Of Things Gone Astray

While The Martian is my favorite book so far of the year, Of Things Gone Astray has my favorite cover. Look at this beauty:

things gone astrayLucky for the cover (and me), the book is just as gorgeous. The book features people who have lost things. But not typical things, like keys or glasses. There is a lost living room wall, lost piano keys, a lost love, and a lost sense of direction. There is also a boy who has lost his mother and who is losing his father (in different ways). And a young woman who is turning into a tree. The book is both whimsical and touching. You should read it (after you read The Martian, though).



Filed under Uncategorized

First Frost

I have loved everything I’ve ever read by Sara Addison Allen. So, note to self: READ her next book. I made the mistake of listening to this one, and it was the first audio I’d listened to in over 6 months. It always takes me awhile to get back into an audio groove, so my attention wandered a bit at the beginning. Which is why it probably took me a bit longer than it should have to realize the Waverley’s had returned. The Waverley’s were the subjects of Allen’s first book, Garden Spells, and I spent a good hour thinking that some of the characters seemed vaguely familiar, and others that didn’t, should have.

first frost

First Frost takes place ten years after Garden Spells. The Waverley sisters, Claire and Sydney, have settled into their careers and marriages. Claire is busy, busy, busy with her candy business, and Sydney is busy with her salon and even busier worrying about having another child. Sydney’s daughter Bay is 15, and settling into her own Waverley gift and worrying about boys (or at least one boy, Josh).

Most of the book is focused on these everyday worries of Claire, Sydney, and Bay. There is some slight drama from a mysterious stranger and his attempt at blackmail, but otherwise this book is like catching up with old friends and helping them through some gentle bumps in their lives. And of course, there is the ever-present dash of magical realism. Not too much to make the book overdone, but just enough to add to its charm.

Just like all the rest of her books. Which is why I love them so.


Filed under Uncategorized

Are you ready to rumble?


Tomorrow is March 1st, which means it’s time to start reading Pet Sematary! Who’s in? Oh come on, you know you want to. After all, this is the book that even Uncle Stevie considers scary (or so the story goes).

I haven’t started it yet (tomorrow!), but I gotta say, the cover has already freaked me the hell out. It’s the one with the screeching black cat and green lettering (hence the colors in the buttons). And okay, my book doesn’t talk so the cat isn’t really screeching. But if it did talk, I know it would be (screeching, that is). It would probably also come after me with a knife in its paw, but we’re not going to go down that road. Because this is a nightmare-free readalong!

So. Readalong details. If you’ve ever done a readalong with me (and okay, it’s been awhile…you may not believe me, but once upon a time, on a blog far, far away, I really was a book blogger) you know I can get a little silly (clown noses. giant sunglasses. bad songs.). I don’t always get silly, but the scarier the book (or the more boring, I’m equal opportunity like that), the greater the potential for silliness. Unless the book just happens to be The Brothers Karamazov, and then all I’ll do is post snarky comments about how awful the book is and how miserable I am. But that’s not going to happen this time! You know why? BECAUSE UNCLE STEVIE IS NOT A DEAD RUSSIAN.

Anyhoosie. Scary book! Silliness! This means I have care packages to get us through this. Except I wasn’t planning for a huge turnout (or any kind of turnout, really), so I’ve really only got care packages for those who pre-registered (hah, that sounds all official-like). This is the group who publicly proclaimed their intent to join on my original instagram post:

I do have 1 more care package. It’s free to the first additional person who comments that they’re joining the madness. If you are in the original gang of 11, please email me your address (unless your name is Care…not that Care can’t email me, but I practically have her addie memorized, because FYI, she’s the best pen-pal ever), so I can get your care package in the mail ASAP (or whenever I get to the post office). Email is somewhereinabook, gmail, blah, blah, blah. I’m sure you can figure that out, yeah?

Further details:

  • instagram and twitter hashtag: #gangstercats (hey, I was trying to keep it short and silly). Most of you know that I am usually on instagram (@jilllora), and I will do my best to keep up on twitter (@JilleeBeene), but you’ll have to cut me a little twitter slack since I haven’t been on in 2 years.
  • read at your own pace, post/tweet/instagram/scream whenever you feel like it
  • I’ll put up a check in post at the end of March and again on April 15th. And if you’ve posted thoughts on your blog, I’ll link to everyone’s posts later in April (just in case you’re a slacker poster like me, I’m giving you some time to get that post written).
  • the care packages will have instructions for a group activity. I’d love it if you participated, but no need to stress over it, so it’s all good if you don’t want to play along. And if you missed out on the care package and still want to participate, I will explain more later (later meaning another post, not later in this post, which is quickly turning into a novella).
  • if anyone wants to watch the movie instead of read the book, more power to you. You’re still welcome to join us…I’d love to know how cheesy the movie is! Bonus points (but no kitty treats) if you read AND watch.

I think that about covers it. Leave me a comment if you want to join the fun, send me an email if you’re listed above so I know where to send the care package, holler if you have any questions, instagram as the mood strikes, talk smack about the book (or me) on twitter to see if I’m listening, and GO READ!



Filed under Uncategorized


I confess, I bought this book because of the blurb on the cover.

piratesOkay, it’s a bit hard to read, but basically it involves the word strange uttered by Neil Gaiman. Sold!

And it was strange. Also disturbing. Mostly because the pirates are teenagers (okay, three teens, one adult, and one adult with Alzheimer’s), and they really do act like pirates. In other words, they don’t just jump around the deck shouting “Ahoy!” There is murder and mayhem. Not much, but enough that I wasn’t pleased by the ending. There is also a radio producer with shady morals. This is the Needle family, and our two main characters…father Phil the radio dude and his daughter Gwen, a picked-upon teen and budding pirate. I kinda liked them at the beginning of the book. I didn’t like them at all by the end.

Daniel Handler is the Lemony Snicket guy. I’ve never read any of the Lemony books, though, so I can’t say if this is normal for him, or strange, or stranger than his normal strange. Whatever it was…I’m over it and him.


Filed under Uncategorized


One of the books (or more like a category of book) I put on my Winter of 2015 Reading List was a chunky novel from my shelves. I have an entire shelf of chunksters, but the one I actually chose to vanquish was 1Q84. Mostly because the only other Murakami I’ve read was Kafka On the Shore, and that was awhile ago. (Awhile being in 2008…I had to go look it up.) Despite not remembering much of the book (okay, the only thing I really remember is that my friend Rochelle named her betta fish Oshima after we finished reading it), I do remember that it was a weirdly entertaining experience. Which is why I bought 1Q84, and also perhaps why it’s been sitting on the shelf for so long.

Anyhoosie. 1Q84 turned out to be weird, but not as entertaining as Kafka. I felt like I spent years reading it (although it was really only a few weeks). This could be because the darn thing was 922 freakin’ pages long. It’s like the equivalent of 2 chunksters!

Anyhoosie again. What the heck was this book about? Well, there was an obsession with the moon (or moons) and uneven boobs. There was a strange cult. There was an alternate reality. There was a fitness instructor slash hit woman that acted for the good of society. There was a math teacher slash wanna be author slash ghost writer (or perhaps ghost re-writer). There was a strange cult. There was a young girl who wrote a story. There was a strange cult. I’m pretty sure there was no sheep, although there was a goat. And did I mention the strange cult?


So yeah. That’s what it’s about. Or is it???????

And then, despite my ho-hum response to 1Q84, I immediately ran out and bought The Strange Library. Mostly because it was short. And there is a sheep. Kinda. And while it was even more confusing than 1Q84, it was also SO MUCH BETTER. Mostly because there are pictures (dude, pictures can so make everything better). However, it might make you feel the way about libraries that Jaws made you feel about the ocean. That is, if you saw Jaws. I’ve only ever seen enough to know that I don’t want to see the whole thing.

strange library

So by now you might think I’m Murakami’ed out. Hah. I was, until Belle started talking about Murakami and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I also have (and have had for a very long time) sitting on the shelf (somewhere). So now we’re planning a readalong for May (because we have to survive a Pet Sematary readalong first).

Yes, that’s right. Murakami in May! Who’s in?


Filed under Uncategorized

The Martian

martian   marvin

OMG people…THIS BOOK. I love, love, love, love, love, love (times 77 bajillion) this book.

Mostly because of this:

I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.


That’s the opening three sentences, and it just continues like that. Despite dealing with a potentially serious subject (stranded on Mars…yikes!) and lots of science (just how does one get to Mars, anyways??), this did not feel like a serious slog of a read. Our narrator has such a casual delivery, and a great sense of humor, and also a potty mouth (sometimes it was like listening to myself! (which might not be something to be proud of, but whatever)), that this book was a breeze to read…I didn’t want to put it down, and then I didn’t want it to end.

This is going to be the book that I push on people all year long. I already took it to work, read the first three lines to my co-workers (consensus: it was like listening to ourselves! (see…I told you!)), and then pretty much forced it on Anthony. If he doesn’t like it, I might just disown him. (I already made him read The Strange Library* though, and he’s still talking to me, so I have high hopes.)

*I’m wondering how many books I can convince him and Chenoa to read before they catch on to the fact that I’m trying to make our unit into a mini-book club.


Filed under Uncategorized


Why is it so easy to stop blogging? Why??? I did great in January, and then February rolled into town and eeerrrrrrr (that’s supposed to be a screeching sound, like tires…how would you type that, anyways??).

So here it is February 18th, and I realized that the month will be over in 10 days. TEN!! (edited to say…9! I meant NINE!! I really thought it was still the 18th today and not the 19th, which is just further proof of how the month is disappearing at an alarming rate.) And I’ve got a readalong to sort out.

Quick and dirty details…

You. Me. And you. And you. And you, too. We’re reading Pet Sematary starting March 1st. Join us!! You know you want to. It’s supposed to be the book that Uncle Stevie considers his scariest. My original plan was to start on Valentine’s Day and use the hashtag #PSILoveYou (get it? Pet Sematary? PS? Scary? Love? Irony?). But obviously, I dropped the ball on that. So now the hashtag is #gangstercats, because I need humor to get through a scary book. And there is a line in the book that cats are like gangsters. And googling gangster cats will make you laugh. Googling Pet Sematary might just make you scream. Don’t do it. This, however…

wrong hood

Or maybe it’s just me that is amused by cats dropping the f bomb?

Anyhoosie…I have thoughts on care packages for those of you willing to spend March 1-April 15 with me and Pet Sematary. More details and a real post coming soon (pinkie swear!).

In other news, I have read a few books in February, including 1Q84 (and shit, fuck, damn, but that was one long-ass book), The Strange Library (it might just make you feel for libraries what Jaws made you feel for the ocean), We Are Pirates (ahoy!), and On the Map. I am reading the hell out of my Winter of 2015 Reading List. More on the books at some point (at some point likely being March at this rate).

And finally, I will leave you with a quote. From me. Said at work (work being the here I reference in the quote), as my co-worker and I were discussing her One Word (patience) and my Wanna Be (remember that whole vow to be more kind?).

“I’d be a lot better at this kindness crap if I wasn’t here.”



Filed under Uncategorized