Tag: mystery

Jun 16

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Mystery 11

Howdy Bookworms!

Wow, you guys! Four posts this week?! I AM ON FIRE! BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS! Reviewathon, FTW! Today we’re talking about another one of the books I got at BEA. I was wandering aimlessly by myself (for what purpose I can’t remember) when I saw Florinda standing in line to get a book signed. I hopped in the line to chat up Florinda and got a book signed for myself with no idea who the author was or what the book was about. Turns out, I make pretty solid decisions when I’m oblivious, because the book I picked up was Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.

beforethefallWhen I went to start this book, I read a smidge of the “about the author” segment which informed me that Noah Hawley is a successful television writer and totally writes for Fargo, which Hubs and I watched obsessively last season. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know this beforehand or I’d likely have asked something weird and embarrassing about Kirsten Dunst or The Mother from How I Met Your Mother. Yep. Case in point of how much I suck at life. I don’t know the name of the actress who played “The Mother.” (I just looked it up. Her name is Cristin Milioti. Maybe I’ll remember that now.) Do TV writers even get to meet the cast? I honestly have no idea. But I’d have said something dumb, that’s for darn sure.

I was supposed to be discussing a book, wasn’t I? Alright, Before the FallOne summer night, a down on his luck painter finds himself riding in a private plane from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. The plane belongs to a television mogul and his family, and they’re accompanied by some friends and the crew. Unfortunately, the plane goes down en route shortly after takeoff. The only two survivors are the painter and the four year old son of the television mogul. The book artfully weaves between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew. In the present, a series of odd coincidences cause media speculation to spiral out of control while the two survivors grapple with notoriety and loss.

I’m not usually huge on the whole mystery-suspense-thriller front, but I’ve got to admit I was fully engrossed in this read from page one. I was invested in the characters and MAN did I want to punch Bill Cunningham in his smug horrible face. (Bill Cunningham is a controversial TV pundit who works for the late mogul’s news network and his is absolutely THE WORST.) This is a good one, folks, give it a read!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Who was the last fictional character you wanted to pummel?

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

 

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Feb 05

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Psychological 21

Greetings Bookworms,

There’s little that drives me as crazy as when EVERYONE is raving about a book and I haven’t read it yet. Right now, that book is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and heck yes I read it! How could I not? I mean, everyone is calling it the next Gone Girl (review). I wouldn’t necessarily go there, but it’s still a good book, so let’s get to it!

thegirlonthetrainSo there’s this gal named Rachel. She commutes into London on the same train every day. She’s a bit of a sad sack, mourning the loss of her marriage and drowning her sorrows in booze. (Uh, side note. Since when are pre-mixed gin and tonics in a can a thing? Is this only available in England? I love G&T but I don’t drink often so my seltzer always goes flat before I use it up. I need these in my life.) She spends her commute fantasizing about a couple she often sees out on their terrace, as one does. One day, she sees something that shatters her view of the perfect couple and a whole lot of crazy goes down.

You know thrillers aren’t normally my thing so I don’t have a much in the way of grounds for comparison, but I thought The Girl on the Train was pretty great. I wasn’t wouldn’t say I was fully gobsmacked at any point during the book, but I certainly didn’t see where things were going until Hawkins was good and ready for me to know where things were going. It really irks me when I figure things out way ahead of time, so this was a HUGE factor in me digging this book. Well played, Ms. Hawkins! If you’ve got a hankering for a little psychological thriller goodness, you need to check out The Girl on the Train

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you ever make up stories for people you regularly pass? Perhaps people watch and make up lives for folks? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Which I will spend in my quest to find canned Gin and Tonics stateside!*

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Nov 24

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Audio Books, Mystery 12

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

One of my all time favorite books as a kid was Harriet the Spy (review), but Flavia de Luce would give good old Harriet a run for her super-spy money! I finally got around to checking out the audio book version of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley and I am utterly charmed!

sweetnessathtebottomofthepieIn 1950, Flavia de Luce is 11 years old. She’s the quirkiest little chemist in all of Great Britain and she’s got a passion for poisons. She lives with her father and two sisters at the de Luce family estate, Buckshaw. Flavia has a natural curiosity that tends to get her in tight spots, and loves nothing better than deviling her older sisters.

A series of unusual events is set into motion one day when a dead bird with a postage stamp on its beak is discovered on the de Luce doorstep. Later, Flavia overhears an argument between her father and a stranger. Then? A dead body mysteriously appears in Buckshaw’s garden. DUN DUN DUN!! Flavia, of course, is first on the scene of the crime and is determined to uncover exactly what happened.

Flavia de Luce is one of the most irresistible characters I’ve encountered in a good long while. Her plucky detective skills were plenty impressive, but it was the glimmers of the 11 year old girl that really won me over. The narrator reading this book did a phenomenal job- I could HEAR her smiling when Flavia was feeling pleased with herself. The perfect instance of an audio book being absolutely superb. I’m not big on mysteries, but Flavia’s my girl. You can bet I’ll be diving deeper into this series!

Alright Bookworms, tell me. Do you have a favorite young protagonist? Inquiring minds want to know!

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

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Nov 06

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK is a saucy minx)

Audio Books, Mystery 23

Howdy Bookworms!

It will come as no surprise to my regular readers that I don’t typically go in for thrillers and mysteries. I do, however, go in for all things JK Rowling. If I didn’t know that Robert Galbraith was JK Rowling incognito, the odds of me ever picking up The Cuckoo’s Calling were nil. Luckily, someone leaked Robert Galbraith’s identity, and I’m confirmed in my suspicions that JK Rowling can write anything. I’m also confirmed in my suspicions that my library’s selection of digital audio books is completely awesome.

thecuckoo'scallingThe Cuckoo’s Calling begins by introducing a down-on-his-luck private detective named Cormoran Strike. After having his leg blown off in Afghanistan, he left his military career behind and went out on his own to decidedly disappointing effect. He’s just split up with his emotional roller coaster of a fiance and he owes money to just about everyone and their mom. It’s almost cliche, really, but somehow it stays out of of kitschy place. Just as Strike is on the verge of complete collapse, he’s visited by the distraught brother of a recently deceased supermodel. Though Lula Landry’s death has been ruled a suicide by the police, John Bristow begs Strike to investigate the case. He simply doesn’t believe his adoptive sister jumped to her death from her apartment balcony. He thinks foul play must be involved.

I can’t help but think that Rowling’s own fame influenced the way she portrayed the paparazzi-hounded Lula Landry. I imagine press coverage has died down a bit since Harry Potter has been a (mostly) a closed book in recent years, but I think that insight was helpful in imagining what super A-list celebrities deal with on a daily basis.

I should probably dabble in thrillers more often, because I found this book quite a lot of fun. Dark and twisty characters, mysterious motives, scandals, and a lovely variety of English accents? (Did I mention the narrator was brilliant?) What’s not to love? A colorful cast of quirky characters and varying degrees of dastardly behaviors made The Cuckoo’s Calling a winner for me. It also made me happy that I’m not obscenely wealthy and constantly photographed. I would TOTALLY end up on the cover of a tabloid picking a wedgie… Or my nose. Siiigh.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If you were a celebrity, what embarrassing situation would you most likely be caught in?

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

 

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Aug 15

The Shadow of the Wind: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience

Book Club, Mystery, Psychological 29

smarty mcwordypantsGreetings, Bookworms! The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Shadow of the Wind and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. :)

1. When Daniel describes Carax’s novel within the novel (of the same name… because that’s not even a tiny bit confusing) The Shadow of the Wind, he says, “As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within” (p. 7).This book contained the threads of narratives for several different stories. Did you find yourself intrigued by following the pieces of the puzzle or confused by the similarities in the tales?

Brutal honesty here: I had a hard time getting into this book. I don’t know if it was just that I kept reading while I was really tired, but I got a little frustrated keeping the characters straight. Because Julian and Daniel’s tales in particular were so similar, I found myself thinking things like “Wait… Was this Julian? Was this Daniel? Gah! Go back three pages!” That said, once I did get sucked in, I was hooked. There was a certain beauty in the similarities of the characters’ stories. I think Daniel’s description of the Russian dolls is most appropriate.

Things you shouldn't be surprised that I own... Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

Things you shouldn’t be surprised that I own… Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

2. Were you able to guess Lain Coubert’s identity before it was revealed?

I didn’t immediately realize that Coubert was indeed Carax, but I definitely had it figured out before it was laid out in plain language. Once it was revealed that Fermin (who didn’t LOVE Fermin?!) was tormented with a blowtorch by Fumero, I was CONVINCED that Fumero had somehow tracked down Julian and tortured him in a similar fashion resulting in his burns. I was wrong… Though I still think that would have been an interesting twist. 

3. What is with all the incest? Seriously. We are now 2 for 2 on the incest in our Fellowship choices. This time it was purely accidental, thanks to the elder Aldaya being a man whore AND being vain enough to want his illegitimate offspring within his grasp. Were you shocked by the revelation?

I wasn’t. Why? I’d seen very similar storylines play out on both House, MD and Law & Order: SVU. In each of those cases, a philandering father had messed around outside his marriage and tried desperately to keep his star-crossed offspring away from each other. Come on, guys. If you’re going to screw around and you see your kids falling in love, or even hanging out? You come clean. The worst part was that it was all Aldaya’s own fault that Julian and Penelope even MET because he was disappointed in Jorge, his legitimate heir. HUBRIS. UGH.

the-shadow-of-the-wind-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon

4. Dreams and premonitions come up quite a bit in this book. Jacinta and Carax in particular had their dreams come to fruition. Since Miquel was so obsessed with Freud, let’s take a psychological approach. How do you interpret the various characters’ dream-induced premonitions?

I am not great with dream interpretations, since I only ever have anxiety dreams. I suppose the manifestation of the devil in Jacinta’s dreams could have been a sigh of her future heartbreak… Julian and Penelope dreamed of eachother, but that wasn’t really a good thing since they were siblings! Mostly though? The dreams were just sort of creepily psychic.

5. Since we’re playing psychologist here, how’s about a nature vs. nurture discussion? Julian Carax was the bastard son of his musically inclined mother and Aldaya, the unscrupulous business man, though he’s raised by the cuckhold hatter, Fortuny. Fumero is the son of an honest groundskeeper and a status seeking attention starved mother. How are the sins of the parents meted out on their offspring? Given their similarly screwed up childhoods, what do you think was the largest factor divergence of Carax and Fumero’s paths?

Sins of the parents? Whooo boy. Julian is raised by a “father” who is well aware that Julian is not his biological son. Fortuny is emotionally and physically abusive of both Julian and his mother, so that sucked pretty hard. As if that weren’t punishment enough for his mother’s misdeeds, poor Julian unwittingly knocks up his half sister, thanks to his biological father’s douchbaggery. That’s pretty grim punishment for the sins of one’s parents, wouldn’t you say?

And Fumero. That kid’s mom did a number on his psyche, what with the implied sexual abuse and her parading around in her underpants… Not to MENTION that god awful sailor suit. Personally, I think Fumero’s mom had a whole lot of mental illness going on and that she passed some of that to her son on a genetic level. He was displaying serial killer tendencies as a child, and the older he got the crazier and more violent he got. Things that are not the hobbies of mentally stable people: torturing other people with blow torches. Just. No. (I may have done a little cheer when that son of a gun got his comeuppance!)

6. All in all, how’d you like this one, Bookworms?

I very much enjoyed this book, despite my early reluctance with it. I’m rather attached to Daniel and Bea and want to know what becomes of their son and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books! I’m thinking I may need to read the rest of this series to put my curiosity to rest! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this month. For next month, I’m excited to announce that our selection will be Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! (Not only is she completely amazing, she also responded to my weird tweet. I LOVE YOU, RAINBOW!!!)

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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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Mar 07

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore: A Whimsical DaVinci Code?

Contemporary Fiction, Mystery 35

Salvate, Bookworms!

That was a greeting in Latin… In honor of creepy secret societies everywhere, The Others, and, uh, Catholicism prior to Vatican II. I just read Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Spoiler Alert: there’s Latin in it!

penumbraA little synopsis for you: Clay is a recently unemployed design school graduate in desperate need of a job. While wandering the streets of San Fransisco one afternoon, Clay stumbles upon a odd little bookstore with a “help wanted” sign. Mr. Penumbra is an eccentric old man and the proprietor of an impossibly narrow three story book store. (One of my favorite things about this book was the description of the sliding ladders. I would LOVE to live in a ginormous house someday with a dedicated library that had sliding ladders!)

Clay is hired and soon realizes that there is no way this book store can stay afloat with the sales figures he’s running. There’s also the business of the oddball patrons who are mostly highly eccentric characters that show up at all hours of the night… Rather than purchasing books, they’re all borrowing from a mysterious collection huddled at the back of the store.

Around this time Clay starts dating a girl who works at Google named Kat Potente. Kat is brilliant and quirky, owning a dozen of the very same t-shirt so she need not fret about her wardrobe. Once Clay discloses some of his insights into the mysterious bookstore, Kat jumps on board with his adventure. Somewhere between the Gertizsoon font and a museum about knitting, Clay, Kat, and his buddy Neel set about uncovering a 500 year old mystery. (I’d like to mention that I loved the way Google’s headquarters were portrayed in this book. It was really fun to compare the fictionally enhanced Google to the way Microsoft was portrayed in Where’d You Go Bernadette.)

Without getting excessively spoiler-ish, this book involves uncovering the mysteries of a secret society. It actually reminded me a LOT of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code (I don’t really care what the literati has to say, I thoroughly enjoyed The DaVinci Code, for reals.) What differentiates this from The DaVinci Code is the whimsy. This book deals with mysteries surrounding a 500 year old publisher and a bunch of bookish weirdos. No matter what their secrets hold, they’re not as potentially earth shattering to civilization as discovering that one of the world’s major religions is based on intentionally misleading information. This allows Sloane’s secret society an element of comedy and charm that the danger and melodrama of The DaVinci Code cannot achieve.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be a quick read and it held my interest. In celebration of this work, I started googling to find the Geritzsoon font that was, according to the book, very common and pre-loaded into most computers. Yeah. Griffo Gertiszoon, our mysterious ancient font designer? Fiction. I must admit I was quite disappointed. I like it when my conspiracy books are less easily debunked. All in all though? Still totally worth the read. Knowing the Griffo Gertizsoon is not a real person won’t hamper your enjoyment of the book at all. Look at me! I’m GROWING with not SPOILING everything. SOMEBODY GIVE ME A COOKIE!

So. Bookworms. Mysteries. Do you dig them? Do you despise them? Don’t you want a house with sliding ladders?! (You do. Don’t bother lying.) Tell me about it!

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Nov 19

Want an Action Movie in a Book? Read A Wanted Man by Lee Child

Book Club, Crime, Mystery 12

Hello my dear Bookworms! It’s Monday, which stinks, but it’s a short week, so that’s something to be excited about, right?

Friday night, we had our latest meeting of the neighborhood book club. Now, I had been calling it “Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons,” after a really sweet book I read once upon a time, but I think I’m going to stick with referring to it as “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors Book Club.” It seems more fitting. Plus, this week’s hostess made us delicious soup and served it in mason jars… Which means, of course, that my neighbors are not only inherently better than your neighbors, but they’re also more Pinteresting.

This month’s selection was A Wanted Man by Lee Child. I was kind of concerned that I wouldn’t be able to catch up when I saw that this was book number 17 in a series. Luckily, this series is the literary equivalent of CSI. Procedural dramas are good for that sort of thing- you can pick it up anywhere and not be lost. A Wanted Man is a crime novel starring Jack Reacher. Reacher is ex military police. He doesn’t like to be tied down and as a result lives a nomadic life roaming around the country. As A Wanted Man starts out, Reacher is hitchhiking to Virginia (for reasons that must have been explained in books 1-16.)

Does hitchhiking ever end well for anyone? I mean, really. What kind of crazy picks up a stranger off the side of the road? If you’re in this novel, the kind of crazy picking people up off the side of the road are terrorists trying to confound the local police road blocks after committing a murder (I mentally pronounce “murder” in the most evil way possible, but that’s difficult to translate phonetically.)

You’ve probably figured (since this is one of the first ones I’ve ever reviewed) that mystery and crime novels aren’t typically my cup of tea. That’s part of the beauty of being in a book club though, you step outside your comfort zone. I found this to be a fast read and it kept me engaged, but it’s unlikely I’ll pick up another Jack Reacher novel. I assume that people who really appreciate these type of books don’t appreciate spoilers, so I’m not going to discuss much of the plot. After our book club discussion, the plot isn’t what sticks out to me anyway.

Reacher wasn’t given a whole lot of description, beyond the fact that he was an older man, tall, bulky, and had a broken nose. In MY mind’s eye, I saw a rather frightening and not at all attractive fellow. My mind was pretty well blown at book club when the other ladies started mentally casting Jack Reacher’s movie. I can’t even pinpoint an actor I would have pictured as Jack Reacher. The ladies of book club, however, had some ideas.

Hello Handsome!

I voted this down because although he’s one dishy Bond, his American accent is pretty bad.

So yeah. Jack Reacher is pretty much an American retired James Bond. A little less martini and a little more moonshine perhaps, but a similar character nevertheless.

Would it be a terrible thing for me to admit that I might have enjoyed this novel a little more if I’d been picturing eye candy while reading it? Probably. It probably means I’m shallow, but come on. George Clooney makes pretty much everything better. What do you think, bookworms? Are you ever shocked that what you imagined a character to look like was SO DIFFERENT in a movie? Tell me about it!

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Sep 18

Don't Let the Bonnet Fool You: Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

Mystery, Religion 15

I read a lot, obviously,  but I also watch a lot of television. I’m only human. Sometimes I watch cheesy reality television. My latest fascination has been Amish: Out of Order on the National Geographic channel. It’s a reality show about a bunch of people who have left the Amish and are trying to adjust to life in the outside world.

I’ve read a few novels by Jodi Picoult, but my favorite by far has been Plain Truth. It’s about an Amish community being shaken by a shocking crime. As I’m watching my Amish reality show, I find myself saying things like “Ah yes, Rumsrpinga.” Or “listen to their odd accents- they speak a particular dialect of German in addition to English, and due to their seclusion it has morphed into nearly its own language entirely…” Clearly I am an expert in all things Amish thanks to Jodi Picoult (I’m not an expert in anything, but I did learn a lot from this book.)

Don’t let the bonnet fool you. That Katie Fisher is a sinner, yo.

Plain Truth centers on an Amish girl named Katie (I swear this is not the only reason I like this book.) Katie is 18 and unmarried, but appears to have given birth in a barn (a colossal no-no in Amish-ville. They know good and well how babies are made, and shenanigans of that kind are NOT okay amongst the unmarried.) The baby is later discovered by a farmhand, dead. The cause of death is unclear.

It’s difficult for me to write this review without making it a mess of spoilers, and I like this book enough to not want to ruin it for anyone. I’m going to try to focus the Amish-ness of it all instead of spoiling all the saucy bits for you. Not only is it incredibly rare for an Amish girl to get pregnant out of wedlock, Katie appears to have no memory of the conception or birth. That certainly doesn’t help her case when she’s put on trial for the murder of the newborn. It throws the whole community into a tizzy, because the Amish are also devout pacifists. A murder charge?! Against an Amish girl?! Inconceivable!

All I really knew about the Amish before I read this is that they were a quaint religious sect who didn’t use electricity and built high quality cabinetry. I mean, most people know that the Amish dress differently, they drive horse buggies instead of cars, and they make gorgeous quilts, but I don’t think most of the world really pays attention to the religion itself. It can be beautiful and incredibly harsh all at the same time. The Amish are a very peaceful people- they don’t participate in violence and are very focused on the health of their overall community. It’s also a very simple way of life, so it sounds idyllic when you’re up to your elbows in credit card statements and emails.

It has a darker side as well. School is not allowed beyond the 8th grade, which makes it very difficult for those who leave to find gainful employment. Many sects shun those who choose to leave the religion. Like for real. Hardcore shunning. You decide to leave the church and you’re completely disowned by your family and the only life you’ve ever known. You can’t even go home for Christmas. Can you even imagine how much that would suck? No matter how jacked your family is, they’re still your family. Only now, they’re forbidden to talk to you, because you’re going to hell. Way harsh. (The Catholic guilt complex has nothing on Amish shunning. I’m just saying.)

Jodi Picoult takes you into this world through the eyes of an outsider, Katie’s lawyer. The lawyer comes out to the farm to live with the family while working on the case. Eventually, we get to the bottom of Katie’s story. How she came to meet an outsider. How she became pregnant. How she was confused and in denial about the whole process. What really happened to that baby in the barn.

Like I said, I don’t want to ruin the ending, but there are quite a few twists, turns, and discoveries made through the course of this novel. Courtroom drama isn’t normally my thing, but I was so enthralled learning about Amish culture that the Law and Order rigamarole didn’t phase me. It’s definitely worth the read. If you’re looking for something a little different (and you haven’t been reading a bunch of Jodi Picoult, because she can get a wee bit formulaic…) give it a shot!

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