Category: Crime

Jul 13

Shirley Jackson Reading Week: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Crime, Frightening, Mystery 18

Greetings Bookworms!

I’m highly susceptible to suggestion. Why, last week I was reading a book where the characters were devouring a ham, and I really wanted to eat some ham. A legit ham, too, none of this cold cut nonsense. The very next day someone posted a photo of their fried fish that happened to be shaped like Illinois on Facebook, and doggone it, I wanted to eat all the fried fish (I later got that fried fish, and it was delicious. I still haven’t had any ham.) It’s not just food, though, folks. It works with books too! For example… I saw that several delightful bloggers were planning a Shirley Jackson Reading Week July 13-18 and I was all, “oooh I should do that. Get me some Shirley Jackson, stat!” (Thanks to fabulous hosts Stuck in a Book, Reading the End, and Things Mean a Lot!)

Shirley-Jackson-Reading-Week

I’d read The Lottery, which is a creeptastic short story in school at some point, but that was it. I decided to tackle We Have Always Lived in the Castle for two reasons. First, I’d heard it was awesome. Second, the cover is haunting, yo. I knew chills were just around the corner. I hauled up a copy on Scribd to read with my ears and let me tell you, that Bernadette Dunne? What a narrator. Whew. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Blackwood house has a sinister past. Once one of the town’s most respected and stately homes, it is now the macabre scene of a mass poisoning. The suspected murderess is dwelling in the massive house again, along with her elderly uncle (and arsenic poisoning survivor) Julian and younger sister Merricat. To say that the crew is odd is an understatement, but just how many secrets they harbor start to be revealed when a distant relation comes to call.

So creepy, right?!

So creepy, right?!

I’ve always heard that I should check out Shirley Jackson because she’s the queen of the dark and twisty. Turns out everyone was right. Because for real. What in the actual fiddlesticks? This book, man. Constance, Merricat, what in heaven’s name went on during your formative years?! And holy macaroni, the townsfolk. I can’t even! If you haven’t read any Shirley Jackson yet, I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It’s deliciously devious and enough to make you fear children, townsfolk, and sugar bowls. Dun dun dun!

Talk to me Bookworms! Anybody have a recommendation as to which Shirley Jackson I should read next?

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

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Jul 09

Once Upon a Crime by PJ Brackston

Crime, Fairy Tales 8

Hello Bookworms!

I don’t read a ton of crime fiction, so if you’re interested in getting me to read a crime novel, lead with the fact that Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is your detective. The pitch I received for PJ Brackston’s new novel Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery was just too whimsical and fun to refuse. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I promise that my nose will have no reason to grow after writing this review. Fairy tale humor, folks. You should probably get used to it.*

onceuponacrimeSet in 18th Century Bavaria, Gretel of brother and breadcrumb and gingerbread house fame has grown up to become a detective. Her hapless brother Hans (I can only assume he thought “Hansel” was too juvenile a moniker? Or perhaps that was explained in the first book? Technically this is a prequel though, so I shouldn’t be behind. Must be a Bavarian thing.) still lives with his sister. Gretel tolerates him and his drunken tomfoolery because he’s her brother and she loves him… And he’s a good cook. Who turns down a personal chef? I mean, really.

Gretel’s latest case is an exercise in fairy tale craziness. From chasing down a crazy cat lady’s beloved pets to romancing a troll, Gretel has her work cut out for her. One minute she’s trying to help a girl out of a jam, the next she’s facing (completely unfounded) murder charges. Can’t a girl get a spa treatment without running across a corpse?! Gretel is a refreshing heroine, unapologetic about her plus sized stature and her love for fine food, high fashion, and designer shoes. I’m pretty sensitive toward unsympathetic or bombastic descriptions of large people in books, and there were a couple of times I was worried this book was headed in that direction. In the end, though, Gretel’s confidence and the way she OWNED IT made all the difference. No snacking guilt for this girl. She’ll rock those Timmy Chews (I know, right?!) from here to Never-Never Land. Gretel was downright fierce. This novel is a light read that’s big on humor and fractured fairy tale hijinks. It’s got an irresistible Shrek vibe about it, so if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery can’t be beat.

Talk to me Bookworms! If you could turn a fairy tale character into a detective, who would you choose? 

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

 

 

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Apr 16

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Crime, Historical Fiction 35

Halló Bookworms,

Today we’re going to Iceland. Yes, the land of Björk and that volcano that destroyed air travel for a time in 2010 (Eyjafjallajökull, say that three times fast!) Every blogger in all the land, it seems, read and adored Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, and I could no longer in good conscience go about having not read it. Call it peer pressure. In any case, I just finished reading Burial Rites, and I’m going to tell you all about it. Whether you like it or not. Because I’m just like that.

burial ritesBurial Rites tells the story of Agnes. Agnes is accused of the murder of her employer and one of his associates. She was convicted of the crime with along with two companions, and sentenced to death. It’s 1829. And it’s Iceland. They didn’t exactly have a great prison system infrastructure, so they sent Agnes to  the modest family farm of a low ranking government official to await her execution.

At first the family is pretty freaked out at the idea of keeping a convicted murderer in their home. They live in an old-school Icelandic dwelling where everyone sleeps in a single room- a murderer in their home meant a murderer in their bedroom. Agnes isn’t really what they expect, though. She’s not some blood-thirsty knife-wielding psycho, she’s a woman well versed in farm work who never balks at the icky tasks. As time goes on, Agnes’s heartbreaking story slowly comes to light.

The novel is based in part on a true story- Agnes did, in fact, live. She was convicted of murder in 1829 and sentenced to death. Hannah Kent did a beautiful job of giving a voice to a person who would otherwise be lost to history. A gorgeous, heart-wrenching book.

I really enjoyed Burial Rites, but I’ve got to admit I fell down the Wikipedia rabbit hole several times while reading this. I know virtually nothing about Iceland, so I kept looking things up. My real stumbling block, though, was the names. Holy cow, Icelandic, man. Accent marks and umlauts and discordant groupings of consonants! I’ve heard that Finnish is the most difficult language to learn (that’s according to an eccentric English professor I once had) but Icelandic has got to be right up there. Wowza.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Do you know much about Iceland? What are your immediate associations with it? (Anybody who says D2: The Mighty Ducks gets 5 knucklepuck points!)

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

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Apr 02

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Crime, Historical Fiction, Women's Studies 35

Hey There Bookworms,

I loooove me some Emma Donoghue. You might remember that from me going on and on about Room (review) and Astray (review), so it won’t surprise you to hear that when I found out Emma Donoghue had a new book on the horizon, I had to get my grubby little hands on it. I typically get the books I review (at least as far as ARC’s go) through Netgalley or publisher pitches. This is the first book I’ve ever reached out to the publisher and downright begged for. Luckily, the very sweet representative from Little, Brown, & Company obliged me and sent me an advanced copy of Frog Music. (Thanks Meghan!) *Even though I’m super grateful that I was sent a free copy of this book, my review will remain honest and whatnot. But for heaven’s sake, it’s an Emma Donoghue, it’s not like it was going to suck anyway.*

frogmusic

Frog Music takes place in 1876 San Francisco. Blanche is a French circus performer turned burlesque dancer/prostitute living the Bohemian life with her  layabout paramour and his buddy. The city is in the grips of a record breaking heatwave AND a smallpox epidemic. After a short acquaintance with the enigmatic Jenny Bonnet, Blanche’s world is rocked when Jenny is shot dead through the window of a railway saloon. (That’s not a spoiler, y’all, it’s like the first scene.)

Jenny Bonnet was a heck of a character. She was repeatedly arrested for wearing pants. Yup, back the day, dressing in “men’s clothing” was grounds for arrest. Crazy, right? Jenny was a frog catcher by trade. She delivered these frogs to San Francisco’s many French restaurants. Because frog legs are tasty… To people who aren’t me. (I don’t much care for them, but to each their own, I say!)

And Blanche? Absolutely fascinating. I don’t know why I’m always so enthralled by tales of prostitutes, but they’re all so dang varied and interesting. The girl ran away to join the circus, emigrated to the US, and became one of the most successful (ahem) entertainers in San Francisco. Her friendship with Jenny put Blanche’s life on a completely new trajectory in ways Blanche never saw coming.

The craziest thing about this story? It’s TRUE! Well, it’s based on a true story, and I read the author’s notes at the end- this novel was very thoroughly researched. Jenny Bonnet was indeed a woman murdered in 1876 San Francisco. She was in the company of Blanche, a burlesque dancing prostitute. Her murder was never officially solved, though the list of suspects was not short. Was it an enemy of Blanche? An enemy of Jenny? A random drunk who liked shooting people through windows? Very mysterious.

You guys, this book was AWESOME. I could not put it down, I simply had to know all the sordid details of Blanche and Jenny’s lives. I had to know about the smallpox epidemic sweeping the city. I also had to get a visual image of Jenny’s Highwheeler bicycle (though I prefer the term “Penny-Farthing” to describe the contraption.) Can you imagine trying to ride that thing?

File courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Dave Hogg.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Dave Hogg.

Tell me, Bookworms. Is there a particular type of character you’re drawn to in books? Am I the only one who is absolutely enthralled by ladies of the night? (In a non-sexual, purely literary sort of way. It’s hard to talk about hookers without sounding pervy.)

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

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Jun 17

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett

Art, Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery 43

How fare thee, sweet Bookworms?

Today we explore a book about books! A few weeks ago, one of my aunts left me a note on Facebook asking me if I’d read The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Love and Obsession by Charlie Lovett. I said I hadn’t and asked if it was any good. My aunt responded with “I don’t know, YOU’RE the bookworm!” Apparently snarky eyebrows aren’t the only familial trait… Full on sarcasm runs rather strongly as well. I decided to look and see if I could find this book on NetGalley, so I could mention this conversation on my blog and tell the world that my aunt is one sassy broad. As luck would have it, I was able to snag a copy. I am fortune’s fool… Or something. Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. This shan’t compromise my integrity in the slightest, as I am rather fond of looking gift horses in the mouth. I won’t hesitate to bite my thumb at it, should it come to that.
bookmanus
Are my Shakespearean references annoying you yet? Too bad! This book is about Peter Byerly, an antiquarian bookseller and collector. Peter is a shy young widower with an anxiety disorder. Since the untimely death of his beloved wife, he’s lost interest in his former passion for hunting down lost treasures in antique manuscripts. He has run away from his grief stricken home in North Carolina and settled in a cottage in the English countryside. While half-heartedly rummaging through a collection, Peter discovers a water color that is the spitting image of his late wife. The mystery? The painting is very clearly from the Victorian era… And Peter is in 1995. He is suitably confused, and embarks on a journey to uncover the origins of the painting. During the course of Peter’s research on the painting, he accidentally runs across a book that has the potential to prove that Shakespeare really wrote all of his own plays.
Oh yeah. Background information. There’s always been some rumors swirling about in literary circles that doubt that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by William Shakespeare. Theories abound as to who the true author may be, or if the person of William Shakespeare existed at all. Though the works are clearly documented through dates, it’s awfully difficult to prove WHO actually wrote them. Most of the works were originally plays, Shakespeare the business man never spelled his name with an “e” at the end and only had a grammar school education, Francis Bacon may have wanted to use a pen name, blah blah blah. Conspiracy theorists only sound ridiculous when you’ve got solid proof to discredit their claims, and no such solid proof exists of Shakespeare being, well, Shakespeare. Except maybe, just maybe, this book that Peter has come across. Dun dun dun!!!
This book has elements of The DaVinci Code and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. We’ve got a mystery of historical proportions that needs to be solved. The stakes are high. The mysteries run deep. People are trying to protect SECRETS.  The story is constructed sort of like a braid. It’s got three distinct storylines going at the same time. We follow Peter’s life circa 1995 with the brooding and the grief and the mystery. We also explore the time line that shows Peter meeting his late wife Amanda in college and the blossoming of their love story (which is rather heartbreaking since you know from the beginning that she’s not long for this world.) The third piece of the puzzle is the story of a rather important book and how it ends up being passed down through the ages.
The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book's story.

The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book’s story. Analogies in friendship bracelets. Astounding. (Image Source)

I refuse to be a spoilsport, because I rarely read mysteries and I rather enjoyed this one. The ending was a little too tidy for my taste (dare I say predictable?), but I’m willing to forgive Lovett on the grounds that I enjoyed the rest of the story. If you liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, I think this will be right up your alley. It’s not quite as whimsical as Penumbra, but it is every bit as engrossing. If you’re at all like me, Peter the super book nerd will steal your heart and you’ll want to hug him and give him tea… And Xanax.

Oh yes. I almost forgot to mention! I felt exceptionally close to this book because it talked about places I’ve been! Several times throughout the book Peter stops at the Russel Square tube station while in London. It’s close to the British Museum (where I’ve BEEN!!!) and it was our “home stop” while I did my two week mini-mester in London approximately 1,000 years ago. I was all, “Russel Square is my ‘hood!” Very exciting for me.

Oh my dear little peaches of Bookworms. We could talk about Shakespeare or mysteries or any number of things. But I must know. Am I the only person who gets unreasonably excited about reading stories with PLACES I KNOW?! When I was reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods I was practically giddy with all the Illinois small town name dropping. It makes me feel a part of it, you know? Is it just me? Don’t leave me hanging y’all. Share your stories. Or tell me I’m crazy. I most certainly am, though this is probably quite low on the list of my “eccentricities” shall we say? Spill!

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Jun 17

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett

Art, Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery 43

How fare thee, sweet Bookworms?

Today we explore a book about books! A few weeks ago, one of my aunts left me a note on Facebook asking me if I’d read The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Love and Obsession by Charlie Lovett. I said I hadn’t and asked if it was any good. My aunt responded with “I don’t know, YOU’RE the bookworm!” Apparently snarky eyebrows aren’t the only familial trait… Full on sarcasm runs rather strongly as well. I decided to look and see if I could find this book on NetGalley, so I could mention this conversation on my blog and tell the world that my aunt is one sassy broad. As luck would have it, I was able to snag a copy. I am fortune’s fool… Or something. Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. This shan’t compromise my integrity in the slightest, as I am rather fond of looking gift horses in the mouth. I won’t hesitate to bite my thumb at it, should it come to that.
bookmanus
Are my Shakespearean references annoying you yet? Too bad! This book is about Peter Byerly, an antiquarian bookseller and collector. Peter is a shy young widower with an anxiety disorder. Since the untimely death of his beloved wife, he’s lost interest in his former passion for hunting down lost treasures in antique manuscripts. He has run away from his grief stricken home in North Carolina and settled in a cottage in the English countryside. While half-heartedly rummaging through a collection, Peter discovers a water color that is the spitting image of his late wife. The mystery? The painting is very clearly from the Victorian era… And Peter is in 1995. He is suitably confused, and embarks on a journey to uncover the origins of the painting. During the course of Peter’s research on the painting, he accidentally runs across a book that has the potential to prove that Shakespeare really wrote all of his own plays.
Oh yeah. Background information. There’s always been some rumors swirling about in literary circles that doubt that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by William Shakespeare. Theories abound as to who the true author may be, or if the person of William Shakespeare existed at all. Though the works are clearly documented through dates, it’s awfully difficult to prove WHO actually wrote them. Most of the works were originally plays, Shakespeare the business man never spelled his name with an “e” at the end and only had a grammar school education, Francis Bacon may have wanted to use a pen name, blah blah blah. Conspiracy theorists only sound ridiculous when you’ve got solid proof to discredit their claims, and no such solid proof exists of Shakespeare being, well, Shakespeare. Except maybe, just maybe, this book that Peter has come across. Dun dun dun!!!
This book has elements of The DaVinci Code and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. We’ve got a mystery of historical proportions that needs to be solved. The stakes are high. The mysteries run deep. People are trying to protect SECRETS.  The story is constructed sort of like a braid. It’s got three distinct storylines going at the same time. We follow Peter’s life circa 1995 with the brooding and the grief and the mystery. We also explore the time line that shows Peter meeting his late wife Amanda in college and the blossoming of their love story (which is rather heartbreaking since you know from the beginning that she’s not long for this world.) The third piece of the puzzle is the story of a rather important book and how it ends up being passed down through the ages.
The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book's story.

The black string is Peter in 1995. The red is Peter and Amanda, sitting in a tree. The blue is the book’s story. Analogies in friendship bracelets. Astounding. (Image Source)

I refuse to be a spoilsport, because I rarely read mysteries and I rather enjoyed this one. The ending was a little too tidy for my taste (dare I say predictable?), but I’m willing to forgive Lovett on the grounds that I enjoyed the rest of the story. If you liked Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, I think this will be right up your alley. It’s not quite as whimsical as Penumbra, but it is every bit as engrossing. If you’re at all like me, Peter the super book nerd will steal your heart and you’ll want to hug him and give him tea… And Xanax.

Oh yes. I almost forgot to mention! I felt exceptionally close to this book because it talked about places I’ve been! Several times throughout the book Peter stops at the Russel Square tube station while in London. It’s close to the British Museum (where I’ve BEEN!!!) and it was our “home stop” while I did my two week mini-mester in London approximately 1,000 years ago. I was all, “Russel Square is my ‘hood!” Very exciting for me.

Oh my dear little peaches of Bookworms. We could talk about Shakespeare or mysteries or any number of things. But I must know. Am I the only person who gets unreasonably excited about reading stories with PLACES I KNOW?! When I was reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods I was practically giddy with all the Illinois small town name dropping. It makes me feel a part of it, you know? Is it just me? Don’t leave me hanging y’all. Share your stories. Or tell me I’m crazy. I most certainly am, though this is probably quite low on the list of my “eccentricities” shall we say? Spill!

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Jun 14

What's in Your HEEEEEAD? (Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates)

Crime, Frightening, Psychological, Zombies 47

Hello Bookworms,

Today we’re going dark. I’m talking pit-of-despair dark. I just finished reading Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates. I purchased it because I like Joyce Carol Oates, I like zombies, and I like Kindle books offered at sale prices. Much to my disappointment, this wasn’t about zombies in the traditional sense. Although, it had quite a bit to do with BRAAAAAAINS.

zombie

You ever watch Criminal Minds or Hannibal or Dexter and get completely creeped out to be inside the mind of a serial killer? Yeah. Well, if those give you nightmares, skip this book. Our narrator, Quentin aka Q_P_ is a very sick man. He is obsessed with the idea of kidnapping a young man and giving him a lobotomy. An ice pick lobotomy. A One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest lobotomy. Q_P_ wants a human-like creature to be his slave. To cater to his sexual whims. To do his bidding without question. Q_P_ dreams about it. Obsesses.

Q_P_ makes several attempts to carry out his plans. On his first attempt, he was caught with his test subject. The mentally disabled boy managed to escape Q_P_’s pedophile wagon during the initial sexual assault. No ice pick ever neared his eye sockets, and Q_P_ is merely charged as a sex offender. After his arrest, Q_P_ is treated by a respected psychiatrist, he participates in group therapy, he lives in a dwelling with other people, and he’s visited regularly by a parole officer. All attempts at rehabilitation are being made, but Q_P_ is clever. He STILL manages to carry on with his illicit activities, in spite of the heavy monitoring.

In some ways, being inside Q_P_’s head reminded me of reading Lolita, particularly when he’s obsessing about and stalking a teenage boy he dubbed “SQUIRREL.” Q_P_ shared Humbert Humbert’s peculiar fascination for the underage set, though Q_P_ preferred the dudes to the ladies. I never would have thought I’d hold Humbert Humbert up as a paragon of virtue, but he never did attempt to perform an ice pick lobotomy on anyone…

You won't ruin squirrels for me, scary book. I won't let you! (Image Source)

You won’t ruin squirrels for me, scary book. I won’t let you! (Image Source)

I’m not really sure what else to say. It was a well written book, and Oates got under my skin as she always does… But thank heaven it’s fiction. The subject matter was beyond my comfort zone, but the writing was so compelling I couldn’t put it down. I don’t feel that I can say that I liked it though, because it seriously disturbed me. You’d think I’d learn to read the abstracts by now! I tolerate ACTUAL zombie lore much better than this tale of zombies… I prefer the scary things in my books remain firmly on the side of the scientifically impossible, and there are real Q_P_ types out there. Heebie jeebies all around.

I know there’s a set that digs serial killer stories. It’s practically a genre unto itself, really. Is this type of story your thing? Is the allure getting inside the dark and twisty mind of the homicidal? I’m curious to hear your take on it, Bookworms. Anybody out there a fan of the genre? What appeals to you? What pushes you beyond your comfort zone?

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May 13

Awww, Sookie Sookie Now: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Crime, Fantasy, Mystery, Mythology, Romance, Supernatural, Vampires 27

Hello to my Bloodsucking Bookworms!

Oh, that’s right. The REAL vampires are still “in the coffin.” I get it, I get it. I don’t blame you for keeping it to yourselves. Actually, I may have mentioned it before, but my very existence is proof to me that vampires are not real. I am DELECTABLE to all blood sucking insects. Every mosquito within miles comes to feast on my sweet sweet blood. (I’m beginning to think I may be part fairy.) Anyway. Considering I’m so delicious to fleas and flies and mosquitoes, it would only make sense that vampires would find me irresistible, drink all my blood, and render me a whole lot of dead in very little time. Let us suspend our disbelief, shall we?

In Charlaine Harris’s version of vampire-lore, vampires “came out of the coffin” to the general public after a medical company was able to manufacture synthetic blood. The theory was that they would no longer be a threat to humans if they just drank bottled fake blood instead of guzzling humanity. After the vampires came to light, so too did werewolves and other shape shifters (I’ve yet to hear of a were-penguin, but I like to hold out hope that it is completely possible. Sam Merlotte, the resident Bon Temps shape shifter/bar owner can turn into just about anything. Just because he never pulled out the penguin tux doesn’t mean he COULDN’T if he wanted to, right?) In a world where vampires, shape shifters, and werewolves, are real, the floodgates are open to all sorts of mythical creatures. Fairies, demons, elves, and hybrid supernaturals of all kinds have encountered the lovely Sookie Stackhouse over the last 12 books. Sookie, our heroine, is a waitress in a bar in small town Louisiana.

dead-ever-after-by-charlaine-harris-cover-3_4_r560

Sookie has been a telepath all her life, which is typically the bane of her existence. I don’t want to hear what goes on inside anyone else’s head any more than I want someone listening in on my thoughts. You can’t control thoughts, you know? All the impolite things you think but never say are what Sookie deals with on a daily basis. The fact that she was drawn into the world of supernaturals was largely based on this gift- she isn’t able to hear vampire thoughts at all, and other supernaturals are difficult for her to read clearly. Finally, some peace and quiet! Only… Not at all. Because hanging out with witches and vampires and werewolves and fairies and shape shifters makes life AWFULLY interesting… And leads to an impressive pile of dead bodies, human and otherwise.

This has all been leading up to the finale of Dead Ever After, book 13 in the series. Sookie’s had a series of love interests, among them two scandalously sensual vampires (the quintessential southern gentleman and the outrageously hot Viking), a were-tiger, a were-wolf, and exactly zero humans. Her fairy blood has proved a mixed blessing as it makes her vampire catnip (though it’s diluted enough that they don’t just eat her outright), but lands her in a world of conflict with another dimension of existence. Sookie’s dearly departed Gran left her a token of love called a cluviel dor, which is super powerful fairy magic that allows the owner one insanely powerful wish. At the end of her last adventure, Sookie used her cluviel dor to save the life of her close friend and business partner Sam Merlotte (after he was injured in a werewolf battle. Dangerous business hanging around supernaturals, even if you are one.) Unfortunately, Sam starts acting all weird about the whole thing (much to my dismay because I’ve been ‘shipping hard for Sookie and Sam to have a happily ever after since book 1, y’all.)

Sookie + Sam = Supernatural love that can reproduce and lives only the length of a normal human life!

This is a screen cap from True Blood. It’s a great show, as long as you don’t expect it to follow the books very closely… As in, the books are less of a code and more of a loose set of guidelines…

To add to the crazy, Sookie’s ex friend Arlene managed to get herself sprung from jail (because of that one time she joined a cult and tried to crucify Sookie…) and shortly thereafter get herself murdered. I know, right? Thanks to the work of some devious douchebags, Sookie is framed for the crime. While Sookie’s had to mow down a few supes in her life, it’s largely been in self defense. She’s a sweet gal, Sookie. Murder really isn’t her jam. So now she’s got to rally her troop of supes to solve the crime and prove her innocence.

I didn’t have exceptionally high expectations for this finale book because the series is fun, but campy. It would have been hard for me to be upset if she’d ended up with the hottie hot hot Eric, or her first love Bill, or Quinn the were-tiger, or even Alcide the werewolf. Sure, I was Team Sam all the way, but you know. They’re fun silly books about imaginary people and imaginary things that didn’t get all up in my SOUL the way that Harry Potter did. Fun distraction, but I’m surely not feeling bereft knowing the series is finished. I won’t tell you how it turns out, but I found the final book satisfying. A follow up book which is NOT a novel is due out in the fall. It will detail what becomes of all the characters in their happily ever afters. I’m sure that will provide any closure to any lingering questions fans have, and I applaud Harris for taking the step.

Have any of you bookworms been following the Sookie saga? Have you read the finale? How did YOU want things to turn out? Are you pleased with the results? Talk to me, my dears. I love to hear from you!

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Apr 16

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves (Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Kickass Heroines)

Classics, Coming of Age, Crime, Dystopian, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Women's Studies 53

What’s Up, Bookworms?

The ladies at The Broke and The Bookish do an amazing job of coming up with Top Ten Tuesday prompts, you know? They’ve kept this going for a couple of years now, which is kind of incredible. This week’s topic is a “rewind,” so it gives me the opportunity to do one of the top ten lists that were used before I started blogging. I have chosen to make a list of Kickass Heroines! There are so many awesome female characters in literature; this should be a super fun showcase!

TTT3W

1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I really don’t care if The Hunger Games are teetering on the brink of overexposure. Katniss is BADASS. She learns to hunt with a bow and arrow to provide for her family. She steps up to take her little sister’s place in a barbaric contest put on my her oppressive government. She manages to NOT DIE during the tournament. And then? She outsmarts the game makers. I want Katniss on my side in the Zombie Apocalypse. I”m just putting that out there.

2. Caris from World Without End by Ken Follett. World Without End is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth but since it’s set 300 years into the future, it’s only sort of sequel-ish. Anyway. Caris is awesome because she keeps up a rockin’ hospital during the bubonic plague. Nobody at the time understands germ theory,  but she makes some brilliant decisions (face masks, regular hand washing) that keep the medical staff alive. This seriously pisses off the priests who claim only God can prevent illness- the nuns in the hospital that take this approach to healing drop like flies. She may never have gotten the upper hand in the church, but at least she outlived the jerkface Prior. Take that!

3. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by JK Rowling. Hermoine RULES. She is smart and brave and fabulous. She could easily have carried her own series. ADORE. Book Hermione isn’t as drop-dead-gorgeous as Emma Watson, but I think if Hermione were real, she’d totally approve of the casting decision. It may only be a Muggle university, and she may have dropped out, but Emma Watson DID get into Dartmouth.

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4. Claire from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I know I talk about loving Jamie all the time, but Claire is pretty stupendous. I love what she does with all her modern medical knowledge when she goes back in time. Making ether? Making peni-freaking-cillin? Removing tonsils at the dinner table with only whiskey as anesthetic?! Plus, she is really resourceful and accepts some old school remedies that actually WORK. Leeches? Gross, but effective at swelling bruise reduction. She’s pretty fabulous. No wonder Jamie adores her.

5. Arya Stark from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Arya starts out as a spoiled tomboy, but once her father is executed, she’s forced to grow up fast. It’s a good thing she’s not gone through puberty yet, and that she took those fencing lessons. Disguised as a boy? Apprenticing to creepy temple? Keeping herself alive when all the Lannisters in the land would have her head on a pike? I wouldn’t cross her, she’s scrappy.

6. Joan from Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross. Joan loves to read, and she’s smart. Sadly, her dad is a jerkwad who doesn’t believe women should be educated. Thanks to a stubborn tutor, she’s taught the basics and accepted with her less scholarly brother into a real school. She goes to great lengths to ensure her right to learn. After a marauding band of vikings lay waste to her town, she escapes by dressing in her brother’s robes and joins a monastery. Oh, yeah. And she sort of accidentally becomes the Pope. Woops.

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7. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane refuses to believe she’s a horrible human being despite the horrendous treatment she endures in her childhood. She goes on to excel in her studies and become a governess. She’s making her own way in the world when fate steps in, and she falls hard for Mr. Rochester. However, when the whole crazy wife in the attic comes to light, Jane has enough self respect to skip town. Then, when the crazy wife jumps off the roof and Rochester is a broken man, she finds it in her heart to forgive him. Compassion, resilience, strength? Yep, Jane is totally role model material.

8. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Series by Stieg Larsson. Alright. Confession time. I didn’t LOVE these books. They were alright. A lot of talk about Swedish politics I wasn’t crazy about, sexual violence repels me, and Blomquist was a man-whore (he seriously would bang any breathing female, I swear.) HOWEVER! Lisbeth was AWESOME. Super smart, photographic memory, badass hacker with a penchant for leather and exposing corrupt government officials? Oh yeah. She’s nobody’s victim!

9. Colonel Christina Eliopolis from World War Z by Max Brooks. This book is written in vignettes with a wide swath of humanity describing their experiences during the Zombie Apocalypse. This woman was AMAZING. She’s stranded alone in Zombie ridden territory and manages, with the help of another woman on a CB radio (real or imagined, it’s up for debate), to kick a whole lot of zombie butt all by herself. I want her on my team, yo. Can you imagine a Z team with Eliopolis and Katniss? It would be like a Rick and Daryl duo, but they’re sisters killing zombies for themselves. (While we’re on the subject, I want Michonne on my team too. If you don’t know who Rick, Daryl, and Michonne are, you need to stop what you’re doing and check out the first three seasons of The Walking Dead in their entirety.)

10. Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Who doesn’t love Jo?! I could gush about how much I love her, but I’ll let her explain why… “I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Who are some of your favorite literary ladies, Bookworms? Tell me all about it. Girl Power!

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Apr 09

Once Upon A Time, Before Words For Worms… (Top Ten Tuesday- The Prequel)

Blogging, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Dystopian, Family, Friendship, Frightening, Humor, Memoirs, Psychological, Top Ten Tuesday 64

Good Day Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, which can mean quite a number of things… What it means on this blog, however, is that we make LISTS. That’s right, it’s time for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish! This week’s topic is the top ten books I read before I was a blogger. Here’s the thing. A lot of stuff I’ve blogged about, I read before I was a blogger. I learned to read when I was like 5 or 6… And I’ve only been blogging since August… That’s a whole LIFE of reading outside of the blogosphere. I’ve tried to narrow today’s list down to ten books that haven’t gotten a whole lot of attention on my blog… I feel like I’m screaming Outlander and Gone With The Wind and Song of Achilles every week, so I’m trying to feature some of the lesser known heroes of my bookshelf.

toptentuesday1. Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi. If you liked The Book Thief, you will love Stones From The River. It’s about a woman named Trudi who has the bad luck to have been born a dwarf in what would become Nazi Germany. Spoiler Alert: Both books involve books, resisting the regime, and hiding Jewish people at great personal risk. It’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend it!

2. Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. Anita Shreve wrote an entire series of books set at the same beach house throughout different points in history. I don’t know if I should really call them a series, though they are all obviously entwined. The characters and situations are all so different, only the landscape ties them together. Anyway, Fortune’s Rocks is set in the early 1900s (I wanted to say “turn of the century” but the stupid HANDS OF TIME just keep on ticking and that phrase is no longer useful to me!) There’s a young girl, an older man, and the kind of scandal you’d expect from a young girl getting involved with an older man (who happens to be a “fine” “upstanding” married doctor with children.) This is BY FAR my favorite Anita Shreve title, so you should probably read it.

3. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. This book was given to me by one of my dearest friends (who happens to have just recently graduated from veterinary school. Can we all give Dr. Erin a big CONGRATS, Words for Worms Style?) Dr. Erin gave me this book on my 19th or 20th birthday (I cannot remember, I am very, very old.) Sedaris’s humor is quirky and irreverent and bizarre and wonderful. My personal copy may look a wee bit worse for the wear, but it’s one of the books I practically beat people with until they agree to read it. (That may or may not be why it’s a wee bit worse for the wear…)

The Easter Bunny doesn't leave chocolate for French children. Church bells that fly in from Rome do. I know. I KNOW!

The Easter Bunny doesn’t leave chocolate for French children. Church bells that fly in from Rome do. I share David Sedaris’s WTF?! on that one!

4. The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan. Okay, maybe I’ve discussed some of these titles before, but dangit, they’re awesome! I read this for a literature class in college and was astounded to find myself with a taste for eel and sticky rice and a host of other Chinese dishes that I’d never eaten nor cared to taste. The mark of badass prose? Making exotic food sound appealing to a girl with a bland palate. High five, Amy Tan!

5. Fall On Your Knees by Anne Marie MacDonald. I know some of you out there shy away from anything bearing an Oprah sticker, but trust me on this one. It’s practically a Greek tragedy, except that the characters are Lebanese and Canadian. Really amazing, disturbing stuff, and it’s stuck with me for years. Side bonus? The title always gets “Oh Holy Night” stuck in my head, which is among the most beautiful Christmas carols (which has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book, it’s just the way my brain works.)

6. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is a YA title, but it deals with THE TOUGH STUFF. Basically? The main character is date raped at a party just before she starts high school. She calls the police who come to bust up the party and is treated as a pariah. Everyone knows she was the narc, but nobody knows WHY. She never reports the rape, but has to attend school with her rapist. The emotional aftermath is raw and real and frightening. It’s a great book, but if you’ve got some of your own personal demons on this subject, you may want to skip this one.

Kristin Stewart starred in a movie version, but since brooding an morose is her default expression, it might not be too bad...

Kristin Stewart starred in a movie version, but since brooding an morose is her default expression, it might not be too bad…

7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Awww yeah. Dystopia time. The premise of this book is that society has begun to breed human clones in order to harvest their organs for the greater good of the population. This novel takes you inside the lives of these clones. It’s a little bit science fiction, a little bit dystopian, and a whole lot of ethical conundrum rolled into a tasty little package.

8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. This book tells the story of an intersex individual from a Greek family that immigrated to the US. Thanks to a genetic mutation, the narrator is raised believing she is a female until hormonal changes at puberty eventually lead to the discovery that she is biologically male… Sort of. It’s a fascinating look at a medical condition I was never aware of, and the impact gender can have on one’s psyche and family unit. If you can read this book without empathizing the crap out of Callie/Cal, I’m concerned about the size of your grinchy heart.

9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. When Susie Salmon is brutally raped and murdered by her creepy neighbor, she continues to keep track of her family from the “other side.” Yes, this book starts out with a horrific tragedy, and it’s not easy to read. That’s really not a spoiler at all, because it’s at the very beginning of the book. The meat of this book is watching how her family deals with the tragedy. It also goes to show that the BEST murder weapon is, in fact, an icicle (which is NOT, by the way, the weapon that is used on Susie.)

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I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie… I get grouchy when they stray too far from the book. That said, Stanley Tucci is one creepy creepster. ::Shivers::

10. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. This is one of Atwood’s lesser known novels. It never gets the accolades of The Blind Assassin or Alias Grace but I thought it was fantastic. It’s about a psychopathic woman who makes it her life’s mission to destroy all of her “friends'” love lives. It taught me a great many things, not the least of which being that one can give oneself scurvy by being bulimic. As if we needed ANOTHER reason eating disorders are horrible. Now you know you can get swarthy pirate conditions. Not cute, y’all.

So, Bookworms. I know that a lot of you aren’t bloggers, let alone book-specific bloggers, but I like to think that this top ten list is more of a memory lane sort of theme. What are some of the best books you’ve read in the not so recent past?

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