Shelf Control: Taking Stock

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.pngA question came up last week as a comment on a Shelf Control post:

Of the 152 books I’ve highlighted so far in my Shelf Control feature, how many have I actually read?

Wow. That is a BIG question.

Shelf Control has been a way to force myself to go back, again and again, to my overflowing bookshelves and take a look at what’s already there. I pick up new books all the time, usually through Kindle deals or at library sales or at used book stores, but still, the fact remains that I buy more and more books when I already have enough unread books on my shelves to keep me busy for years!

So, rather than feature another Shelf Control book this week, I thought I’d take stock and try to answer the question. Luckily, I organize Shelf Control (as well as so much else in my life) through the glory of spreadsheets, so it’s not that hard to figure out.

According to my worksheet:

Total Shelf Control books so far: 152
Number of Shelf Control books I’ve read since posting about them: 14
Number of Shelf Control books donated or otherwise discarded: 9
Number of Shelf Control books that I doubt I’ll ever read (I still have them, but they may be next to go, whenever I do another shelf purge): 12

Which means:

Of the books I’ve featured, I have…

117 books still to read! 

Will I read them? I hope so! I bought them for a reason… and I still find them interesting enough to hold on to. It’s always hard to strike a balance between new books, ARCs, library books, and books on the shelves, but sooner or later, I do end up going back to books I already own. Of the 14 featured Shelf Control books that I’ve actually read, there was only one that I’d consider a dud. As for the others, I’ve read a classic I’ve always meant to read, gotten hooked on series that I’d been curious about, and have read some amazing fiction that moved me and entertained me. I call that a win!

Maybe I’ll do one of these “taking stock” posts once a year (or more often) to see where I stand. Meanwhile, pardon the interruption in my regular schedule! Next week, I’ll be back with yet another book from my shelves… and hopefully, I’ll actually read it before too much time goes by.

If you wrote a Shelf Control post this week, don’t forget to share your link!

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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 in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To.

I could easily come up with way more than 10… but I’ll stick to ten books I bought in 2018 but still haven’t read:

1) Becoming by Michele Obama

2) Someday by David Levithan

3) There There by Tommy Orange

4) A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

5) The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

6) Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

7) Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow

8) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

9) Witchmark by C. L. Polk

10) The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Have you read any of these? What books from 2018 do you still need to read?

Please share your thoughts… and if you have a TTT post, please share your link!

Book Review: The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

 

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.

The Wartime Sisters is the second novel by Lynda Cohen Loigman, whose debut novel The Two-Family House came out in 2016 (reviewed here). Both books focus on women’s lives during the 20th century, and both examine the intricate relationships between sisters, friends, and the people who come into their lives.

In The Wartime Sisters, Millie and Ruth couldn’t be more different. Ruth is three years older than Millie, and spends her entire childhood and adolescence hearing about her sister’s beauty and charm. Millie is the one their mother pins her hopes on, fantasizing about how the endless crowd of suitors will yield the perfect man to propose to Millie and make all her dreams come true. Meanwhile, Ruth grows up realizing that she’ll never be the pretty one, and resents Millie for always being the center of attention… never stopping to ask herself if Millie actually wants or enjoys the attention that comes her way.

The story flashes back and forth between the late 1930s, as the girls approach womanhood, and 1942/1943, as they settle into life at an army base in Massachusetts. We learn over time how they came to be there, and how they became so estranged from one another following their parents’ death.

Interwoven throughout their chapters on their earlier years is a nice evocation of Jewish life in Brooklyn at that time, showing the ways in which the family’s religion and culture define their world, their friends, and their approaches to life. Meanwhile, in Springfield, both Millie and Ruth form new bonds among the military wives and base workers, who represent a different but no less vibrant sort of community.

The Wartime Sisters shows the damage done to women’s souls through neglect and abuse, and also by the small and large cruelties carried out through resentment and gossip. In Springfield, we meet two additional women who fill large roles in the sisters’ new lives: Lillian, the base commander’s wife, with her own troubled childhood, is a pillar of strength and goodness amidst the turmoil; and Arietta, a motherly woman with a talent for both singing and cooking, takes Millie under her wing.

It’s sad to see the conflict between Ruth and Millie. As Ruth’s husband is sent overseas as a wartime scientist and Millie arrives, husband-less, impoverished, and burdened by secrets, it would seem that the two women finally have an opportunity to reclaim their relationship and establish a new closeness. Sadly, although Ruth offers a home to Millie, the warmth and ease that should come with it is missing. While the author lets us see why Ruth feels as she does and how her resentments built over time, it’s still hard to empathize. As far as we can see, Millie has never done anything wrong, has never set out to hurt Ruth or to undermine her. Ruth blames Millie for the incessant comparisons unkind neighbors have made all their lives, but it’s clearly just so unfair. Because of Ruth’s animosity, Millie is left to deal with their parents’ death on her own, and makes some calamitous decisions that bring about hardship and suffering. It’s hard to forgive Ruth for what she put Millie through.

In terms of the historical settings, I enjoyed learning about the Springfield Armory and the role women played in wartime readiness and production. The characters are colorful and memorable, and Arietta in particular is a delight to meet.

Overall, I found The Wartime Sisters to be moving and engaging. The story is crisp and nicely constructed, and the length means that it never feel draggy. I enjoyed the exploration of Ruth and Millie’s relationship, and despite being super annoyed with Ruth for much of the story, I thought the build-up of their history together and the explanation of all the baggage they carry with them was really effective and realistic.

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The details:

Title: The Wartime Sisters
Author: Lynda Cohen Loigman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication date: January 22, 2019
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

The Monday Check-In ~ 1/21/2019

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 during the last week?

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire: My review is here.

Roomies by Christina Lauren: My review is here.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: My review is here.

Outlander, baby!

I’m writing reaction posts for each episode of season 4. Here are the two most recent:
Episode 411, “If Not For Hope” (aired 1/13/2019) – my reaction post is here.
Episode 412, “Providence” (aired 1/20/2019) – my reaction post is here.

Season finale next week! Where did the time go?

Pop culture goodness:

The Game of Thrones binge continues! We finished season 5 this weekend. Probably my least favorite season of the entire show, but even a less than stellar season of GoT is better than most other TV out there!

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week! Amazing, right?

… although I did pick up a stack of library books, but at least I didn’t BUY any books this week!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman: I’m about halfway through this historical novel about the strained relationship between two sisters, set against the backdrop of an American military town during WWII.

Now playing via audiobook:

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro: A really interesting memoir focusing on the author’s discover in her mid-50s that her father wasn’t really her biological father. I’ve listened to about a third so far — quite intriguing.

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing reads with my book group:

  • A Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon: Continuing our journey through all of the Lord John books and stories.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: Our next classic read starts the end of January. Can’t wait!

Plus, our book of the month for January is The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. I haven’t even started yet, so I’ll be late to the discussion — but I’m hearing good things from my book group buddies so far!

So many books, so little time…

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 4, Episode 12

Season 4 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 412: “Providence”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Brianna confronts a violent figure from her past in an attempt to cope with her trauma. Roger befriends a fellow captive and endeavors to escape the Mohawk Village, while Fergus and Marsali plan a dangerous mission.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Roger suffers. Poor Roger!
  • Seriously, this episode is about 90% Roger, and I’m not complaining.
  • Roger deals with life as a Mohawk prisoner, and tortures himself over all the idiotic ways he acted in pursuit of Brianna.
  • Brianna goes to see Stephen Bonnet in prison where he awaits execution.
  • The Regulators break Murtagh out of jail.

Insta-reaction:

Roger — actor Richard Rankin — owns this episode, and kills it. Yes, other stuff happens too, but at its heart, this episode is the Roger show. Breaking it all down:

Roger has arrived at the Mohawk village in New York (and wow, that’s a long way to walk from North Carolina!) Because he fails to make it all the way through the gauntlet before collapsing, he’s informed that he remains their captive. Would he have been freed otherwise? Unclear. In any case, Roger is wounded, with his arm in a sling and all sorts of cuts and bruises on his face, and is basically put to work as a servant in the camp.

A nice Mohawk woman offers him some herbs to ease his pain, but no one else seems to want to interact with him except to yell or push him around. Eventually, he does something to piss people off (pointing and interrupting, apparently), and gets put in a leafy shack that seems to be the Mohawk equivalent of a jail cell. There, he meets Father Ferigault, a Catholic priest who the Mohawk welcomed — but he fell in love with a woman from the tribe and had a baby with her, and now he refuses to baptize the baby as the tribe wishes. He won’t baptize the baby because he considers himself a sinner, but the Mohawk see this as an insult to the tribe and have threatened to kill him unless he performs the sacrament. Roger tries to convince him to give them what they want in order to save his own life, but he refuses.

Roger finds a way to escape and starts running off through the wood, but his damned sense of honor won’t let him run when he can hear the screams of the priest, who’s being held over a fire, where he’ll slowly burn to death. He runs back to the village and hurls a cask of alcohol on the pyre, setting the priest fully on fire so he can die more quickly. The priest’s lover kisses her baby good-bye and then walks into the fire to die with him.

That’s the bulk of the episode, but additionally, we spend some time with Brianna, Lord John, Fergus and Marsali.

Fergus and the Regulators have decided to bust Murtagh out. Not really worth going into the details. Suffice to say, the jail break works, and Marsali drives the getaway horse and cart, with Murtagh hidden in the back, headed for Fraser’s Ridge.

Brianna asks Lord John to take her to WIlmington to see Stephen Bonnet. She reads Jamie’s letter to her, encouraging her to seek forgiveness rather than vengeance, for her own well-being. For Brianna, this means going to see Bonnet in prison, chained up, on the eve of his execution. She tells him about the baby, saying that her way of forgiving him is to give him the peace of knowing that some part of him will live on after his death — although she also stresses that this is HER baby, and he’ll never know a thing about Bonnet. Okay, Bree, so your point is??? I’m not a big fan of this scene, either in the book or the show. Surely there are better ways for Brianna to heal than to go and talk with her rapist, who is not the least bit repentant. And why give this man a piece of information that may come back to haunt her? Brianna believes it’s safe to tell Bonnet about the baby because he’s about to die, but this is a man who’s escaped death sentences before — and as we see at the end of the jail break, it would appear that he got away yet again.

No Jamie and Claire this episode! We get just the briefest bit of Jamie as Brianna reads his letter to her, but that’s it.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Any episode without Jamie and Claire feels incomplete to me. Let’s face it — they’re the true reasons we watch this show, and their story is always the most compelling. As in the books, as the story progresses, Roger and Brianna become much more prominent, but particularly on TV, losing Jamie and Claire screen time does not feel like a satisfying trade-off.

Lord John is always a delight. He’s such an upright, honest, and devoted man. I love how his feelings for Jamie and Claire have translated so easily into caring for and protecting Brianna. He’s the perfect gentleman, truly. And I suppose it’s a plus that his status as a Lord helps open doors for Brianna that might have otherwise been closed. Still, it feels like a needless move on Brianna’s part to travel (pregnant!) to Wilmington to confront Bonnet. Why not just practice forgiveness from a distance?

The Regulators storyline continues to be my least favorite part of the season. Just not engaging at all — give me the human drama any day. That said, here’s hoping that the jailbreak will result in Marsali, Fergus, and Murtagh settling at Fraser’s Ridge. It would be nice to see the whole family together again… but first (next week), Jamie and Claire need to find Roger!

And furthermore…

It was good to get more of a view into the Mohawk village’s life, beyond Roger getting beaten up all the time. I liked the little glimpses of children playing and families gathering. If the show is trying to break away from the stereotypes of fierce Native warriors acting inscrutably, they need to give us more of this — opportunities to understand their customs, their values, and their way of life, and not just viewing them as the mean people doing bad things to Roger.

Next week is the season finale! It’s all gone by so quickly. I know what’s coming (according to the book), but can’t wait to see the drama and excitement on the screen.

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Audiobook Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon


Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a sweet, fun young adult romance, focusing on two teens, fresh out of high school, dealing with the expectations of their Indian families while also trying to find their own way in life.

Dimple is passionate about her future as a coder, and despite her mother’s focus on finding a husband for her headstrong daughter, Dimple swears that she’s going to be laser-focused on her education and career. Rishi is devoted to his parents and is determined to make them happy, by becoming an MIT-educated engineer and settling down with a nice Indian wife.

Dimple and Rishi meet at Insomnia-con, a six-week coding competition held on the campus of San Francisco State University. Students work in pairs to develop their own  unique app, and the winning team gets a chance to work with a successful web developer, Jenny Lindt — Dimple’s idol, who is everything she aspires to be.

Things are rocky right from the start for Dimple and Rishi. He greets her as his “future wife”, and Dimple throws her iced coffee on him. Yeesh, not good. It turns out that their parents have conspired to bring them together, and while Rishi is totally on board for this, Dimple isn’t. Not only is she not on board, she’s also completely unaware — her parents didn’t share their plans with her. Dimple is furious, even more so when she learns that Rishi and she have been assigned to be partners, so she’ll be spending oodles of time with him over the next six weeks.

Once past her initial anger, Dimple starts to appreciate Rishi. He’s not a hardcore coder like she is — in fact, he doesn’t care all that much about Insomnia-con, whereas she’s been living for this opportunity. Still, realizing how important it is to Dimple, Rishi throws himself into it as well. As the summer progresses and their tech ideas take wing, a friendship blooms between Dimple and Rishi… and from friendship, attraction and romance start to bloom as well.

The characters are really engaging and likable. Even though they have very different outlooks on life, it’s clear to see that they’re both passionate in their own ways. Rishi, it turns out, is following his parentally approved path to MIT, but in his secret heart of hearts, his true calling is to become a comic book artist. Through Dimple’s eyes, we learn just how talented he is, and it’s hard to understand how he could shut off that piece of himself in order to please his parents.

The two main characters’ Indian heritage adds so much to this story, as we see the weight of family traditions and expectations, but also see the cultural aspects in everyday aspects of their lives such as clothing, food, music, and more. When Rishi and Dimple are required to compete in the Insomnia-con talent show, they choose to perform a Bollywood-inspired dance, from this video:

I felt that the inner struggles both Dimple and Rishi face were portrayed really convincingly. Dimple is completely thrown off guard by her feelings for Rishi, and desperately wants to avoid allowing romance to derail her from her career aspirations into a life more suited to her mother’s preferences. And Rishi is so afraid of letting his parents down that he refuses to even consider taking the opportunities that come his way in the art world.

On the negative side, the pacing is a bit… off. It felt as though the first three weeks of the summer took up most of the story, and then suddenly we jump to the final days of the competition. That means a lot of time is spent on the early days, and then, somewhat bizarrely, on the talent show. I didn’t quite get why a talent show was at all relevant in a coding program, except for the fact that the winners get prize money to put toward their project development. Still, there’s way too much time spent on Dimple and Rishi rehearsing their dance number, and as adorable as they are together, it didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the story.

Some of the emotional crises in the relationship felt rather hollow and immature. They each goad each other and mistrust each other in some pretty petty ways… although to be fair, they’re young, and I suppose the depiction of a turbulent first love is probably pretty realistic.

My other issue with the story is that Dimple is so focused on winning the competition that there’s not much consideration given for any of the other students involved, other than a group of “Aber-zombies” who rely on nepotism rather than talent to get ahead. Granted, Rishi came to Insomnia-con to meet Dimple, but it bugged me that they’re always referring to their project as Dimple’s, and the focus is on whether Dimple wins, not them as a team.

A note on the narration:

The dual narrators, Sneha Mathan and Vikas Adam, take turns narrating sections told from each of the characters’ perspectives. We bounce back and forth between “Rishi” and “Dimple” sections, and the narrators are great at capturing their voices, inner thoughts, and emotions — love, frustration, anger, disappointment, laughter, and more. Plus, they’re able to convey other characters, like their parents or other Insomnia-con participants, in a way that makes the story feel energetic and full of life.

Wrapping it all up:

When Dimple Met Rishi is truly a lot of fun to listen to, although the pacing issues with the story occasionally made the audiobook feel like it was dragging. Overall, though, I really enjoyed it. Dimple and Rishi are great characters with good hearts, and the storyline as a whole is engaging and hopeful, and sends some good messaging about being true to oneself and following your dream. I’ll definitely want to check out more by this author.

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The details:

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Narrated by: Sneha Mathan, Vikas Adam
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Length (print): 380 pages
Length (audiobook): 10 hours, 45 minutes
Genre: Young adult fiction
Source: Library

Take A Peek Book Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.

Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.

Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

My Thoughts:

Yet another sweet, wish-fulfillment romantic story by the amazing writing duo Christina Lauren! There’s not much of a shred of realism in the plot, but it’s oh so fun to just kick back and go with the flow.

We have Holland, mid-twenties, with an MFA that she’s not using, living a comfortable New York life (thanks to her amazing, generous uncles) — who decides that marrying her crush is the best way to help him get legal residence in the US so he can pursue his musical career. Of course, Calvin is both incredibly gorgeous and unbelievably talented, as well as being sweet, smart, and a considerate and passionate lover. Of course, Calvin shoots to instant stardom. And of course, their fake marriage turns into a real marriage, although not without the requisite trust and communication issues that plague any good contemporary romance.

It’s all good fun, and the happy ending is never in doubt. It’s an entertaining, sexy romp, and even though we know that these two crazy lovebirds will end up together, the excitement is in seeing how they get there. The book is quick and light, and despite the moments of emotional turmoil and illogical behavior, the characters are always likable (and have enough of a sense of humor to get past some super awkward situations.)

This is my 4th Christina Lauren book, and I have yet to encounter a dud! Not exactly deep reading, but great for when you need something cheery.

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The details:

Title: Roomies
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: December 5, 2017
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Library

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Book Review: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4) by Seanan McGuire

 

This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .

Every Heart a Doorway was the first book in the Wayward Children series of novellas by Seanan McGuire, and ever since reading it, I’ve been captivated by the dreamy nature of the worlds portrayed. Now, here with the 4th book in the series, In An Absent Dream, the author once again works her magic through her lyrical, otherworldly writing.

In the Wayward Children books, we meet various children and teens who discover portals to magical worlds — but each door is unique to the particular child, taking him or her to a world that (in most cases) is exactly where that child belongs. We’ve seen people go to the halls of the dead, to a world made of cakes and sugary treats, to a world of monsters and haunted moors. In each case, the children involved may choose to stay, or may find themselves thrust out unwillingly — and when they’re forced out, they may spend the rest of their lives yearning for a way to get back “home”.

In this newest book, we’re reunited with a familiar face from the first book in the series. There, we met Lundy, a teacher at the boarding school inhabited by these wayward children. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that Lundy is highly unusual and memorable, and is a favorite character for many readers of Every Heart a Doorway.

In An Absent Dream treats us to Lundy’s backstory, introducing us to her as a young child named Katherine who learns about fairness and independence and fitting in through the casual cruelty of other children. Lundy finds a door for the first time at age eight, and ends up in a world known as the Goblin Market. It’s a place of rules and absolute commitment to fairness. The most crucial rule is “always give fair value” — for every favor granted or assistance given, something of fair value must be given in return, or else a debt may be owed… and those who owe debts find themselves facing odd, disturbing changes.

As in the other Wayward Children books, the writing itself creates the magic — sometimes brooding, sometimes ethereal, sometimes menacing or full of foreboding. I simply can’t get enough of the delicious language. A few random samples:

It is an interesting thing, to trust one’s feet. The heart may yearn for adventure while the head think sensibly of home, but the feet are a mixture of the two, dipping first one way aand then the other.

They ran through the golden afternoon like dandelion seeds dancing on the wind, two little girls with all the world in front of them, a priceless treasure ready to be pillaged.

They held each other, both of them laughing and both of them weeping, and if this were a fairy tale, this is where we would leave them, the prodigal student and the unwitting instructor reunited after what should have been their final farewell. This is where we would leave them, and be glad of it, even as Lundy had long since left a girl named Katherine behind her.

Alas, that this is not a fairy tale.

These books are just too beautiful to miss. Read them, re-read them, maybe listen to the audiobooks, savor the lovely language… the Wayward Children books are not long, but they don’t need to be. In An Absent Dream and the other books in the series are must-reads. Start at the beginning and read all four!

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The details:

Title: In an Absent Dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Tor
Publication date: January 8, 2019
Length: 204 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Shelf Control #152: Swimming Home by Mary-Rose MacColl

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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Title: Swimming Home
Author: Mary-Rose MacColl
Published: 2015
Length: 432 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From the author of the international bestseller In Falling Snow. In 1925, a young woman swimmer will defy the odds to swim the English Channel–a chance to make history. 

London 1925: Fifteen-year-old Catherine Quick longs to feel once more the warm waters of her home, to strike out into the ocean off the Torres Strait Islands in Australia and swim, as she’s done since she was a child. But now, orphaned and living with her aunt Louisa in London, Catherine feels that everything she values has been stripped away from her.

Louisa, a London surgeon who fought boldly for equality for women, holds strict views on the behavior of her young niece. She wants Catherine to pursue an education, just as she herself did. Catherine is rebellious, and Louisa finds it difficult to block painful memories from her past. It takes the enigmatic American banker Manfred Lear Black to convince Louisa to bring Catherine to New York where Catherine can train to become the first woman to swim the English Channel. And finally, Louisa begins to listen to what her own heart tells her.

How and when I got it:

I bought it back in 2015, right after finishing another book by this author.

Why I want to read it:

My book group read In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl in 2015, and I was really captivated by the subject matter — women staffing a field hospital during World War I. Swimming Home sounds like yet another great woman-centric historical novel. Reading about a pioneering female swimmer really appeals to me!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

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Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018.

Looking back, I see that I spent a big chunk of my reading time in 2018 with authors already familiar (and much loved), but I did manage to try a bunch of new ones too. Here’s a selection of my favorites:

1) Kristin Hannah — loved The Great Alone! I just picked up a copy of Firefly Road to try next.

2) Christina Lauren — who would have thought I’d enjoy their contemporary romances so much?

3) Susan OrleanThe Library Book was fascinating. Must read The Orchid Thief!

4) Celeste Ng – I read Little Fires Everywhere with my book group, and am looking forward to reading Everything I Never Told You.

5) Josh MalermanUnbury Carol was so strange and wonderful. I’ve read another book and a novel by him so far in 2019, and can’t wait for his new book, Inspection, coming out this spring.

6) Madeline MillerThe Song of Achilles was beautiful. Can’t wait to read Circe with my book group this summer.

7) Jennifer Ryan – I loved The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, which was a debut novel. I hope this talented author releases another book soon — her writing is terrific!

8) Jenny Han – Got totally hooked on the Lara Jean books after watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. Should I read her other books too?

9) Neal Shusterman — how had I not heard of him before? I loved Scythe and Thunderhead, and thought Dry was pretty good as well.

10) Jasmine Guillory — yet another contemporary romance writer. I read two of her books in 2018. Between those and the Christina Lauren, maybe I need to stop saying that I don’t read romance?

Are you a fan of any of these new-to-me authors? Are there any of their works that you’d particularly recommend?

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