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2017 March Madness Reading Challenge

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We had such a good time last year with our March Madness challenge that we are hosting it again this year. We hope you join in. If you want to join, send in your book nomination by March 5th. Here’s how it will work… Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: The Terranauts by Boyle

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The Terranauts by T.C Boyle
Published in: 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★.5
Find it here: The Terranauts

This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: A powerful, affecting and hilarious deep-dive into human behavior in an intimate and epic story of science, society, sex, and survival, set in the early 1990s, from one of the greatest American novelists today.

It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes—rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean and marsh—and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them.

Closely monitored by an all-seeing Mission Control, this New Eden is the brainchild of eco-visionary Jeremiah Reed, aka G.C.—“God the Creator”—for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. In addition to their roles as medics, farmers, biologists, and survivalists, his young, strapping Terranauts must impress watchful visitors and a skeptical media curious to see if E2’s environment will somehow be compromised, forcing the Ecosphere’s seal to be broken—and ending the mission in failure. As the Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: “Nothing in, nothing out,” becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry.

Told through three distinct narrators—Dawn Chapman, the mission’s pretty young ecologist; Linda Ryu, her bitter, scheming best friend passed over for E2; and Ramsay Roothorp, E2’s sexually irrepressible Wildman—The Terranauts brings to life an electrifying, pressured world in which connected lives are uncontrollably pushed to the breaking point. With characteristic humor and acerbic wit, T. C. Boyle indelibly inhabits the perspectives of the various players in this survivalist game, probing their motivations and illuminating their integrity and fragility to illustrate the inherent fallibility of human nature itself. Read more

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

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Today it is president’s day in the United States and many of us had the day off of work. If you are looking for an appropriate novel to read on this day, I have the perfect book for you: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Read more

Read Around the World: South Africa

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Our next stop in our world tour of literature is South Africa. Join us as we explore some of what South Africa has to offer in terms of literature and find out which book we selected. We hope you will help us in generating a comprehensive list of South African literature for our readers. Scroll down to the bottom to check out a slide show of photos from beautiful South Africa, courtesy of my friend Oliver and his travels. Read more

Non 1001 Book Review: Heartless Marissa Meyer

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Do you love a good retelling? This may be the book for you. Check out Book Worm’s review of Marissa Meyer’s latest retelling. This time she takes on Alice in Wonderland.  Read more

January Monthly Recap

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Time for our first monthly recap of 2017! Find out which books were favorites and which were duds. We’ll end our wrap up with a a list of books due out this month and a glimpse of our upcoming content. We also want to hear from you so let us know what you read this month and what you look forward to reading in February and the rest of 2017.

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Terrible Reviews of Great Books: The Grapes of Wrath

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There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time’s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the nasty to the snarky to the downright absurd, we’ll highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. This month we’ll be taking a look at reviews for The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Group Read: Infinite Jest

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Never read Infinite Jest? A few of us over at Litsy will be doing a buddy read of Infinite Jest starting Feb 1. What does this mean exactly? We’ll be me making our way through the book very slowly (about 55-70 pages each week) and along the way we’ll be discussing the book, posting quotes and photos, and providing encouragement to each other.

Unfortunately, you have to have Litsy (available as an app for iPhone and Android) to participate but it’s free and addicting once you get the hang of it. The photo above has a rough guideline for what we will be reading each week. Come join us.  To join in, find me over at Litsy (I’m JenP) and you’ll see the posts I’ve made about it. Then you’ll just use the hashtag #InfiniteJestBuddyRead to participate in the discussion.

Hope to see you over there. We will start reading Feb 1, but over the next few days I’ll be posting some tips on how to get started and some questions to get us warmed up.

Love it or Hate it: Jane Eyre

Have you ever noticed how some books seem to drive a wedge between people? You check the reviews and find almost no middle-of-the-road ratings. Instead people either seem to love it or hate it. Well, welcome to the Love it or Hate it post category! Each month, we’ll pick one book to review and two contributors will […]

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The One Memory of Flora Banks Emily Barr

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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: The One Memory of Flora Banks

This ARC was provided by Penguin Random House (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I was intrigued by the premise of this story about girl who has no short term memory and it was an interesting read. I really liked Flora’s character and her coping mechanisms, which seemed very realistic. There were other parts of the book, however, that just felt completely unrealistic given what we are told about Flora’s family background. Don’t get me wrong, certain things needed to happen for the story to occur, but I think a less dramatic action than travelling to the Arctic alone would have been both more in keeping with the back story and more believable for the reader.

I did enjoy  the slow build up. Since Flora can remember nothing outside of kissing Drake, she constantly needs to remind herself, and hence the reader, what has actually happened to her. There are actually several hidden clues throughout the narrative that show us that things are not exactly as Flora remembers them. We, the reader, can work out the clues, but Flora herself has no idea. These reminders also mean that a lot of the actual narrative is repetitive as Flora consults her notebook, her hands, her arms, and her phone to remember who she is, where she is, and why she is there. The repetition is not a bad thing because it immerses the reader in what it is like to be Flora.

Flora is a great character who comes across as a mix between a vunerable 10 year old and a 17 year-old who is desperately trying to be an adult. She swings between these two ends of the spectrum, at times desperate for her parents and at other times desperate to be herself. I generally liked the secondary characters, however,  all too nice (with the exception of one) and as such there was no feeling of tension. There are sad situations and hints of complicated family relationships and issues around guilt.

Overall, this is a gentle read which ends on a message of hope and has the potential for a follow up book. I think it would be great to see what happens to Flora and the people around her.

Who would like this? The target audience is YA and I would say this would appeal to girls in the younger teen range due to its gentle feeling and lack of sex and violence. For the adults amon,g us I would recommend this to those with an interest with memory loss and coping mechanisms as well as family dynamics and the effects of guilt.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The One Memory of Flora Banks

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?