Junebugs go Bookworm, Vol 3.
Rita Skeeter's Newest Column + More!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hello, Bookworms!


So, it's no surprise to us that our bookworm "series" has become our monthly favorite post to write and we were so happy when we introduced it three months ago and we had readers that were card carrying bibliophiles like we are.  We read all month and try to decide which 4 books we'll share with y'all on the blog, which ones you'll like best, etc. and we absolutely love hearing what you're currently reading and all the recommendations we get in the comment section, so keep those comin' (we've read several, a couple of which are included in this post).  Seeing as our favorite genre is fiction, we stuck with that this month and chose a couple writers you've probably heard of, and a couple you might not have!

June's Recommendations

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - I found myself to be enchanted after the moment I read the back of the book.  This book is a love letter for books and for bibliophiles, but also for technology and the ever-changing literary world.  The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store... did I mention the book are all in some weird code?  The new clerk, Clay Jannon, embarks on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and decides he's going to the bottom of this with help from his quirky cast of friends (including a millionaire who realistic 3-D boobs for video games and an adorable, geek girl employee of Google).

The plot in this book is helped along in equal parts by Old Knowledge (books) vs. Internet Knowledge and just when you think technology will win it all, to solve everything, the book throws a twist.  There are so many quotable lines in this book.  Mr Penumbra's is a tale of conspiracy, puzzles, a secret society and the promise of eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore and Google HQ.

“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:  A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

Big Egos by S. G. Browne - S. G. Browne is one of my favorite writers so I knew I was going to read this book regardless of what it was about.  But, this book included a few of my other interests like RPG's and psychology.  The narrator works for Engineering Genetics Organization and Systems (EGOS). EGOS sells DNA cocktails (there are 3,000+ available) that will temporarily allow the user to become someone else.  Anyone who can afford one can become a famous fictional character, historical figure or dead celebrity for 6-8 hours... why not be Marilyn Monroe or Indiana Jones for the night?  It's basically a real life role playing game... put down your Final Fantasy!

Everything is going really well for the narrator... until he starts noticing some side effects from his EGO-use.  He's losing large periods of time and people at the EGO parties he's attending seem to be dropping like flies. Is it because they're using Black Market EGOS or is something else awry?  I have to say, the author really did his research on EVERY SINGLE EGO he chose to feature in this book, I was laughing particularly hard when the narrator dosed up on my favorite Catcher in the Rye anti-hero, Holden Caulfield, and everyone was suddenly a "phony".  I think you guys will LOVE this book.  Browne is incredibly sarcastic... but in a charming way.  I'll end with this scene there's a deceased authors party in LA and...

Bram Stoker hits things off with Mary Shelley while J.R.R. Tolkien is the Dungeon Master in a game with Ray Bradbury and H.G. Wells. Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis dare each other to climb into a wardrobe while William Goulding runs around holding a conch and yelling. All the while Herman Melville and Leo Tolstoy are holed up in a study, snorting cocaine and making fun of Phillip K. Dick.

Amelia's Recommendations


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Eleanor and Park is one of those novels that I went into thinking it would be like every other YA novel. Oh how I was wrong!

Eleanor and Park has a natural progression to it that I feel like many other novels lack. I read this book over a day, and I seriously struggled to put it down.

The novel follows the title characters Eleanor, a chubby redhead who has an eclectic sense of style and who has experienced life well beyond her years, and Park, a biracial boy who has a love for comic books and good music. The entire time I read the novel I thought about how I would have fallen completely for a guy like Park when I was younger. I mean, what is not to love about someone who makes you mix tapes with The Smiths on them and lets your read their X-Men comics? Although there are plenty of cute and funny parts of the novel a lot of the novel is extremely emotional and deals with issues like poverty, abuse, body image, neglect and bullying.

Eleanor and Park is a quick read, but it will linger with you. So if you’re ready to have some emotions then I definitely recommend Eleanor and Park..just know it's not your average YA novel.

Also, the ending really pissed me off…so be prepared to not be happy.


Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer - I was super late to the game with my love for Everything is Illuminated. The novel came out in 2002, but I didn’t read it until my first year of college in 2009. Also, I’m sorry that I have this creepy cover that has Elijah Wood’s face on it. He stars in the movie adaptation…which I’ve never seen.

 Everything is Illuminated follows Jonathan Safran Foer on a journey to Ukraine to find the women who saved his grandfather’s life when the Nazi’s cleared out the area. Jonathan is not alone on his journey he has his cigarettes and pictures, Alex, Alex’s grandfather and the deranged seeing-eye bitch Sammy Davis Jr., Jr.. Also, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. is the best character name in any book ever. 

It is a fragmented story told through letters and multiple narrators. It is narrated by both Jonathan and Alex, and since Alex is not a native English speaker his broken English adds humor to the novel and also a lack of clarity. The other part of the novel is comprised of letters from Alex to Jonathan.  One thing I would emphasize is don’t start the novel thinking that it’s some kind of historical bore—you get to read about Jonathan’s grandfather who has a reputation for being good in bed, which I’m sure is definitely need to know information for Jonathan.

The novel is a work of fiction that feels like non-fiction and reads like a narrative, which is what truly makes it so interesting. If you’re a fan of satire and historical themes then Everything is Illuminated should definitely be on your “to-read” list.

Pottermore's Keepin' Potter Alive

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I'm sure by now all our fellow wizard lovin' muggles (the owls carrying all of our Hogwarts letters must've gotten lost, thank you very much) probably know by now that through Pottermore (if you're not a member of Pottermore, and you should be, the story is here), J. K. Rowling has given us a peek into the adult lives of our favorite Hogwarts graduates as they reunite for the Quidditch World Cup Final.  It is written from the perspective of, who else, but our err... "favorite" Daily Prophet gossip columnist, Rita Skeeter.  This was such an incredibly exciting and unexpected surprise!

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June:  I waited days to read this little column because I wanted to pick the right time to launch myself back into the Wizarding World, even though I knew it would take me less than 5 minutes to read.  I curled up on my couch with a cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee and read it.  I teared up a little while reading it... because I have issues haha.  When you're involved in a fandom like Harry Potter, where technically the books are "over" (they're never over) it's nice to see every once in a while, that Good 'Ol J.K. (June, I love you because you quote Doctor Who while talking about Harry Potter. -Amelia) is sitting around thinking about them too, wants to keep them alive and "picks up a pen" and writes about them again.  I love both books she's writen under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, but nothing is Harry Potter.

Amelia:  The day this column was posted I FREAKED out.  So much so that I totally texted June at 6 a.m. her time telling her about how excited I was.  I've never left the world that Jo created, and this story made me feel justified in my continued obsession with Harry Potter.  The article contained information that I already knew about (because of interviews), but to read Jo write about her Wizarding World was just so amazing and it was a completely different experience!  Plus, I know I can't be the only person hoping that she'll write another novel about Harry and his universe.

Next Month on Junebugs go Bookworm


Bookworm 7-16-14

The Rook by Daniel O' Malley  |  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer H. Hickman, Jr.  |  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

// We thought we'd try something different and share what we'd be featuring next month, in case y'all want to read along, so we can discuss in the comments section.  You can find us on Goodreads, June and Amelia.

//What are you currently reading?  Have any recommendations?  Have you read any of these books, what did you think?

33 comments:

  1. Its so funny last time I was in the book store both Mr. Penumbra's 24 hr book store and Eleanor and Park caught my eye and I even added them to my ongoing note list of books that I want to read that I find at the bookstore but didnt get a chance to buy right then and there (am I the only one who does that?). Ive never heard of Big Egos but it sounds super interesting!

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  2. wardrobe experienceJuly 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    i just saw the movie of 'everything is iluminated' and i loved it. the book is on top of my book list ... thanks for reminding me of this. :)

    http://wardrobexperience.blogspot.de

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  3. Colleen ElizabethJuly 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    That book "Big EGOS" sounds like the movie Antiviral, where people inject themselves with the viruses that celebrities had because they want to be "closer" to them. That book sounds awesome. I'm going to have to check it out :)

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  4. Colleen ElizabethJuly 16, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    And YAY you read Eleanor & Park :D The ending depressed me haha

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  5. Rocket Boys is great. Hope you all enjoy it.

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  6. Victoria AndersonJuly 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I put Eleanor and Park on hold the other day, I'm number 292 on 83 copies, so it might take a while (but it's better than Waiting for Alaska where I am number 378 on 89!). I read Fangirl last weekend and was sad it was over because I really enjoyed it (so I read it again) and put some of the author's other books on hold.
    I'm going to check out some of these other books too- this is a good series!
    Also, I am very excited about this Harry Potter news! I love Harry and his world so much, but can be very out of the loop on news.

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  7. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store sounds really fantastic. I love reading, so books about books and the experience of reading always catch my fancy.
    And I'm really freaking excited for next month, because holy $#!7 do I love Ready Player One. I didn't not expect to, because I'm not really into 80s pop culture like that, but the plotting and the characterization are so perfectly realized that I it didn't matter.

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  8. Colleen ElizabethJuly 16, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I just ordered it on Amazon :) And at the end of Eleanor & Park, I turned the page expecting more haha But I do agree it was important and made sense for the whole mood of the story

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  9. I saw the movie before reading the book and though the movie has its differences (as they all do) I think it did a wonderful job of telling the story.

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  10. I've officially read both, they offer very different things! I'd read the back of Eleanor & Park a million times and just couldn't motivate myself to read it until I read and loved Fangirl and noticed they were the same writer.


    Mr. Penumbra's is Robin Sloan's first book, but it was such an AMAZING first book, I'd recommend it to anyone, especially bookworms who sort of love nerd culture haha.


    Big Ego's is amazing, actually, anything by S.G. Browne is amazing. My first book by him was Breathers, I think it's my favorite, it's about zombies.

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  11. I stated Everything is Illuminated and kept putting the book down, I think it would be interesting to listen to it as an audiobook!


    I really loved the movie as well, when I watch movies before reading the book (which I hardly ever do) I always pretend they're completely independent of one another.

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  12. I'm so happy to hear that because I really enjoyed the movie! I need to stop picking the book up and putting it down and just read it already. haha

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  13. OH!!! Do let me know what you think after you read it! The ending is SO WEIRD. That doesn't deter me from recommending it though because I loved the story itself and the ending wasn't necessarily bad.


    I cheated and listened to it via audiobook while driving to and from work and school, etc. so it was a bit different for me... they sort of trail off, you don't have to turn the page and see a lot of nothingness haha

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  14. We've actually already read it, but we thought it warranted a book review and would make for a good discussion and recommendation. : )

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  15. Hopefully people will read quickly and you'll get it sooner than you think! You might be able to find a pretty cheap copy of Looking for Alaska on half.com, but I love library books, so I never try to talk people out of waiting on them. ; )


    I'm so happy to hear you loved Fangirl, it really enjoyed it as well and wish the story had continued just a biiiiit longer. Rainbow Rowell is a very talented writer, I'm looking forward to reading her newest book, Attachments, it's at the top of my "to read" list!


    We try to stay in the loop, even if we didn't when something Harry Potter related happens our social media explodes because most of our friends as pretty big fans haha

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  16. That is exactly what caught my fancy about it! I think you'd really enjoy it!


    And I freaking LOVED READY PLAYER ONE! I've read it like 4 times! I really wanted to do it for this post but couldn't find a paper copy of the book on time. It mixed together plot, characterization, 80s pop culture and my very deep seeded love for RPG's and gaming all into one and did it damn well! It made my heart melt into a little puddle. I saw on his website he's writing another book that's correlated with gaming, I can't wait to read it!

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  17. Colleen ElizabethJuly 16, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Haha will do :) now i'm excited. And there's nothing wrong with audiobooks :P

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  18. I'm always interested in new books to read so thank you for the recommendations! I currently have a small stack of Lucille Ball books I need to read. I recently went crazy and bought three different biographies about her :p

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  19. Oh my goodness, Everything is Illuminated has haunted me for years! I first started reading it while on a road trip to visit a friend but it was too emotional that I had to wait until I got home to finish it. But even then it was ridiculous, I would be driving to work and show up with sobbing because it was just so sad and graphic. Oh goodness when the nazis came to the small town and had all of the women line up, I was so sick to my stomach! I still get teary eyed thinking about this book!!! Also Elijah is beyond adorable in the movie, like he's anything but adorable ever!

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  20. Love these bookworm posts. I ended up reading Fangirl from you guys' suggestion in a previous post and I absolutely loved it. It was basically a biography of my life in early college haha. I really want to read Eleanor & Park now! I still haven't read the Rita Skeeter column because like June, I waiting for the right time to go back to my favorite place & because I know I will get emotional.

    Have you guys read/heard of the Outlander series? It's a historical/sci-fi/romance (sounds crazy, I know) series, I found it on audible.com to listen to on my 1hr commute to work every day & I am loving it. There's also going to be a TV show on Starz coming up in August, not that I need any new shows to obsess over :P The basic premise is: "The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743."

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10964.Outlander

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  21. Charise ContrerasJuly 18, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Just finished The Raven Boys and I have to say I'm impressed with it. The writing style is well above most YA books but its sometimes confusing especially when it changes between character storylines and you have to go back and reread where it changed. I love the characters, each is unique and has depth to them and were a joy to read. The progression of the story was very good and there's not so much romance in the story but there's enough and its realistic, afterall Blue (the main character) never been in love before. Not sure how I feel about the ending yet but I can't wait to read the rest of this series. I'm going to starting on Texas Gothic and the Beautiful Creatures series. I've noticed alot of the books I've been reading lately have been starting in the south...guess I'm a southern girl through and through lol

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  22. We absolutely love exchanging recommendations with people! Especially people that share our love for good fiction.


    And oh!!! I'm not a big biography girl but I think I'd make an exception for Lucille Ball, you'll have to let me know which is your favorite!

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  23. Well now you're making me not want to read it!!! haha. I usually try to read books that invoke happiness but I make exceptions! (Have you read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak?! Oh. My. God) Anyways, I'll probably end up reading EII anyways, but I'm glad I'm prepared now.


    And the movie.... he really is adorable... and it's so visually beautiful. I absolutely love it!

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  24. I'm so happy you loved it! I related a lot too, especially once I transferred colleges and was out on my own... always the nerdiest "belle at the ball." haha. I MUCH preferred Fangirl over Eleanor & Park though... mainly because of the ending... not that Fangirl's ending was all that great!


    And OH! Have you read it yet?! I can't blame you! I cried reading it... because I'm ridiculous.


    I haven't read it! But now I want to, I love listening to things on my commute too so this might be perfect! I'll look it up.


    Since I know you're a "listener" now do you like Neil Gaiman? He's one of my favorite authors and often narrates his own audiobooks. I'm actually more like... in love with him. haha. Be. Still. My. Heart.

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  25. I actually have this one on my "to read" list. The plot didn't pull me in QUITE as much as I wanted it to when I read the back but I thought I'd give it a shot anyways, you saying you liked it definitely makes me curious though.

    You're not the first to recommend the Texas Gothic series! I might have to check that one out too! Most of the books I read just have super quirky protagonists... I don't know what that says about me...

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  26. Oh really? I still want to read Eleanor & Park, but the ending must be pretty lame because as much as I loved Fangirl, I was just like "uh..what it's over?". Seemed really abrupt.


    No, still haven't read the Rita Skeeter column! I really need to. No judgements on the crying, because I know I totally will haha. I was already crying during the opening credits of both parts of the Deathly Hallows movie. No shame.


    Yeah I would even recommend the Outlander audiobook over the actual book because the narrator is so good. She's like a 50 or 60 something british lady & she does a convincing accent for Scottish guy in his early 20's, a British woman in her mid-20's, children, and burly Scottish men. It's very entertaining!


    Haha, I have heard Neil Gaiman's name, but I didn't know who he was until I looked him up just now--his work looks very interesting! I'll put him next on my audiobook list :) Do you have any recommendations of a good one to start with?

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  27. YES! Well this was equally as abrupt (in my opinion) but also sort of..... inconclusive?

    NO JUDGEMENT! I cried during the opening credits too!!! haha. That is the mark of a true Potter fan! I cried the first time I set foot into Hogsmeade as well....

    OH!!!! I love when audiobook narrators are good with accents! I finished The Rook (mentioned above in our "next months reads") and I thought the narrator was brilliant, I can't imagine having read it via hard copy. I am officially downloading Outlander ASAP!

    And I'm glad you find him interesting! Have you seen the movie Coraline? or Stardust? Those were originally his novels! If I had to recommend SOMEWHERE to start, I'd say Ocean at the End of the Lane... it's his newest (and my favorite) book!

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  28. Ok I HAVE to read the 24-hr bookstore one!! First, it's set in San Francisco- 30 min from me, and second, I have a bookstore addiction! I'm off to find it...
    ~xoxo!!

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  29. First off, I'm forcing myself not to fangirl uncontrollably - You lovely ladies are the primary reason I miss the east coast! Ahem. :D


    Have you considered a short story or sci-fi edition?

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  30. Even if you have a hard time finding it, I promise you'll LOVE it! <333

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  31. Aww, well thank you so much! And I haven't, but I'd be up for it, any recommendations?

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  32. Well thank you. And of course people are going to be critical when HP gets pulled out of the crypt for us to revisit him, but, I think she did it to keep it alive! I will admit, it was 100% things I already knew because JK divulged a lot of that knowledge in interviews, etc. but I had fun reading it anyways.

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