Review: Alice and the Fly by James Rice

Alice and the Fly Book Cover Alice and the Fly
James Rice

A spellbinding debut novel by an exceptional new young British talent.

This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It's about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it's about love. Finding love - in any of its forms - and nurturing it.

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition's caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I'll flood out all these tears and it'll all be ok and I won't be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can't think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories - Herb's death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah - but none of these are what caused the phobia. I've always had it. It's Them. I'm just scared of Them. It's that simple.

Review:

I received a free copy of this book from the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m hard-pressed to express my feelings regarding Alice and the Fly. If I were to rate this book purely on enjoyability, I would only be able to grant it 2 stars – it’s definitely not a cheery novel, and I wouldn’t classify it as a pleasant reading experience. In fact, I’m not sure I can even say that I liked this book. That said, I have to credit James Rice for his storytelling abilities – this book is original, surprising, and boasts a thought-provoking plot.

Alice and the Fly is narrated by Greg, a young man who suffers from a crippling phobia and extreme social awkwardness. Nicknamed “Psycho” by his peers, Greg is an outcast at school and at home. The only bright spot in his miserable world is his classmate Alice, to whom the book is addressed in the form of a letter/journal.

Alice and the Fly gets major points for being completely unexpected. I confess that, at first, I thought I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going. The book has a distinct The Perks of Being A Wallflower vibe, and I couldn’t help comparing the two stories at every turn. There are lots of parallels between the two: an epistolary format, a lonely narrator on the fringes of the social scene, a concerned teacher who tries to guide him through life, a childhood friend who’s passed away, etc. Also similar to Perks is the feeling that there’s some sort of buried trauma, though you don’t know what it might be.

The more I read, though, the more I realized that Alice and Perks are two very different books. One major difference is that Charlie, the protagonist in Perks, is endearing; Greg is harder to feel close to. Even though the majority of the book is written from his perspective, I always felt like he was a million miles away. And, though I sympathized with Greg, I can’t say that I empathized with him. In fact, at times he made me downright uncomfortable. He fixates on Alice, secretly following her around, lurking outside her home, and relying upon proximity to her (without her knowledge) for comfort. There’s one scene where Greg picks up Alice’s discarded cigarette butt and puts it in his mouth in order to feel close to her, then holds the smoldering nub of the cigarette in his hand until it burns a crater in his palm, because he’s unwilling and unable to let it go.

Another big difference between Alice and Perks is the family dynamic. The characterization of Greg’s parents is masterful, one of my favorite things about Rice’s book. The best words to describe them would be “preoccupied” and “self-absorbed.” Greg’s dad, a plastic surgeon, is a workaholic who’s so immersed in his work that he brings pre- and post-operative photos to the dinner table, and eats with only one hand so he can shuffle through his paperwork with the other. Greg’s mom is even more fascinating. She’s an anxiety-ridden social climber who’s constantly redesigning and renovating the house, fussing over gourmet coffees, and perfecting her charred salmon entrée to impress her hoity-toity, high society friends.

I would go so far as to say that Greg’s mom is one of the book’s biggest testaments to Rice’s talent as a writer. She’s got all the elements of your typical rich, appearance-obsessed housewife, but without being a cliché; Rice rounds out the stereotypical characteristics with other traits that show the complexity of the mother’s character. Her positive attributes are pronounced, as are her flaws and vulnerabilities. She’s surprisingly tender at times, shockingly fragile at others. I’d happily read an entire book about Greg’s mom, just to learn more about what makes her tick.

Something else I liked about Alice is that Rice does a great job of keeping you guessing up until the end. Given how distant Greg is, you get the feeling that you’re missing pieces of the narrative, or at least pieces of what you should know about his life. There are his frequent allusions to the unnamed “Them,” as well as hints about something that happened to his sister at some place called Finner’s Island. Interspersed with Greg’s narration to Alice are transcripts of worrisome interviews with Greg’s family, which build a sense of mystery and anticipation, giving you the impression that the story’s leading up to something big.

My biggest rub with Alice and the Fly is its bleakness. I get that novels can’t – and shouldn’t – be rainbows and sunshine all the time, but the ugliness and grimness in this particular book were oppressive and unrelenting. There’s little to no brightness to mitigate the awfulness, and because of how distant Greg is, you can’t even turn to him for comfort or solidarity.

This bleakness, coupled with how hard it was for me to connect with Greg, made me hesitate before I finally gave Alice and the Fly a 4-star rating. To be perfectly honest, I don’t see myself ever rereading this book, and I admit I’d be happy to put it behind me. That said, I can’t deny that it’s fantastically plotted and written. The story is admirably crafted by a very talented author, and I did not see the ending coming (I’m always pleased when a book can surprise me that way). My suggestion is that if you’re at all intrigued by my review of Alice and the Fly, you should give the book a shot. It may not make you feel good, but it will keep you thinking about its characters and plot long after you put it back on the shelf.

Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Blue Tide by Jenna-Lynne Duncan

Blue Tide
Jenna-Lynne Duncan
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: January 9th 2017
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Young Adult

An award-winning YA adventure-packed romance steeped in Middle Eastern culture and set in the Asian Pacific amongst dangerous oceans and tropical islands.

Seventeen-year-old refugee Lux plots her escape from the island where her family is stranded, denying that her home was lost in the Floods. Lux is determined to get her old life back by any means possible. But before her feet even leave the sand, she’s taken hostage by a vengeance-driven pirate nearly as young as she is.

Her capture is the key to his freedom…

Captain Draven’s scarf veils more than his face. Underneath, he struggles between morality and survival. When Lux sees deeper into his motivations, she’s torn. She can commit mutiny to escape to a home that may no longer exist, or she can try to help Draven escape the clutches of the person responsible for the deaths of half the world. Staying would mean entrusting her life to a pirate. Helping Draven would mean losing her heart to one.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

“You will help him, if it’s the last thing you do.”

He had to be bluffing. Lifting my chin, I met his icy gaze straight on. “You can threaten my life, but there is nothing more you can take from me that you haven’t already.”

“Oh, really?”

He stepped forward, towering over me. Wow, he was tall. I resisted every instinct to cower or curl into a small ball. His hand shot out so quickly, I hardly felt the pull around my neck. My hands flew to my chest. My necklace!

The captain held up the chain, his eyes wide with victory. It was clear he was waiting for a reaction, but, except for that first jolt of surprise, I was paralyzed.

Everything fell silent except the slap of waves against the hull and the drum of his boots as he walked to the railing. I clutched my arms to my chest. My heart sped up so fast I couldn’t tell if it was still beating. He held his hand over the side of the ship. The back of my throat ached with a pain so great I thought it would tear out.

“Stop!” One hand still clutched my chest, the other reached out toward the necklace.

“Still think I have nothing I can take from you? There is always something, Princess.”

Desperation replaced all courage. “Please stop. I can help him.”

He shrugged.

“Wait!”

He opened his palm, one finger at a time. The gold chain slid down, dipping closer to the waters below.

“Please, I’ll do anything!” I pressed my fists to the sides of my head.

He drew his fingers in, closing them around the chain. The necklace dangled safely.

I dropped my arms in relief. “Thank—”

With one slow, deliberate move, he opened his palm.

The chain slipped through his fingers.

“No,” I cried, running to the railing. My necklace had disappeared into the roaring waters below. Lost forever.

I choked on the air I strove to inhale. “That was… that was the only thing…” The sound of my heartbeat thrashed in my ears before every emotion was washed away. Every muscle in my body tightened and my eyes twitched as they narrowed. I turned mechanically to face the heartless brute. My face expressionless, my feelings numbed. He would pay for what he’d done.

“You are in no position to negotiate. Make no more requests or the next thing I drop in the water will be prisoners. One. By. One.” He dictated to me without one ounce of regret for what he’d just done. Turning just as easily, he shouted orders behind him. “Ahmed, bring her.”

 

Author Bio:

Jenna-Lynne Duncan likes to write heart-stopping, page-turning, haunting romance in all YA genres. Her current Young Adult releases are titled Hurricane, Tempest, and Aftermath (Divertir Publishing) and the forthcoming BLUE TIDE (Winter, 2017). Jenna graduated with degrees in Middle Eastern Studies, Political Science, and International Studies. BLUE TIDE was the recent winner of RWA’s Romancing the Lake contest. Besides writing, she loves traveling and children. Preferably together. She welcomes readers to contact her on social media or at JennaLynneDuncan@gmail.com.

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Review: Dead and Breakfast by Kimberly G. Giarratano

Dead and Breakfast Book Cover Dead and Breakfast
Kimberly G. Giarratano

Despite living in Key West his whole life, 18-year-old Liam Breyer is a skeptic of the supernatural until a vengeful spirit, murdered fifty years ago, nearly drowns him in a swimming pool. Luckily help arrives in the form of pretty — albeit homesick — ghost whisperer Autumn Abernathy, whose newly-divorced mom has dragged her to the island to live and work at the Cayo Hueso, a haunted bed and breakfast.

Although they initially mistrust each other, Autumn and Liam team up to solve the decades-old mystery. But on an island where every third resident is a ghost, dealing with an unstable spirit has deadly consequences. If Liam and Autumn don’t unmask the killer soon, they’re likely to become Key West’s latest haunted attraction.

Review:

(Actual rating: 2.5 stars)

A free ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After finishing Dead and Breakfast, I confess to feeling a little underwhelmed. The novel started off strong, with intergenerational drama and a vengeful, violent ghost, but it was ultimately undermined by instalove, lackluster characters, and a way too convenient ending.

For the first several chapters, Dead and Breakfast does well. The action begins when Autumn Abernathy, one of the novel’s two protagonists, relocates to Key West with her divorcee mother to manage the Cayo Hueso Bed and Breakfast. Autumn, who has always been able to see and communicate with ghosts, soon discovers that the Cayo is inhabited by the spirit of a young Hispanic girl murdered in the 1950s.

The Cayo’s spooky resident isn’t your friendly Caspar-like ghost – she’s out for blood, and she’s fixated on Liam Breyer, the cute young handyman who does odd jobs around the bed and breakfast. Autumn and Liam join forces to try to resolve the ghost’s unfinished business before she ends up harming them and/or destroying the Cayo.

Dead and Breakfast will feel pretty familiar to those who’ve read Giarratano’s other works to date, which also focus on girls who can speak to ghosts and must try to discover how they died. One thing that differentiates this book from the others, though, is that the ghost in question is a badass. She’s not content to sit back and wait while Autumn investigates; she takes matters into her own hands in whatever ways she can, and she isn’t afraid to possess people or cause them harm. An aggressive, pissed off, violent ghost was a nice way for Giarratano to change things up.

Another thing I enjoyed about Dead and Breakfast was the setting. After reading this book, I’m dying to take a trip to Key West. The atmosphere, food, music, and culture seem like a lot of fun, and I’d love to attend a street festival, take a midnight ghost tour, or eat seafood from a roadside stand. I will say, though – for a book that’s set in one of the most haunted cities in America, featuring a B&B whose main attraction is supposed to be its spooky tenants, I expected to see a lot more ghosts than I did. There were only two, and that was kind of disappointing.

One of my biggest complaints about Dead and Breakfast was the romance. I didn’t mind the attraction that formed between Autumn and Liam, but the depth of it wasn’t realistic. I found it hard to believe that they’d developed such an all-consuming relationship in such a short time, falling so deeply in love that they were willing to sacrifice their goals and drastically alter their life plans. It felt out of character and majorly detracted from the book. Certain interactions felt melodramatic, too, like [START SPOILER]Liam’s drinking and his temper tantrum about Autumn leaving for college[END SPOILER].

This, plus the fact that the book wrapped up far too neatly (it was super unrealistic and didn’t do justice to the story or the characters) prevented me from being able to give Dead and Breakfast as high a rating as I originally anticipated. That said, I still have high hopes for the next Cayo Hueso Mystery book. Maybe I’ll get more of those ghosts I wanted as the series continues!

2016 End of Year Book Survey

2016 End of Year Book SurveyHappy 2017, my friends! It’s the start of a brand new year, and you know what that means – it’s time for the End of Year Book Survey! Founded by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, the survey is a fun way to take one last, fond look at the previous year. Everyone is welcome to participate, so feel free to link up on Jamie’s blog!

2016 Reading Stats

Number of books you read? I read 83 books and listened to 24 audiobooks.

Number of re-reads? I reread ALL the time; 20 of the books I mentioned above were rereads.

Genre you read the most from? I don’t really keep track of genres much, but I suspect fantasy.

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2016? Kings Rising, the final book in C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy

The Raven King on a bench at Ladew Topiary GardensBook you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t? The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (though it pains me to admit it)

Most surprising book you read in 2016? The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen; I didn’t see that ending coming.

Book you “pushed” the most people to read in 2016? The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown (read my review of the first book here)

Best series you started in 2016? C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy

Best sequel in 2016? A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Best series ender of 2016? Morning Star by Pierce Brown – it was everything I wanted and more!

Favorite new author(s) you discovered in 2016? Jennifer Niven – I read All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe and LOVED them.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward; I don’t typically read adult fiction, especially vampire erotica, and I wasn’t a fan of the rest of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but this particular book was surprisingly good.

FavoriteTimekeeper by Tara Sim cover of a book you read in 2016? Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to re-read next year? Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Most memorable character of 2016? Laurent from C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy

Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2016? If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – it was amazing and deserved all of the hype.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2016? Only the people you love can scare you witless enough for true courage.” – The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (read my review here)

Shortest and longest book you read in 2016? American Ballerina by Nancy Lorenz (shortest) and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (longest)

Book that shocked you the most? The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater almost got thrown across the room at one point, which is a pretty good indication of how surprised I was by one of the plot twists.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski with bouquet of lilies and rosesMost beautifully written book read in 2016? The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

One true pairing of the year? I will ship Laurent and Damen, from the Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat, until the day I die.

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year? Temeraire and Laurence from His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novak

Favorite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read previously? Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure? This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016? The Fetch from Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling trilogy

Best 2016 debut you read? Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read last year? The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (read my review here)

Book cover for Why We Came To The City by Kristopher JansmaBook that made you cry or nearly cry in 2016? Shifter by Alma Alexander (read my review here) and Why We Came To The City by Kristopher Jansma (read my review here)

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read? The whimsy and nonsense in Heartless by Marissa Meyer were delightful – and so were the delicious food descriptions.

Hidden gem of the year? The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

Book that crushed your soul? Alice and the Fly by James Rice

Book that made you the most mad? I wouldn’t say it made me mad, necessarily, but I lost patience with Gena Showalter’s Firstlife pretty quickly.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016? I participated in the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon this year and discovered a ton of great blogs, including Reader Rayna, Alexa Loves Books, and Book Scents. Tashapolis is another great blog I found outside of the Love-a-Thon.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? So, uh…I just looked at my stats and realized I only wrote nine reviews in 2016. (Oops. Gotta do better than that in 2017!) Of those nine, I’d say my favorite was of The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors (read my review here).

Angela's photo with Pierce Brown and Morning StarBest event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? I got to meet Pierce Brown and it was amazing!!! My husband and I drove to New York last January for Brown’s Morning Star signing/Q&A session at Barnes & Noble. It was a surprisingly intimate gathering – not overly crowded – and was a fantastic experience.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016? I started receiving solicitations for book reviews/promotions from major publishers in 2016, which was super exciting!

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life in 2016? I got promoted to Sr. Analyst at work in 2016, and as proud as I am of this accomplishment, it’s definitely required me to dig deeper professionally. The work is harder, the expectations are higher, and I’ve been putting more hours and energy into my job. This has made it really difficult to find an appropriate balance for work and my personal life, and my blogging has taken a hit. I’m hoping I’ll learn to juggle everything better as 2017 progresses.

Most popular post in 2016 on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)? My review of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall (read my review here) was my most popular post, even though I wrote it in 2015. The most popular post that I wrote in 2016 was my review of Why We Came to the City (read my review here).

Post you wished got a little more love? I was really excited about my Valentine’s Day post on 10 Messy, Unconventional, Thought-Provoking Romances, but it didn’t get as many views as I expected/hoped.

Cold As Ice: A Snowmageddon Book ListBest discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? I’m actually quite proud of all the non-review posts I did in 2016! I tried really hard to be creative and original, and I came up with a lot of ideas that I thought were pretty good. Here are my top three:

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I finally started watching the Outlander TV series on Starz, which is based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, and I am ADDICTED. I follow the actors on Twitter, have watched/read countless interviews, and started reading the books that inspired the show. I am ravenously awaiting Season 3, which should come out this year!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I participated in the Retelling Challenge hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I read nine retellings, not as many as I originally anticipated, but still not too shabby.

Looking Ahead

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer with sleeping coonhoundOne book you didn’t get to in 2016 but will be your number 1 priority in 2017? I received a review copy of David Dyer’s The Midnight Watch from St. Martin’s Press, but I haven’t finished reading it yet. It’s about the sinking of The Titanic, and it’s going to be my top priority this year.

Book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut, non-sequel)? The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

2017 debut you are most anticipating? Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2017? The Gauntlet by Megan Shepherd

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2017? I’m way behind on writing reviews for ARCs that I received in 2016 and need to catch up. I’d also like to be able to dedicate more time to blogging in general.

2017 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone? I haven’t started it yet, but I’m excited to read my ARC of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, which will be published in March 2017.

10 Fictional Relatives to Spend Thanksgiving With

10 Fictional Relatives to Spend Thanksgiving WithHappy Thanksgiving, everybody! For those of us living in the U.S., today’s the day we take time to reflect on the things we’re grateful for. This usually involves gathering together with our family members and gorging ourselves on turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole until we came barely move.

In my experience, the pleasantness of Thanksgiving has a lot to do with how you get along with your family. Given the amount of time you’ll likely be spending with them around the dinner table, the holiday can either be a lot of fun, or a lot of trouble. I’m blessed with great relatives, including awesome in-laws, but I’ve heard stories of holidays where drama, awkwardness, and family feuds reign. If you’re one of those folks whose family feasts leave something to be desired, don’t despair! I’ve put together a list of superior new relatives you can spend Thanksgiving with, at least in the pages of a book.

The Parents

Book cover for What You Left Behind by Jessica VerdiMom: As far as parents go, Ryden’s mother in What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi is pretty fantastic. Ryden’s a teen dad who’s grieving for his late girlfriend and trying to raise a baby on his own, and his mom is the pillar of strength that keeps him together. She’s a strong woman who’s super loving and supportive, and even though she helps Ryden she also sets clear boundaries for what she will and won’t do so he learns to take responsibility for his own life. .

Book cover for Unspoken by Sarah Rees BrennanDad: Jon Glass, Kami’s dad in The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan, is my favorite fictional father. Jon is just your regular guy, but he bravely steps up to protect his family and defend his town when needed. Not only is Jon courageous, he’s absolutely hilarious as well. He’s got a ton of humorously snappy one-liners, and his banter with Kami and her friends is funny enough to make me giggle-snort.

The Siblings

Book cover for How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten MillerBrother: I always thought it’d be neat to have a cool older brother to alternately tease and look after me. If I had to choose the ultimate big bro, it would be Flick from Kristen Miller’s novel How to Lead a Life of Crime. At heart he’s a good guy, one who’s willing to stick his neck out to help people, but he’s also a big, tough hard-ass who has no problem beating the crap out of people if they deserve it. I’m pretty sure he’d be a lot of fun as a sibling, with the added benefit of being able to scare the hell out of bullies or douchey exes if need be.

Book cover for Bloody Jack by L. A. MeyerSister: As my all-time favorite literary heroine, Jacky Faber, from L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack series, is my obvious pick for fictional sister. No one knows how to have a good time like Jacky – she’s adventurous and daring, always making friends and getting into trouble. I can imagine her deflecting potential familial tension by performing one of her song-and-dance routines (probably on top of the table) or telling tales of her exploits at sea .

The Grandparents

Book cover for The One Thing by Marci Lyn CurtisGrandpa: Gramps from The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis is a marvelously grouchy, cantankerous, but ultimately loving grandfather, and I think he’d make a great addition to any Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, he’d probably grumble about “kids today” and make comments under his breath about the new cranberry sauce recipe your mother experimented with this year, but you’d know that underneath all the grouchiness, he still loves his family very much.

Book cover for A Long Way From Chicago by Richard PeckGrandma: Grandma Dowdel, from A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck, is tough, gruff, and not afraid to play tricks on people in order to get her way or teach someone a lesson. She stretches the truth, wields a shotgun…and is ultimately a big softie, though she’d never admit it. She’s always doing her best to help people, even if it means employing stealth and bending the law to do so. She’s definitely someone I’d want by my side on Thanksgiving.

The Extended Family

Book cover for The Trolls by Polly HorvathAunt: As a kid I loved reading The Trolls by Polly Horvath, mostly due to the character of Aunt Sally. Eccentric, magnanimous, and sporting a magnificent beehive hairdo, there’s never a dull moment when Aunt Sally’s around. She has a way of making of making the ordinary extraordinary, and best of all, she tells the most exceptional stories.

Book cover for The Princess Bride by William GoldmanUncle: We’ve all got that one uncle who has a little too much to drink at family gatherings and starts reminiscing about his glory days. What better than for that uncle to be Inigo Montoya from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride? I feel like he’d be a blast, recounting stories from the good old days to his nieces and nephews for the millionth time (“And then I said to the six-fingered man, ‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!’”) and knocking over lamps in the family room while re-enacting one of his epic sword fights.

Book cover for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. RowlingCousins: What family dinner wouldn’t be improved with two pranksters like Fred and George Weasley, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, as your cousins? Think of all the hilarity they could cause, slipping Fainting Fancies into the turkey, setting off Wildfire Whiz-Bangs during dessert, or releasing magical creatures into the dining room. Sure, the rest of the family might get a little peeved by their antics, but at least you’d know your holidays would never be dull.

There you have it – my hand-picked list of relatives to share Thanksgiving with! Which literary relatives do you wish you could invite over for the holidays? Let me know in the comments!