Underdog Books

There are always those few books, the one that no one else seems to know or appreciate except for you. The ones that aren't considered "hip and popular in the book world." The ones that aren't being made into movies, the ones that aren't trending on Twitter, the ones that nobody reviews or blogs about. They're the books that you think, man, these books would be so popular if only more people knew about it! For me, those books are the Ellie Sweet books by Stephanie Morrill.


The Ellie Sweet series is the kind of series I'd shove into your hand. Every teenage writer who wants to get published should read it. It deals with things we all go through--querying agents, critique partners, editing, balancing writing along with your other priorities, etc. It's very addictive, too! I read both books in three days each. After I read it I wanted to get up and write or get up and do something.

But it's not just about writing, either. Though that is a major part of the books, Ellie also deals with normal teenager things: going to school, friendships--the good and the ugly--, dating, family dynamics, etc. Even people who don't like to write can relate to Ellie on different levels.

It's just awesome all around.

What are your favorite underdog books?


TBC Turns One!

by Lydia

Over a year ago, I tentatively approached Cait with an idea for a collaborative book blog. I didn't think she'd be interested, since she already focuses on books/writing on her main blog. But Cait, as you've probably realized, is made of awesome stuff and said yes. She also coaxed Mime into joining us and we planned and brainstormed for weeks. Our first post launched on April 15th, 2013.

Book Chewers! Do you realize what this means? We are ONE! Happy Birthday to us! Let us smash cake in our face and smear frosting in our hair, in typical one-year-old fashion. 

Highlights from our first year . . . . 

April 2013
We published our first post! It was a manifesto of sorts
Each of us wrote a self-introduction and talked about our all-time favorite books.
Cait and Mime did one of their fabulous discussion posts. The topic? Cinder, a TBC favorite.
We had our first guest post, by none other than MV.

May 2013
Our first "Book of the Month" was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.
Cait interviewed Cornelia Funke, and we could barely handle our excitement.
Charley first appeared on the blog as a guest poster. (The post was about Inkheart, but SWAT teams were mentioned.)
I hosted our first Reader Project, and you (the readers) wrote some amazing six word stories.
Kristin also made her first appearance. She wrote a great guest post about Meg Murry.
We completed the month with thirty-four posts. (Someone was enthusiastic.) It's still my favorite month on TBC, actually.

June 2013
We held our first Narnia Month
Cait hosted our first linkup, in which we wrote letters to Narnian characters.
I made Turkish Delight. (Disappointing. Something was wrong with Edmund's taste buds.)
Mime filmed herself quoting Puddleglum, It was quite amusing.
Cait wrote an especially popular post: 5 things you should NOT say to a bookworm.

July 2013
July's Book of the Month was Matilda by Roald Dahl
We started hosting weekly linkups.
We welcomed MV, Charley, and Kristin to our ranks.
I made an enormous chocolate cake in honor of Bruce Bogtrotter.

August 2013
Cinder was our Book of the Month.
We had an amazing guest artist for Harry Potter's birthday. 
Cait interviewed Marissa Meyer. They talked about Comic-Con and fixing electronics by hitting them.
She also came dangerously close to perishing thanks to torturous Divergent movie teasers.

September 2013
We celebrated Banned Books all month. 
I interviewed Lois Lowry about The Giver and banned books.
Kristin shared some ludicrous examples of book-banning. 
Charley (and you, the lovely readers) wrote a post about hobbits and their best qualities.
MV wrote In Defense of Harry Potter, which became one of our most controversial and most viewed posts.

October 2013
Cait and Mime abandoned us for the Australian bush.
The rest of us wrote a group post about our Book of the Month, Anne of Green Gables

November 2013
We had a slow-ish month.
We wrote a group post about how we as readers should respond to an author's personal views/life choices.

December 2013
Cait wrote the bookworm guide to surviving Christmas.
We wrapped up the year with a group post about authors we discovered in 2013.
MV had a short story published in an anthology called Fauxpocalypse.

January 2014
I speculated on the changes that would occur if bookworms ruled the world.
We shared our bookish resolutions for the new year.
You helped us with another six word story project.

February 2014
We held Divergent week.
Cait read the book version of Mary Poppins, and was thoroughly horrified.

March 2014
We dedicated another month to The Chronicles of Narnia.
I wrote a post about controversies surrounding Narnia which was (surprise!) a matter of much discussion and controversy.
We had our first giveaway! Two of them, actually. It was lovely.
Charley wrote about The Last Battle and letting go of Narnia.

April 2014 
So far? We've written a lot of "5 Reasons" posts. Oops. I swear that was accidental .
I wrote about my disappointment in The Giver trailer. (Incidentally, there's more news concerning the movie that we'll discuss later.)
And today we celebrate the marvelous year behind us and all the fantastic-ness that awaits!

Some thank yous are in order:

Cait, thank you for your wild ideas, hilarious blog posts, and consistent dedication.
Mime, thank you for all your great ideas and contributions during those first few months. 
Charley, thank you for your really good sense of humor, your great word usage, and your smart ideas
MV, thank you for the enthusiasm in your posts and your willingness to tackle any topic or idea.
Kristin, thank you for your sweet and lovely posts and your thoughtful perspectives.

Readers, thank you for your contributions! For writing guest posts, participating in linkups, sharing your perspectives, recommending wonderful books. Thank you for being a part of our community. For making our community. You too, are made of awesome stuff.

Leave a comment below and tell us how you stumbled across TBC and became a Book Chewer. What posts and events would you consider highlights? What have you enjoyed most? What do you look forward too? Most importantly . . . what would be on the menu if we were having a real-life celebration?


5 Reasons to Love "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore"

by Lydia 
Goodreads Description:
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

5 Reasons to Love Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

1. The writing style is vivid, wordy, and intelligent. But it's also modern and easy to read, which is a lovely combination

2. The story weaves together the brand-new, fast-paced world of technology with the older literary world that centers around pages, bookstores, and publishing houses.The conflicts, interactions, and interconnectedness between the two is incredibly well written and interesting.

3. It's about a bookstore. The only thing better than a book is a book about books. And the mysterious, riddle-solving, literary-minded cult/secret society is kind of like chocolate syrup drizzled on top.

4. The characters have jobs that are modern and interesting, and they each use their unique skills to help solve the mysterious bookstore happenings. Clay's girlfriend, Kat, works at Google; and Google's tools, projects, and ideas are a huge part of the story. The characters actually spend a good chunk of time on Google's campus in San Francisco, which is fascinating. Clay himself is an graphic designer, although his unemployment in that field is what lands him at the bookstore. Since I'm majoring in design, I particularly liked all of the design-related details . . . a typeface played a major role in the story! A typeface. Let's just say that both the story and the characters are awesomely nerdy.

5. The cover glows in the dark. Perhaps it's a stretch to say that you should read a book simply because the cover glows. But it's something to consider, people. Definitely something to consider . . .

To sum everything up, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a beautifully written, superbly unusual, and pleasantly nerdy book. Go eat it, book chewers. It's tasty.