I’m officially dubbing this the “Lost Episode.” We had a lively conversation, and the computer said it was recording, but the cake was indeed a lie. At the end of the year I had to have my iMac’s hard drive replaced, and while the restore from the backup worked pretty well, I’ve still been having some odd occurrences like this one. I searched everywhere for a video file, but it just wasn’t there. I suspect these blips may be the result of restoring from the backup. Or it could be that Kate was so determined that there would be no evidence of her having read a romance novel that she deleted the video with her mind. Anyway, I see a full reformat in my future but for now, for this episode, there will just be show notes.
As expected, Kate hated this book. She thought it was predictable and boring and the sexy bits made her uncomfortable. She was also so embarrassed by the cover that she had to cover it up with paper so that she wouldn’t be mortified on the train:
All valid opinions. It’s definitely predictable, and if you don’t like fluff it’s definitely going to be boring and if you don’t like sexy bits — well, these sorts of books are all about the sexy bits. As far as the cover goes, there’s a reason that romance novel sales have been on the rise since the appearance of e-readers. On that subject, while I do think that you should never be embarrassed by what you read, I also think that romance novel covers could use some revisiting. For fun, I’ve started a Tumblr to speculate on what less typical (and perhaps less embarrassing) romance novel covers might look like. I may or may not keep this up, but I did make a quick first post using this book if you want to check it out: Romance Novel Redux.
I, also as expected, liked this book — with some caveats. Contrary to popular belief, I’m actually not a huge fan of traditional romance. I happen to read more of it than I normally would because I’m part of the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club, and I’m part of that group mostly because it’s filled with some of the smartest and coolest ladies you’ll ever have the chance to meet. We also read a variety of romance that crosses genres — some of it leans more traditional but a lot of it doesn’t, and while most of the books fall into the lighter entertainment category (which I am a fan of), there’s also been some that I would say are just really good books.
That said, if I were a traditional romance fan, and especially if I were reading for the sexy bits, Sarah MacLean would get my business. I chose this book primarily because it had gotten a good review from Rebecca Schinsky of Book Riot, and also because it showed up in my Book Riot Quarterly Box. If I had to do it again (and I won’t get to do it again because Kate will never, ever read another romance novel) I would pick something like A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn, which has some some weightier historical elements that balance out the romantic bits and characters that have a little more depth. It would have just been tempering, though. A Rogue by Any Other Name was a great example of a fun romance read, and even though Kate hated it, at least she had the experience. As for me, even though this sort of romance leans a little too far to the fluffy side for my taste, I still enjoyed it. I may continue on with the series in the future, particularly if I’m in the mood for something super light and fun.
March Read: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Other Recent Reading
Peter & Max by Bill Willingham
Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
(I was disappointed that the audiobook isn’t narrated by Kristen Bell, but it’s still really good)
Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Ronin by Frank Miller
Redshirts by John Scalzi was Kate’s pick for November. We both listened to the audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton, and agreed that other than some annoyance caused by the frequency of “he said, she said’s”, it was a fun listen. I liked it a little more than Kate did, but we both recommend it as a light read, particularly if you’re a Star Trek fan.
December Pick: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom
Other Recent Reading
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep
Festive in Death by J.D. Robb
Star of the East by Tasha Alexander
Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Local by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
And we’re back! Sorry for the hiatus, but life and computer issues got in the way over last few months. I’m going to be playing catch-up by posting the last couple of podcasts that we recorded and then we’ll be back to our regular(ish) schedule.
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes was Bleu’s October pick and made for some great Halloween reading. It was surreal and creepy and also provided and interesting (and according to Kate, accurate) picture of Detroit. We both really liked it. We both read the print version and enjoyed the writing style, but I’m sure it would make a good listen as well.
Other books by Lauren Beukes:
Other Recent Reading
Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
DayTripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Revival by Tim Seeley and Mark Norton
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
This was Kate’s pick for September, and is on her “books that shook me” list. I liked it as well and found it very informative, but it doesn’t quite make it to my favorites list. The first half is a bit faster-paced and filled with soap-opera-esque political scandal, but the second half covers a lot of the legal goings-on and is much slower. I’d recommend the print over the audio if you decide to pick this up as the complexity and number of characters makes it a little hard to follow as an audiobook. If you just want an overview, listen in for our summary of one of the biggest (yet little-known) political scandals in American history.
October Pick: Broken Monsters by Laura Beukes
- President Harding
- Albert B. Fall, Secretary of the Interior
- Harry M. Daugherty, Attourney General
- Jess Smith, Daugherty’s Aide
- Edward L. Doheny, Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company
- Harry F. Sinclair, Mammoth Oil
- Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., Senator of WI
- Thomas J. Walsh, Senator of MT
- Little Green House on K Street
Discussion with Layton McCartney via C-Span and the Tattered Cover Bookstore (2008)
Other Recent Reading
The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai
Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories by R. A. Salvatore
The Answer to the Riddle is Me by David Stuart MacLean
YOU by Caroline Kepnes (full review)
- I didn’t get to be on the webcast because they had technical difficulties and I couldn’t make the rescheduled broadcast, but you can watch the talk with Caroline Kepnes on Spreecast.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
From Hell by Alan Moore
Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
A couple of weeks ago I received a new Klout perk — a bookish one, and I’m always excited about the bookish ones. It was for YOU by Carolyn Kepnes (@CarolineKepnes), and on reading the synopsis and searching around for some online buzz, I was even more excited. I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I like them, and this seemed like a great kickoff to Halloween reading season.
But I was waitlisted. Disappointed, I tweeted about it, hoping that visible excitement via social media might convince the Gods of Klout Perks to un-waitlist me. Normally, that probably doesn’t work, but surprise! This perk was another from Atria Publishing Group, and David Brown (@DrBlogstein), who approved me for I Am Pilgrim (PP Episode 5) via NetGalley when the perk didn’t show up, emailed immediately that he’d approve me for this one, too. YES! Thank you Mr. Brown!
So I started the book. At first, I was unsure of the writing style. It’s written first person, from the point of view of Joe. He’s snarky and crass and there’s a lot of pop culture and hip literary references and I thought it might get old. But it doesn’t. Joe draws you into his twisted world and even though you know he’s off, you’re not sure quite how off. Even once you start to realize, and you know you shouldn’t, you still find yourself sympathizing with and rooting for him. You want him to get the girl, live the dream, have the happy ending. Even though you know that can’t possibly be where this is going. It’s an odd place to be, inside a crazy person’s head.
The story begins with Guinevere Beck walking into the bookstore, and Joe falling for her, hard. He proceeds to look her up, following her on social media and digging up as much information as he can, including her address. He arranges a “chance” encounter, and ends up with her phone as well. Throughout the relationship, Joe continues to stalk her, even when he’s with her. This was especially chilling for me, because I identified with Beck. While I’m not the exhibitionist that she is (I hope?), I’m very active on social media and I’ve never been particularly worried about privacy in the online world. Every once in a while something makes me think twice (remember Take This Lollipop?), and YOU was definitely one of those things. I can tell this book is going to stick with me in the way that horror sometimes does, and is going to pop up in my head occasionally when I’m having a conversation with a stranger or posting something on social media that reveals my location and what I’m doing. Creepy.
I loved the pop culture and literary references, even if most of the pop culture went over my head. I’ve never seen Hannah and Her Sisters, but I’d like to go watch it now since it was such a central theme. Reading the synopsis on Wikipedia, I’m not sure if there are direct ties between the movie and the book, or if it’s more a commentary on our unrealistic expectations of relationships based on our media habits. Joe continually relates his real-life events to media moments, and it seems that fiction is really his only real reference as to what a relationship should or shouldn’t be.
That said, I really would have liked to have had a little more insight into Joe’s history, particularly his history with his family and the owner or the bookshop. The hints are enticing, but you never really get more information on why Joe has turned out the way he is. But maybe that’s the point. Joe gets to know some of the most intimate secrets about the characters in the book, and he judges them mercilessly, but even though we’re in his head, we know almost nothing about him except his extraordinarily skewed view of the world. We identify with him, and judge the other characters along with him, forgetting in the good moments that he’s really the most messed up one of all. It’s an exaggerated version of what goes on in our own minds: we criticize and judge others, but we often don’t seem the very same faults in ourselves.
Also, I really loved the Dan Brown moment at the end.
Overall, I really liked this book and it most definitely was a good intro to Halloween thriller reading. If you like twisted psychological horror with a liberal dose of hip and more than a dollop of perversion, this one’s for you! Warning if you need it: sexual themes and language aplenty!
Kate’s pick for September is The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country by Layton McCartney. Follow along in our Goodreads Group!
Still desperately behind, but starting to catch up. Kate and I recorded this a while ago (before I headed out on vacation) but I’m just getting it posted now. Sorry, and I’ll try to keep back on schedule in the future!
Kate and I both agreed that Dovekeepers is a good book, although it’s very long and slow-paced. She liked it more than I did, although I felt like I should have liked it more than I did. If you’re looking for an epic historical read that celebrates the relationships of women and their survival in the face of war (the story centers around the Siege of Masada), then we recommend it.
September Pick: The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country by Layton MCartney (I mentioned the wrong author in the podcast — there’s another book with a similar title)
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Jonathan Strange and Professor Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Lion in Jewish Symbolism: The Lion of Judah. Also, from Cultural Depictions of Lions: ““In the modern state of Israel, the lion remains the symbol of the capital city of Jerusalem, emblazoned on both the flag and coat of arms of the city. Unlike Christianity, in Judaism, The Lion has positive connotations. For instance, in every synagogue there is an ark with a depiction in which lions face each other like bookends with the torah in the middle, as if they were protecting it.”
The Dovekeepers miniseries will air on CBS in 2015.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Other Recent Reading
The books that I recently read that contained a lot of references to Jewish history (and used lions as symbols): Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin and The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay and He, She and It by Marge Piercy.
Orision by Daniel Swenson (and Universal Geek Podcast 172: Interview with Daniel Swensen)
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia by David Stuart MacLean
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
It’s true! Kate’s Chinese Zodiac Goat Sign: “Your are elegant and artistic but the first to complain about things. Put aside your pessimism and worry and try to be less dependent on material comforts. You would be best as an actor, gardener, or beachcomber.”
My sign, the Ox: “A born leader, you inspire confidence from all around you. You are conservative methodical, and good with your hands… The Buffalo would be successful as a skilled surgeon, general, or hairdresser.”
I think the Chinese Zodiac has Kate and I confused!
So Kate and I are really behind this month due to work, summer, vacations and weddings, so my friend Jen Usellis filled in and we talked about a book we both received as a Klout perk, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. We both liked it a lot, and highly recommend it for some great (if somewhat gruesome) summer reading. Find the video version on YouTube (featuring Jen — my side of our Google Hangout didn’t show up).
Since we didn’t get to it this month, Kate and I will talk about Dovekeepers next episode.
There still don’t seem to be a lot of interviews, but here’s a good one from the Del Mar Times. Interesting quote in answer to what he’d like readers to take away from the book: “A real concern for the dangers that confront us. There has been a huge hemorrhaging of previously secret information on the internet and that, combined with breathtaking scientific advances, has opened up a whole new world of threats. I just hope the people in Washington and London are listening —or reading.”
Jack Reacher (and my Stepdad liked the book, too)
It may become a movie: MGM acquires rights to globetrotting spy thriller ‘I Am Pilgrim’
Not mentioned but also of interest: I Am Pilgrim on Pinterest
David Brown (@DrBlogstein), who’s been handling the publicity for I Am Pilgrim (and was the one responsible for getting a copy of the book to me when my Klout perk didn’t show) tweeted us some links to interviews with Terry Hayes:
- The Movie Bit Podcast
- The Mark Larson Podcast
- The Hollywood Reporter
- Coast to Coast with George Noory
He also said been working on getting an interview with NPR!