Elena Ferrante WTF FTW — The Lost Daughter

A friend of mine came back from a trip to Italy singing the praises of Elena Ferrante, a pseudonymous author whose true identity is shrouded in mystery. I don’t go in much for literary speculation, so I choose to believe that she’s some kind of demiurge, shaping herself from the collective unconscious of female readers who are stuck reading Gone Girl knockoffs and imposters, searching for the kind of deeper literary exploration of the complexities of womanhood that third-wave feminism seems to have no need…

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The Handmaid’s Tale, Academy Girls, and the Worst Bachelorette Party Ever

I have read The Handmaid’s Tale maybe 4 times since college, so when my book club picked it for our December meeting, I thought I’d see if the audiobook version was any good. Oh my my, oh hell yes, time to put on that Handmaid’s Dress because Claire Danes simply kills it. As Offred, trapped in a bizarre patriarchal system where she has to bear children for wealthy men or else risk exile or worse, Danes finds a beautiful balance between the handmaid’s naiveté and…

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The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: After an economic disaster causes 50% unemployment, a married couple decides to take a chance on an unusual planned community rather than continue to live in their car and fight off roving bands of marauders. Review: I have not alwqys been a fan of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian science fiction, but with The Heart Goes Last she finally delivers a novel that’s one of her best ever, and that can hold its own with the best of the genre. The dystopian premise is so delightfully…

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Thrillers and Revenge–Mary Kubica and More

I’m a big fan of relaxing my brain through literature, but my love of genre means that you can’t really fool me much. I recently enjoyed two thrillers–Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica and The Hand that Feeds You by AJ Rich–and while both were well written with fabulous characters and lots of suspense, I couldn’t help but wish that I could read a thriller that didn’t basically end up in the basement with Jame Gumb. In the case of Hand, the very fact of a…

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Homeschool 3rd Grade Weeks 1&2–Madeleine L’Engle & US History

We’ve hit the ground running with my 3rd grader. We read aloud A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which remains basically one of the greatest books of all time, and it was so fun to experience again it through my daughter. I’ll be reading it later this fall with the 4th/5th graders and I think we’ll have some great discussions about sacrifice, fear, and flaws. The first two books we finished for Sonlight Core D were A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert…

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Homeschool Coop Book Club–Unit 1

My family belongs to a homeschool coop that meets once a week, and I am so happy to be the book club teacher for our 4th/5th graders and our middle schoolers. We read poetry, do writing prompts, learn about literary devices, and have amazing discussions of books. I just finished reading the first books for each class and I’m so excited to start talking about them with the kids. The 4th/5th graders are reading a book that’s new to me called Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb.…

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Fitz, the Fool, and Ann Rule

I like big books and I cannot lie This short story hater can’t deny That when a book comes in At 500+ pages My heartbeat starts to fly This week marked the release of Fool’s Quest, the second book in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy. In preparation I re-read Fool’s Assassin, the first book, and I wasn’t just info gathering knowing that Hobb will jump right in without making the reader slog through clunky backstory. I was deliciously swept away by the story,…

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Candace Bushnell and Stephen King Together at Last, Laurie Halse Anderson

Because this week I read Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell and Finders Keepers by Stephen King. The former could’ve used more scary parts, and the latter needed a lot more sex appeal. And it’s pretty clear to me that a mashup of these two authors would make for a pretty fabulous book. On their own? Two pretty mediocre reading experiences. In Killing Monica, a bestselling author decides the only way to self-actualize is to kill off her most famous creation. Or at least that’s the…

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The Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

What a delicious series! I was hooked from the very beginning of The Thief, when we meet Gen, a thief hired by a magus to steal a precious gem. The tightness of the POV clued me in that I was in for a surprise, but kept me so well-controlled that I didn’t guess the secret at all. The next two books, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia do a masterful job at world-building and character development while not getting too bogged down…

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Vacation = Gillian Flynn, The Group, Pretty Is, New Margaret Atwood !!!

Because my idea of relaxing is reading about women in desperate circumstances driven to make choices that aren’t really choices at all because they are WOMEN. Repressive society, nobody understands their inner life, maybe they don’t even have an inner life, and you have to escape your gallant kidnapper while your friends talk shit behind your back and if you’re lucky you’ll end up competing with a prostibot. Or, as Luscious Jackson put it, “When a man knows where he came from he can tell…

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