Top Ten Tuesday: My top ten auto-buy authors

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 Auto-Buy Authors, a topic I did for TTT posts in 2013 and 2015. So what is an auto-buy author? For me, it’s a favorite author whose books I’ll buy pretty much on faith — no matter what the plot is about, if it’s by one of these favorites, I know I’ll want to read it!

Some of the authors on my 2013 list are included here as well (proving that fandom is eternal!), and there are several others whom I’ve only had the pleasure of discovering since then. Without further ado, my old and new auto-buy authors as of summer 2019:

1. Diana Gabaldon: Because of course Diana Gabaldon is — and always will be — at the top of my list! I’m an Outlander fan, through and through, and will never stop reading these wonderful books.

2. Patricia Briggs: I love the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series so, so much. Give me more and more and more, and please don’t ever stop.

3. Seanan McGuire: Surely, if you’ve ever visited my blog before, you’ve seen me rave about the October Daye books, the InCryptid series, the Wayward Children series, and more… not to mention everything she writes as her alter ego Mira Grant. I will absolutely read whatever she writes!

4. Gail Carriger: I’m such a fan! True, I haven’t read her San Andreas Shifters books yet, but I’ve read everything else she’s written, and find her books just delightful.

5. Neil Gaiman: I mean, who isn’t a fan? Okay, I didn’t love American Gods, but I do love almost everything else, so chances are whenever a new book comes out, I’ll buy it.

6. Dana Stabenow: I fell crazy in love with her awesome Kate Shugak series (#22 comes out next year!), and I do plan to read her non-Kate novels too one of these days.

7. Sarah Gailey: Well, I’m three for three for Sarah Gailey — loved the two American Hippo stories, and loved Magic For Liars too. So yes, I’ve already preordered her next book!

8. Lisa See: Wow, what can’t she do to my heart? I love her characters and her exploration of cultures and societies that I’d otherwise know little to nothing about. Such beautiful writing.

9. Cat Winters: So creative! So expressive! I always enjoy her books, and even the ones that aren’t my favorites are still really great reads.

10: Taylor Jenkins Reid: I still need to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo *hangs head in shame* — but I’ve read all her other books, and have loved every single one!

Do you have auto-buy authors? Do we have any in common? (And if so — which are your favorite of their books?)

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

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten favorite characters from recent reads

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 a Character Freebie, which means that we come up with our own topics on the subject of book characters.

I’ve done a whole bunch of character posts over the years, including…

  • Favorite fantasy characters
  • Best secondary characters
  • Frustrating characters
  • Characters I’d want with me on a deserted island
  • and more…

This time around, I thought I’d keep it simple, and just focus on characters from books I’ve read in the last year or so. Without further fuss, here are ten (um, actually, eleven) characters I’ve really loved from some of my more recent reads:

1. Billy Dunn, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Reid Jones: Sexy lead guitarist, songwriter, and family man, whose electricity just crackles off the page

2. Tasheret, Competence (The Custard Protocol, #3) by Gail Carriger: A gorgeous were-lioness who’s afraid of nothing, especially not showing love

3. Young-sook, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See: This story floored me, especially the bravery of the diving women and all they endured. Young-sook’s story is absolutely fascinating and so moving.

4. Lord John Grey, from various Lord John and Outlander works by Diana Gabaldon: Lord John isn’t actually new to me, but my book group has been re-reading all the Lord John-related novellas and novels in the Outlander world during the past year, so he counts as recent! Lord John is a sweet, smart, talented soldier and gentleman, who has a dry wit that’s a joy to behold. He also has great taste in men!

5. Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery: Where has Anne been all my life? I’m halfway through the series, and I adore Anne’s brightness and spirit as she grows from precocious tween to effervescent young woman.

6. Roger and Dodger, Middlegame by Seanan McGuire: Twins with unlimited power, with murky origins and incredible gifts, who are — despite all this — really interesting and complicated people.

7. Prince Peter, The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King: Ah, the good prince Peter! Everything royalty and nobility should be. He made me want to cheer as he struggled for redemption and to free his kingdom from evil.

8. Maggie Hoskie, Trail of Lightning and Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse: The lead character of these terrific books is a strong, kick-ass monster hunter, rooted in tradition and adapted to a changed world. Can’t wait for more!

9. Beka Cooper, the Beka Cooper trilogy by Tamora Pierce: Beka is such a great character! I loved all three books about her, and just wish there were more.

10. Veronica Speedwell, A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn: Gotta love a Victorian lepidopterist who enjoys science, adventure, and taking lovers.

What characters have you really loved recently? What theme did you pick this week? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Childhood Favorites (updated 2019)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s top ten topic is Childhood Favorites  — a topic I featured back in 2013. And you know what? While I might be tempted to add another ten, there isn’t a single one of my original choices that I’d want to remove. So, once more with feeling… ten favorite books from my distant past that have absolutely influenced me as a reader…

1) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In early readings, I wanted to be Beth (go ahead, psychoanalyze me based on that little fact!), then envied Amy her world travels, but finally came to appreciate Jo in all her prickly glory. Pop culture references to Little Women always make me happy — like when Joey read it on Friends. Classic, in so many ways.

2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It just never gets old. Me in 2013: I’m trying to convince my 10-year-old to read it, mostly so I’ll have a good excuse for rereading it myself. 2019 update: The 10-year-old is now 16, and still hasn’t read this book. But I’ve reread it myself, so all is well.

3) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. Seriously, wouldn’t you love to run away to live in a museum? This books was responsible for my mad scribblings, throughout my youth, of a whole bunch of half-written stories involving running off to exotic locations and having crazy adventures.

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9 of my top 10 childhood favorites — I can’t believe I still have all of these!

4) Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager. I read this book as a kid and loved it — but years later, all I could remember was that it was about kids entering into an imaginary world throught their toy castle in the playroom. I had no idea about the title or author and was never able to track it down, until my daughter came home with Half Magic by the same author, and something just clicked into place.

5) The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I just adored these books as a kid, and didn’t know enough at the time to be bothered by some of the problematic elements. I loved Laura and her family, the crazy struggles for survival in harsh circumstances, and of course, the love story between Laura and Almanzo. Whoa, those blizzards! I still get cold thinking about the kids trying to get home from school during a wild snow storm. Brrrrr.

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Merry, Rose, and Christmas Tree June

6) Merry, Rose and Christmas Tree June by Doris Orgel. This story of a girl and her dolls just really stuck with me, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally tracked down a copy. The fact that it’s illustrated by Edward Gorey just makes it even more of a win.

7) The All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. My sister and I could not get enough of these books about a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of New York in the 1920s. Inspiration for many a game of make-believe at our house — we even asked to take on dusting chores so we could play the button game. (If you’ve read the books, you’ll understand).

8) Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Oh, come on, admit it — you cried when you read this one, right?

9) Tall and Proud by Vian Smith. I went through a phase where I read everything I could get my hands on about horses.* The only thing better than a horse book was a book about a girl fighting a dreadful illness. So what could be better than this terrific book (out of print now, I believe) about a girl with polio who learns to walk again for the sake of her horse?

*I felt like I should only include one horse book on this list, but it was a close call — so here’s my special little shout-out to the books of Marguerite Henry, most especially, Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy: Misty’s Foal, and Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West.

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Horse books!

10) Light a Single Candle by Beverly Butler. In the same spirit as #9, this book about a girl dealing with blindness really resonated with my tween-self’s love of fictional heroines bravely battling illness, disability, or some other dramatic/tragic life event.

 

It’s really hard to stop at ten (or 10-ish, since I included extra horse books!).**

**I realize that I excluded Judy Blume’s books, which should certainly be on this list — but since I did a whole post about Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret last year (actually 2012), I figure I’m covered already.

What are your favorite books from childhood? If you did a TTT post this week, please share your link!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer 2019 TBR

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 On My Summer 2019 TBR.

I’m mixing some light reads with some dark and creepy stories, as well as a book group book and a book that’s been on my nightstand for over a year now. Plus, I’m finally planning to start a series that’s been on my TBR for far too long (The Glamourist Histories), and also plan to read a more recent book (a sequel to a book I loved) by the same author. Wheeeee! I love summer reading…

  1. Reticence (The Custard Protocol, #4) by Gail Carriger
  2. In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant
  3. The Toll by Cherie Priest
  4. Circe by Madeline Miller
  5. The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan
  6. Shades of Milk and Honey (The Glamourist Histories, #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  7. The Fated Stars (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  8. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
  9. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  10. What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

What are you planning to read this summer? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019

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 Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

I’m so excited for all of these… as you could probably tell if you took a peek at my pre-order list. A lot of these books are sequels or parts of series, and that’s just fine with me. Here are my top ten anticipated books — see the list below for release dates.

  1. The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell (release date 8/6/2019)
  2. Reticence (The Custard Protocol, #4) by Gail Carriger (release date 8/6/2019)
  3. Snow, Glass, Apple by Neil Gaiman (release date 8/20/2019)
  4. The Institute by Stephen King (release date 9/10/2019)
  5. The Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale, #2) by Margaret Atwood (release date 9/10/2019)
  6. Wayward Son (Carry On, #2) by Rainbow Rowell (release date 9/24/2019)
  7. The Unkindest Tide (October Daye, #13) by Seanan McGuire (release date 9/3/2019)
  8. The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2) by Philip Pullman (release date 10/3/2019)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (illustrated edition) by J. K. Rowling (release date 10/8/2019)
  10. Malorie (Bird Box, #2) by Josh Malerman (release date 12/3/2019)

Are you planning to read any of these? What books are you dying to read in the 2nd half of 2019? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

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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 Unpopular Bookish Opinions. I’m a little stymied by the topic — I’m not sure that I have any bookish opinions that would truly qualify as unpopular… but here goes:

1 – I’m not fond of the genre described as literary fiction. What makes something literary? Versus what, non-literary fiction? And what does that even mean? Too often, I’ve found that books described as literary fiction are really just books where the writing gets in the way of a straight-forward plot.

2 – I’m not a fan of reading challenges. I know lots of people find challenges fun, but I look at them as an obligation. Every time I’ve committed to a reading challenge, I’ve ended up feeling resentful that my reading choices were being dictated to me.

3 – I say a big HECK YES to DNFing. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable. If a book isn’t working for me, I’d much rather stop than waste any more time on it.

4 – Sometimes, TV adaptations can be better than the books! Especially when well done or when a TV version expands the storyline beyond the plot of the original, it can be so engrossing to see how far the characters and situations can develop.

5 – I don’t like trigger warnings in book reviews. I understand they can be important for some readers, but I often find them overly broad or too spoiler-y. I prefer to know next to nothing about plot details when I’m starting a book. Maybe reviewers on Goodreads could use the spoiler formatting to hide the content of their trigger warnings, so only people who want to know will see them? Just a thought.

6 – Book signings should be free. Okay, maybe this isn’t actually an unpopular opinion — but over the last few years, there were several times when bookstores in my area charged admission to an author event, justifying it by saying it included the purchase of the book. But what if someone already has a copy? Or maybe someone wants to hear the author speak and then decide if they want the book?

7 – I hated The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Just hated it. Hated the writing, hating the sense of wallowing in the violence. I know people loved this book and series, but I just could not.

8 – Sometimes series can drag on too long. And why does everything have to be a series? I get really frustrated by continuing stories that really could have been told in one solid book.

9 – Just because something is called a classic doesn’t mean I need to read it. Take the Great American Read list. I’ve read a bunch, there are a bunch I want to read, and there are some I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

10 – Okay, for sure this one doesn’t really qualify as an unpopular opinion, but… I read for me. I read what I like, when I feel like it. No “shoulds” allowed when it comes to picking my books! I don’t care how much praise a book gets, if it doesn’t appeal to me, then I’m out.

Do you have any unpopular bookish opinions? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: A Selection of Favorite Fantasy Books and Series

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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 From My Favorite Genre. I bounce between genres quite a bit, but thought I’d focus here on fantasy. My list includes stand-alones as well as series, and because I’m sticking to just 10, I ended up not including three that pretty much go without saying: of course I love the Narnia, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Lord of the Rings books! (See? I managed to mention them after all!)

My top ten, in no particular order:

  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
  • Codex Alera (series) by Jim Butcher
  • The Immortals (series) (standing in for ALL Tortall books) by Tamora Pierce (review)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (review)
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series) by Patricia C. Wrede (review)
  • Wayward Children (series) by Seanan McGuire (review)
  • The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (review)
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner (review)
  • His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

What genre did you pick this week? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years

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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 Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years, highlighting one favorite books per year. What a great excuse for a trip back through my shelves!

It’s really hard to come up with just one favorite per year, so some of these are chosen somewhat arbitrarily from among all my five-star reads. If I’ve reviewed the book here on my blog, the link is provided — check it out if interested!

  • 2018: The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah (review)
  • 2017: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)
  • 2016: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (review)
  • 2015: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (review)
  • 2014: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • 2013: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (review)
  • 2012: The Martian by Andy Weir (review)
  • 2011: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (review)
  • 2010: Feed by Mira Grant
  • 2009: Under the Dome by Stephen King

What were your favorite books of the past 10 years? Do we have any in common? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

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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 That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch. And yes, I definitely have some of these. My off-limits, NO YOU MAY NOT BORROW IT WHY DO YOU EVEN ASK books are all about the sentimental value. I’m not a book collector for the dollar value, and doubt that I have more than a handful of books that might actually be worth more than what I originally paid for them. The books that I guard and never, ever lend are ones that hold special meaning for me… and that I’d cry over if they ever got lost or damaged, or even *gasp* just a little dog-eared.

My top ten are:

1) Signed hardcover editions of The Sparrow and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow is one of my all-time favorite books, and even though I had paperback copies, I jumped on these when I found them on EBay.

2) The thousand or so copies of Outlander books stacked up throughout my house: Call me crazy. I have hardcovers, anniversary editions, trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks… multiple copies of every book in the Outlander series. And no, I don’t lend any of them.

3) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill: I went to a book signing for Joe Hill’s first novel, back before he was quite as huge as he is now, and he was charming and all sorts of awesome. So I treasure this book. (It’s also scary AF.)

4) Graphic novels: I love all the graphic novels I’ve accumulated over the years, and since they’re all part of series, I don’t let any of them out of the house. Because I once did, and I ended up having to replace that volume when it got lost. (I’m still traumatized.)

5) Lamb by Christopher Moore: I have a very beat-up paperback edition of this book, but I really especially love my Bible-esque edition.

6) Everything Harry Potter: There are lots of sets of Harry Potter books in my house. Each of my kids has their own complete set, and I have mine — and mine are mine alone. I don’t share Harry Potter!

Wrapping up my list, it’s less about individual books and more about collections. I love these authors, and I love their books, and I keep my copies strictly to myself!

7) My Gail Carriger books (only some of which are pictured here):

8) My Patricia Briggs books (again, this isn’t all of them…)

9) Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant  — once again, my pictures don’t include all of my books by this author, but I do get to show off my gorgeous hardcovers from Subterranean Press.

And while I could go on, I’ll end with this one:

10) A really pretty illustrated edition of Pride and Prejudice, just because:

Do you lend your books? Do you have any that are off-limits? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten favorite book-to-TV adaptations

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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 a Page to Screen Freebie  — meaning we come up with our own topic related to book adaptations. And here we go — ten TV adaptations that I’ve loved.

1) Outlander: Big surprise, right? I love the books, but I’m finding that I’m really loving the TV version too, even when it veers away from the plot and character details in the books. Great cast, gorgeous costumes and sets, overall excellent production! Four season in, this show is going strong.

2) A Discovery of Witches: Granted, this show hasn’t even finished its first season yet (in the US), but it’s really growing on me. Once again, great cast and gorgeous settings help a lot, but also the plotting and dialogue are really well conveyed in the TV version. I didn’t expect to like this as much as I do!

3) The Expanse: I’ve loved the books in the series (up to #3, which is as far as I’ve gotten), and think the TV adaptation is fantastic. So happy that’s it been picked up by Amazon for another season!

4) iZombie: Did you know that this CW series was based on a comic series? To be honest, I didn’t love the first book, but the TV version is great. I’m just sad that the current season will be the last.

5) The Walking Dead: I started watching the show before I read the books, but now I’m completely up to date on both. Call me crazy, but I’m still enjoying the show, despite a LOT of major bumps in the road lately. I’m hooked — too late to give it up now.

6) Big Little Lies: I think the HBO series was a great adaptation, and can’t wait to see what they do with it in the 2nd season, now that they’ll be off-book.

7) The Magicians: I hate to say it, but as much as I liked the books, I think I like the TV show even more. Despite the plot often being mind-boggling and impossible to follow, I just love the cast. and will watch them in whatever crazy situation comes their way. Bonus points for the random musical episodes.

8) Pride and Prejudice (BBC version): Well, of course! This is an oldie, but it sure stands the test of time. I feel the need to pull out my DVD set and rewatch every couple of years.

9) Game of Thrones: I hesitate to include this one, not that it’s not spectacular, but because my feelings about this final season are really conflicted, and I’m so worried about how the storylines will wrap up in the very last episode — this coming Sunday!

10) NOS4A2: Okay this one hasn’t aired yet, but it’s coming soon, and looks absolutely terrifying!

What are your favorite TV versions of beloved books? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!