It’s time to reveal the December book club selection for A Likely Story Book Club, the book club for escapist fiction fans.
Now, yes, I know we technically haven’t reviewed November’s book — or October’s book — but we’re going to forgive me for that because I’m still figuring out how this whole book club thing works, and also, I’m unreliable, which, if you’ve read anything here EVER, you already knew, so it’s kind of your fault if you had other expectations.
I’m going to try a new thing this month and post the review for last month (and maybe the month before… we’ll see how it goes) at the bottom of this post. So each new month’s book announcement will include the book review from the prior month, OK? OK. It’s a plan. Also, if you ever want to participate in the ongoing book discussions, feel free to join our book club page on the Facebook. All the cool kids are doing it.
A Likely Story Book Club
Announcing: December’s Book Selection!
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
by Christopher Moore
‘Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.
But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he’s not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn’t run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.
But hold on! There’s an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It’s none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel’s not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say “Kris Kringle,” he’s botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.
Move over, Charles Dickens — it’s Christopher Moore time.
Unlike the other books in our escapist fiction club, I’ve actually read this book. Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Jesus’ Childhood Pal is one of my all-time favorites; it’s very weird, it’s sacrilegious in all the best ways, it’s funny, and it somehow strangely honors Jesus’ example to us. The Stupidest Angel is what it advertises itself to be; an oddly heartwarming tale of murder and mayhem at Christmas. While Lamb remains my favorite of Moore’s books, The Stupidest Angel is an easy holiday read written in the bizarre tradition of the weird greats like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and, honestly, I thought we could all use something weirdly wonderful.
November’s Book Review
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
OVERALL RATING: Using a rating scale of 1 to 5 — 1 being “this book is drivel; save yourself the time” and 5 being “this is one of my favorite books EVER, and I plan to read everything this author writes” — we rated A Girl Who Drank the Moon a collective 3.5. Cornelia Spoor rated this a 4: “4 despite the ways in which it was predictable – by the time I finished it, I was seeing it more as circularity than predictability. I would recommend it but I’m not sure *who* I’d recommend it to: my best thoughts are either a really avid young reader of any age who can manage a book of this length, and my brother & sister-in-law who are totally unembarrassed by crossing age categories in their reading. I think they’d love the poetic-ness and fairy tale-ness of it.”
SUMMARY: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.
One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own . . .
DISCUSSION: In our A Likely Story Book Club Facebook group, we discussed the themes of adoption, spiritual context (which I didn’t expect in this book!), and the two characters who are the “Sorrow Eater” and the “Sorrow Avoider.”
I wrote, “The Girl Who Drank the Moon… discussion question #4. About the Sorrow Eater and Sorrow Avoider. Oh my gosh. This part of the book still has my brain wheels spinning, mostly because I am SUCH a Sorrow Avoider, you guys. I mean, I understand sorrow is part of life, and I even accept that I have to deal with it, but I’m not good AT ALL at that dealing. I do All the Things to Avoid Sorrow. I won’t read sad things for entertainment, no drama shows, no drama movies, no sad articles unless I plan to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I overeat. I read vampire smut. I grind my teeth. Honestly, I sometimes feel like my whole life has been an exercise in Trying to Avoid Sorrow.
“So, obviously, a book with a main character, Xan, who can’t remember why she has to avoid sorrow and the place where sorrow grows, and who is so bent on avoiding that sorrow that she never, ever questions where the babies in the woods are coming from or why they’re there, is compelling to me. And then the Sorrow Eater, who buries her own sorrow deep in her heart and covers it with hardness and keeps covering it until she literally has to eat sorrow to survive is awful and fascinating to me.”
And I love this reminder by Carmen McAlister, which I’m going to leave you with because it’s the Very Best Reminder to me today and maybe to some of you, too…
“I appreciated that the opposite of sorrow wasn’t presented as joy, but HOPE. That’s more like pre-joy. Just imagining the possibility of joy some day is enough to thwart the sorrow eater.”
Pre-joy. I’ll take it, friends. I’ll totally take it. Hope on…