Thursday Quotables: The Sun Is Also A Star

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

sun-is-also-a-star

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
(published 2016)

There was so much lovely writing in this new YA novel. Here’s a little snippet:

“You can’t really be falling for me,” she says, quieter now. Her voice is somewhere between distress and disbelief.

Again I don’t have anything to say. Even I’m surprised by how much I’ve been feeling for her all day. The thing about falling is you don’t have any control on your way down.

Check out my review of this new release!

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Shelf Control #61: The Borrower

Shelves final

Welcome to the newest weekly feature here at Bookshelf Fantasies… Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is all about the books we want to read — and already own! Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, sitting right there on our shelves and e-readers.

Want to join in? See the guidelines and linky at the bottom of the post, and jump on board! Let’s take control of our shelves!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

My Shelf Control pick this week is:

the-borrowerTitle: The Borrower
Author: Rebecca Makkai
Published: 2011
Length: 324 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road.

Lucy Hull, a young children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten- year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?

How I got it:

I bought it.

When I got it:

In 2014, when Rebecca Makkai’s more recent novel, The Hundred-Year House, was released

Why I want to read it:

I read reviews of The Hundred-Year House and thought it sounds like something I’d enjoy. When I looked up the author on Goodreads, I saw that a few of my reliable book friends had very positive reviews of The Borrower too… so I bought them both! I always love books about books and books about librarians, so The Borrower seems like a definite win for me.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link below!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and have fun!

For more on why I’ve started Shelf Control, check out my introductory post here, or read all about my out-of-control book inventory, here.

And if you’d like to post a Shelf Control button on your own blog, here’s an image to download (with my gratitude, of course!):

Shelf Control

The Monday Check-In ~ 11/28/2016

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read last week?

04-warleggansun-is-also-a-starfantastic-beasts

I read some great books — but just haven’t been in the mood to sit down and write reviews for all of them. But here’s a quick look at my past week:

Warleggan by Winston Graham: Book #4 of the fabulous Poldark series, which I read just in time for the season finale of the PBS show. I’d planned to only read enough of the series to keep up with the show… but now I’m dying to know what happens next.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon: This YA novel is sweet, fast-paced, and deeply emotional, as we spend one fateful day with two 17-year-olds who meet, fall in love, and then are forced to part. Definitely recommended. My review is here.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J. K. Rowling: I read this after seeing the movie, and now I need to see the movie again!

Pop culture goodness:

There’s nothing like Thanksgiving week for seeing movies — my kids and I saw two:

fantastic-beasts

… and …

moana

We loved them both!

Fresh Catch:

All sorts of goodies!

I caved and bought myself the next two books in the Poldark series:

05-the-black-moon 06-the-four-swans

The Outlander novella Virgins was released in the UK as a slim hardcover (available in the US as an e-book or part of an anthology only). Naturally, I decided I deserved a present — from me to me.

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To top it all off, the library’s used bookstore had a Thanksgiving week sale for members, and I just couldn’t stay away.

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What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 forever-interrupted

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I’ve only read the first couple of chapters, which are HEART-BREAKING. I hope the whole thing won’t be this sad. I don’t think I can stand to have puffy eyes all week!

Now playing via audiobook:

man-called-ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: I started this one last week, and should be finished by the end of this week. Enjoyable, although somehow it feels very familiar.

Ongoing reads:

MOBYFarewell to Arms 2

My ongoing reads with my book group (2 chapters per week of each):

  • Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

So many books, so little time…

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Book Review: The Sun Is Also A Star

sun-is-also-a-star

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This second novel by the author of Everything, Everything (review) lives up to expectations for great, engaging writing and unconventional teen characters. The Sun Is Also A Star is a “one special day” kind of novel — you know the type I mean: The two main characters are thrown together unexpectedly, and the entire storyline shows the trajectory of these two strangers becoming much, much more over the course of one unforgettable day.

The twist here is that the day should have been a totally crappy one for both characters. Natasha is making a last-ditch effort to keep from being deported back to her native Jamaica, after living in New York since the age of eight. Daniel is heading off to a college admission interview, following his parents’ carefully laid-out plans for him to attend Yale and become a doctor, despite the fact that his real passion is for poetry. When Natasha and Daniel meet, there’s instant chemisty, and the two bond and connect in all sorts of earth-shattering ways, even though the clock is ticking and there’s almost no chance that they’ll have more than just this one day.

I liked the story very much, although I found the little side stories (the lawyer having an affair with the paralegal, the security guard on the verge of suicide, and more) to be distracting, rather than enhancing the story. On top of that, the entire premise requires a big leap of faith, particularly if we’re to believe that Natasha would have the emotional bandwidth to even consider getting to know Daniel on what’s likely her last day in the country. Still, I suppose the point is to show the unintended consequences of all the chance occurrences that occur each day — is it random, or is it fate? Natasha is scientific, and Daniel is romantic, but by the end of the day, they do find common ground and understanding.

Bonus points to the author for the diversity of her cast of characters and the diversity of the neighborhoods and economic statuses shown throughout the story. It’s refreshing to read a love story where the main characters don’t fit easily into typical cookie cutter profiles.

The Sun Is Also A Star is an emotionally rich story, and if  you can buy into the idea of a girl who’s about to be deported also having time to ride the subway all over Manhattan and beyond with the cute boy who just stumbled into her life… well, then you’ll certainly enjoy this book.

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The details:

Title: The Sun Is Also A Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: November 1, 2016
Length: 344 pages
Genre: Young adult contemporary fiction
Source: Library

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Thursday Quotables: Thanksgiving

thanksgiving
Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

Reblogging my Thanksgiving Thursday Quotables from last year, since I really don’t think I can do better than celebrating with Buffy!

best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1best-thanksgiving-clipart-black-and-white-1

 In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d depart book-world for this week’s Thursday Quotables post and turn instead to one of my very favorite Thanksgiving moments, the “Pangs” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

pangs

Willow: Buffy, earlier you agreed with me about Thanksgiving. It’s a sham. It’s all about death

Buffy: It *is* a sham. But it’s a sham with yams. It’s a yam sham.

Willow: You’re not gonna jokey-rhyme your way out of this one.

pangs 2

Giles – “…It’s very common for Indian spirits to change to animal form.”
Buffy – “Yeah, well it’s plenty uncommon for me to freeze up during a fight. I mean, I had the guy, I was ready for the takedown and I stopped. And ‘Native American’.”
Giles – “Sorry?”
Buffy – “We don’t say ‘Indian’.”
Giles – “Oh, right. Yes, yes. Um, always behind on the terms. Still trying not to refer to you lot as ‘Bloody Colonials’.”

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving, filled with friends, family, laughter… and pie.

pangs3

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Shelf Control #60: Little, Big

Shelves final

Welcome to the newest weekly feature here at Bookshelf Fantasies… Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is all about the books we want to read — and already own! Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, sitting right there on our shelves and e-readers.

Want to join in? See the guidelines and linky at the bottom of the post, and jump on board! Let’s take control of our shelves!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

My Shelf Control pick this week is:

little bigTitle: Little, Big
Author: John Crowley
Published: 1981
Length: 538 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

John Crowley’s masterful Little, Big is the epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood—not found on any map—to marry Daily Alice Drinkwater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all. It is a wonder.

How I got it:

I bought a copy, probably from Amazon.

When I got it:

At least 5 or 6 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

A good friend insisted that I absolutely HAD to read this book. It was probably soon after Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell came out, now that I think about it, and she was convinced that this book would be right up my alley too. I love the sound of it, and I know it’s supposed to be wonderful… so why haven’t I read it yet? No idea… but I’ve held onto it all this time, and I’m determined that I will read it eventually!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link below!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and have fun!

For more on why I’ve started Shelf Control, check out my introductory post here, or read all about my out-of-control book inventory, here.

And if you’d like to post a Shelf Control button on your own blog, here’s an image to download (with my gratitude, of course!):

Shelf Control

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The Monday Check-In ~ 11/21/2016

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read last week?

good-morning-midnightfuzzy-nation03-jeremy-poldark

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton: Done! My review is here.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi: I finished the audiobook, and loved it. My review is here.

Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham: Continuing onward with the terrific Poldark series. This is book #3, which corresponds to the first half of season 2 of the TV series. Speaking of which…

Pop culture goodness:

Last week’s Poldark episode (season 2, episode 7) was very upsetting to fans… and yet this closing moment gave me a reason to cheer:

slap

Fresh Catch:

As usual, all four library hold books arrived at once. I guess I know what’ll be on the top of my TBR pile for the next few weeks.

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What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:
 04-warleggan

Warleggan by Winston Graham: Continuing my Poldark obsession with book #4 in the series. I’m almost caught up with the TV show, and then I’ll probably take a bit of a break before going any further.

Now playing via audiobook:

man-called-ovegrand-sophyone-sweet-moment

What’s next? I’ve just finished Fuzzy Nation, which means I’ll need to start a new audiobook during my Monday morning commute. Top contenders for this week’s listen are:

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • The Grand Sophie by Georgette Heyer
  • One Sweet Moment by Maggie Craig

Any recommendations?

Ongoing reads:

To be honest, I’m teetering on the verge of quitting one of these. A Farewell To Arms just isn’t cutting it for me — although maybe it’s because I’m reading only two chapters per week. Still, it’s becoming a drag, and I’m not sure I want to continue.

MOBYFarewell to Arms 2

Anway, as of now, my ongoing reads with my book group (2 chapters per week of each):

  • Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

And even though I know I’m overdoing things, I’m considering starting a new classic via Serial Reader as well. Right now, I’m leaning toward Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, but I think I’ll wait until after Thanksgiving before committing.

So many books, so little time…

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Audiobook Review: Fuzzy Nation

fuzzy-nation

Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.

 

I’ve been on a roll with John Scalzi audiobooks lately, and I’m happy to report that Fuzzy Nation is another A+ hit. Fast-moving plot, great dialogue, intricate world-building, and a wickedly sharp sense of humor — Fuzzy Nation has everything I look for when I’m in the mood for a lighter but no less engaging audiobook.

Main character Jack Holloway fits the lovable rogue profile of the leads in other Scalzi books. He’s a loner, has no regard for authority, is seemingly out only for himself, but he’s a rascal with a heart of gold. He may as well be wearing an “I Aim To Misbehave” t-shirt. Yeah, he’s that kind of hero.

As for the plot, take one resource-rich planet, add in some exploitative, money-hungry corporate 1%-ers, and mix in the aforementioned lovable rogue, and you’ve got conflict galore. Jack’s initial goal was to score a billion-dollar payday for himself through the discovery of an incredibly rich mining seam, but once he gets to know the Fuzzies, and then involves his biologist ex-girlfriend in studying them, things get a whole lot more complicated.

Scalzi’s characters are full-blown people with vivid personalities, and narrator extraordinaire Wil Wheaton makes them glow. Wheaton is fantastic with both the rapid-fire wise-cracking and super quick courtroom confrontations. His portrayal of Jack lets us see all sides of him — the compassionate companion to Carl the dog (an important character in his own right), the disillusioned mining contractor looking for a huge find, and the outraged friend of a group of fuzzies who need his help if they’re going to survive.

Fuzzy Nation is a reimagining of the classic sci-fi story Little Fuzzy, written by H. Beam Piper and published in 1962. I’ve never read the original, but it’s not necessary in order to enjoy Fuzzy Nation, although I’m curious enough now to want to check it out.

Fuzzy Nation was a truly enjoyable way to spend my commutes this past week. The story is lots of fun, and while the good guys/bad guys dynamic has shades of grey, it definitely gives us people to cheer for, and even tugged at my heartstrings a time or two. Between terrific writing and excellent narration, the audiobook is a perfect way to experience this story.

Like I said, I’ve been on a Scalzi roll lately. To see more of my reviews of works by this author, check out these links:

Redshirts
Lock In
Agent To The Stars

The Android’s Dream
The Dispatcher

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The details:

Title: Fuzzy Nation
Author: John Scalzi
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: 2011
Audiobook length: 7 hours, 18 minutes
Printed book length: 303 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Purchased

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Book Review: Good Morning, Midnight

good-morning-midnight

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.

At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success, but when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crew mates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.

As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives?

Good Morning, Midnight is a melancholy, introspective novel, with moments of great beauty. And yet, it doesn’t quite succeed — or at least, not for me.

The set-up is interesting: An older man who chooses to remain in his isolated Arctic environment when all others evacuate, knowing that he may not have another opportunity to leave, and the crew of a space mission returning to their home planet with no idea of what awaits them. The book deals with the extremes of loneliness: What does it mean to be the last humans? How does existing have meaning when there likely is no possibility of a future? What does it mean to live without connection to others?

While the themes are interesting, the plot is a bit thin. This is a book about what happens within the souls of people in extreme situations; it’s not a typical post-apocalyptic adventure story. And yet, setting up a plot like this without offering explanation left me feeling very frustrated. Granted, the characters themselves did not get any answers, but I wanted to at least know the cause.

As the astronauts approach Earth orbit, they observe that the planet looks normal — no obliterating dust clouds, no evidence of massive destruction — and yet there’s the eerie fact that the night side of the globe has none of the twinkling lights they’d expect to see. The planet has gone dark, and no one responds to their attempts at communication. The mysterious catastrophe is not the point of the story, but rather what’s left for those who remain, but I simply couldn’t be satisfied without knowing more.

An additional negative for me is the revelation of a connection at the end of the book that’s entirely too coincidental for my taste. It makes the parallel storylines a bit too neat, and is both unnecessary and unbelievable.

Good Morning, Midnight didn’t fully engage my interest, and there are some serious flaws in the approach to the story. I was much more engaged by the idea of the story and how it might go than by the actual execution. Perhaps I expected more science fiction based on the description, and felt let down to discover that the sci-fi set-up is merely a frame for a story that’s very much a look at people’s interiors.

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The details:

Title: Good Morning, Midnight
Author: Lily Brooks-Dalton
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: August 9, 2016
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Library

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Thursday Quotables: Good Morning, Midnight

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

good-morning-midnight

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
(published 2016)

I just finished this unusual book, which tells the story of a lone astromoner at the North Pole and the crew of a spaceship returning from exploring Jupiter, all of whom appear to be the last remaining human beings after an unknown event leaves them unable to communicate with anyone else. I liked this passage about the older man’s view of the world around him:

There was a time when the changes in the sky meant more to him than the ground beneath his feet, but not right then. He had been looking up for long enough; it felt good to think of the dirt instead, to imagine the life that would soon return to the land.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!