Brave New World


This is a Favorites Series post by guest blogger Cleo Chalk.

I’m Cleo, an undergraduate word nerd blogging book reviews and all things ‘book’ over at I’ll enjoy any book you stick in front of me, but my favourites are offbeat classics and modern dystopias. 

brave new world


Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
© 1932

It may seem obvious, since I’m talking about Brave New World as my favourite book, but I’ll put it out there anyway: Aldous Huxley is my dystopia scribbling intellectual of choice. I have to confess a small crush on his bespectacled frown and furrowed brow, and I certainly prefer his scientific musings on where our species might be headed to the more politically charged efforts from the likes of Ayn Rand and Orwell – huge fan of 1984 though I am. Continue reading

Like Water for Chocolate

This is a Favorites Series post by guest blogger Lindsay Gressard.

Lindsay bio pic

This is a picture of Christi and me posing as each other. I think we both nailed it, but the A1 photo bomb takes the cake.

Hi peeps. If you don’t already know me, I’m Christi’s stepsister, Lindsay.  I got my name from Lindsay Wagner, the Bionic Woman. I don’t share her superhuman strength, but I do have superhuman love for Dairy Queen blizzards, Sweaters (capitalized), and orange cats. Superhuman hates include overhead lights, chalk, and opossums that terrorize orange cats.


Like Water for Chocolate
Laura Esquivel
© 1989

As I make my first venture into the world of blogging, I must admit I’m a little terrified. I don’t know the first thing about blogging and I’m fearful that this may end up in the same category as grandma facebook posts. You know what I’m talking about. You post a random selfie from the club one night and two months later, you get a comment on the photo that says something like, “HI SWEETHEART, WHEN YOU VISIT NEXT WEEK DO YOU WANT POT ROAST OR CHICKEN POT PIE. LOVE GRANDMA”  (in all caps, of course). It’s almost endearing, but more so awkward and uncomfortable. I’m aiming for just above that.

Adding to my fear, I had a slight crisis with the favorite book I chose to review, Like Water for Chocolate. But, more on the crisis later. Let’s start with the book.

Continue reading

Sweet Tooth

UnknownSweet Tooth
Ian McEwan
© 2012

When I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be the best book in the entire world.  Why? Because it has the PERFECT protagonist.  Allow me to paint a picture of  her for you.

She is smart.  She is rebellious and adventuresome.  She is beautiful.  Her father is a minister (well, an Anglican bishop, but same difference).  She reads voraciously.  She writes a book column.

About twenty pages into Sweet Tooth, I had a very clear picture in my head of Serena.  And she looked something like this: Continue reading

Where the Peacocks Sing

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

15792978Where the Peacocks Sing:
A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
Alison Singh Gee
© 2013

I’ve talked a little about my general disdain for memoirs on this blog before:

  • Some are really poorly written (like this one).
  • Some are a little too schmaltzy and trite for my taste, despite seemingly interesting subject matter (like this one).
  • And some just plain suck (see my discussion of unacceptable fluff here).

Another reason I’m not a huge fan of the genre: memoirs often reek of hubris.  In order to write a memoir (i.e., an entire book about how awesome/interesting/great your life and experiences have been), you have to think that you’re a little more awesome/interesting/great than everyone else.

You may have seen this blog post on Wait But Why? that blew up on Facebook a couple of months ago.  It’s called “7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook,” and it’s both spot-on and hilarious.  The #1 way to be insufferable on Facebook is (you guessed it): “The Brag.”

“The Brag” runs so rampant on Facebook that it has to be broken into three subcategories: Continue reading

#tbt, Part 2: Three Great Books I Read to My “Kids” (and You Should Read to Yours!)

It’s time for another round of #tbt!  (If you missed Part 1, here it is.)

This time, the throwback is to 5th grade  . . .  but not when I was a student.  I’m looking back at some of the books that made a big impact on me when I taught elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

When I was teaching, my favorite time of day was the 20 minutes or so directly after recess in the early afternoon.  The kids would come in from outside, breathless and full of energy (and a little stinky from being out in the Louisiana heat), but acting like angels.  Without a peep, the 33 of them would file in and arrange themselves quietly on the reading rug.

When everyone was settled and perfectly quiet (no “shh-ing” necessary), I would sit on my chair in front of them, open a book, and start to read.  For those 20 minutes, the only sounds you would hear from the kids were laughter and the occasional gasp of delight or surprise.  They loved reading time.

Here are three of my favorite books that I read aloud to my kids and that you should read aloud to yours (if you don’t have kids, you should still read these books, but maybe not aloud): Continue reading

Nine Inches: Stories

UnknownNine Inches: Stories
Tom Perrotta
© 2013

I talked about fluff recently (here).  But, looking back, I realized that I only talked about female-authored fluff.  That was an oversight.

Make no bones about it: there is male-authored fluff, too.  There are four fluffernuts who spring to mind immediately.    

There are the two Brits:

  • Nick Hornby (About a Boy, How to Be Good, High Fidelity)
  • David Nicholls (A Question of Attraction, One Day)

And the two Americans:

  • Jonathan Tropper (The Book of Joe, This Is Where I Leave You, How to Talk to a Widower)
  • Tom Perrotta (Election, Little Children, The Leftovers) Continue reading

Orange Is the New Black

ORANGE-IS-THE-NEW-BLACK-WIKI_Book_Cover_01Orange Is the New Black:
My Year in a Women’s Prison
Piper Kerman
© 2010

Movie adaptations are rarely better than the books on which they’re based.  There are some (this is the best list I’ve seen), but they are few and far between.

But, oddly, TV shows are often (usually, even?) better than the books.  Some obvious examples: Sex and the City and True Blood.  I haven’t read Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones, but I have a feeling those TV shows are better than the books, too (and Flavorwire agrees).

Maybe it’s simply because the books aren’t very good (that is definitely the case for both Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels).  But I think it’s also because a TV series has a lot more time to get things right.  Entire episodes (or even seasons) can be devoted to characters and plot points, developing them more fully and, often, making them more interesting.

Taylor Schilling (who plays Piper on the TV show) and author Piper Kerman

At any rate, it’s not a huge surprise that I now have another example to add to the the-TV-show-is-better list: Orange Is the New Black. Continue reading

The Sound of Things Falling

The Sound of Things Falling
Juan Gabriel Vásquez
© 2011
Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean
© 2012

Pablo Escobar

In the 1980s, Pablo Escobar was an evil, murderous drug trafficker, who was responsible for creating an atmosphere of fear in Colombia. He killed (or had assassinated) those people who tried to stand against him.  People were scared to venture outside, worried about criminals and drive-bys. But Escobar had a huge estate on which he created his own personal zoo, so this awful drug lord’s home became a tourist attraction. Families would visit his massive estate to see the hippos, giraffes, elephants, and tigers.

Escobar was killed in 1994, and, after his death, his estate (including the zoo) fell into disrepair. The Sound of Things Falling begins with the death of one of Escobar’s hippos: Continue reading


Hello, email subscribers and followers!

You may have noticed that you got an email notification for a review of Where’d You Go, Bernadette on Tuesday with a dead link. That was a mistake. I accidentally published that review and then immediately deleted it.

The review is now live (and will remain live this time!). You can access it here:

Thanks for following IKWYSR. Sorry for the confusion!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Maria Semple
© 2012

After reading The Round HouseI was in the mood for some fluff reading.


Mmmmm, fluff.

Everyone has a different definition of fluff.  For me, there is acceptable fluff and unacceptable fluff.  Acceptable fluff is fun, not super “thinky,” and easily digestible.  Unacceptable fluff is poorly written, trite, or just plain dumb.

Acceptable fluff includes: Continue reading