Mar 31

Gone Reading Giveaway!

Giveaways 33

Howdy Bookworms!

As you know, I’m a sucker for bookish swag. I work nerdy bookish accessories into my life and wardrobe like it’s my job, y’all. Lucky for me, there are some amazingly cool sites out there like Gone Reading. I LOVE  Gone Reading, you guys. They have a ton of cool stuff AND they donate all their profits to charities that promote literacy initiatives in the developing world. There goes all your guilt about “wasting” money on “non-essential” items. IT’S FOR CHARITY!

Brad at Gone Reading contacted me recently to see if I’d like to host a giveaway for my readers and/or review a product. Because they are AMAZING, I am now the proud owner of five literary finger puppets (a video puppet show is in the works, my pretties. I wanted to have it done by now, but you simply cannot rush the creative process… Or the husband who happens to double as your camera man.) In any case, I’ve for a $40 gift certificate to give away to one of YOU to shop at Gone Reading and buy yourself some sweet bookish stuff. Enter below!

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Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, and my man Willy Shakes. He asked me to call him that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mar 30

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Historical Fiction, World War II 18

Hello Bookworms!

I wish I could say that there was a tried and true way to pitch me a book that will guarantee I read it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. However. Your odds are VASTLY improved if you have already written a book I loved and if the book is set in Scotland. That’s about as close to a Katie-Guaranteed-Read as you can get. Sara Gruen of Water for Elephants fame (which I loved) has a new book out called At the Water’s Edge that just happens to be set in Scotland. Obviously I ran the other way when I heard about it. If by “ran the other way” you mean frantically clicked the “request” button on NetGalley, natch. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher through NetGalley. May the Loch Ness Monster devour my very soul if this review is anything less than my honest opinion.*

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In 1944 Madeline Hyde and her husband Ellis are living the high life… If the “high life” means spending your parents’ money, getting wasted, and making public scenes. After one particularly scandalous New Year’s Eve party, Ellis’s father cuts him off financially. Problematic, seeing as Ellis’s “allowance” is their only form of income. Ellis’s BFF Hank proposes that the three of them make a pilgrimage to Scotland to track down the Loch Ness Monster. Ellis’s allowance-cutting-off father had his own public scandal once upon a time involving said monster, and this is Ellis’s chance to get back in his father’s good graces with the added bonus of rubbing it in his face.

So, because it is a GREAT idea to hop in a boat and cross the Atlantic in the middle of a WAR, Ellis, Hank, and Maddie head off to the Scottish Highlands. The bubble Maddie has been living in is unceremoniously popped en route and upon arrival. Money and distance have separated her from the war, but it’s impossible to escape the rationing, fuel shortages, and air raids in Scotland. Gradually Maddie comes to some important realizations about herself, her life, and her marriage during her Highland adventure, and her life will never be the same.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Katie, is there a hot Scotsman in this book?!” Aye, my Bookworms, there is! Never ye fear! I enjoyed At the Water’s Edgeand I would definitely recommend it to fans of Water for ElephantsIn fact, I found the romantic plot of the two books to be extremely similar… Almost too similar, actually, but not quite. Seriously though, find me a book with a hot Scotsman I don’t enjoy. (No. Please don’t. Don’t ruin hot Scotsmen for me.) If you like Sara Gruen’s writing, hot Scotsman, the Loch Ness Monster, and SECRETS, At the Water’s Edge is your book, y’all!

Let’s chat, Bookworms. About the Loch Ness Monster. Do you think Nessie is real? Hogwash? I’d like to know!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 27

It Ain’t Easy (Not) Being Green: A Day In the Life

Blogging, Personal 54

Top O’ the Morning to You Bookworms!

One of my favorite bloggers, Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, announced an event recently encouraging bloggers to document a day in their lives. It’s an opportunity for book bloggers to show that there’s more to us than just reading. How much more, I can’t really say, but definitely a little bit more. Like, I don’t know, 11% more. Or something. Lucky for y’all, I decided to document St. Patrick’s Day, and it turned out to be the most eventful ordinary day I’ve had in a good long time. Are you ready?!

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7:18 am: Woke up after 2 dalliances with snooze button.

7:27 am: Got in shower. I may or may not have fallen asleep on the toilet. Judge lest not ye be judged!

7:45 am: Left for work.

7:47 am: Realized it was St. Patrick’s Day and I had forgotten to wear green. Seriously, Katie? Your last name is Kelly! What kind of an impostor Irish woman are you?

8:16 am: Arrived at work.

8:20 am: I was shamed by co-worker for lack of green. I deserved it.

9:01 am: I drank some #ToffeeCoffee (ie, coffee with Heath flavored creamer, which is my current obsession. Mostly because it rhymes and I made a fun hashtag.)

9:58 am: Compared new art in boss’s office to the Eye of Horus. Had to explain to boss that I had Egypt on the brain thanks to having just finished reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (review). It could be worse. I could be my husband who refers to the AT&T building in Nashville as “The Eye of Sauron.” (I think Sauron might be somehow responsible for the God awful traffic we were stuck in for 2 hours when we drove through last time. Boo.)

Okay, he may have a point. (Image Source)

Okay, he may have a point. (Image Source)

11:00 am: I ate some butter toffee flavored almonds because I am all about the toffee and protein-rich snacks that curb the desire to gnaw off my own arm. I basically want to eat everything all the time. I’m still in winter mode where I become bearlike and want to do nothing more than eat all the things and hibernate.

12:05 pm: Left to pick up co-worker/pal/mother-of-dragons (Kathy) for lunch date from other office location. (Kidding, not mother of dragons. I mean, unless you think dragons RULE, which I kind of do. Her kidlets own my heart. #CrazyAuntKatie loves you!)

12:20 pm: Had lunch with Kathy at Noodles & Company because we both had coupons for free lunch. Holla! It’s the perk of the two of us both having March birthdays. I ate the Med Salad with Chicken, obvi. I simply cannot get enough olives and feta in my life. ALL THE SALTY!

12:50 pm: Stopped at Target so Kathy could pick up diaper rash ointment for my goddaughter’s tushie. While there, I purchased a cheap green scarf to allay my St. Pat’s guilt. I also bought a small bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs because I am a bear and those things are friggin delicious.

1:05 pm: Returned Kathy to her office. Visited Office Beagle. I’ve been missing him terribly since I moved into the new building. Just look at that face!

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2:36 pm: Vending machine maintenance guy came for repair. He sought me out and bought me a soda because he saw the email I sent to my boss explaining the broken machine (and the fact that the Diet Dr. Pepper was taunting me.) I can only assume he found my personification of soda amusing enough to warrant a freebie.

6:00 pm: Worked a bit late as I took a long lunch to visit Office Beagle. Changed for gym.

6:35 pm: Went to Body Combat class. Punching and kicking the air for an hour makes me feel like a badass. I know I would never get into a fight, let alone win one, but it’s excellent cardio and fools me into feeling powerful for an hour. Plus, it feels AWESOME to fake punch and kick things. Sometimes I imagine I am beating up annoying fictional characters…

7:35 pm: Left gym a sweaty, stinking mess. I sweat more than normal, dainty ladies. It’s pretty gross.

7:50 pm: Arrived home a sweaty, stinking mess. Talked to hubs, who was gentlemanly enough (for once) not to mention the stench.

8:00 pm: Shower. Because I am a SWEATY, STINKING MESS. Sing “I Can’t Get Next to You” in the shower loudly and badly. The Temptations, you guys. This song makes me way too happy.

8:30 pm: Microwaved Steamfresh noodles and veggies for dinner. I was way too lazy to cook actual food at this point.

9:00 pm: Blogged while drinking a hard cider and watching bad television.

10:00 pm: Went to bed. Read Hausfrau until eyelids were good and droopy.

11:15 pm: ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZ… (Sorry. I snore. Part of the whole being a bear thing, I think.)

Nary a green beer to be found this year, I’m afraid. That’s what happens when you’re old and boring, I guess. My day-to-day life is pretty much like this, only a bit less interesting. And you wonder why I read so much. Living vicariously is the best.

What do your days look like, Bookworms? I don’t need minute by minute assessments, but I must admit I’m terribly curious. Fill me in!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. If any of those purchases are Cadbury Mini Eggs, I expect you to share with me.*

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Mar 26

Repeat by Neal Pollack

Contemporary Fiction, Time Travel 11

Hello, Hello Bookworms!

Want to know a secret? One of my all-time favorite movies is Groundhog Day. I’m sure that says disturbing things about my psyche, but it’s the truth. When I ran across Neal Pollack’s latest release Repeat on NetGalley and saw it compared to the cinematic gem, I knew I needed to give it a whirl. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration. I swear on the threat of living in an infinite time loop that this review is honest.*

repeatBrad Cohen is a failed screenwriter living with his wife and two daughters in Los Angeles. On the evening of his 40th birthday, Brad takes an herbal concoction brewed by his wife and wakes up in his mother’s womb. Yep. He is born and has to deal with being an infant, a toddler, a child, a teen, etc, all with the brain of a 40 year old man. And then? He has to do it again. And again. And again. Brad Cohen is stuck living his own life (but only up to age 40) in an endless loop.

What would you do if you had infinite do-overs? Brad does all sorts of things. He becomes a political pundit, a fabulously wealthy investor, a Jeopardy! champion, and everything in between. After a while, Brad realizes that none of his alternate lifetimes compared to what he had with his wife and daughters, but try as he might, he can’t seem to get them back. Doing seemingly innocuous things differently sends Brad down paths he could never have anticipated, but all he wants to do is get back to the life he didn’t appreciate the first time around.

Repeat was a decent read for me. I found it funny in places, tragic in others, but in the end a pretty run-of-the-mill “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” allegory. It’s a trope I rather like, though, and I’m always pleased with the idea that money can’t buy happiness (given the fact that I do NOT live in an infinite time loop and therefore cannot invest my religious rights-of-passage money in Apple stock.) There were a few instances when I wanted to punch Brad for being an insufferable douchebag, but considering he was under extreme psychological distress at having to go through puberty a zillion times, I’m inclined to forgive him. Fellow Groundhog Day fans, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Repeat!

Tell me something, Bookworms. Since we’re in hypothetical land with no herbal concoctions or haunted carnival machines or voodoo practitioners nearby, is there anything in YOU life you’d try to do differently given a second (or third, or fourth…) chance?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I still won’t invest it wisely, because I lack omniscience.*

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Mar 24

Books for Kids of All Ages

Top Ten Tuesday 17

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s another glorious Tuesday and the folks from The Broke and the Bookish have asked the blogosphere to list some of their favorite childhood books. The problem with making a list of books that are childhood favorites is that I feel like I missed a ton of awesome books when I was a kid and spent all my time reading Sweet Valley Twins and RL Stine (not that there’s anything wrong with those, per se, but I could have used more variety.) I’m putting together a mix of new and old faves because my name is Katie and I’m rebellious.

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1. Mary Poppins by PL Travers (review): Oh the whimsy! I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read this book. Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies as a kid and though the book was very different, it was a delight.

2. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (review): Believe it or not, this book was NOT my gateway drug into penguins. I was obsessed with them already by the time I checked this out of the school library, but I still love the book. I bought a copy for my “nephew.” He was 3 at the time. I may have been a little over-excited.

3. Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary: This is the first book I remember reading purely for pleasure. I remember being completely bored one day and picking a book off the shelf. This was that book, and it was wonderful.

4. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: I wish this had been around when I was a kid! I was late-ish to the craze, not getting in on it until after the first movie came out, but I still got to experience the exquisite agony of waiting for the remaining books to be released.

5. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume (review): This book was the best thing my late blooming self ever read.

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6. If You Were a Penguin by Florence and Wendell Minor (review): My mother-in-law bought me this children’s book one Christmas and it is gorgeously illustrated. The authors were SO NICE when they ran across my review that they sent me their follow-up book If You Were a Panda Bear along with a bunch of penguin stickers. So sweet!

7. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein: I remember my dad reading this to me and my sister at bed time and we’d just laugh and laugh. Good stuff.

8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: I was 11 the first time I read this book and I’ve always loved it. Fun fact: part of the reason I was so excited to read this book is because Mary Ann from The Baby-Sitters Club said it was her favorite book.

9. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: I didn’t actually read this book until I was an adult, but it is SO whimsical and fun!

10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll: I’m kind of an Alice fangirl, I’ll admit. I adore this book. Curiouser and curiouser indeed!

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Sound off Bookworms! What were some of your favorite books as a kid? What books do your kids like reading? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 23

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

Audio Books, Non Fiction, Women's Studies 8

Salutations Darling Bookworms!

I love learning new things. I think that’s sort of a bookworm thing, no? Unfortunately, a lot of times I struggle with reading non fiction (with the exception of memoirs.) Thank heaven that audio books exist! I recently downloaded Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff from my local library and holy cats! I went into this book knowing virtually nothing about Cleopatra and came out of it feeling like an expert. Seriously, I hope Cleopatra is an entire category at my next trivia night because I will OWN it.

cleopatraPrior to reading this book, Cleopatra evoked images of cheesy Halloween costumes and Elizabeth Taylor. I knew she had flings with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and that she maybe killed herself with the help of a snake, but that was the extent of my knowledge. What a fascinating life this woman led! She was a brilliant and occasionally ruthless politician. Born into an incestuous dynasty any Targaryen would approve of, Cleopatra’s rule was often mired by familial infighting and assassinations. She became the paramour of two famous Roman rulers and deftly juggled an insane political climate.

Why is it that this powerful woman went down in history as little more than a temptress and minimalist Halloween costume? Stacy Schiff explores the historical records through a modern lense. Schiff strips away some of the cultural bias and explores what Cleopatra’s life and motivations truly were in a historical context. Ancient male historians were pretty quick to dismiss women’s achievements or chalk them up to feminine wiles and witchcraft. Also, the whole snakebite on the boob thing probably didn’t happen. Talk about your inefficient means of suicide. Our girl was smarter than that, y’all. If you have any interest in the life of Cleopatra, I cannot recommend this book enough!

Alright Bookworms, let’s experiment. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the name “Cleopatra”?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I do not have Cleopatra’s insane wealth, so, you know. Every penny goes back into keeping me in books!*

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Mar 20

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Club 14

Greetings Bookworms!

I think it’s about time for The Fellowship of the Worms to reconvene, don’t you? I’ve had my eye on The Martian by Andy Weir for a while now and I want to read it with you! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

themartianSix days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Sounds awesome, right?! I’ll be posting discussion questions on Monday, April 20. Who’s in?!

*If you purchase your copy of The Martian through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Mar 19

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Coming of Age, Humor 5

Oi Bookworms!

I am always up for a coming of age novel set in the 1990s with a dollop of rock-n-roll. Seriously, who wouldn’t be? That’s the good stuff, right there, which is why I was rather gleeful when I snagged How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran on sale. (Kindle Daily Deals are my kryptonite.)

howtobuildagirlHow to Build a Girl is the story of Johanna Morrigan. Born into poverty in Wolverhampton, England, she posesses the sort of teenage awkwardness that all but the very lucky deal with at some point. Unfortunately, part of her awkwardness is displayed prominently (and weirdly) on local television, so she decides she’s had ENOUGH of being Johanna and constructs a new identity. Enter “Dolly Wilde,” the hard partying rock-n-roll journalist and resident badass of the London indie rock scene. Between the smoking, drinking, sexcapades, and the brutal reviews she provides for her magazine, Johanna begins to realize that the persona she built may not be the person she wants to be at all.

This book is a no-holds-barred teenage crazy fest. Those that are upset by casual drug usage, dysfunctional family situations, sexual encounters, and instances of self-love, be warned. If you’re not put off by those things, How to Build a Girl is an excellent and thought-provoking coming-of-age story. Johanna’s encounter with The Smashing Pumpkins about did me in with cringe-laughter. That’s a thing, right? Cringe-laughter?

What REALLY hit home for me, though, was Johanna’s writing. She was so intently focused on making a name for herself and getting a reaction that she brutally eviscerated countless bands. As someone who “reviews” books in what I hope is an amusing manner, I found this especially poignant. In reviewing, being nasty is easy. Johanna had the disadvantage (or privilege?) of writing in an era where one could not hide behind the internet. A well placed cocktail to the face led her to the realization that she enjoyed being enthusiastic about what she loved more than being casually cruel about what she didn’t. Now, I will firmly stand behind a person’s right to say what they feel, and there is ABSOLUTELY a place for artistic criticism and personal taste. I’ll tell you what I don’t like and why, but I’m unlikely to suggest that anyone be “buried up to their necks in all their unsold records, then stoned to death by angry peasants.” (That was pure “Dolly Wilde.” Amusing, but so, so mean.)

Talk to me, Bookworms. Do you ever feel that comedy crosses a line into cruelty, or do you think everyone is just too dang sensitive these days?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 17

Six Degrees of Separation: WILD!

Six Degrees of Separation 15

Greetings Bookworms!
It’s been a while since I played one of my favorite games, so I’m SUPER stoked to tackle Six Degrees of Separation for Wild by Cheryl Strayed (review). This game is hosted, as always, by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman, who are both lovely and delightful. Just so you know the rules, I’m going to start listing books beginning with Wild and connect them via any old thing my heart desires. It can get pretty crazy in this noggin of mine, so you’d best buckle up.

6degreesnew1. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (review)- Hear me out on this one. Cheryl Strayed’s poor feet were absolutely mangled by the Pacific Crest Trail. In fact, the only feet in literature I could think of who’d had it worse were the poor girls in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan who had their feet bound. Holy ouch, you guys.

2. Sula by Toni Morrisson-  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was at its heart the story of female friendship and misunderstandings. When I think of best friendships gone awry, I can’t help but think of Sula.

3. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf- I read Sula in the same college class during which I read my one and only Virginia Woolf novel, To the Lighthouse. You guys, I think I’m just not smart enough to GET Virginia Woolf.

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4. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff- Speaking of lighthouses, what about the Lighthouse of Alexandria, y’all? Cleopatra had a kickass lighthouse. This non-fiction account of Cleopatra’s life taught me ALL THE THINGS. Completely fascinating.

5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare- What? I can’t very well include Antony and Cleopatra, seeing as I haven’t read (or seen) it. Besiiiiiiides, I now know the tragic ending and it totally works with R&J. For reals.

6. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (review)- Romeo and Juliet and Zombies. Boom.

So there we are. Wild to Warm Bodies in 6 easy steps! Seriously, though, Bookworms. Is anybody keeping tabs on Kevin Bacon these days?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 16

The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

Contemporary Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 23

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s Monday again, and it seems like the best possible day of the week to discuss The Leftovers by Tom Perotta. It’s not exactly a happy-go-lucky book and Monday is basically the opposite of a happy-go-lucky day, so it makes sense. What makes less sense is taking The Leftovers on vacation as a poolside read, but I’ve never been one to make perfect decisions.

theleftoversThe Leftovers takes place 3 years after the Rapture. Or what some people assume to have been the Rapture. Basically, millions of people just vanished into thin air with absolutely no scientific explanation. Friends, family members, neighbors, strangers, enemies, your weird checkout clerk from the supermarket just POOF. Gone. Because humanity is extraordinarily bad at dealing with this sort of uncertainty, a lot of weird reactionary crap starts to happen. The people who disappeared seemingly had no connection. They were just PEOPLE- good, bad, religious, atheist, kind, rude- whatever. The fact that it was clearly not *just* the righteous and that so many apparently God-fearing folk were left behind threw a major wrench into the traditional religious communities. A whole new crop of religions cropped up, mostly of the cult-ish variety. The Garvey family of Mapleton has imploded in the aftermath of the Sudden Departure despite all members remaining on their current astral plane, and through them we’re able to view all sorts of aspects of this strange new world.

I found the premise of The Leftovers utterly fascinating. I’ve often wondered about how thin the fabric of society is and just what it would take for things to unravel. I mean, say aliens landed tomorrow just to say “hey.” How would the world’s major religions handle the certain knowledge that humanity was not alone in the universe? Talk about your major upheaval, right? The concept of the book was so appealing that I think I expected too much out of it. I was frustrated at what I felt was a lack of resolution and complete lack of explanation as to what actually happened. I’m sure those were intentional artistic choices, but dangit, I like having answers and it drove me a little batty! Still, I think The Leftovers is definitely worth a read.

Talk to me Bookworms! What do YOU think would happen if millions of people suddenly and mysteriously disappeared? (I’d blame the aliens, but that’s just me…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’m going to invest in aluminum foil to make myself a jaunty anti-alien hat.*

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