Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Memories

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 Bookish Memories — described by the meme host as share stories of your reading life as a child, events you’ve gone to, books that made an impression on you, noteworthy experiences with books, authors you’ve met, etc. Reminisce with me!

In no particular order, here are ten random bookish memories that have stayed with me:

1 Traveling to Phoenix, Arizona in 2014 to attend a book event with Diana Gabaldon for the release of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the 8th book in the Outlander series. I had consistently been unable to attend every one of her events in my own town, so I made the decision to travel for this one, and it was so worth it!

2. Reading with my kids! Highlights include cracking up while listening to my 3-year-old trying to recite along with Richard Scarry’s A-Z book of cars. Hilarious! Also, reading the entire Harry Potter series out loud with my son, and starting him off early (as an infant) by reading poems to him from A. A. Milne’s books.

3. My favorite childhood reading spot — I grew up in an observant Jewish household, which meant no TV or other forms of entertainment on Saturday afternoons. We had a big armchair in the living room, and I would spend hours on those afternoons curled up in it with a book.

(via Pinterest)

4. Meeting Amber Benson (Tara from Buffy!!) at a small book event at a local bookstore. She was doing a reading from a book she’d written (Death’s Daughter), and my daughter and I arrived early to browse… and met Amber while she was also browsing. We chatted, and she was so nice! (And clearly a book lover…)

5. Attending summer camp as a young teen and having copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves passed around the bunk. Between that and certain Judy Blume books, it was an eye-opening summer for a lot of us!

6. Going to a silent reading party — and enjoying silent reading in a room full of 60+ other booklovers.

7. Going to a midnight release party for Breaking Dawn and winning a trivia contest! Yes, I won a Twilight trivia contest, and I’m not (too) embarrassed about it.

8. Reading and sharing with my book group, who are just a fantastic group of readers (and are truly fantastic people in all ways).

9. Reading everywhere I go, including on some beautiful beaches and in gorgeous national parks.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

10. Sharing books, book ideas, and long, long visits to bookstores with my wonderful daughter, as a child and as an adult.

What bookish memories do you cherish?

If you wrote a TTT this week, please share your links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 11/29/2021

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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.

Life.

What a week — Thanksgiving and then Hanukkah! We had a lovely, small gathering for Thanksgiving, and had another little family gathering for the 1st night of Hanukkah last night.

My daughter was home for the week (she leaves this afternoon), and it was wonderful… although the time sped by so fast it made my head spin.

Among other fun events, we did a family theater outing over the weekend to see the touring production of My Fair Lady… it was “loverly”!

Back to regular life this week…

What did I read during the last week?

I finished two audiobooks, and loved them both:

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner: A moving, compelling contemporary novel about women’s lives and friendships. A 5-star read! My review is here.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell: I finally got around to this book, and I’m so glad I did! I finished it on Sunday, but haven’t had a chance to write up my thoughts yet. Review to follow.

Pop culture & TV:

Family streaming time! We watched half of Jungle Cruise and thought it was incredibly dumb; then watched Red Notice the next night and had fun with it. Apparently, the theme of our viewing this week was Dwayne Johnson — not a bad theme!

Fresh Catch:

Besides the long-awaited book currently in my hands, my other new books this week were:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon: Aaaaah! It’s the 9th book in the Outlander series! I started it last Tuesday, as soon as it arrived, and I’m still only at 35%. Between the holiday week and the length of the book (990 pages!!), this is going to take a while.

Now playing via audiobook:

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens: I needed a light listen this week, and this one was available for immediate download from the library. Cute so far!

Ongoing reads:

Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read, two chapters per week. I’m falling seriously behind the group at this point… hoping to catch up over the winter holiday break.

So many books, so little time…

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Audiobook Review: That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Title: That Summer
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Narrator: Sutton Foster
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: May 11, 2021
Print length: 432 pages
Audio length: 13 hours, 21 minutes
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Summer comes another timely and deliciously twisty novel of intrigue, secrets, and the transformative power of female friendship, set on beautiful Cape Cod.

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful; her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, THAT SUMMER is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.

That Summer is a beautifully crafted story about women’s lives, women’s friendship, raising daughters, and keeping secrets. It’s going to be very hard to talk about without revealing major plot points, so I’m going to go light on content and talk instead about themes and how it made me feel.

First off, though — even though I tend not to include or want to read content warnings, I do think it’s important for readers to know in advance that this book includes sexual assault as a major plotline. While it’s handled sensitively and thoughtfully, please know that if this is a subject you find triggering in fiction, then this isn’t going to be a good reading experience for you.

Onward with That Summer! I won’t go into how or why, but the chance encounter described in the synopsis is much more intentional and meaningful than Daisy knows. As the book unfolds, we learn about Daisy’s early life, her choice to marry very young rather than complete college, and how her life has been shaped by her husband’s decisions. We also get to know Diana very well, and she is not what she seems… but while the initial set-up may seem like the start of a psychological thriller, it’s instead an exploration of the turning points in a young woman’s life and how an entire trajectory can be derailed by moments of tragedy and violation.

Beyond the POV chapters told from Diana and Daisy’s perspectives, there are also chapters where the action is seen through the eyes of Beatrice, Daisy’s 14-year-old daughter. These are fascinating as well, especially as the older women reflect back on their own tumultuous teen years and how those years shaped the women they’d become.

The writing in That Summer is lovely, especially the way the author so skillfully and thoughtfully shows us each main character’s inner world and how they experience the world around them. I loved getting to know both Daisy and Diana — and this is a big achievement, as the initial set-up led me to believe that Diana, clearly hiding something and with a secret agenda, would be a sinister or unlikable character, which is absolutely not the case.

The book is very much informed by the #MeToo movement and the moments of reckoning catching up with perpetrators of sexual assault. It’s fascinating to see the characters’ reactions to the seemingly daily news coverage of one celebrity or public figure after another being exposed for their bad behaviors — including the reactions of male figures in the characters’ lives, which vary from anger to disbelief to internalized guilt.

Sutton Foster is the narrator of That Summer, and I loved listening to her voice the varied characters. The book is a pleasure to listen to, as well as to read.

As I said, I’m going to keep this short because I just don’t want to delve into the plot any further, so I’ll wrap up simply by saying that I found this book moving and important, with a story that feels current and powerful, and character voices that truly shine. Don’t miss it.

Shelf Control #295: The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

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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!

Title: The Wicked Deep
Author: Shea Earnshaw
Published: 2018
Length: 310 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition about two years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I picked up a copy of this book after reading the author’s 2019 novel, Winterwood. I loved the writing and the storytelling in that book, and was eager to read her earlier book.

As far as the plot of The Wicked Deep, I’m always up for a good witchy story, and this one sounds sinister and spooky and full of malice. Long-dead witches seeking revenge? I’m in! I really like the sound of the contemporary elements of the story, with a teen girl having to try to find a way to break the cycle. Reading the synopsis once more time as I write this post, I’m intrigued all over again!

I think this book is on my mind right now because I’m taking a look at my upcoming ARCs, and I’m planning to read the author’s next release, A History of Wild Places, in December. Here’s hoping The Wicked Deep and A History of Wild Places are both just as good as Winterwood!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

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 or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Love An Update On

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 Characters I’d Love An Update On (Where are they now that the book is over?). I did a version of this topic ages ago (here), and I’m happy to come up with a fresh list of characters whose lives I’d want to check in on!

  1. Simon & Baz (Simon Snow trilogy by Rainbow Rowell): The trilogy just ended with the 3rd book’s release this past July, but these two characters are young adults with their whole lives ahead of them, and I’d love to know what happens next for them!
  2. Jude (Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black): Jude gets a happy ending, but surely being a queen of faerie as a mortal woman can’t be easy? I’d love to see how it’s going in another few years, just to make sure she’s happy.
  3. Lara Jean Covey (To All the Boys trilogy by Jenny Han): She gets a happy ending, but I want to know how she and Peter’s relationship really works during college and beyond.
  4. Rowan (Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman): Such an unexpected turn of events in the final book! I’d love to know how it all worked out for the characters.
  5. Scarlett & Rhett (Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell): I know Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley was supposed to be the sequel, but I kind of hated it and pretend like it never happened… so I’d like to know how Scarlett and Rhett’s lives REALLY turned out. Did they go back to Tara? Did they get back together? Was tomorrow really another day?
  6. Elma and Nathaniel York (Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal): This is one where we will find out more, eventually. We left these characters newly arrived on Mars in the book that was released in 2018. Book #4 in the series is supposed to be released in 2022, and it should be picking back up with these two characters’ stories… can’t wait!
  7. Maia Drazhar (The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison): I love The Goblin Emperor so much, and would absolutely spend any amount of time reading about the years of Maia’s reign as Emperor. He’s such a fabulous character, and I want to follow the rest of his life and see how things turned out for him.
  8. Maggie Hoskie (The Sixth World books by Rebecca Roanhorse): I really liked the two books in this series and assumed there would be more… but I didn’t see anything specific online about when or if a next book would be forthcoming. In any case, I’d love to read more about Maggie, and hope we’ll get additional books eventually.
  9. Edward & Bella (Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer): Haha, I know… but I actually included these two on my previous version of this list, and the same questions hold true: How’s eternal life working out? How is it being married to someone you know you’ll be with FOREVER? How’s parenthood treating them?
  10. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen): Sure, there are tons of retellings and imagined sequels, but none by Jane Austen, so it’s not like they’re official! How did Elizabeth adjust to life at Pemberley? I’d love to know.

What characters would you most like to keep up with? Whose lives are you wondering about?

If you wrote a TTT this week, please share your links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 11/22/2021

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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.

Life.

My daughter is home for the week, and you won’t find a happier mama! I’m thrilled that she’ll be here for Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah, and even though I have to work a couple of days this week, I’m so excited to have time to spend together.

What did I read during the last week?

Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau: Sweet romance between a bakery owner and a movie star, with lots of donuts and cupcakes. My review is here.

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser: I really enjoyed this lovely story about finding new love and new beginnings. My review is here.

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander, #8) by Diana Gabaldon: Re-read for the 3rd (maybe 4th?) time, this time as part of a group re-read with my book group. We finished just in time for the new book’s release!

Pop culture & TV:

I ventured out to the movie theater to see Belfast, and I’m so happy I did. It’s a beautiful movie, and can I help it that I especially loved seeing Caitriona Balfe (star of Outlander) in it? I really hope the cast and the movie get some Oscar love.

Fresh Catch:

At the risk of proving once and for all how obsessed I am… the only new book on my mind right now is this one, coming Tuesday:

And yeah, I did also pre-order the Kindle edition so I can dive in right at midnight on Monday!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell: I’ve been intending to read this sci-fi book since it came out earlier this year. I’m glad I’m finally starting it! I’ve read about 25% so far, and I’m really liking it… but I’m going to have to pause in the middle once my copy of BEES arrives.

Now playing via audiobook:

That Summer by Jennifer Weinter: I’ve listened to about 50% so far, and while I have guesses about where the story is going, there’s a hidden agenda here that has me really intrigued. The narrator is Sutton Foster, and she’s wonderful.

Ongoing reads:

Doctor Zhivago is our group classic read, two chapters per week. I’m about two reading segments behind the group, but we have a couple of weeks off over the holidays, so I’ll catch up then, if not sooner. This book is way more complicated than I expected, but I’m finding it worth the effort when I have time to focus.

So many books, so little time…

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Book Review: The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

Title: The Bookshop of Second Chances
Author: Jackie Fraser
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: May 4, 2021
Length: 431 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly handsome bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.

When Thea discovers that her husband has been cheating on her with her close friend, her carefully ordered life falls apart. And when said husband and said friend declare their intention to start a life together, Thea moves out of her house, packs her belongings, and has to figure out what’s next.

Answers are provided by the news that a distant relative, a great-uncle she barely knew, has left his Scottish home to her, along with a nice sum of money to go with it. At loose ends, Thea heads to Scotland to see the property and decide what to do with it, intending to spend at most a few weeks assessing the place and making plans to sell it.

She doesn’t count on how lovely the place is, or how charming the small village nearby. Uncle Andrew left behind an impressive book collection, including many rare and valuable editions, so Thea contacts the local bookseller, a grumpy man named Edward, to arrange to sell some of the books. Edward is indeed grumpy, but he’s also quite engaging and very attractive, not to mention being the estranged brother of the lord whose estate borders Thea’s new home. All in all, Thea finds him fascinating, and they develop an easy rapport, only enhanced once she takes on a job working in Edward’s bookstore.

As the months pass, Thea finds herself falling into a comfortable rhythm in her new home, but she’s still not over the betrayal of her marriage and the sense of self-doubt it’s left her with. Still, as she gets to know Edward, she eventually realizes that life may have a few surprises left for her… even the possibility of a new romance.

It’s refreshing to read a book about love between mature adults, and also a nice change to have a lead character be a woman in her mid-40s. Thea is lovely, but she’s experienced and not naive, and feels that the romantic part of her life is over with, now that her husband has left her. She doesn’t expect to find new opportunities or to have a dashing local find her attractive, and she certainly doesn’t expect that this little town in Scotland may turn out to be a place where she’ll find happiness.

The Bookshop of Second Chances is a lovely, engaging read. The dialogue is often quite funny, and Thea herself is a delightfully practical, blunt-speaking, and intelligent character to spend time with. The dynamics between Edward and his brother Charles are fraught, silly, and often humorous, but there are also some real issues there to navigate, and it was interesting to see those play out.

The main romantic storyline between Thea and Edward is well-paced, as she spends a great deal of the book not looking for more than friendship while she heals from the pain of her marriage and learns to trust and be optimistic again.

All in all, this is a sweet, entertaining, and thoughtful take on finding new purpose and new love in middle age. I really enjoyed it, and recommend it heartily!

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Buy now at Book Depository – Bookshop.orgBarnes & Noble

Book Review: Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau

Title: Donut Fall in Love
Author: Jackie Lau
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: October 26, 2021
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A baker provides the sweetest escape for an actor in this charming romantic comedy.

Actor Ryan Kwok is back in Toronto after the promotional tour for his latest film, a rom-com that is getting less-than-stellar reviews. After the sudden death of his mother and years of constant work, Ryan is taking some much-needed time off. But as he tries to be supportive to his family, he struggles with his loss and doesn’t know how to talk to his dad—who now trolls him on Twitter instead of meeting him for dim sum.

Innovative baker Lindsay McLeod meets Ryan when he knocks over two dozen specialty donuts at her bakery. Their relationship is off to a messy start, but there’s no denying their immediate attraction. When Ryan signs up for a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, he asks Lindsay to teach him how to bake and she agrees.

As Lindsay and Ryan spend time together, bonding over grief and bubble tea, it starts to feel like they’re cooking up something sweeter than cupcakes in the kitchen. 

Donut Fall In Love is a sweet (because BAKING), light romance that follows the celebrity love interest trope. It’s fairly formulaic plot-wise, but the character specifics, the setting, and the families make this book stand out as something special.

Lindsay runs a donut shop with her best friend Noreen, where they specialize in high-end, super-fancy treats, like matcha tiramisu and chocolate espresso donuts. Their baked goods are not just delicious, they’re works of art.

Ryan has returned to Toronto to spend more time with his family, anxiously watching reviews of his latest film to see what it will mean for his career. And as he notes, as an Asian actor, the movie industry seems to see the success or failure of his rom-com as a litmus test for whether an actor of Asian descent can pull off a romantic lead role. He feels the weight of representation on his shoulders, and worries not just about his own career, but whether his so-so box office results will spell doom for other Asian actors.

When Ryan is asked to appear as a celebrity contestant on a popular TV baking show (Baking Fail), he instantly thinks of the cute bakery owner he (literally) ran into the previous week, and asks Lindsay for baking lessons so that he doesn’t completely humiliate himself on national TV.

Lindsay, while also of Asian descent, was raised by a mother whose family emphasized assimilation, so she grew up without speaking the language that her grandparents grew up with. While Lindsay and Ryan’s backgrounds have many differences, they share a sense of otherness from growing up in largely white communities, and soon learn that they have much more in common than ethnic background and experiences with tokenism and racism.

Their weekly baking lessons become a highlight for both of them, as they laugh, flirt, and bake together, and they each realize that their enjoyment of each other’s company might be more than just friendship. Plus, their chemistry is undeniable, and while Ryan is the one who’s famous for being a sex symbol, the attraction is clearly, strongly mutual.

As is typical in celebrity-in-love-with-a-regular-person romances, Lindsay deals with self-doubt. Ryan is super hot, as is obvious from the popular hashtag #StarringRyanKwoksAbs. How can such a gorgeous man with a stunningly perfect body possibly be interesting in an ordinary, not-perfect person like her?

Ryan and Lindsay are very cute together, and soon find themselves intimately involved. But as they learn, sex might be easy, but true intimacy, trust, and emotional connection are much harder.

I liked a lot of aspects of Donut Fall In Love. Both Ryan and Lindsay are dealing with grief over the death of a parent, and the author portrays the lasting impact of these losses very thoughtfully and sensitively. I also appreciated the depiction of the impact of the casual racism disguised as humor that Ryan and other Asian actors must deal with, as well as the off-handed cruelty that internet commenters seem to have no problem throwing around, as if the people on the receiving end aren’t actually real people at all.

The characters’ family relationships are also well depicted, although I did feel that Ryan’s difficult relationship with his father was fixed rather suddenly and without a whole lot of processing.

I feel like I should have a steaminess index for when I review romances, but haven’t come up with a scale yet! In any case, this book has a mostly light and flirty tone, but when sex happens, it’s explicit, so be forewarned if that’s not your style when it comes to romance reading.

Overall, I really liked Donut Fall In Love. Yes, the plot is somewhat predictable and by the book, but the unique personalities and donut-filled settings make the story a tasty treat.

My main complaint? I feel like this book should come with a gift card to a bakery. It made me crave sweets on every page! Gimme donuts. Gimme donuts now.

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Pexels.com

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Buy now at Book Depository – Bookshop.orgBarnes & Noble

Shelf Control #294: Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black

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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!

Title: Curse Workers (trilogy)
Author: Holly Black
Published: 2010 – 2012
Length: White Cat – 310 pages; Red Glove – 325 pages; Black Heart – 297 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes the “dangerously, darkly gorgeous” (Cassandra Clare) Curse Workers trilogy

Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curse workers, people who have the power to change emotions, memories, and luck with the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re also all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists, but not Cassel. He doesn’t have magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family—except for the small detail that he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two older brothers, who are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s an unwitting pawn in a huge con game, he must unravel his past, and his memories. To find the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

How and when I got it:

I bought the three paperbacks many years ago — and yes, the gorgeous covers had a lot to do with it!

Why I want to read it:

It’s Holly Black! Of course I want to read these books!

I actually bought these books several years before reading one of my all-time favorite series, The Folk of the Air — but especially after reading those amazing books, I’m willing and eager to read anything and everything by this author!

The overall plot of the trilogy sounds terrific. I love the idea of being able to change emotions with a touch — it sounds like such a dangerous power to possess.

In case you’re interested, the three books of the trilogy are being released this coming December as an all-in-one edition. 992 pages!! Somehow, it seems a lot more intimidating to think about reading it that way. (And I way prefer the covers of the editions I have!)

What do you think? Would you read this trilogy?

Please share your thoughts!


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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 or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Outlander fans

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 to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.). I’m in the midst of an Outlander obsession at the moment, with the long-awaited book #9 coming out NEXT WEEK… so you’ll excuse me if this series is pretty much all that’s on my mind right now.

Here are 10 books I think Outlander fans should check out:

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

What’s the connection?

Set in Scotland, historical fiction, Jacobite uprising, time-slip romance (and really, can’t go wrong with any of this author’s books!)


Clanlands by Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish

What’s the connection?

Outlander stars (!!), fun facts about Scotland, lots of references to the creation and filming of the Outlander TV series


A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong

What’s the connection?

A romance across time, time travel, lovers from different eras


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

What’s the connection:

Strong female lead character, male lead who seems too good to be true, time travel (in book #2), epic romance


Finding Fraser by KC Dyer

What’s the connection?

You literally could not be more connected to Outlander! A romantic adventure in which the main character heads to Scotland to find her very own Jamie Fraser.


Poldark series by Winston Graham

What’s the connection?

Historical fiction, time period overlaps somewhat with Outlander, gorgeous settings, heroic male lead, epic romance


The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

What’s the connection?

Set in the Scottish Highlands (and just a really enjoyable read)


On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon by Kaye Gibbons

What’s the connection?

Historical fiction, wartime medicine, women in medicine


Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow

What’s the connection:

Ongoing series with a remarkable, memorable woman as the lead character. Also, recommended by Diana Gabaldon via her Methadone List.


In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl

What’s the connection?

Women in medicine, wartime medicine, World War (although this is WWI, not Claire’s WWII)


Have you read any of these? Are there other books you’d recommend for people who love Outlander?

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