Month: January 2014

Jan 31

Idiosyncratic Lit List: What is up With all the Trilogies?

Idiosyncratic Lit List 58

Hey Bookworms,

This being my third Idiosyncratic Lit List, it seems only appropriate to talk about the excessive tripling that’s been going on lately… Can anybody explain to me WHY dystopian novels so rarely stand alone anymore? I mean, the cheese does it, why can’t a dystopian novel? That’s not to say I dislike trilogies, but they make me nervous. Having a killer first novel puts a ton of pressure on the next two books… Sometimes I think writers are only doing the trilogy thing because THAT’S WHAT YOU DO, not because the story really needs or deserves three whole books… OBVIOUSLY this calls for a list or two, don’t you think?


Dystopian Trilogies Doing it Right

1. The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood: It’s almost unfair to compare dystopian trilogies to Margaret Atwood because so many of them are YA novels. That’s not to say there’s no merit in YA novels, but the hardcore literary headiness of Atwood puts her in a different class. She’s already proven to me that she can kick butt in a stand-alone dystopia (The Handmaid’s Tale is ah-mazing), so I’m not about to throw shade on her trilogy vibe. Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam were awesome.

2. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: To be completely honest here, I think the first book in this trilogy is far and away the strongest. However, I thought there was enough going on story-wise to merit all three books. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay had me hooked from the very beginning and didn’t loosen their grip until… Wait. They still haven’t. Stop strangling my soul, books!

3. The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant: A zombie apocalypse is totally dystopian, right? Whatever, I just want to talk about how much I loved these books again. FeedDeadline, Blackout . Read them, read them now.

Dystopian Trilogies That Should Have Quit While They Were Ahead

1. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth- Divergent and Insurgent were strong books, but O to the M to the G, what HAPPENED with Allegiant? That was just a rushed mess. I don’t need “happy” endings, but I do need endings that are well drawn. The ping ponging of points of view mingled with the bipolar pace of action was just not okay.

2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie- I’m not entirely sure why I read this entire series. I didn’t much care for it from the get-go, and the third book was my favorite of the bunch. Matched was kind of blah, Crossed was kind of awful, and Reached was too little too late. (Gotta give you props for the FLOWERS saving the world, though, Ms. Condie!) This may have worked out better as two books, cutting out the middle man. It just didn’t work as a three-for.

3. The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner- Technically this is a trilogy plus a prequel, but I wanted to put it on my list, so pretend with me. I was completely hooked by The Maze Runner, but as the books went on, my interest waned. The Scorch Trials got a bit manic, and The Death Cure pulled a Lost and didn’t answer all my questions. I think this is a case of a book that would have done better as a single story with a nice meaty epilogue.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Any of you have a love/hate relationship with trilogies? 

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


Jan 30

Wilkie in Winter Readalong: The Woman in White Epoch 1

Classics 6

Hey Bookworms,

As you know I joined up with The Estella Society for their readalong of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I’ve got some random thoughts before I tackle the discussion questions…

wilkieinwinter-1024x1024 (1)

The first few chapters nearly did me in. I enjoy a short exuberant Italian man as much as the next girl, but I may have fallen asleep during his long descriptive phase. Things picked up a bit when the mysterious woman in white appeared to walk Mr. Hartright to London. Then it got sleepy again until Ms. Halcombe was all “hey Mr. Artist Face, you can’t be hooking up with my sister; she’s engaged and stuff.” After that? Smoooooth sailing.

I LOL’d at Mrs. Vesey being referred to as having been created while God was really concentrating on his cabbages.

Mr. Hartright is kind of a weenie. I’m sorry you couldn’t marry the rich girl, but sheesh.

Mr. Gilmore is the stodgiest! He’s all about being proper and gets all moody-like when the servants seem too familiar and trusts creepsters when there’s CLEARLY reason for suspicion. Well, he’s a BARONET, so obvi it’s okay. No, it isn’t. That dude is shady as hell!


1. Class. Class plays such a huge part in this novel. Laura is obviously a higher class than Walter, but also higher than her sister Marian. How does this affect her relationships with the two characters? How does class enable Mr. Fairlie to be the, uh…grouch, that he is? Laura is an interesting gal. She loves Walter, but can’t be with him. That’s nothing we haven’t seen before, rich Victorian folks never got down with poor Victorian folks. But her relationship with her sister Marian was weird. I mean, they obviously love each other, but it’s got a sort of servant-y vibe about it. And ugh Mr. Fairlie. If he weren’t so dang rich nobody would put up with his douchebaggery. “Oh my delicate ears!” Oh, bite me, Fairlie.

2. Sex. Marian is described as being manly. How does this affect her life? Laura is more womanly. How does this affect her? Marian is described as manly, which is pretty unfair, but given the time period it sort of makes sense. She’s got opinions and she’s smart and she’s plain. It’s almost as if her homeliness is the ticket to her freedom. Laura, on the other hand, being the fancy flower she is, is expected to be (and totally is) dainty and kind of spineless. Have I mentioned I’m glad it’s no longer the Victorian era?

3. Sir Percival Glyde. What are your first impressions of Laura’s husband? I believe I already used the phrase “shady as hell.” I haven’t read ahead, but I do not trust this guy. He is wicked and douchey and I just know he’s up to no good!

4. Anne Catherick. What do you think of her? What is her part in this elaborate story? Anne Catherick! She is THE WOMAN IN WHITE! I think she probably is kind of crazy, but I also think she’s spot on with Sir Percival’s evilness. He’s done her some sort of horrendous turn, you mark my words!

5. What do you think it would have been like reading this novel back when it was published? Do you think you would you feel different about the characters of Laura and Marian back then as opposed to how you feel about them now? This is a complicated question. I’m quite certain that if I’d been born back in the day, I’d be good and dead. Leaving the facts of my miraculous birth aside (holla at you, antibiotics!) I don’t know what I’d have thought of this book. I can only assume I’d have been influenced by the society in which I was raised, so I’d probably think Laura was the coolest and Marian was rather uppity. I’m glad it’s not then.

Wow. Full of substance today, no? There are about a thousand questions I could pose about class and gender equality, but let’s talk about foreshadowing. It’s obvious to me that Sir Percival is a rat-bastard. Do you dig foreshadowing or do you find it too heavy handed? 


Jan 28

I Don’t Even Want to Go There! (Top Ten Tuesday)

Dystopian, Top Ten Tuesday, Zombies 39

Greetings Bookworms,

It’s Tuesday and the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have a fabulous topic for us today. They’ve asked us to list out societies we’d never want to live in and/or characters we’d never want to trade places with. Dystopias and post-apocalyptic novels are some of my favorite books, so I’m really excited! Let’s get to listing, shall we?

TTT Don't Go There

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (my review): Hmmmm, let’s think. Why wouldn’t I want to live in a world where women are enslaved and used strictly to breed children? Maybe I picked the husband I wanted and have no desire to be reassigned by a terrifying religious government. Maybe it’s because if I’m going to grow a kid, I’d like to keep it. Maybe it’s because they no longer allow women to read?! Plus, that whole winged hat thing is a bad look for me.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Children fighting to the death. For sport. Even if you don’t get chosen yourself, your kid someday might. Let’s talk about the worst thing ever. I think this is pretty much it.

Try not to cry. I dare you. (Source)

Try not to cry. I dare you. (Source)

3. The Passage by Justin Cronin (my review): I had some serious anxiety reading about the people living in the compound. Nearly 100 years since the vampire apocalypse, this fledgling society lives on a wing and a prayer… And the rapidly deteriorating battery powered lights that keep them from being eaten every night. 

4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (my review): We never find out exactly what happened to the world, but nothing grows, everything is coated in ash, and there are bands of cannibals roaming the countryside. It’s so freaking BLEAK, and I don’t want to go there ever, ever, ever!

5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: How would you like to grow up knowing that you were a clone being used for spare parts? Don’t get too attached to those kidneys now, kids.

6. World War Z by Max Brooks (my review): I had SO MANY NIGHTMARES reading this book. It’s a fantastic look at what would happen to the world during a zombie apocalypse.

7. The Stand by Stephen King (my review): As if surviving the deadliest strain of the flu EVER and trying to find other survivors weren’t enough of a challenge, the friggin devil incarnate is out there causing trouble? Yep, I could live my life without going through THAT madness.

8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (my review): Oh, I won’t lie. There are days when a dose of Soma sounds like a grand idea… But I’m not big on societally mandated orgies. Sorry y’all.

9. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (my review): Nuclear War is THE WORST. I don’t want to live through that.

10. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin: I don’t know what’s the worst thing about living in this world. The brutal “justice” meted out by wicked royals? There’s no telling when winter will end? The friggin zombie things living behind the ice wall? Heck, Martin is so fond of killing off characters I’d probably already be dead. Westeros, I shan’t be visiting!

Alright Bookworms, it’s your turn! What books would you NOT want to be sucked into??? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Your support is appreciated!*


Jan 27

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

Flowers, Historical Fiction 19

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

I’ve been feeling more blah than usual this winter. Perhaps the double dose of polar vortex is taking its toll, but I’ve got cabin fever something fierce. I’ve been finding refuge in my comfort fiction- short-ish novels with pretty covers and garden motifs. A while back, one of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE, Jennifer AKA The Relentless Reader, offered up some spare copies of Sarah Jio’s novel The Last Camellia. I said, “me, me, pick me!!!” into the twitter, and she sent me a book out of the goodness of her heart. (Shout out to Jen, she’s got winter way worse than I do, she’s up in Northern Wisconsin.)

thelastcamelliaThe Last Camellia is written in a dual narrative, which is delicious, because I love ping ponging back and forth in time. I’m a regular Marty McFly. The first part of the story is set on the eve of World War II. Flora is a young woman living with her parents in Brooklyn. She has a passion for horticulture (girl after my own heart) but her ambitions are stymied by her family’s poverty. Her parents are extremely kind and generous in the running of their bakery, but when you’re not getting enough dough for your, uh, dough, shady characters show up and try to shake you down for money. When Flora is offered the opportunity to go to England and hunt down the last remaining Middlebury Pink Camellia, she jumps at her chance to make some money for the family. Unfortunately. she’s stealing the rare flower for a crook who plans to sell it to the Nazis, but her conscience takes a back seat when it comes to her family’s welfare.

The second narrative is that of Addison… Addison married Rex, the son of a well-to-do family with connections to England’s aritstocracy… Or part of the aristocracy? Titles confuse me. Anyway, they two end up spending their summer in the very same manor Flora occupied 60 years earlier, and Addison is particularly entranced by the camellia orchard. Sadly for Addison, she can’t just get her garden on, because she’s being stalked by her scandalous past. This book has intrigue and drama and mystery. A few of the mystery elements seemed a little rushed at the end, but all in all, I found this book to be a nice little read. I think it’s impossible for me not to like a book about flowers.

Alright Bookworms. Let’s talk about comfort reading. Is there a genre of books you feel drawn to? What’s your happy place?

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will not be spending the proceeds on camellias, because APPARENTLY, it’s too cold for them in central Illinois. Hmph.*


Jan 25

Confession Friday (On Saturday): I Suck at Spelling

Confession Friday 25

*I tried Grammarly’s check plagiarism online free of charge because I have no desire to be sued for copyright infringement. Ain’t nobody got time for that. * (FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Grammarly, which means Katie got paid, y’all.)

How are all you Bookworms this fine Saturday?

I have a confession to make. I am a really crappy speller. I rely on spell-check more than I’d care to admit. In the third grade, I was the very first one out of the classroom spelling bee because I spelled “higher” instead of “hire.” I thought I should get credit anyway because higher is trickier spelling-wise, but no dice.


My biggest problem is multi-syllabic words. I love me some big words, but the vowels tend to throw me for a loop. English, am I right? In the middle of a word, a, e, i, o, u can often sound interchangeable. I’m a big proponent of sounding things out, but again, ENGLISH. It doesn’t always work.

I took Spanish in high school and college. I can manage simple declarative sentences that don’t require verb conjugation, but I’m not what anybody would consider fluent. You know what I AM though? An awesome speller… In Spanish. Spanish rocks because the vowels always make the same sounds. If you can pronounce it, you can spell it. I also like Spanish because the translation for penguin gets a sweet punctuation mark: “pingüino.” Everybody loves an umlaut.

Alright Bookworms, I KNOW some of you are probably spelling bee champions. ‘Fess up, kids. It’s time!

*Side Note: Grammarly paid me for the initial listing on this post, but not this part. I got a free 30 day trial of the service and it’s actually pretty sweet. It picked up a ton of grammar errors (though most were intentional) and gave me the option on how rigorously I wanted to check my text. They offered a variety of standards ranging from academic to casual. Granted, I don’t really care how bad my grammar is because this is a blog and I KNOW that I’m FLOUTING all the rules, but still. If I were back in college, I’d love this thing. I used to get nailed on using the passive voice ALL THE TIME.*


Jan 24

Dear Aliens, Don’t Exterminate! (An Idiosyncratic Lit List)

Humor, Idiosyncratic Lit List 15

Take Me To Your Leader Earthlings Bookworms,

I live in the land of the hypothetical, and I like it here. Have you ever wondered what aliens would think of humanity if viewed from a distance? I’ve read a couple of books in the last few years that tackle just this question. (No, I won’t tell you which books, because that would be mean and spoiler-y, but if you’ve read them, you can probably guess which ones I’m talking about.) In these books, aliens think of us the way we think of insects. Nobody wants a cockroach infestation in their new home, so it seems reasonable for them to fumigate the place before they move in. I mean, humans just icky bugs, right?

Alright... I'm not exactly compassionate about bugs moving into my house, but they've yet to give me a book, so... Yeah. (Source)

Alright… I’m not exactly compassionate about bugs moving into my house, but the ones I’ve met are never this articulate. (Source)

I got to thinking about which books I’d provide aliens with to prove that humans are more than just mindless vermin. I know there are a ton of really amazing intellectual type novels and classics that would show humanity’s artsy prowess, but that’s not really what speaks to me. I’m talking about compassion, people! I like flawed characters, I like redemption, I like tiny acts of kindness in a barren landscape of horrible. Sure, these are all fiction, but I have no doubt that such things go on. Dear Aliens, sometimes humans can be wonderful in spite of themselves. OBSERVE:


1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I know, I know, Buddy’s arm made my last list, but this book is so full of good stuff. I’m thinking in particular about Idgy and Grady teaming up to burgle trains and distribute food to starving people in shantytowns during the Great Depression. Grady had some questionable traits, (clubbing with the dudes in white sheets is NOT COOL) but darn it if he didn’t help Idgy figure out the train schedules and get food to people of all colors. I like to think his heart wasn’t in the hate.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (see also Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.). Nazi Germany during WWII. Can you think of a darker time and place in human history? And yet, even in this hideous landscape, there were small pockets of goodness. People standing up to tyranny in ways large and small. Concealing a Jewish friend at great personal peril. Saving a book from burning. Being decent and not getting sucked into the gaping maw of hatred. That. (My Review)

3. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. I’m reviewing this next week, but it’s so freaking heartwarming. It talks about mental illness with the confusion and compassion of a family member witnessing a loved one’s decline. It talks about picking up the shattered pieces of a broken life. It shows illustrates the power of friendship… I don’t care if anybody thinks it’s too darn sweet, I’ll go down swinging for the merits of CeeCee!

4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. This book was fabulous, but exceptionally appropriate because May is so kindhearted she won’t even kill bugs. That’s right, no killing of bugs. Don’t kill us, Aliens!!!

5. Plainsong by Kent Haruf. This book gives a fantastic portrait of small town life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there are some really fantastic characters. The middle aged McPheron brothers taking in the pregnant and penniless teen Victoria? With ZERO ulterior motives and a whole lot of heart? If that’s not compassionate, I don’t know what is! (My Review)

Hollywood fabrication, Aliens, I promise. You would get to pick out your own hat.

Hollywood fabrication, Aliens, I promise. You would get to pick out your own hat. (Source)

What about you, Bookworms? What books would you offer up to aliens as proof that humanity is worth saving?

*If you choose to make a purchase a purchase through a link on this site I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to buy more heartwarming books so I can continue to argue on behalf of our planet.*


Jan 23

Jazz Age January: The Other Typist

Historical Fiction, Psychological, Roaring 20s 34

You know what’s the bee’s knees, Bookworms?

The Roaring 20s! I had such a great time reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (my review) that I thought I’d participate in Jazz Age January (put on by the very cat’s pajamas, Leah at Books Speak Volumes) again and tackle The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. What can I say? When the giggle juice is flowing freely in the speakeasy, I get a little carried away.

jazzageThe Other Typist begins with  young woman named Rose telling the story of her life. She grew up in an orphanage, but thanks to some enterprising nuns championing her cause, she was able to attend good schools and soon secures a position as a typist in a New York City police precinct. Unaccustomed to wealth and privilege, Rose is quickly enthralled by the glamour of the newest typist at the precinct, Odalie Lazare.

Odalie is a force of nature, sweeping through the city and dabbling in moonshine and bootlegging. She is the quintessential flapper, from bared knees to bobbed hair. Odalie invites Rose to move from a modest boarding house and into her swank digs. Rose accepts her offer and is drawn deeper into Odalie’s luxurious, freewheeling, and potentially dangerous lifestyle. As often happens in these sort of arrangements, things begin to get complicated…theothertypist

Odalie may not be all she appears to be. Then again, perhaps Rose isn’t either. When I picked up The Other Typist, I was expecting some charming historical fiction, and the slow drift into psychological drama territory caught me by surprise. The ending left me reeling (and frankly, kind of confused…) If you like to dabble in madness and bathtub gin, The Other Typist may just be your new best friend.

Bookworms, I simply must know. If you lived during Prohibition, do you think you’d have partaken in a little tippling under the table? Who among you would’ve hit up the speakeasy? (I probably wouldn’t have turned my nose up at a good sidecar, I can tell you that much… )

*If you make a purchase through a link in this post, I’ll receive a small commission… Which will probably go toward the purchase of some cocktails, to celebrate the legality of it and all.*


Jan 21

Top Ten Tuesday: Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday 52

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

This week the Broke and the Bookish have challenged us with a doozy of a Top Ten Tuesday Topic. We’ve been charged with listing the top ten things on out reading wishlist. What in heaven’s name does that mean? Well, if you could make authors write about anything: time periods, genres, characters, whimsy, and whatnot, what would you choose? Basically, we’re going to take a trip inside my bubbling cauldron of a brain and see what surfaces.


 1. The Unholy Mingling of Science Fiction and Historical Fiction: Time Travel! I’m a sucker for a good “sucked back in time” story. More please!

2. Gardening: I am a floral fiend, so when when authors work flowers and gardening into a nice tasty novel. The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns (my review), The Language of Flowers (my review)… Sigh. So much to love.

3. Penguins: Where’d You Go, Bernadette (my review), And Tango Makes Three (my review), Mary Poppins, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins have proven that books featuring penguins, no matter how subtly, can be done well. Please, literary world, I want some more!

4. Actual Clones of Rainbow Rowell: I’m not talking about people ripping off Rainbow Rowell, I’m talking like 2 or 3 spare Rainbows. I am selfish and horrible and would like her catalog of work would build up more quickly. I am so friggin creepy. I devoured Attachments (my review), Eleanor & Park (my review), and Fangirl(my review) so fast that the anticipation for Landline is KILLING me!


5. Fractured Fairy Tales: That don’t take themselves too seriously. I like fractured fairy tales, but I LOVE them when they have a good dose of humor worked in.

6. Feisty Females: I have really been digging the trend in YA lit to showcase female characters with guts. Sure, there are still some damsels in distress out there, but butt kicking girls who make things happen? We could use a few (zillion) more.

7. Villains with Depth: Few things annoy me as much as reading a villain with no motive. Give me a heartbreaking back story or a scientific explanation for these people. Maybe I’m too wishy washy, but I just can’t buy into the whole born evil thing. I refuse!

Yes, evil medical school is a valid back story. (Source)

Yes, evil medical school is a valid back story. (Source)

8. Romance with a Healthy Dash of Humor: I’m too old for teen angst. Funny things happen when people fall in love. I want to hear about that! Sure, there can be some mooning and sighing in there, but give me a snarky BFF or a dog or something.

I was looking for a laughing gif and this came up. You can understand that I had no choice. It demanded posting. (Source)

I was looking for a laughing gif and this came up. You can understand that I had no choice. It demanded posting. (Source)

 I’ve only got 8, but the gifs make up for it, right? Tell me Bookworms, what’s on YOUR reading wish list?! 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will use the proceeds to fund the Clone Rainbow Rowell Project.*


Jan 20

It’s a Jolly Holiday with Mary: Mary Poppins by PL Travers

Children's Fiction 34

Cheerio Bookworms,

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but you should know before we start that Mary Poppins is my favorite movie of all time. Of course, I used to turn it off right after the crew finishes yucking it up on the ceiling because the whole chimney sweep bit used to frighten me as a kid, but I digress. I think I always knew somewhere in the back of my head that Mary Poppins started as a book, but I was never especially interested in reading it until Saving Mr. Banks was released. Sadly for Disney, it didn’t inspire me to go see the movie, just to pick up the book. It’s alright. Disney has gotten more than enough of my money.

I had heard that PL Travers’ Mary Poppins was quite a bit different than the Mary of the movie I so adored, so I was nervous going into it. Really, I was mostly nervous that the dancing penguins were a complete Disney fabrication. I am pleased to report that my nerves were wholly unfounded. Yes, PL Travers’ original Mary Poppins
was rather different than the movie. Many of the adventures played out a bit differently, but I found the spirit of the stories remained the same.

Mary Poppins descends on 17 Cherry Tree Lane one blustery afternoon. The FOUR Banks children (that’s right, Jane, Michael, and a set of infant twins named John and Barbara) are immediately in her thrall. Though she’s somewhat vain and not particularly snuggly, Mary manages to put a bit of magic into the mundane.


Mary spends an afternoon with Bert (who is not a chimney sweep) jumping into a chalk painting, and though no penguin waiters present themselves, they have a lovely tea regardless. Jane and Michael are treated to flavor changing medicine, laugh themselves up to the ceiling with Uncle Albert, and we learn that Mary can converse with animals. Mary’s Doolitle-y talents lead to a particularly entertaining birthday celebration at the zoo featuring the loveliest PENGUIN poet you can possibly imagine (I breathed an audible sigh of relief when he showed up!) Oh yes. And do you recall little Andrew, the tiny dog in the sweater? He lives a more fascinating life than I ever imagined!

Though it’s rare for me, it sometimes happens that I can enjoy a book and its movie adaptation equally, but for different reasons. Mary Poppins is destined to be utterly charming in any form. I highly recommend you read this, and if you have little ones, get it in the bedtime story rotation.

Alright, Bookworms. What was your favorite movie as a kid? Was it based on a book? Have you read that book? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I intend to use it to purchase a new umbrella in hopes that someday one will allow me to fly.*



Jan 17

A Literal Farewell to Arms (An Idiosyncratic Lit List)

Idiosyncratic Lit List 52

Greetings Bookworms,

You know how much I love a good list. I participate in Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) regularly. Sometimes, though, I find myself stifled by their topics. In order to keep the meme going, they have to issue very broad topics as prompts so that all sorts of book bloggers can participate. A lot of the lists that percolate in my head don’t fit into such broad topics, nor are they anything anybody else would be interested in writing about… So, I’ve decided to put together my own little feature here at Words for Worms. Idiosyncratic Lit Lists will now pop up whenever I’m feeling listy and/or weird. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy compiling them!


I was having a conversation with a friend recently that devolved into a discussion of books, as often happens. While in the midst of said discussion, it occurred to me that I’d read an awful lot of books wherein major characters have lost all or part of their arms. The idea demanded attention, and so I give you a literal farewell to arms:

armheadstone1. Buddy Junior from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Buddy Junior was begin raised by his mother Ruth and her BFF Idgie in Depression-era Alabama, happy as could be… Until the day he had an unfortunate run-in with the train. Buddy’s arm was the only one in this list to have a proper funeral, and he would go on to be known as “Stump.”

2. Mattie Ross in True Grit by Charles Portis. I should probably issue a spoiler alert here, but Mattie’s arm loss happens at the bitter end of the novel, so it doesn’t wreck any critical surprises. Rattlesnakes are jerks y’all. (My Review)

3. Dana in Kindred by Octavia Butler. At the very beginning of the book, we meet Dana in her hospital room, missing an arm. Apparently it’s a really bad idea to have someone holding on to your arm while you hurtle through the vortex of time and space. It might just get stuck there. (My Review)

4. Fergus in Voyager (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon. I know, I know. Fergus only lost a HAND, not an entire arm, but I’m counting it anyway. Everybody’s favorite former French brothel dweller takes one for the team to protect Jamie from a roving band of English dragoons. On the up side, the hook he gets in place of the hand has a very debonair rakish sort of appeal to it.

5. Orry Main in North and South by John Jakes. All Orry ever wanted to do was be a professional soldier. He makes it through West Point and goes on to face his first real battle in the Mexican-American War… At which point he promptly has his arm blown off. As it’s awfully hard to fire a musket one-handed, Orry is honorably discharged from the military. Sadly, it turns out medals of honor are poor substitutes for appendages.

 Alright Bookworms. You are a well-read bunch. Are there cool fictional characters out there running around without arms that I’ve missed? 

*Any purchases made through links on this site will net me a small commission. Your support is appreciated.*