others. They are unable to leave an impression on anyone, even their parents. They are called Nobodies, and they make the perfect assassins. This is how Nix was raised, and he is sent to kill Claire. She happens to be the only person who can notice him, when no one else can. She’s grown up knowing that she’s not normal, but her encounter with Nix shows her just how abnormal she really is.

The plot owes a great big debt to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a few others; but I don’t think that it took away from the enjoyment of the story. The character development is strong enough to make it unique and exciting.

Bookwyrm Rating: Dessert

12 January 2013

The Wheel of Time (Series, Fantasy) – By: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson



I’ve always loved this series, but until now I couldn’t recommend it to a friend with a clear conscience. You see, this series can suck you in, you start living in this world; and this world contained nothing but heartbreak for devoted fans. First, the author decided to write prequels instead of continuing the series. Oh the frustration! To be reading the series since 1993 and suddenly you have to backtrack in the story. So instead of seeing if your favorite character (Perrin, in case you were wondering) lives or dies, you get to see how everything used to be, before all the action, that you in the middle of, happened.  Of course, after that there was the small matter of the author’s death, and we had to suffer the anxiety over the replacement author. What if he messed it all up?

The new reader can skip all of this suffering and enjoy the greatest fantasy epic ever (in my ever-so-humble opinion). Brandon Sanderson deftly picked up the reins, and finished the series without so much as a hiccup.
This series begins with a boy and his friends in a small peaceful town, and it ends, 14 extra large books later, with the battle for existence. So, a lot of ground gets covered. If you start with the prequels, you have even more ground to cover. In short, no summary can possibly do justice to this glorious monster. For that, you can look at the back of each book.

Bookwyrm Rating: Meat & Potatoes with a side of Dessert

05 January 2013

OLDIE BUT GOODIE: Collected Poems – By: Philip Larkin




Philip Larkin’s voice never gets old to me. He’s both sarcastic and heartfelt, which makes his poems timeless. He’s idealistic and defeated; his poems cover the full range of human emotion and situation.

It’s not fluffy poetry and it’s not always nice; but it is real and a strangely beautiful way to see the world.

Bookwyrm Rating – Meat & Potatoes