September is for Slow Cooking

The weather is steadily drifting fall-wards around these parts, and I'm turning my full attention to fall cooking: roast chickens, hearty salads, and lots of apple-y themed baked goods. With only a small kitchen and no oven this fall, however, I'm spending more and more time with the slow cooker--which of course meant more time searching for slow cooker recipes. Two new cookbooks on NetGalley caught my eye, both challenging the standard "slow-cookers-are-for-cold-weather" assumptions:

 Year-Round Slow Cooker: 100 Favorite Recipes for Every Season, by Dina Cheney (Taunton Press): Dina Cheney has worked to combat the common myths of the slow cooker: that they are for winter meals, and/or that they only turn out goopy, mushy, watery dishes. While both of those things can be true--who doesn't love a goopy stew in the winter, after all?--she argues that there is so much more the slow cooker, and the 100 recipes here back her up. Level of effort ranges from easy (chop, put in slow cooker, return to meal in 8-10 hours) to more complicated (with stovetop browning, mixed ingredients, temperature changes during cooking). Even the more complicated dishes, though, are straightforward and easy to follow, and the extra steps are absolutely worth the extra flavor. I've made three meals from this book so far, and with the recipes broken out by season (based on both seasonal appropriateness, because no one wants to eat beef stew in July, and seasonal ingredients), I don't plan to stop any time soon.

365 Slow Cooker Suppers, by Stephanie O'Dea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): Stephanie O'Dea runs the popular blog A Year of Slow Cooking, and this book is a collection of her latest and greatest. Where Cheney's recipes aim to re-invent the slow cooker, O'Dea stays more within the realm of the "fix-it-and-forget-it" recipes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as some of these recipes result in a stunning amount of flavor with a shockingly little amount of work. Take, for example, 2-Packet Chicken, which calls for frozen chicken pieces, 1 packet of taco seasoning, 1 packet of ranch dressing seasoning, and 1 can of tomatoes, cooked on low for 8 hours. It doesn't get much simpler than that, and while most of the recipes in 365 Slow Cooker Suppers are not quite that simple, this recipe gets at the heart of O'Dea's mission (as a person who owns no less than 15 slow cookers herself): simple, easy-to-prepare dinners that can fit into the lives and households of very, very busy people.

The verdict: 365 Slow Cooker Suppers is a traditional, well-planned collection of recipes for the worker-bee in all of us. They call for very little potching (I broke out the food processor and did the "chopping" for five recipes in one afternoon, pre-bagging all of the ingredients in the freezer for later meals), and most cook on low for 7+ hours, meaning those of us that leave the house for a full workday can turn the slow-cooker on in the morning and come home to dinner (not to mention wonderful aromas). Year-Round Slow Cooker takes the slow cooker one step further, challenging readers to think of the slow cooker not just as the solution for fix-it-and-forget-it meals, but as a tool that can result in complex, flavorful dishes. Unfortunately, these complex flavors often come from pre-browning, roasting, toasting, and similar, and many of the recipes cook for under 7 hours, relegating them to weekend dinners for anyone with a 9-to-5. Combined, though, these two cookbooks present interesting new ideas and recipes for what is, for many, a well-loved but oft-discounted kitchen gadget (and would make great accompaniments for anyone gifting a slow cooker these days).


Thank you to the publishers for providing e-galleys of both cookbooks for review.
Year-Round Slow Cooker | Dina Cheney | Taunton Press | January 2013 | Paperback | 224 pages
365 Slow Cooker Suppers | Stephanie O'Dea | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | September 2013 | Paperback | 336 pages

Book Review: Seven for a Secret, by Lyndsay Faye

The newly-minted New York City police force and its most reluctant recruit are back in Lynsday Faye's Seven for a Secret, second in a planned trilogy featuring the admirable if somewhat cynical Timothy Wilde. 

The novel picks up six months after the concluding events of its prequel, Gods of Gotham, which left Timothy scarred by fire, broken-hearted, and generally discontent with the sordid state of affairs witnessed in New York's underbelly. It takes little time to realize little has changed in Timothy's world--he is still scarred, still broken-hearted, and still generally disgusted by the cruelty he witnesses as a copper star--but the lack of preamble required to introduce his back story give Faye an opportunity to let his personality shine. The result is a narrator who is alternatively sardonic, sarcastic, cynical, witty, idiotic, and humble--and always kind, even if that kindness means letting his anger out on the bad guys at hand.

Where Gods of Gotham pitted Timothy against child prostitution, Seven for a Secret sets him against the prejudices and racism of 1840s America. A missing persons case leads him to the den of two slavecatchers of the worst variety, catching not only runaway slaves but free blacks for sale into slavery in the South. Timothy's sense of justice is, not surprisingly, more than a little put out at the discovery of this blatantly illegal practice, but as he blunders about in an attempt to right wrongs, he finds himself at odds with the political machinery of Tammany Hall New York--and no one wants to be at odds with Tammany Hall.

As with the previous installment of Wilde's story, Seven for a Secret is structured as Timothy's written account of his experiences; he notes that where writing police reports brings him little relief, writing a full tale allows him to unburden himself of the injustices he continually encounters in the city. The first-person narration is handily done, and Timothy is as full-fledged a character as one could hope for; even when he acts the fool, it's hard not to want him to win in the long run. And win he does. Sort of. Sometimes. Because Seven for a Secret never takes the easy way out, and Faye never bows to the pressure some mystery writers seem to feel for a happy ending tied up neatly with a bow. Timothy's story is wild and messy and therefore believable, despite the occasional coincidence here and there, and Faye's incorporation of historical details (right down to which streets on the NYC grid were paved versus dirt in the 1840s) only makes it all the stronger. All 484 pages of Seven for a Secret fly by at an incredible pace, but it's well worth it to take your time with this one to savor not only the story, but the history packed within it.

The Bottom Line: Those who have already read Gods of Gotham will not be disappointed by the second volume of Timothy Wilde's adventures. Anyone new to the stories of this copper star will find enough detail in Seven for a Secret not to be confused, but as the conclusion of Gods of Gotham is more than one alluded to in Seven for a Secret, it really does make sense to start at the beginning. Spoilers and all that.


One last thing: I listened to Gods of Gotham on audio and read Seven for a Secret in print; as the original narrator, Steven Boyer, is returning for the audiobook sequel, I'm comfortable recommending the audiobook for any audiophiles out there. Boyer brought Timothy to life so incredibly in the first volume that it was his voice narrating the story of the second to me in my head.


Thanks to the publisher for providing an e-galley of this title for review.
Seven for a Secret | Lyndsay Faye | Amy Einhorn Books | Hardcover | September 2013 | 484 pages

SeptembEyre: Chapters XXII-XXIX

Oh, darling Jane and dear "asshole with a heart of gold" Rochester, as Andi called him. You two had a good run while it lasted, didn't you? But unless we were all clueless to Charlotte's hints, we always knew something was going to come along to ruin Jane's happiness. For example, from Jane and Rochester's exchange right after Jane discovers the identity of the "gypsy lady":
"'If all these people [the party guests] came in a body and spat at me, what would you do, Jane?'
'Turn them out of the room, sir, if I could.'
He half-smiled. 'But if I were to go to them, and they only looked at me coldly, and whispered sneeringly amongst each other, and then dropped off and left me one by one, what then? Would you go with them?'
'I rather think not, sir: I should have more pleasure in staying with you.;
... 'And if they laid you under a ban for adhering to me?'
'I, probably, should know nothing about their ban; and if I did, I should care nothing about it.'
'Then, you could dare censure for my sake?'
'I could dare it for the sake of any friend who deserved my adherence; as you, I am sure, do.'"
We know now that Rochester was testing Jane, to see how much power public opinion might hold over her own opinion; what Rochester failed to account for above, and by not being honest with Jane from the get-go, was Jane's opinion. And if we know anything, we know that Jane is rather opinionated. To say the least.

To back up, though, we moved from flirtation to marriage proposal at the opening of this section, and spent a large portion of these pages watching Jane and Rochester interact as an engaged couple. I struggled with Jane a bit, here; she seemed so cautious and so terrified of saying the wrong thing, or in some way deceiving Rochester, that she stopped acting herself.

Rather than speak her mind, as she always has, she has an internal dialogue with herself that is quite at odds with her external conversations with Rochester. And while I appreciated her refusal to allow him to put her on a pedestal--as anyone who's ever read any kind of love story know that that is just a recipe for disaster--I found her actions as an engaged woman bordered on cold. I, as did Rochester, missed her witty banter and somewhat flirtatious interactions with her fiance. I, as a 21st-century woman, was also particularly irked by the fact that even up to their very wedding day, she continued to call him "Sir."

Which brings us to the wedding day, and all its calamities. It was clear from the dawning of the day that the wedding would not go off without a hitch; Jane was so hesitant to label her boxes for shipping, and Rochester so distracted, bordering on obsessed, with everything going according to plan. What was surprising to me, as a first-timer, was the fact that the crazy thing in the attic (we all knew there was a crazy in the attic, right?) was Rochester's despised, deranged wife. What was even more surprising to me was the readiness with which Rochester gave up his ruse--and the readiness with which Jane quit him.

I don't disagree with Jane's decisions, or her logic. There was no reasonable way for her to marry her dear Rochester with the knowledge that he was already married. But given her earlier stance that she would stand by him no matter the censure of the public, she sure didn't hesitate long before taking off.

In the dead of night.

With little money, less connections, and absolutely no plan. And a piece of bread.

And then she promptly spent all of her money on a coach ride to nowhere.

Where did she think she would go? What did she expect would happen?

I can't help but raise my eyebrows just a little bit at the previously cool, collected woman we've come to know acting so blatantly irrationally.

So, following some slightly odd turns of event and a few doses of good luck, Jane is now set up with a nice family (though still no money and no resources), once again dependent on others to determine her way forward, once again resuming her hardened exterior designed to betray nothing of who she really is. I'm skeptical about this St. John character (as I suppose I am meant to be), and momentarily disappointed in Jane, but hopeful for what's to come! Readalongers, link up to your post below:

Next week: The end!

What do you write in your books?

I've written before about how (and why) I write in my books as I read. I underline, I highlight, and I dog-ear. But beyond my reading notations, I mark each book as my own. For my nicer editions, I have an embosser (best gift ever) that prints "From the library of Kerry" on the paper. Because it only works on paper of a certain quality (mass market paperbacks, for example, will just tear under the pressure), I mark any non-embossed title page with my name. Embossed or not, I also mark the month and year I'm reading the book, and any special information I might want to remember about my reading experience.

The books I read on my honeymoon? Those are the first books in which I wrote my "new" name instead of my maiden name, and under the date on each, I wrote "Honeymoon Reading."

The two I read in the Virgin Islands last summer? Yep, those say "July 2012, USVI."

My copy of Jane Eyre? Name, date, "Septemb-Eyre Readalong."

All the editions of Harry Potter? Name, date, second date, third date, fourth date...

My grandmother wrote her name and the year on the title page.

My father writes his name and his phone number on the first interior page of the book, regardless of whether it is title or not (not that anyone actually returns a borrowed book just because you've reminded them of your contact information).

My aunt writes "Please return to...." on the inside front cover.

My Nashvillian friend initials the outside of the pages at the base near the spine, and writes on the inside front page the date she purchased it and the date she read it, to catalog how long it steeped on her shelf before picking it up.

Someone on a podcast recently mentioned that he annotated each of his volumes with the store in which he purchased it.

It seems a very personal thing, this marking, and varies by reader. But it also seems somewhat universal, as each reader approaches his or her library with a sense of ownership. When we lend books out, or give them away, or sell them to a used bookstore, we are doing so with a message to the next reader: I read this. I read this when. I read this where.

So, inquiring bookworm that I am, I want to know: Do you write in your books to designate them as yours? If so, what do you write?

But Is It Art?

In Steve Martin's Object of Beauty, narrator Daniel Franks tells the story of Lacey, a beautiful, manipulative and cunning woman working her way up the ranks in the high-class art world of New York. From Sotheby's to a private dealership to her own gallery in Chelsea, Lacey moves without a moral compass, making decisions based on what is best for her--and her alone. Though she's not particularly likable, her story is riveting, and through her tale, readers are treated to a glimpse of the highbrow art world in New York and internationally.

Martin writes of Lacey, "She started converting objects of beauty into objects of value." This one statement encapsulates the role of art fraud in our lives; drawn to objects of beauty, we are inclined to turn them into objects of value. And so it is not surprising that Claire Roth, in B.A. Shapiro's novel The Art Forger, is using her considerable skills to forge art for a reproduction company. She agrees to forge a stolen painting in return for a one-woman show in a famous gallery, but as she stares at the Degas in front of her, she begins to suspect that it may be a forgery itself. What follows is a suspenseful story that sheds light on the world of art and the art of forgery.

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger presents a nonfiction view of this same insular art world. Ten years ago, an FBI investigation led down a trail of fake paintings, until the case was inexplicably halted. Now, after the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired, Ken Perenyi has confessed to the forgeries--in writing. Caveat Emptor is his story, treating readers to the tale of how Perenyi became the country's top art forger.


This column originally ran in the Friday, July 26th issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. If you don't already subscribe, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

An Object of Beauty | Steve Martin | Grand Central Publishing | Paperback | November 2011 | 304 pages
The Art Forger | B. A. Shapiro | Algonquin Books | Paperback | October 2012 | 368 pages
Caveat Emptor | Ken Perenyi | Pegasus Books | Hardcover | August 2012 | 368 pages

How Sherlock Changed the World

PBS, you are the shiz. Between imported BBC shows (Downton, what what!) and original content, I think I could survive without any other stations (assuming, of course, I could still get Netflix for more OITNB).

This fall, I'm looking forward to How Sherlock Changed the World, a new documentary examining how the (presumably) fictional Holmes influenced the very real world of forensic science today.

From the PBS press release:
How Sherlock Changed the World will show that Conan Doyle’s hero not only revolutionized the world of fiction, but also changed the real world in more ways than many realize. Holmes was a scientist who used chemistry, fingerprints and bloodstains to catch an offender in an era when eyewitness reports and “smoking gun” evidence were needed to convict criminals, and police incompetence meant that Jack the Ripper stalked the streets freely.
Side note: For an interesting, fictionalized account of how Sherlock may have investigated the Ripper murders, check out Lyndsay Faye's novel, Dust and Shadow

So, a two-hour special essentially detailing how fiction has changed modern science and criminology. How an imagined character has influenced the rational, logical process used to solve modern crimes. How a 130-year-old collection of stories has continued to impact our day-to-day lives.

That's going to scratch so many of my literary itches, I can't even handle the wait. I believe the special is going to be aired over two episodes in November, but I haven't yet found specifics--if anyone knows, please, please share!

Newest Obsession: Small Demons

I love data. LOVE IT. Tags, taxonomies, spreadsheets, charts, graphs, numbers, collections, cataloging... you name it. I keep a spreadsheet of my reading statistics (which allows me to post annual reading stat posts like this one), have recently rediscovered the joy of tagging titles on LibraryThing (come join me!), and am the only person at work who doesn't groan when billing comes around at the end of each month.

So imagine my delight in discovering Small Demons, a site apparently dedicated to collecting information about my one true love (with apologies to my husband): books.

Small Demons allows users to create collections of books (anyone looking for a list of books featuring Wicked Stepmothers? Rendezvous in Paris?), people (Geminis, Oscar Winners, Comedic Influences), items (video games featured in Ready Player One), and pretty much any other subject you can imagine. But it also calls on members to tag books with the people, organizations, places and things contained in them, building a database of information about and quotes from books that is awe-inspiring and overwhelming and a downright rabbithole of entertainment.

Say, for example, I'm going on vacation to Cape Cod and want to read something set on the peninsula. Easy: I can search by Place for "Cape Cod." This will return 774 books that mention Cape Cod, whether it be the setting of the entire book or merely mentioned in passing, which I can then narrow further by specific location. Or if I've just finished reading two fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald and I'm eager for more, I can search People for "Zelda Fitzgerald," and get 71 books that mention the star of the Jazz Age, whether she be the author (Save Me the Waltz), a key character (Flapper), or just mentioned in passing (A More Perfect Union).

I could get caught up in this site browsing or adding my own data and quotes (notably missing from the Zelda Fitzgerald page, for example, are both of the novels that prompted me to want to learn more about her). It's definitely a site that's still growing, but one with a lot of potential. Anyone else been browsing here?

Furry Friends of Internet Fame

The Internet is capable of transforming someone perfectly ordinary into someone wildly famous (just look at Justin Bieber). But those someones are not always human someones, as the four-legged stars of several blogs-turned-books can attest:

Maddie, a sweet-tempered coonhound who accompanied her owner on a cross-country photojournalism trip, is perhaps one of the most photogenic--and patient--dogs in the world. Maddie on Things (Chronicle Books) is living proof of this claim, featuring no less than 120 stunning photographs of Maddie posing on everything from giant watermelons to car hoods to turtles to tree trunks, across the country. The photographs reveal both her patience and beauty, and the interesting objects and scenes encountered on a road trip. (See Maddie's book trailer here.)

Henri is a black-and-white cat known as the world's first and foremost feline philosopher. Online, he offers up short films depicting his general ennui; his first book, Henri le Chat Noir (Ten Speed Press), offers up the same "existential musings of an angst-filled cat" via a collection of photographs and quotes from Henri. His droll insights and dry wit, coupled with dramatic black-and-white photography, combine to create a book that will fit perfectly on the shelves of any philosopher, cat-lover or philosophizing cat-lover.

Grumpy Cat's tagline just about sums up the frowning feline's take on the world: "I had fun once. It was awful." Grumpy Cat's book from Chronicle, aptly titled Grumpy Cat, combines new photos of the well-loved frowning face with classics from the Grumpy Cat blog to offer new readers and long-time fans alike a dose of serious grumpiness--though the images and captions are just humorous enough to turn most frowns upside-down. The only who will not be amused by Grumpy Cat's antics is, of course, Grumpy Cat.

This column has been edited from the original version, which ran in the Tuesday, August 27th issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. If you don't already subscribe, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

Book Review: Lexicon, by Max Barry

Lexicon was one of those books that grew out of seemingly nowhere; I'd heard nothing about it, then I saw it everywhere. It was on blogs I read, mentioned on the radio, featured in a podcast. And when I browsed the shelves of Politics and Prose with Rachel from Home Between Pages (Note to self: Browsing a bookstore with a fellow book blogger is bad for the budget.) and found a signed copy, it was destiny: we were meant to be together.

I ended up reading the entire novel in a day. I've since recommended it to several other people, two of whom have come back and told me that they read the entire novel in a day.

That could probably suffice as enough of a a review, but in order to truly do the book justice:

Lexicon is a story about the power of words. In a construction that is at first reminiscent of the recruiting scenes of X-Men, eerily talented professional something-or-others travel around the world looking for people with a certain skill. Though the details are fuzzy at first, it becomes clear that it has to do with persuasion: the ability to persuade, and the ability not to be persuaded.

When these recruiters find Emily Ruff, she is taken to an elite school in northern Virginia, where she learns that every person can be categorized, and each category influenced by a different set of words. In order to remain unpersuadeable, she can never let anyone truly know her--which is all fine and dandy until she falls in love.

Armed with the knowledge of the school, a fierce desire to be left to her own devices and a broken heart, Emily is a force to be reckoned with--and reckon they will. Except, all of a sudden, it's unclear who, exactly, "they" are. Who is on what side? And what are they fighting for--and against?

Max Barry, author of two previous novels, has created a world in Lexicon that is stunning and spellbinding, weaving a fast-paced novel that is as smart as it is action-packed. Written before Snowden's name was known across the globe, Barry's novel also raises key questions about data, privacy and identity--who is tracking what, and what trails do we leave in our virtual--and non-virtual--lives? It is a story that is at once hard to read but also impossible to put down, rushing at a breakneck pace to a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, conclusion.

Don't miss this one. Just make sure you have a whole weekend free before you start it, to be safe.


Lexicon | Max Barry | Penguin | Hardcover | May 2013 | 400 pages

Septemb-Eyre: Chapters I-XI

A quarter of the way through Jane Eyre, and I can already see why so many people hold this book so dear.

Poor, poor Jane, and her poor, unfortunate circumstances. First, she is orphaned and locked in a cupboard under the stairs by this horrible family named the Dursleys and locked in the nursery by this horrible family named the Reeds who are forced to look after her against their will. When she turns out to be a wizard refuses to be silenced or back down against Dudley John Reed*, she is sent to a school for wayward girls where they must eat terrible porridge and freeze their toes off and get beaten with brooms.

Even though things are looking up at the end of Chapter XI, I've got a sneaking suspicion this state of happiness is not meant to last in Jane Eyre's world.

What struck me most about Jane throughout each of these trying situations was her terrible, incredible sense of justice. She argues with the Reeds, with her teachers, and with her dear friend Helen that she could not possibly back down in a situation in which she felt herself to be in the right:
"You are good to those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way; they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should--so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again."
Now that is a 10-year-old who knows her own mind. But then again, she doesn't, always, for she continually puts so much stock in what others think of her; her sense of justice is completely tied up in her sense of how other people view her.

I've never read this, but I have a feeling that may get complicated for her down the road, single, unattractive, passionate girl that she is.

And also, what's up with the "circumstance of ghostliness" that accompanies the "curious cachination" (love that turn of phrase, even f spellcheck doesn't think "cachination" is a word)? Is Jane Eyre a book I could have put on my RIP VIII list?

For those reading for the first time, what did you find most noticeable about Jane?

For those re-reading, what stood out to you the second time through?

Reminder: If you're reading ahead or you've already read the book, please try to avoid spoilers for those of us who are new to the story!

Next week: Chapters XII-XXI.


*I mean, really, the Reeds must be the original Dursleys. What part of Bronte's description of John Reed does not remind you of Dudley?
"John Reed was a school boy of fourteen years old...large but stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious... He ought now to have been at school; but his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, 'on account of his delicate health.' Mr Miles, the schoolmaster, affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to over-application, and, perhaps, to pining after home."

Book Review: Brief Encounters with the Enemy, by Said Sayrafiezadeh

This review originally ran in the Friday August 16th issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. If you don't already subscribe, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

Brief Encounters with the Enemy, a collection of linked short stories from Said Sayrafiezadeh (When Skateboards Will Be Free), centers on a nameless American town at war with a nameless enemy. Sayrafiezadeh's stories follow the natural arc of war, starting with allusions to the war as something that could happen, shifting to something that will happen and finally to something that is happening.

Though it is tempting to try to identify the city and the enemy, the anonymity of both ultimately works to Sayrafiezadeh's advantage. With the exception of "Brief Encounter with the Enemy," in which a soldier recounts his boredom with the war, his misguided reasons for enlisting and his first--and only--encounter with enemy forces, none of these stories depict the war itself. It's the people affected by the war who are the focus, from the amateur cartographer who struggles to find work in an uncertain economy to the illegal immigrant stressing over deportation on a daily basis and the call center employee who watches jealously as his co-worker is celebrated for enlisting.

The stories tell of a world rocked by war and steeped in uncertainty. Through it all, though, regular, daily life keeps ticking along: workers still ask for raises, men still try to get laid, people still look for better work, shoplifters still shoplift. Sayrafiezadeh's collection skews heavily toward a masculine perspective, but still manages to capture the simultaneous enormity and normality of a country at war.


Brief Encounters with the Enemy | Said Sayrafiezadeh | Dial Press | Hardcover | August 2013

Late to the Party: RIP VIII

I'm struggling from book overwhelmitude of late. I have so many piles of books in so many places in so many different stacks that I sometimes don't even know where to begin. In an effort to focus myself over the next two months, I've decided (albeit belatedly) to join up in the RIP VIII Reading Challenge, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings:

I'll be aiming to read four books that fall within the stated RIP categories (mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, supernatural, horror). Here's my list of titles to choose from, all of which I already own:

With the exception of Dracula, none of these are in storage at the moment, and I have 25 boxes of books in storage. See what I mean by "overwhelmitude"?

Looking Ahead: September Highlights

September! Seasonal changes! And also the beginning of the big fall publishing push. October is generally a bigger month for new releases, but that doesn't mean September is looking light. Below, a few September books I'm dying to share with you (some I can't wait to read, some I've already read and just can't wait to talk about with others):

The Bones of Paris, by Laurie R. King (Bantam, Sept 10th): King is known for her Sherlock Holmes novels, but The Bones of Paris is actually the second in a separate, non-Holmesian series featuring ex-FBI-agent-turned-PI Harris Stuyvesant. Set in 1929 Paris, Stuyvesant sets out to investigate the case of a missing girl (one he happens to have taken to bed) and finds himself drawn into the Surrealist art movement and what could be a series of unexplained deaths... King's experience writing novels based on the Holmes canon has clearly influenced her standalone mysteries, as she plants details and clues that lead Stuyvesant--and readers--on a path to find out whodunit.

Maddaddam, by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese, Sept 3rd): The much-anticipated conclusion to Atwood's Maddaddam trilogy, which started with Oryx and Crake and followed with The Year of the Flood. The first two in this trilogy are concurrent stories, giving different perspectives of the same events; Maddaddam picks up where they left off and promises to fill in some holes in the story. I'm about halfway through and on the fence on this, as I'm finding it lagging at the moment, but it's impossible not to include an Atwood novel in a list of anticipated titles when there's a new one to be had.

Seven for a Secret, by Lyndsay Faye (Amy Einhorn, Sept 17th): I promise there are books in September that are not series continuations, but this isn't one of them. Faye picks up the story of Timothy Wilde, whose experiences in the newly-formed police force in 1840s Manhattan started in The Gods of Gotham. If the new one is anything like the first in the series, Faye will reconstruct an era of New York City history that I just adore, and give us a good story to boot. 

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent (Little, Brown, Sept 10th): A debut novel (see? Not a series continuation!) set in Iceland, promising to recount the story of the last woman hanged for murder in that country. This was a much-buzzed about book at BEA this year, and I'm sorry not to have gotten to the galley of it earlier. But if it's half as good as everyone promises it is, I know we're all in for a treat.

Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, by Debora Spar (Sarah Crichton, Sept 17th): I may be the last feminist in the world not to have read Lean In, but I'm definitely going to look for Wonder Women when it comes out. Spar sets out to explore how women's lives have--and have not--changed since the women's lib movement, and how that impacts a generation of young women who are told this is no longer something they need to worry about. I. Can't. Wait.

Septemb-Eyre: Roll Call!

After years of owning but not reading Jane Eyre, I'm finally taking the plunge. Like the good little blogger I am, I've managed to (somehow!) find 15 fellow bloggers and reviewers to read it along with me. So, here goes nothing!

First things first, it's not too late to sign up.
New readers, re-readers, Classics Club members, non-CC members... the more the merrier.

September 2nd: Kick-off post, introductions, why you're reading, etc.
September 9th: Chapters I-XI
September 16th: Chapters XII-XXI
September 23rd: Chapters XXII-XXIX
September 30th: Chapters XXX-End

In my edition (the Penguin Classics Deluxe paperback), that works out to about 110 pages per week. We can so do this. Since there are some of us who haven't read the novel yet, please try to avoid spoilers past the section we're talking about each week.

And Introductions
Since there are so many new and new-to-me bloggers participating in this event, I'm hoping we can kick off with a little introduction -- who are you, where can we find you on the interwebs, why are you reading (or re-reading) Jane Eyre?

I'm all over social media myself, but of late, am most active on Twitter (@ofabookworm) and Tumblr ( I'll be tweeting my reading with the hashtag #SeptembEyre.

I've owned Jane Eyre for years, and when my husband and I merged our book collections, we realized that we owned no less than four different editions of the novel--despite the fact that I've never read it and he hates the book. I decided to finally read it after approximately 1.2 million people on the Twitter were horrified that I hadn't read it, and told me all the reasons I should. It's also one of the books on my Classics Club list, so I consider this one of those multiple-birds-one-stone situations.

Besides some vague rumors (something about a man named Rochester, and someone living in an attic, I think?), I actually know very little about the book, so I'm hoping to go in with an open mind and see what all the fuss is about.

Here we go...

If you're participating, link up to your intro post here, and happy reading!