Fellowship of the Worm: A Tale for the Time Being review

Long time, no see, faithful readers. Sorry about that. But I’m back, mostly thanks to Katie from Words for Worms and her fun Fellowship of the Worms book club coming back into session. talefortimebeing

I’m an occasional joiner (click here for other times I’ve joined the fun), but I am really excited about this entry. Many of the books I read with Fellowship I had already intended to read. If not for Katie choosing A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, however, I would never have given this book a second look. But the fact that I loved it so completely, despite its description not catching my eye, drives home the value of being part of a book club, especially a digital book club that is run the way Katie runs hers. I really do love it. So that is my push to encourage any readers out there looking for book suggestions and a chance to talk about what you’ve read: Keep an eye on Fellowship of the Worms and join in when something strikes your fancy! Continue reading

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Book Review: The Martian

The audiobook version of The Martian by Andy Weir was narrated by R.C. Bray.

The audiobook version of The Martian by Andy Weir was narrated by R.C. Bray.

As always, I’m incredibly behind on posting book reviews. But I couldn’t wait any longer to share my experience with The Martian by Andy Weir, which I actually listened to, instead of reading. Either way is excellent, but the fact that part of the story is told through Watney’s daily logs makes the audiobook especially suited to sharing the story. And let me tell you that R.C. Bray does an excellent job of characterization. Other than main character Mark Watney, I especially loved his voice acting of Annie Montrose, NASA public relations specialist, as well as Mindy Park, the shy, unappreciated NASA engineer who becomes essential to the mission. Of course, Weir’s writing gave these characters such life that it’s hard not to love them all.

I had been intending to read this book for ages, but it was when Katie of Words for Worms announced it would be the new Fellowship of the Worms book that I finally got on that.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone, regardless of your preference for science fiction. If you were like me and had to know more about Andy Weir and his process for writing this, check out this Air & Space Magazine interview with the author. Turns out that Annie was one of the most fun characters to write for Weir, as well as one of my favorite ones to read about!

Anyway, here are my answers to the online book club’s questions: Continue reading

Fellowship of the Worms: Salem’s Lot

Unlike the Fellowship of the Worm‘s fearless leader, I am not a Stephen King n00b. I’ve been reading his books since I was in fifth grade (I started with It and moved on to The Stand, much to my reading teacher’s horror, pun intended). I guess I was lucky in that way. My family chose not to discourage my choices in reading material, and my father was always ready to buy whatever book took my fancy. I think this is key to encouraging a love a reading: Don’t judge or limit the reading material. Yes, I was reading adult horror fiction before I really understood some of its nuances, but it left me hungry for all sorts of books. Encouraging the love of any reading, will allow a child to feel free to love even the classics we are more or less forced to read. To this day, I still love Joseph Conrad just as much as I enjoy Stephen King. But, I had never actually read ‘Salem’s Lot. Anyway, here are my answers to this month’s questions. And don’t forget to check the Words for Worms post for the opinions of others.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

1. Was this book as frightening as you anticipated?
I was not frightened at all. Perhaps it is because I’ve actually read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is the source material for much of the lore of the book. Or maybe it’s because to me, books are just not ever terrifying. Now is the television adaptation of It still the scariest thing I’ve ever seen? Yes. And that’s the difference for me: Books offer just enough distance and lack of visuals that I can’t really be scared the way movies/TV shows can scare me. But I still love them.

 2. Did you have any nightmares while reading ‘Salem’s Lot?
Nope. I had a dream about having to rid vampires of from a government building that might have been a library, but it wasn’t a nightmare at all. Even though King has a wonderful ability to paint a word picture, my psyche really needs actual visuals for them to get stuck in my brain enough to scare me. For example, when I read It, the shower scene was scary, but not prohibitively so. When I saw the television adaptation, I had an irrational fear of gym locker room showers that followed me most of my school life. And I’ve had nightmares about that movie even now. That’s just the way my brain works, I guess.

3. What’s your favorite part of vampire lore that was incorporated into ‘Salem’s Lot?
I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of vampires to mesmerize their victims. Much of the other tools we mortals have to battle the forces of darkness are useless of one glance into a vampire’s eyes is all it takes for them to talk you into letting them into your home and breaking your cross in half. How can we even hope to survive against that? It’s the willpower of the mortal that faces the temptation and forces themselves to look away, of course, that sets the heroic apart from the weak. In this way, even a “helpless” pre-teen can become the hero, despite his otherwise unassuming appearance.

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?
Are you kidding me? I grew up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. I would have no problem believing such a thing could happen. I’d even be first in line to start sharpening stakes.

5. Alright Bookworms, what’s the overall verdict on this one? What did you think, all-in-all?
While it was an enjoyable retelling of the classic Dracula tale, it’s not my favorite Stephen King novel (that honor goes to The Stand). However, being a big fan of The Dark Tower series, it was interesting to finally get the background about Father Callahan, who ends up appearing in Calla Bryn Sturgis and being instrumental in Roland’s quest. As a vampire book, it’s rather repetitive. However, King has always been enjoyable to read just because his word choice is just incredible.

Review: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I’m sorry this took so long. I literally finished this charming novel over a month ago and I still haven’t brought you my thoughts. Luckily, Words For WormsFellowship of the Worms post gave me a kick in the right direction. So without further ado, here are my answers to this online book club’s questions:

1. Pop Culture question here. Did anybody else get a SERIOUS Sheldon Cooper vibe out of Don?

The short answer? YES! There are similarities, in more ways than one. This is most seen in the constant scheduling of the day, as well as the high rate of intelligence present in both individuals. And let’s not forget the awkwardness. But there are some aspects, the decidedly Asperger-leaning aspects of Don, that are not mirrored in Sheldon. At the very least, Sheldon is a bit more high-functioning than Don is, at least before Don meets Rosie.

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

Don’s Standardized Meal System is actually something I could see myself doing. If I could only have 7 meals for the rest of my life, I would be okay with that if they were incredible gourmet masterpieces, as Don creates for each night of the week. It would definitely make grocery shopping less paralyzing (I just can’t decide sometimes, and I often end up coming home without the stuff I desperately needed!).

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

When I was a kid I remember making just such a list.  My perfect man as described by my oddly specific 10-year-old self was a blue-eyed, black-haired cop who loved reading in his downtime. Only one aspect of that came true (black hair). By the time I hit high school, I was pretty much ignoring guys and that led me to trip right over my future husband my freshman year of college. I was lucky enough to become friends with him first, before I even considered dating him, so it really was for the best. Plus, I would be no good as a cop’s wife. I could not handle the uncertainty, and ever since I read Donnie Brasco (a book about an cop who goes undercover with the mob), I knew it was not for me.

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

There are two things that I think are key to the love that develops between Don and Rosie: Rosie immediately takes Don out of his comfort zone and she also accepts him like no other person has done since his sister. Don’s comfort zone revolves around logic and he would never be able to figure out how to love – or that he can actually love – without Rosie removing logic from parts of the equation. I’m  right there with them. I still don’t think my husband and I make a lot of sense, but for some illogical, intangible reason we just do. I think perhaps the need to make love tangible and logical is where a lot of couples go wrong, because it is rarely either of those things.

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

I think my absolute favorite scene is where Rosie helps Don overcome his apparent lack of dancing skills to earn a standing ovation from his colleagues at their annual gala. This scene reveals Rosie’s ability to intuit the best way to help Don and also shows how well they can work together, even when it doesn’t make sense. Plus it was one of those moments that Don later points to as a moment where he actually felt happiness, and it’s just wonderful to imagine in your mind. I did, however, get a kick out of the scene where Don masters cocktail-making to become the hit of a party and the scene where he is asked if the Asperger Syndrome symptoms he had researched reminded him of anyone (he thoughtfully responds, “Yes,” and then points to another professor at his university, instead of to himself).

Final thoughts

I’m not really into romance novels. Yeah, I don’t mind the theme popping up now and again in my other books, but a book about romance just isn’t my cup of tea. Lucky for me this book is more about overcoming life to connect with another individual, about abandoning logic to help someone, about breaking out of your comfort zone, and about looking into the life of a person who is likely grappling with (undiagnosed) Asperger Syndrome. Pick it up. I promise it has a minimum of sappy moments, and tons to make you think about in the meantime.