Vocab from The Cuckoo’s Calling: Vituperative

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday, a great meme for learning new words (or for getting a refresher!)  Visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion for links to other interesting vocab.

Today I’m sharing another word from The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith.  It’s a great mystery that I haven’t had enough time to read lately!  (Too many presents to wrap…)

Robert Galbraith, aka J K Rowling, writes with finesse:

Exhausted as Strike was, it took awhile for him to fall asleep, and when he did, Charlotte wove in and out of every dream, gorgeous, vituperative, and haunted.

vituperative \vī-‘tü-pǝr-rāt-iv\ adj from Latin vituperare from vitium fault + parare to make; 

containing or characterized by verbal abuse

swimmers shoutingI spent the weekend working at my daughter’s swim meet – we hosted over 1000 swimmers from across the state and beyond.  Our aquatics center throbbed with shouts of coaches, athletes, and parents.  A competitive atmosphere like that creates the perfect milieu for stress and vituperative outbursts.

Word Nerd Workout

Think of a character, from fiction or your own life, that you could describe as vituperative.  My example:  Rosa Hubermann, Liesel Meminger’s foster-mother in The Book Thief.  

fav books 2014Favorite Books of 2014 Giveaway

I’m partnering with Postertext to give away a unique art print for the holidays. Just tell me your favorite book from 2014 and why you recommend it, and you’ll enter a chance to win. Comments must be received by Dec. 20.  Find more details at my Favorite Books of 2014 post.

Thanks for joining the fun!




What Was Your Favorite Book in 2014?


Pride and Prejudice Art Print from Postertext

You know what makes me feel like I’m contributing something worthwhile to the world? When people ask me for book suggestions.  I get all giddy and start spouting titles and summaries, more than anyone probably wants.  But I can’t help myself!

To add to my rapidly growing list of recommended books, I need your help.  If we work together to collect book suggestions, then we will have:

  • Book gift ideas for the holidays and beyond
  • Plenty of recommended reading for the cold months ahead


The Favorite Books of 2014 Giveaway

fav books 2014How to help: tell me your favorite book that you read in 2014 and why you liked it.  Isn’t that easy? And I’m excited to announce a special prize this year! All readers who contribute a book to the favorites list will enter into a drawing to win a Postertext Art Print, the perfect gift for word nerds and book lovers. 

The details:

  • You may enter by commenting on my blog, my Facebook profile, or my Twitter feed between December 12 and December 21, 2014.
  • Your comment must include your favorite book from 2014 and a short explanation of why you recommend it.
  • The books don’t have to be published in 2014, just read in 2014.
  • I will announce the winner on Monday, December 22, 2014, as well as publish the final list of favorites.
  • The winner must provide a poster choice, mailing address, and phone number so that Postertext can mail the prize.  To see my review of the Postertext art print I bought, visit my Holiday Gifts Post.  For all the prints available, visit Postertext.com.


FYI, another great list for recommended reading is the Goodreads Choice Award Winners for 2014.

Add your recommendations and spread the word so we can build a big list!

Thanks for helping me out.



Vocab from The Cuckoo’s Calling: Desultory

wondrous memeSometimes (or many times) when I read, I come across a word I should know but don’t. Please tell me this happens to you, too.  Thank goodness Kathy at Bermuda Onion hosts the “Wondrous Words Wednesday” meme so that I can share these words and learn in the process.

I’m currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, aka J. K. Rowling.  It’s the first of a new detective series based in London.  A famous model falls to her death in an apparent suicide, but Cormoran Strike, a private detective with a crumbling personal life, sets out to prove murder.

The Cuckoo’s Calling reads easily and offers a welcome diversion from holiday stress. However, since I’m usually exhausted when I read (at 10pm), I’m afraid I’m missing critical details.  We’ll see…  Here’s a sentence from, I’m so ashamed, the first page of the book.

cuckoo's callingFrom time to time there came outbreaks of desultory clicking, as the watchers filled the waiting time by snapping the white canvas tent in the middle of the road…

desultory \’de-sәl-tor-ē\ adj from Latin desultorius, which literally means of a circus rider jumping from horse to horse

  • marked by a lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose
  • disappointing in progress, performance, or quality

What a great Latin origin!  I think the first meaning is used in the quote.

Word Nerd Workout

Can you think of a synonym for desultory?  I’m going to suggest a word popular with my teens: random.  Share yours in the comments.

Have you read The Cuckoo’s Calling?  What did you think?

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!


Three Bookish Gifts Ideas for the Holidays

Christmas shoppingI’m all about gifting books at the holidays (or anytime, really), but I also love finding unique presents for the bibliophiles in my life.  Here are some fun ideas.


We know words can evoke a mental image, but how about words literally creating a picture? The creative people at Postertext use the text from novels to produce art prints.  I ordered the Pride and Prejudice poster for my daughter, who has devoured Jane Austen’s masterpiece at least three times.


Pride and Prejudice framed poster


Close up of P & P art print

Close up of P & P art print









The text begins with Chapter 1 and the first line of P & P.   It’s cool to see Austen’s words right on the poster, like a treasure you find when you look closely.  The words are tiny, but I suppose anything larger would detract from the image. I’m sure my daughter will love this.

Postertext has prints for many classics, including Alice in Wonderland, a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Great Gatsby.  Most cost around $30.  Postertext plans to add contemporary favorites to the collection, and you can also request a book for them to convert to art. The website is easy to navigate and service was friendly and fast.  If you follow them on Twitter, you can get a $5 discount.

In the spirit of full disclosure, a rep from Postertext.com contacted me about this unique art form that’s perfect for any book lover.  I ordered my own poster to evaluate, and I haven’t received any compensation from the company.

book lovers calendarThe Book Lover’s Calendar from Writer’s Digest

The new calendar for 2015 features book suggestions from a variety of authors, literary quizzes, facts about authors, and quotes from books and authors.  This is a great gift idea for readers and writers alike.  WD sells it for $12.


Book Journals

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the benefits of keeping a list of books you’ve read. One of my readers commented that she had a special book to keep a log of the books she’d read.  That inspired a Google search for a similar product, and I found tons of them.  Here are some details on the three I liked best:

Books I've ReadBooks I’ve Read, A Bibliophile’s Journal by Deborah Needleman and Virginia Johnson. This journal has a forward by the author and simple lined pages to enter titles, dates, and reactions to books.  Also includes colorful illustrations of libraries, etc. At  Amazon for $12.





Reading Journal for Book LoversReading Journal: For Book Lovers, by Potter Style.  This journal gets rave reviews on Amazon.  For each book you can list author, category, rating, and notes.  Amazon $7.







Books Reading JournalBooks I’ve Read, A Reader’s Journal, by Journals Unlimited. This journal uses a fill-in format with prompts for author, book, category, and reactions to character and plot.  Amazon $20.





I’m gonna have a hard time choosing!  How about you?

Can you add any other word nerd gift ideas to my list?  

Thanks for stopping by.


What Does Foment Mean?

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday, a meme for people who like to learn new words. Read here and visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion if you want to join in and expand your vocabulary.

My wondrous word this week comes from an e-mail sent by my son’s soccer team manager.  He was addressing a touchy issue (there can be lots of touchy issues in travel sports) and said something like:

I don’t intend to foment unrest among parents…

soccer ball in a netI’d never heard of this word foment and had to look it up!  Thank you Brian for giving me a word nerd challenge.

foment \’fo-ment\ verb from the Latin fomentare and fomentum to compress, add heat; akin to Lituanian degti to burn and Sanskrit dahati it burns

to cause or try to cause the growth or development of something bad or harmful

Merriam-Webster gives a great example of foment:

John Adams’s wife Abigail told him that if women were not remembered by the new American government, they would “foment a rebellion.”

You tell him, Abigail.

Word Nerd Workout

Think of a synonym for foment.  I came up with “incite”, but feel free to get more creative.

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!




A Great Word for Family Gatherings: Idiosyncrasy

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday!  Thank you for stopping by during this busy holiday week.  We can’t let cleaning and turkey basting get in the way of our word nerdiness, right?

If you have time, or you want to procrastinate on the cooking, visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion for links to more cool words.

My friend Valerie recently shared a word that piqued her curiosity: idiosyncrasy.

I thought that as families and friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, there might be many idiosyncrasies being noticed out there, and that we could have fun with this word.

idiosyncrasy \i-dē-ə-sin-krə-sē\ noun from the Greek idio- + synkerannynai to blend

an unusual way in which a particular person behaves or thinks; an unusual part or feature of something

Word Nerd Workout

It’s easy to find idiosyncrasies in others, especially members of our families.  For example, my grandmother kept EVERYTHING, and she always told us it was because she was “a child of the Depression.”

Or, my child #3 literally can’t go to sleep unless we go through a bedtime litany that includes phrases like “I love you” and “You’re the best mom in the world.” (Sweet, yes, but sometimes after 9pm I just want to kiss him and be done.  Then I remember my friend Amy’s post on The Nine Minutes That Have the Greatest Impact, and I give him the love.)

We can all identify idiosyncrasies in others, but are you willing to share your own?  I’ll go first.  When I feel stressed, I talk to myself.  Like, this week, as I prepare for 12 guests, I’m constantly chatting — with no one!  “I need to get a load of laundry in first, then I can clean the veggies for the salad.”  It must have something to do with auditory processing needs.  (That sounds better than “insanity.”)

What are your idiosyncrasies?  Share in the comments, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!