Bookish Mysteries and Conspiracies

Hi everyone! I’m heading out of town this week so hopefully I’ll get some reading done. Since it is October, however, I decided to compile a list for you all about real life crimes and mysteries surrounding famous authors and/or their novels. I’ll leave links with more information if you find yourself intrigued. Let me know if I missed any or if you have a favorite. I love true crime as much as I love fictional crime.

The Life, Death, and Drama of Edgar Allan Poe: Poe, my favorite author lived a life that was just as macabre as any of his stories. Did he predict a real life ship wreck? Was his death a suicide, an accident, or a murder? Who paid tribute to him years after his death? To this day, we may never know the real story behind the godfather of gothic fiction.

The Disappearance (and Discovery) of Agatha Christie: In December of 1926, famous mystery author Agatha Christie disappeared in the early hours of the morning for eleven days. She remembered absolutely nothing and was found in perfectly good health. Many have speculated as to what happened but no one knows the answer except Christie herself. (Note: Doctor Who did an episode about Christie’s disappearance called “The Unicorn and The Wasp.” I highly recommend it.)

Did Shakespeare Even Exist?: This is quite possibly of one the oldest and most famous author related-mysteries. Is it possible that the greatest playwright of all time never actually existed? Theories range from Shakespeare being a collective group of people, a single female author, or even the pseudonym of Sir Francis Bacon. The topic is still up for debate.

The Voynich Manuscript aka The Most Mysterious Book Ever Written: Named after its discoverer, the Voynich Manuscript is a codex written in an unknown language and filled with illustrations that seem to be of an alien planet. Many have tried to decipher this book but no one has been successful. Who (or what) wrote the Voynich Manuscript?

The Disappearance of Ambrose Bierce: Years before Christie disappeared and reappeared, Ambrose Bierce took a trip to Mexico and never returned. Most known for his psychological horror stories, Bierce captured America’s imagination during the Civil War then he vanished into thin air. No one knows what happened to him and his body was never found.

Was Albert Camus Killed by the KGB?: Albert Camus, author of The Stranger and a Nobel Prize winner, was killed in a car accident on his way to visit his family, or was he? A new theory has emerged that Camus was killed by the KGB after publishing an article that criticized Russia’s military. Is there more to Camus’ death or was it simply a tragic accident?

The Book Sent by the Angels Themselves: John Dee, famous mathematician and occultist, found the Book of Soyga. This manuscript consists of 40,000 randomly distributed letters and, when decoded, reveals magic spells, astrological charts, and alchemy. Dee claims to have contacted the archangel Uriel in order to reveal the secrets of the book. Also, legend has it that anyone who decodes the book will perish in two-and-a-half years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Russia with Lust: Reviewing The Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Hello everyone! I finally have a book review to give you and I am so happy to share another nerdy side of me. I have mentioned before that I love mystery/thriller novels but I have never mentioned that I love spy novels. In fact, I love the spy genre in general. I’ve seen almost all of the James Bond movies and I do have a few of the original novels but I haven’t gotten to reading them yet. I had a bit of a phase when I was younger where I was really into spy stuff. It kind of stuck with me after all of these years. I will now talk to you about The Red Sparrow, the first book of the Red Sparrow trilogy.

Dominika Egorova, wanting to become the perfect spy for Russia, finds herself in the infamous “Sparrow School” where she trains in the art of seduction. Nathaniel Nash, wanting to break away from his family’s legacy, decides to join the CIA and is caught in the middle of a new kind of Cold War. The two promising young spies are pushed into the dangerous world of sexpionage, double agency, and secret alliances. Dominika and Nate must find a way to survive their missions and save their countries.

Spy novels have somewhat fallen out of trend but Matthews brings a new angle to the genre as he worked for the CIA. This knowledge certainly shows in the writing and I found it fascinating. I enjoyed the character of Dominika. She has synesthesia, which plays in really well with her skill set. I definitely found myself rooting for her throughout the book. Nate was also an enjoyable character. He was charm but he isn’t meant to just be James Bond knock off. Some of the pacing in the book was a little off when it gets to chapters that are solely about different government officials meeting but I guess that is where some of the realism plays in. Spying is not that glamorous of a job. I do feel obligated to give a warning that there are a few scenes of sexual violence in this novel that were a bit hard to read at times. There’s also a lot of jargon that I didn’t quite understand but I appreciated the use of it. Other than that, I really enjoyed this novel and definitely enjoyed unravelling all of the mysteries. I’m going to go ahead and recommend The Red Sparrow if you are interested in spy novels. I will definitely try to read the rest of the trilogy as I cannot get enough of this stuff.

Note: I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ve heard mixed reviews, though. If you’ve seen it, let me know if it is worth it.

 

Current Favorites: Podcasts Edition (Part 2)

Hi everyone! I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. Therefore,  I decided to do another blog more of the podcasts I’ve discovered. Personally, I like to listen to podcasts while I’m working and I’m sure some of you like to do the same. Here are some suggestions if you’re looking for a new podcast or two to enjoy.

Alice Isn’t Dead – From the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, “Alice Isn’t Dead” follows the journey of our unnamed narrator as she decides to become a truck driver in order to find her wife Alice, who she once presumed to be dead. If you’re looking for a perfectly twisted and weird serial then this podcast is for you. I really enjoy this one, as I am a mystery junkie. You don’t have to be a fan of Night Vale in order to enjoy this series but it definitely holds up to the same level of weirdness if that’s what you’re looking for.

Alice Isn't Dead

Crime in Sports – Are you a sports fan? Well I’m not but this one definitely peaked my interest. Created by the same hosts as “Small Town Murder,” this podcasts explores the lives of athletes from various sports who fell from grace so hard that it’s mind boggling. You don’t need to know anything about sports in order to enjoy this podcast but, if you do have sports background, then this podcast is definitely for you.

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Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – I had to include a Harry Potter related podcast on this list and this is the one that appeals to my inner English Major. Join Vanessa and Casper as they delve into the series and analyze it chapter by chapter. This podcast provides a meaningful and thoughtful conversation about the magical books we all know and love.

Harry-Potter-and-the-Sacred-Text

Spirits – It’s time for some boozy talk about mythology, legends, and folk lore. For you fans of all things paranormal, supernatural, and alcoholic, then I recommend this podcast. It’s fairly light-hearted but still informative. Grab some wine and sit back as your hosts discuss legends from all over the world.

spirits

Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know – Get your tin foil hats ready before you listen to this podcasts that explores the strangest and most interesting conspiracies. Whether it’s a government cover up, alien invasion, or questionable death, this podcast covers it all. You might be just a little more paranoid after listening to one of these episodes but, I guarantee, you will be fascinated the entire time.

stuff they don't want you to know

That’s my part two. There are some more podcasts coming out in spring that I’m looking forward to that I might do individual reviews on. In the meanwhile, let me know if there’s any podcasts you enjoy that I might not know about or if you like any of these ones.