Monday, December 9, 2013

Ep #23 The Midwich Cuckoos

All good things must come to an end. Join Jeane and Karena as they end the CWAtC podcast and discuss the Midwich Cuckoos. Stay tuned for next month's outtakes episode for all of the Tators' shenanigans that didn't make the cut.

Where's My Bookmark?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ep #22: Persuasion

>>>>>>>>>>>>Click here to listen<<<<<<<<<<<<

Could the Tators be persuaded into Jane Austen's final novel? Was Karena losing her voice the act of malicious post Halloween spirits? Did Jared read a book other than the selection of the month? Did Jeane finish her Newbury Award Winners? Find out now! 

Where's My Bookmark?:

Websites we mention: 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ep #21: The Handmaid's Tale

>>>>>>>Click Here to Listen!<<<<<<<

2013 has been the year of the dystopia and science fiction for CWAtC, as Jared, Jeane, and Karena buckle down to discuss Margaret Atwood's arguably most famous book, The Handmaid's Tale. This conversation proves the range of the dystopian genre with how wrong society can go in a variety of ways.  

Where's My Bookmark and other books we mention:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ep #20: LitClubs to Lit Songs

>>>>>>Listen Here!<<<<<<

How can you get teenagers to enjoy the classics? Jeane and Karena interview Ali Dent about her book The LitClub in which she describes the literature club she created to get her kids and other kids into reading. Then they spotlight fellow CWAtCer Martin Waterhouse's musical take on Brave New World (which the gang talked about  back in May).

Where's My Bookmark (and other books we mention):

Websites we mention

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ep #19 Burn Baby Burn

The band is back together on this episode where we chat about upcoming fall television shows that are based on books (the best ones usually are!). There's some chatting about Karena and Jared's recent DC trip and then we move on to delve into our August book, Ray Bradbury's often misunderstood novel, the book burning classic Fahrenheit 451.

Where's my bookmark?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ep #17 The Phantom of the Opera

Even though they were short a Tator this week, Jeane and Karena delve into what most know as a Broadway masterpiece, Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. They snoop the shadows and discuss the mystery of Erik (don't know who that is? Read the book! Then listen to this!). Also the ladies share the joy which will be the California Bookstore Day that is being featured on Indiegogo. Support your local indie bookstores! 

Where's My Bookmark? and other books we mention:

Websites We Mention:


Welcome to another installment of LitStarter! This is a regular look at some of my favorite projects I discovered through two popular crowd funding websites: Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The featured projects will be related to literature and comics, but not limited to publishing or writing projects.

Book lovers: this project was made for us -- we need this.

California Bookstore Day
is scheduled for Saturday, May 3, 2014. It will be similar to 
Record Store Day in the sense that it will be centered around independent stores selling limited-edition items in an effort to support local businesses and artists. California Bookstore Day will start with over 100 independent book sellers in the state offering more than just signed books. They're planning to sell collector's items, t-shirts, bookish art, and more -- items only available on California Bookstore Day.
"But I don't live in California -- why do I care?"
While this project will begin in California, the creators hope to expand Bookstore Day to include all 50 states by 2015. By helping to fund their first effort, you're helping to set the project up for success when it comes to a city near you. You're also bringing the spotlight to independent bookstores that desperately need your support.
California Bookstore Day is asking for $30,00 so they can hire a coordinator to bring the project to life. The coordinator will be responsible for creating a website, handling publisher submissions, and managing the marketing campaign.
All perks include a "thank you" on the website. Rewards begin at $25 with a bumper sticker. Higher tiers include gift cards to the indie bookstore of your choice, a book bag, and books!
Let's show our love of all things bookish and our support of independent book sellers and back California Bookstore Day!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This Week in Literature

August is CWAtC's "Quick Read" Month!

July 28th - August 3rd

Jul 28th
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin elope to France, 1814
  • Beatrix Potter is born, 1866
  • Natalie Babbit, author of Tuck Everlasting, is born, 1932
Jul 29th
  • The Fellowship of the Rings is published in the UK, 1954
Jul 30th
  • Emily Bronte is born, 1818
  • Paperbacks are first introduced, 1935
Jul 31st
  • J.K. Rowling, born in 1965, and Harry Potter share their birthday!
Aug 1st
  • Herman Melville is born, 1819
  • "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is first published in the Atlantic Monthly, 1915
Aug 2nd
  • George Eliot starts Middlemarch, 1869
Aug 3rd
  • The last installment of Great Expectations is published, 1861
  • Joseph Conrad dies at age 66, 1924

Required Reading

Our Tators are always reading. Here are some of their favorite books for the month of July.
July's Required Reading

More of All's books »

Book recommendations, book reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Probably one of the strangest stories I've read lately. I was looking for a quick read, and this was perfect. I was hooked on the very first page. A very dark, but perceptive, look at what it means to become a grownup and understanding too much of a good thing can be very, very bad.

Jennifer Miller's The Year of the Gadfly. Despite being categorized as young adult fiction, Gadfly is an engaging read for older fiction lovers as well. Miller has worked diligently to bring attention to her debut novel from creating a Novelade Stand (complete with homemade cookies) to setting a world record. Her efforts are paying off as she's receiving high praise from a broad swath of readers.

I liked The Phantom of the Opera for a few different reasons. The first is how he actually wrote the story. I like that it came across as a true story and he wrote it like a crime novel of which I don't usually read, but it's pretty good. It's also depending on how true it is, it shed some light into the old days and theater life. I would now love to read a book that truly depicts the life in the opera during those times.

 Juliet Dove Queen of Love by Bruce Coville. (one reason I chose this book as Required Reading is because I read some really crappy books in the month of July, except this book). Even though it is for ages 7-12, Bruce Coville is a great author (I got a chance to meet him and he signed a bunch of books for my daughter!) and this is a great book. It is heavily seeped in Greek mythology so kids will even learn things! Don't really recommend for adults unless they like reading children's books like me :) This is also the 5th book in the Magic Shop series, but you can read it stand alone. 

The Light in the Ruins was a phenomenal book. If you like Italy, WW2, murder mysteries, family, etc. this is your book.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a fantastic mix of adventure, spy action, and romance with the Scarlet Pimpernel as the superhero. At times, it reminded me of Superman with the dual identity factor...meanwhile taking place during one of the most bloody and pivotal points in history, the French Reign of Terror, where the guillotine worked over time. I wrote a paper on the French Revolution in High School, explaining why the Reign of Terror was a "necessary evil."  I had nightmares for weeks while writing this paper, so it was cool to revisit this topic. But this time, I saw it from the aristocrat point of view and felt sympathy for the nobility. 

What was your favorite read this month?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Classical Clairvoyance

Classical Clairvoyance is where we ask our Tators which books they predict will win for the upcoming poll for our Goodreads book club. For October's poll, our winner is Persuasion so Laura's streak has sadly ended.  Aww.  However, she is tied with Karena on most correct answers! 

Our scores for right guesses so far are as follows: 

Angie -2
Heather - 1
Jared - 1
Jeane - 2
Karena - 3
Laura - 3

November's poll choices are for the category of 1910-1959:







Which novel do think is going to win the poll?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Graphic By Nature

This is the place for graphic novel reviews, but you won't find any traditional superheroes here. If you're like me, you enjoy your comics funny, strange, and sometimes a little dark. But you also value an interesting story and captivating illustration. Sounds like you? Keep reading!

Instead of the usual graphic novel review, this post will be different because last week was Comic-Con International in San Diego. I had the privilege of attending this year and wanted to share the two graphic novels I'm most looking forward to this autumn.

The main part of the convention is comprised of many booths inside of the convention center. To get an idea of what this looks like, check out the exhibit hall map. A lot of the booths not only offer an opportunity to purchase artwork, books, and a great variety of wares, but they also giveaway stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. I mailed myself an entire box of free books I picked up at the show, but that's a story for another post. One of the popular giveaway items was samplers: a sneak peek at upcoming books, comics, or graphic novels. There were two graphic novels that stood out to me as ones to watch for this fall after giving them a read.

Photo courtesy of Top Shelf Productions

March (Book One) is the first story in a trilogy of graphic novels depicting the life of Congressman John Lewis (GA-5)  a civil rights legend known as one of the "Big Six." Congressman Lewis co-wrote the story with aide Andrew Aydin. Artist Nate Powell brought the story to life with a traditional black and white comic style. This graphic novel will be the first ever authored by a sitting member of Congress. March looks not only to tell the story of Congressman Lewis but also to make the civil rights movement understood and accessible to generations that might not have been alive to experience it for themselves. View a sample by clicking here. Congressman Lewis was at Comic-Con this year to discuss and promote his graphic novel -- you can read more about it here.

March (Book One) goes on sale Tuesday, August 13th.

Photo courtesy of Yen Press

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was originally a novel by Ransom Riggs  As a novel it was on the New York Times Best Seller List for more than 52 consecutive weeks. And those are two facts were completely unknown to me before I picked up an exclusive excerpt of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel. This is the tall tale of a young man in search of the truth after witnessing his grandfather pass away. Grandpa Portman was always telling his grandson, Jacob, about the strange and wonderful people and places of his youth. As Jacob grew older, he believed all of Grandpa Portman's stories to be false -- until he witnessed something strange himself and went in search of Miss Peregrine in the hopes of finding answers. 

Artist Cassandra Jean incorporates the creepy pictures that made the novel famous into her work as she translates the original story into a graphic novel form that is both easy to read and exciting.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel goes on sale Tuesday, October 29th.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tator Tuesdays

Every week we ask our Tators bookish questions. This week's question is 

What book have you read that you weren't looking forward to, but ended up liking it a great deal? 



The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I was attending an informal book discussion group a year or two ago where it was on the list. One of the members said that, when she read it, it scared her so much she couldn’t sleep. That, coupled with the fact that the book talked a lot about architecture -- a topic I knew little to nothing about and had no interest in -- turned me off. However, while reading, I enjoyed learning about architecture, the World’s Fair, and H.H. Holmes. The research that went into the novel as well as the narrative Larson was able to weave together makes for a very compelling story that shouldn’t be missed!




 Life of Pi. I was not looking forward to that one at ALL, but ending up liking it a lot.


The Age of Innocence. I was about to give up on it and if it weren't for CWAtC, I would have stopped reading it early on. I ended up enjoying it very much, and this experience made me realize THAT is the reason why I joined CWAtC.

Do you have any books that surprised you?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wild @ Heart with YA Lit

Each month, I choose a different young adult novel to read for a number of reasons. One is that I like to keep up with the type of books my children and students are reading. Another is that reading young adult literature reminds me of the trials and tribulations of growing up. Reading YA literature keeps me wild at heart.


There is so much I enjoyed about Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I don't know where to begin. As a children's novel, there is much to be learned by any child who reads it. The lessons in the story cannot be missed and should linger to all who read it. As an adult reading this book, it is a great reminder of the awkward middle school years, somewhere in between being a child, completely dependent on his/her parents, and being a more independent teen. 

Wonder is about a young boy named August entering the fifth grade. He is completely average in most ways. He loves to watch television, is a huge Star Wars fan, loves to play his Xbox. Interestingly though, he is also going to school for the first time in his entire life. You see, he's been home-schooled his entire life in order to protect him from humiliating and degrading leers and jabs by other children. August, unfortunately, was born with a severe cranial-facial abnormality, one of such rare case that there was only a one in four million chance that he would get it. His face is so deformed that he won't even try to explain what he looks like and spent two years of his life wearing an astronaut helmet, hiding his face from public view. However, because this novel is told from the perspective of August, his sister, and a few other students and family friends, as we progress through the novel, we begin to get a more accurate picture of his facial traits. August is not a handsome boy.

Because August and his parents decide that it is time for him to go to school and try to adjust to having a more well-rounded education, he must face ridicule and bullying from other students. At times, this is a terrifying and heart-breaking task for August. One student actually runs away screaming and crying after seeing him for the first time. However, as time moves on, August makes friends with a few students that step forward in the darkest moments of August's fifth grade year with deep kindness, helping, protecting, and befriending him. 

Wonder is absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it to all. It is well-written and filled with messages to last a lifetime. Read it for yourself. Read it with your children. Read it to your class. This book will lead to thoughtful discussions about what it means to be a kind person and a good friend.

Verdict: Bookshelf!

This Week in Literature

July is "Read an Almanac Month!"

July 21st - 27th

21 - Robert Burns dies, 1796
        Earnest Hemingway is born, 1899
        Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series, is published, 2007
22 - Ratcatcher's Day: A day to celebrate the day the Pied Piper got all the rats out of 
        Hamelin, 1284
23 - Raymond Chandler is born, 1888
24 - Zelda Sayre, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is born, 1900
        O. Henry is released from prison after serving three years for embezzlement, 1901
25 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge dies, 1834
        Jack London leaves to join the Klondike Gold Rush, where he will write his first 
        successful stories, 1897
26 - George Bernard Shaw is born, 1856
        Jan Berenstain, co-author of the Berenstain Bears series, is born, 1923
27 - Alexandre Dumas fils is born, 1824
        Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness is published, 1928
        Gertrude Stein dies in Paris, 1946

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bookshelf, Library Bag or Donation Box - Quick and Dirty

In Bookshelf, Library Bag or Donation Box, our Tators give their verdict on the books they read, whether they're keepers for the shelves, ones you borrow from your local library, or just give to your local used bookstore.

This novel tells the story of four very different Malaysians who come to Shanghai in search of a better life. Some of the stories were more interesting than others. I applaud Aw in this; he created a character in Shanghai itself. The city itself became the most interesting "person." I think some of the stories could have been fleshed out a bit, and a few times I wasn't sure if the characters were using a past narrative or one in the present day. All in all, it just wasn't enough to make it a keeper for me. However, I'm interested in reading Aw's previous works.


Library Bag

*Received from

Joseph Berkley is a rare manuscript dealer who is hired by an anonymous buyer who commissions him to find and purchase Bram Stoker's manuscript and bring it to Romania. As a book lover, I enjoyed the process Prouty explains on manuscript authentication, and the history of Stoker writing the book was illuminating. Prouty's descriptions are very illustrative; I saw Transylvania and the buildings the character entered. However, Joseph as a character is weak. I didn't relate to him at all, and the climax of the book seems a bit contrived and lacking the horror that it is supposed to have. 


Library Bag

*Received from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program

The story of a man and his relationships, Nate is the son of Jewish immigrants, a Harvard graduate, who is now a writer living in Brooklyn. And, he doesn't let you forget it. He repeats all this over and over again. I had a friend tell me once he couldn't be nice to his girlfriend at the time because she would "start to expect it." Nate never vocalizes this, but he thinks it deep down, and it shows in the majority of his actions towards the women in his life. I was disappointed, since the beginning of the novel states, "he's was a product of a postfeminist 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education." I never saw evidence of this.


Donation Box

*Received from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program

Graphic By Nature at San Diego Comic-Con

Hello dear readers! We know it's not quite time for Graphic By Nature -- that's next week -- but this news it too exciting not to share. I'm at San Diego Comic-Con this week! It's my very first time (but hopefully not the last).

I'm finally here!
Source: Heather Varanini
Follow me on Twitter @heather__ilene as I share my experience; I'll be using #SDCC to denote my con-related tweets.

If you have any tips or suggestions for my first SDCC, please write to me on Twitter or leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Association

In this month's Book Association we're linking our Goodreads group book of the month The Phantom of the Opera with other titles that fit with some different themes. This week's theme is French literature. Now, I think we can all name works by Flaubert, Hugo, Dumas, or even Camus, but how about some lesser known French titles.

I admit, the most I know about this one is it's the source material for Cruel Intentions, a movie from the late 90's starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe as salaciously scheming step siblings. However horrible you may have found the movie, the underlying plot is pretty scandalous. I might need to move this title up my TBR list. 

The protagonist of this short adventure novel, Candide, goes from one venture to another as Voltaire uses him and his escapades to illustrate scathing satire of the period's current events. 

In society after Napoleon's Waterloo, Julien is trying to rise above his station by embracing the hypocrisy by which French society operated at the time. Another exercise in satire, this novel also is full of romance, drama, intrigue, class disputes and so much more. 

What are some of your favorite French novels?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tator Tuesdays

Every week we ask our Tators bookish questions. This week's question is:

What is your all-time favorite quote?


"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby


 I don’t have one but a quote that’s been resonating with me lately is Mary
McCarthy’s “We are the hero of our own story.”

Hundreds. None of them jump to my mind. I love how authors can put shit together.

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.

(Everywhere I have sought peace and not found it, except in a corner with a book.)” 
Thomas à Kempis

Since you embrace this indiscriminate vice, 
Your friendship comes at far too cheap a price;
I spurn the easy tribute of a heart
Which will not set the worthy man apart:
I choose, Sir, to be chosen; and in fine,
The friend of mankind is no friend of mine.”
- Alceste from The Misanthrope

What's your favorite bookish quote?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box

In Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box, our Tators give their verdict on the books they read, whether they're keepers for the shelves, one you borrow from your local library, or just give to your local used bookstore.

Photo credit: Penguin USA
The story begins by following the lives of an unsuspecting man waiting in an airport, Wil Parke, and a young street hustler named Emily Ruff. There's been an incident in the rural Australian town of Broken Hill, where the entire population of thousands have been wiped out. Rumor has it that only one man walked away: the outlier.

At first blush, Lexicon is a novel about the power of words -- the way in which they can be wielded to control people. But not just anyone can use their powers of observation and persuasion this way; only a select few who are admitted into a secret school focused on teaching students to hone their skills through the study of classic literature, psychology, and linguistics even have a chance. They must spend many years of rigorous study, discipline, and constant testing to become masters. The masters of words are called Poets and are named after famous authors like T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and Emily Brontë. Some work for the school while others work for organizations related to the school but the details of the organization's purpose and true function are unclear.

Lexicon makes for a good summer read. Partly because of the love story, which is the real pulse of the novel, and  the importance of love in our lives -- how it keeps us human. Also, the book is well-paced and most will churn through its 400 pages quickly. There's a nice mix of adventure and introspection that keep the story moving.

With that being said, the novel had a few problems. In Lexicon, words and phrases are means of control and persuasion over others. It was disappointing to discover that these words were just a mishmash of letters -- made up words and phrases. I was expecting something more than that, especially from a book filled with clever nods to classic works and authors. Another factor that made Lexicon a borrow, rather than buy, type of book was that it was difficult to follow, especially in regards to the dialogue in the last third of the book. Often, the dialogue wasn't linear in the typical "person A speaks" then "person B speaks" fashion and made it difficult to distinguish who was saying or thinking what.

If you're looking for a smart, fast-paced summer read with a hint of science fiction, this book is for you. 

Verdict: Library Bag

Learn more about Max Barry and his other books at his websitelike him on Facebookfollow him on Twitter. If you're interested in politics and/or international relations, check out NationStates.

*A copy of Max Barry's Lexicon was provided by the publisher via