Tags: Brad Pitt, Charity Girl, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Georgette Heyer, lauren groff, LibraryThing, SantaThing, Sheri Homan, The Dress Lodger
Thanks to a fun post written by Fyrefly, I found out about SantaThing, a wonderful Secret Santa type of book exchange facilitated by LibraryThing. I received my SantaThing books yesterday and I’m so exicted! I got Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer and The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman. I am loving Georgette Heyer these days (review of The Conqueror coming soon), so Charity Girl is right up my alley. I haven’t heard of The Dress Lodger before, but it sounds really good. Many thanks to my Santa.:)
I also had fun playing SantaThing, too. I selected The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald. She likes a combination of literary and historical fiction, so The Monsters of Templeton was the first thing that came to my mind. To fulfill her literary fiction needs, I thought the combination of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a current Brad Pitt movie would hit the spot. I’m looking forward to reading that myself next year.
I think that SantaThing was a huge success and I’m looking forward to participating again next year. For the LibraryThingers out there, did you participate? If so, tell me all about your loot!
Tags: Aberrations, Alan Drew, Andrew Davidson, birthday, blogging year in review, C.W. Gortner, David Fuller, Gardens of Water, lauren groff, Love is a Mix Tape, Margaret George, Patrick McGrath, Penelope Przekop, Rob Sheffield, Songs for the Missing, Stewart O'Nan, Sweetsmoke, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, The Gargoyle, The Last Queen, The Monsters of Templeton, Trauma
Well, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer say that I am 36. Well, I was born at around 9:50pm, so I could wait to say I’m 37 until tonight, but that’s being a little ridiculous (although if you agree with the whole date and time thing, you’ll make me exceedingly happy right up until 9:49pm).
Seriously, 36 was a wonderful year. I feel that I’ve come into my own in my career and as a book blogger. I have read 70 books since my last birthday and have reviewed 64. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite from during that time, but the books that have stood out in my 37th year are The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman, Trauma by Patrick McGrath, Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Aberrations by Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.
The best blogging experience I had personally revolved around Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. I bought this book for my husband, but read it first. Little did either of us know that this would have a personal connection for my husband. He was friends with Rob’s wife Renee. We had a great time going through his pictures from that era and we posted one of Renee. It always irritates me when there is no pictures in memoirs because I want to know what the people look like. In this case, Danny was able to supply that for me. It was also really neat to listen to the tape of his band singing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song to the tune of R.E.M.’s Talk about the Passion. That whole experience was wonderful.
Best of all, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people last year. From authors, to publicists, to my fellow book bloggers, to my readers. I won’t name any because I don’t want to leave anyone out. My life is richer because of you all.
I hope that everyone has a beautiful, beautiful day!
Tags: lauren groff, Monsters of Templeton
The Monsters of Templeton, the first novel written by Lauren Groff, will be released on Tuesday, February 5. For those of you who did not get an opportunity to read this as part of Barnes and Noble‘s First Look Book Club, I highly suggest that you go out and get yourself a copy. You won’t be disappointed! If you have read this book as part of the program, I received an email from Lauren and they’ve added some cool stuff to the hardcover based upon what they learned from the book club readers. Go and get yourself a hardcover!
Tags: Auntie Em, Glinda, Gone with the Wind, hippy, lake monster, lauren groff, memorable first sentences, Moby Dick, Monsters of Templeton, mother-daughter relationship, Scarlett O'Hara, single motherhood, The Monsters of Templeton, The Wizard of Oz
There is something spectacular about a book whose first line lures you into its spell like a siphon and never lets you go. In my 36 years of reading, there has only been two books whose first lines I’ve memorized and cannot forget:
With that line, I fell in love with Scarlett and couldn’t wait to find out just what it was about her that had men panting like exercised puppies. There was no way I could not read the book after just that first sentence – and I never thought to. With the noted exception of Moby Dick, I’ve found that a compelling first sentence isn’t a fluke. It’s a sign of a gifted author and a book worthy of reading.
The fact of the matter is that most books I’ve read and even those I’ve enjoyed immensely begin forgettably. This is the 41st book I’ve read this year and prior to picking up this book, not a single first sentence has struck me this year – and I’ve read some great novels. So, when I read, re-read, and then could not stop thinking about:
“The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.”
I knew that this would be a book I would love. I finished this book as satisfied as I was with the first sentence. This is a novel that I will keep forever and re-read several times.
The Monsters of Templeton is the story of Willie Sunshine Upton, a young graduate student who unexpectedly returns to her ancestral home “steeped in disgrace” just as her home town is overcome with media upon the discovery of an as-of-yet undiscovered mammalian creature. The existence – or actually previous existence – of the monster gives this novel a Gothic feel. This along with the mystery of Willie’s famous family prove to work together well.
Willie returned to her mother, Vi, in hopes of finding a safe place to lick her wounds before facing the responsibilities and consequences of the choices she’d recently made. Vi, a single mother and former hippy, refuses to let her daughter settle, even if it is into shame. As a result of her recent radical religious conversion, Vi feels the need to come clean to Willie. She tells her that she is not the product of an orgy-istic time in San Francisco. In fact, Willie’s father is alive and well in Templeton. He never knew of her existence. When Willie asks who he is, Vi refuses to tell her. She provides only a single clue: he, just like Willie and Vi, is related to Marmaduke Temple, the father of Templeton. It was as if Vi through down the gauntlet. Willie, no matter how down her current circumstances have made her, cannot sit still having this mystery hanging around her. Her archaeological dig through her family’s past proves to be an enchanting and humorous adventure.
I don’t want to give away many details in this review. I enjoyed uncovering things along the way with Willie. I will say (that just about everything else recently in my life) that there was a strong connection for me between Vi and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Both characters hold an important truth that could very easily be given to the young woman in need: Willie needs to know who her father is and Dorothy needs to know how to get back to Kansas. If this information was simply handed over, what would have happened? Neither Willie nor Dorothy would never grasped or appreciated the importance of family in their souls. In that way, what both characters needed was the discovery as much as the truth. Given that Glinda is traditionally played by the same actress as Auntie Em, it seems that teaching a child to learn for herself is the mark of the best mother/mother figure.
The Monsters of Templeton is mainly narrated by Willie, but there are also sections narrated by The Running Buds, Templeton’s jogging protectors, and several of Willie’s ancestors. I found myself drawn into the genealogical research myself. The pictures, portraits, and family trees along the way also made me feel included. Just as with Special Topics in Calamity Physics, they enhance the experience and do not feel out of place.
One of the best things about reading this book was the humor. There were several times I found myself chuckling out loud while I was reading. I don’t do that very often. It was this humor that endeared the book and its characters to me. Perhaps it was because I am of a similar age to Willie’s character that I found the sarcasm and smack talk genuine. It is such a pleasure to read a book that is both interesting and fun.
** Thank you Barnes and Noble for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of this book. Your First Look Book Club is an incredible opportunity. **
To buy this novel, click here.