Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (@ek_johnston)

There’s no wrong way to process trauma. We might not agree with the way someone does it, but we cannot dictate the way they process. I won’t even say choose to process. It’s not always a choice. Sometimes, the way we react to things is very different from what we say we would do in a hypothetical situation. E.K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear tells of the story of Hermione’s trauma and her subsequent actions.

This book is sold as a retelling of The Winter’s Tale, but with the exception of some names and the name. the two have little in common. Admittedly, it’s been years since I read the play, so maybe there’s more there that I would recognize with a real comparison piece, but that’s not what’s happening here. Here I’m talking about this book. Now, I shamefully have to admit that I had no idea what the title meant. Stage directions have never really been my thing. So I did some research before I read the book. The title totally fits, and hints at how the story is going to wrap up. The tagline on Goodreads claims this book is Veronica Mars meets Shakespeare. As a huge VM fan, I can say with certainty that I have zero, and I mean zero, idea how this compares to Veronica Mars at all. There is no mystery, no investigation, no challenging authority or channeling of that fighting, persnickety spirit. The only thing these characters have in common is that they’re blond.

Hermione (the character notes that this could be a reference to the play or Harry Potter) is a cheerleader. Her team – The Golden Bears. She’s a hell of a cheerleader. She’s the captain. She’s an athlete. She’s elite. They’re all athletes. Cheerleading is hard. But it’s really great. Really, really great. And you get to wear tons of ribbons in your hair! For real guys! Before we get into what I liked about the book, let’s talk about the minor issues that keep this book from being fabulous. First – I don’t love the writing. It’s not terrible by any means. It’s just slightly on the positive side of okay. If not for the subject matter, it might have been a bigger problem. Second – this is a cheerleading story that happens to involve a rape. Not a story about rape trauma and recover that involves a cheerleader. The focus of the book is on the cheerleading. Maybe that was the intention, but it takes away from the importance of the story underneath. It makes it almost tentative in its message. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday – The Books of Neglect

Today’s top ten list from the ladies at the B&B is one I can get behind. One any reader can get behind, especially any blogger (even the negligent ones like me).Books that have been in your TBR pile for a long damn time. Since before you started blogging. For me, that’s two and a half years. Books you teased by telling them you wanted to read them and then never picking. They’re just sitting there on the front step, waiting. Forever alone.

I have so so so many of these (and the number increased exponentially after I discovered Goodreads). My criteria for picking the books that landed on today’s list was singular – do I still have any interest in reading them. I also tried to stay away from books that have made previous TBR lists, but I was unsuccessful in that one.

 

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The House of Lost Souls – F.G. Cottam

The Fischer House was the scene of a vicious crime in the 1920s – a crime which still resonates as the century turns. At its heart was a beautiful, enigmatic woman called Pandora Gibson-Hoare, a photographer of genius whose only legacy is a handful of photographs and the clues to a mystery.

Just weeks after four students cross the threshold of the derelict Fischer House, one of them has committed suicide and the other three are descending into madness.

Nick Mason’s sister is one of them. To save her, Nick must join ranks with Paul Seaton–the only person to have visited the house and survive. But Paul is a troubled man, haunted by otherworldly visions that even now threaten his sanity.

Desperate, Nick forces Paul to go back into the past, to the secret journal of beautiful photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare and a debauched gathering in the 1920s, and to the dark legacy of Klaus Fischer–master of the unspeakable crime and demonic proceedings that have haunted the mansion for decades.

Because now, the Fischer House is beckoning, and some old friends have gathered to welcome Paul back. . .

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The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood (@AlexMarwood1)

Here’s the thing I love about Marwood  – she writes these stories that contain really gritty ideas but focuses on the human aspect of the story. On what makes the perpetrator fit in. Especially in the sections of society that are already marginalized and viewed with suspicion. A population so on the fringes that people don’t even notice when tenants go missing. They assume they’ve just taken off. Left their unit in this house they share. Units they pay for in cash with no record checks or backgrounds required before they move in. The type of place where someone like The Lover could live.

The Lover is a man living in the building. That’s really all we know. A sad, lonely man looking for a connection. For a life partner. All he wants is someone to make him feel loved. But instead of doing what the rest of the world does and going to a bar or using online dating or meeting someone through a friend, he kills vulnerable women from his building and mummifies them in his suite. But everyone who lives in this building is kind of sad. All of the male characters could potentially be The Lover. Is it the weird classical music playing guy? The political refuge? The overly friendly guy upstairs? The disgusting landlord? Each one is as likely to be the killer as the others. All we know is that he is a man. His entries into the story are sad, in their own way. I mean sure, he’s clearly unhinged, but he’s sad. He cannot figure out how to relate with people in a way that would allow him to form real social relationships.

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