Top Ten Tuesday: The first ten books I reviewed on my blog


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 The First Ten Books I Reviewed — and while the description for the topic leaves it up to the individual whether to include formal reviews or blurbs online or simple reactions, well, anywhere, I thought I’d focus on my very first ten book review posts from when I started blogging. Yeah, I’d probably write most of them a bit differently now, all these years later, but it is kind of fun to look back and remember the books that excited me all those years ago!

My first ten reviews:

1) Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (review)

2) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (review)

3) Talullah Rising (The Last Werewolf, #2) by Glen Duncan (review)

4) Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (review)

5) The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen (review)

6) Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (review)

7) Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link (review)

8) Ocean’s Surrender by Denise Townsend (review)

9) Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (review)

10. Ashfall by Mike Mullin (review)

What were your earliest reviews? Please share your links!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

We interrupt this program…

Bookshelf Fantasies is taking some time off this week. I’m away from home due to a loss in the family. I originally thought I’d find time to keep up with my normal blogging schedule, but it hasn’t quite happened that way.

So, no Monday Check-In or Shelf Control this week. I may pop in here and there if I feel inspired to write a book review. Meanwhile, I have plenty of books on my Kindle, and right now I’m enjoying my first-ever read of Anne of Green Gables!

I hope to be back on track as of next week. Meanwhile, some kitties and a rainbow to brighten the day!

rainbow kittie

Bookish bits & bobs


Just a random collection of some bookish thoughts bouncing around my brain this week.




  • Audiobooks. Love ’em. But here’s my issue: Why don’t audiobooks include the acknowledgements or author’s notes at the end? If I’m listening to a book, I want the full experience and full content. I only discovered the lack recently after listening to a couple of historical fiction audiobooks. I ended up browsing through the hardcovers at the library, and saw that the print books includes notes about the historical setting and context. Well, why wasn’t that on the audiobook? It adds to the reading experience, and clearly the author felt it was part of what she wanted readers to know. I don’t understand… and it makes me mad. Not that I’ll stop listening to audiobooks, but it leaves me wondering what I’m missing.


  • Book review ratings: I don’t do them. At least, not here on my blog. I play along on Goodreads, but I made the decision way back when to do narrative reviews without any sort of quantitative scale. Lately, though, I’ve started rethinking this. I know when I read reviews on other people’s blogs, I’ll often check the star (or unicorn or banana or teacup) rating first, and then decide if I want to read the whole review. So shouldn’t I expect others to expect the same from me? This is a bigger question than just a few lines and a bullet point, so I’ll be expanding on the topic sometime in the coming week, and would love some input.


  • Amazon customer service rocks! I have never had a bad experience once I connect with a service rep, and this week was no different. I bought a Kindle edition of a new release in early April, and started reading it this week. And hated it. By 15%, I just knew I couldn’t continue. And I was mad, because it was past the one-week deadline for returning Kindle content. I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. It’s not the amount spent was going to break me or anything, but if I’m spending money on a book, I don’t want it to end up being something I actively dislike. Anyway… I reached out and ended up in a chat with a lovely and helpful Amazon rep, who arranged to return the book for a refund within the blink of an eye. No quoting policy, no trying to convince me of anything, no telling me I was wrong. Just a very nice “I’m sorry the book didn’t work out for you” and a resolution that made me happy.


  • When is a novella a novella? When is it really, instead, a short novel? Is 200 pages the dividing line? 125? I haven’t found a hard and fast rule to go by — I’ve found a lot of notes on word count in novels and novellas, but I’m a reader, not a writer. Do you have any firm ideas on what distinguishes a novella from a novel?


  • Oh, the things a book lover will do for the sake of bookish satisfaction. I’m a big fan of Susanna Kearsley’s writing, and beside the glory of the stories themselves, I adore the covers of her books.

Well, now she has a new book coming out, Bellewether, and I knew I needed a copy. I preordered it ages ago (the book releases in August), then discovered that the US cover is… well… unappealing. But hey, the Canadian cover is gorgeous and goes with the rest of my books! So I cancelled my US preorder, and got a copy from Amazon Canada instead, which gave me the added bonus of getting the book early, since it released in Canada this month already. And really, which of these would YOU want?

Anyhoo… that’s what’s on my mind today. How about you? What deep bookish thought are bouncing about in your brain?


And seriously. What is up with audiobooks and the lack of afterwords and notes? Can someone please make them fix this? Annoyed now.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for fall 2017

TTT autumn 2_bsf

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is the top ten books on our fall to-be-read lists. I have waaaaay more than 10, but here are the ones I’m especially excited about.


Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Release date: 9/26/2017
Blurb: In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men? In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.

Well, of course I want to read the newest from Stephen King, and I’m curious to see how this father-son project works out. But holy hell, it’s 720 pages! Deep breaths…


And speaking of the King family…

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Release date: 10/24/2017
Blurb: A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill

“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

At this point, Joe Hill has become one of my auto-buy authors, and while I usually avoid story collections, there’s no way I’ll pass this one up.


Odd & True by Cat Winters
Release date: 9/12/2017
Blurb: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Cat Winters is another author on my auto-buy roster. I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers so far, and I have no doubt that Odd & True will live up to my expectations.


Artemis by Andy Weir
Release date: 11/14/2017
Blurb: Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Does anyone doubt that this follow-up to The Martian will be huge?


Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Release date: 11/14/2017
Blurb: Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

I am crazy excited about this follow up to the super creepy novella Rolling in the Deep (review).


LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Release date: 5/10/2016
Blurb: North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.

The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.

I’ve been wanting to read LaRose since it came out last year, and now that my book group has it on the calendar for a group read, I finally have a deadline!


Standard Deviation by Katherin Heiny
Release date: 6/1/2017
Blurb: A rueful, funny examination of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami. Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, this sensational debut will appeal to fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Nora Ephron and Lorrie Moore

Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.

In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?

This is another book group pick for this fall. Sounds like fun, right?


The Book of Dust (La Belle Sauvage) by Philip Pullman
Release date: 10/19/2017
Blurb: Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them, a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .

Oh. My. God. A new series in the world of His Dark Materials? So freaking excited.





Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
Release date: 10/17/2017
Blurb: A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays…

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, and think it sounds totally charming and fun.


The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
Release date: 11/7/2017
Blurb: After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.

Another ARC from NetGalley — I’ve read a few of Katherine Reay’s books, and love the way she mixes Austen-ish themes with modern-day stories.

What books are on your fall TBR list? Share your link, please, and I’ll come check out your top 10!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I host a Book Blog Meme Directory, and I’m always looking for new additions! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!









Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved During My First Year of Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is a Throwback Freebie. One of the suggested ideas is Ten Books I Loved During The First Year I Started My Blog. I love it! Let’s face it — the first year of blogging is tough. We’re trying to find our footing, our voice, our community… and I know I have bunches of reviews from early on that basically were never seen because I was just starting out.

Here are 10 of the books I reviewed in my first blogging year (or thereabouts), along with a link to the review. Sweet memories!

1) Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (review): I think this may have been the very first book review I posted!

2) The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen (review): A pretty cool twist on the time travel genre.

3) Fables, volumes 1 – 3 by Bill Willingham (review): The start of a meaningful relationship! I quickly became hooked on the Fables world and read every bit of it, until the very final volume. Yes, there were tears.

4) Ocean’s Surrender by Denise Townsend (review): Look, I don’t normally review erotica, but when it’s by a favorite author writing under a pen name, I’m game. All the steam you’d expect, with a strong plot underlying the sexytimes.

5) Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (review): I’m really not much of a short story reader, but a few of the stories in this collection really caught my fancy.

6) The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (review): Post-apocalyptic fiction with gorgeous writing.

7) Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (review): I was doing more kid fiction back in my early blogging days, as my kiddo was still in the phase where I could read aloud with him. Sadly, he no longer lets me read to him. (Okay, fine, he’s in high school, so I suppose it’s understandable.)

8) The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (review): I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the writing is in this book. You really just have to experience it.

9) Every Day by David Levithan (review): I’ve read bunches of David Levithan books by now, but this one is really something special. There’s definitely nothing like it out there. (Read it before the movie comes out!)

10) Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (review): I was so sad when this author passed away in 2014. He’s the author of one of my very favorite books, The Silent Land (which I read in my pre-blogging days). This one is really special too.

What’s on your list this week? Please share your TTT link and I’ll drop by for a visit.


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!
















Summertime slacking

Summertime, and the living is easy… or so I’ve heard.

And although I’m not lazing away my summer days on tropical beaches, I am trying to do a bit of relaxing and refreshing. Between my time away in early June for family matters, work craziness, and lots of upcoming projects and planning, I find myself in desperate need of more down time.

And so…

I’m planning to slack off a bit and cut back on my blogging commitments. Specifically, I’m putting the two memes I host each week, Shelf Control and Thursday Quotables, on a bit of a break. Have no fear — they shall return! Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to reading whatever I feel like, posting on my blog according to my whims, and living commitment-free for a couple of months…

Okay, not exactly commitment-free. I still have a job and a family, places to go and people to see. But for July and August, I’m letting myself off the hook in terms of the need to stick to a weekly posting schedule.

Aaaaah. I can practically feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair!

Welcome back, glorious summer!

I’m baaaaaaaack!

Hello all!

It’s been a long 2 1/2 weeks, but…

Unfortunately, my time away wasn’t exactly a vacation. I was on the east coast, working with other family members to relocate our aging parents and settle them into a nursing home. This ended up involving interstate flights, wheelchair transportation, nursing aides, moving trucks, visits to hospitals, and transferring medical records, but in the end, we made it.

Good company and a few glasses of wine certainly helped.

I’ve been completely absent from my own blog, and definitely have been checked out from the world of social media, following anyone else’s blog posts, and all that other good stuff to be found on the interwebs.

But hey, I’m back!

I did manage to read a ton while I was gone, thanks to all those flights (and a few sleepless nights). I think I’ll do a bunch of mini-reviews to catch up on all the books I read. Some were great, some only so-so, but I’ll try to share thoughts on all over the next few days, in between trying to catch up on everything I missed at home and going back to work after a couple weeks away.

Bette Davis supposedly said:

(I say “supposedly”, because I’ve seen 3 or 4 different versions of this attributed to her, and haven’t found the definitive version yet.)

In any case, old age ain’t for sissies, but neither is being the folks making all the arrangements! I have to say that I feel lucky and blessed to have had some wonderful family members to partner with to make it all happen.

And now, I’m taking a few deep breaths and diving back into my normal, day-to-day life.

It’s great to be home!

My blog and my memes


So I’ve been thinking…

I’ve been blogging for over four years now. Hard to believe! My interest and energy levels have gone up and down over time, and right now I find myself in a phase where I’m not as willing to devote dedicated time to blogging, especially when it comes to blogging on a schedule.

I still enjoy writing book reviews, random other pieces, and participating in some regular, ongoing features. Where I’m having difficulty right now is with the “have to” parts of my weekly schedule. Because I host two memes, I feel obligated to get my posts up every week, on time, no matter what. And frankly, lately it’s been feeling like a chore.

The thing is, I really like my memes and the concepts — and when I’m in the mood, it’s a lot of fun.

My two active memes at the moment are:

Shelf ControlShelf Control: Every Wednesday, highlighting books on the shelf — basically a chance to feature books that we already own but haven’t read yet.







quotation-marks4Thursday Quotables: Highlighting a great quote or passage from the current week’s reading.







And, gone but not forgotten:

ffbutton2Flashback Friday (which needs a better icon): This one has been on hiatus since last year, but I may bring it back from time to time. The point of Flashback Friday is to feature a book from our reading pasts, something published at least 5 years ago, and talk about why it’s special and why people should still read it. I really had fun doing this one, but eventually got a bit burned out and decided to put it on pause for a while.


My problem at the moment is that sticking to a weekly posting obligation — coming up with a Shelf Control post every Wednesday and a Thursday Quotables post every Thursday — has lately started to feel like work, not fun. Which makes me want to reconsider how, when, and why I do all of these.

I don’t particularly want to give them up — but I’m not sure I want to continue feeling like these posts are a chore than I must complete no matter what.

Maybe one solution is to take them out of “meme” world and just continue doing these type of posts when the spirit moves me — so if I do them as a feature on my own blog, rather than setting them up with linky sign-ups and encouraging others to post, then I have no obligation to stick to a schedule.

Or I suppose I could make one or more a monthly meme, rather than weekly.

I’ve also considered putting one or more of these memes/features up for “adoption” — seeing if anyone else would like to host, instead of me.

Basically, I’m back to the complaint that most bloggers have at one time or another. When blogging feels like work rather than play, for me at least, it means something isn’t working.

I don’t blog for money or fame or glory — good thing, since I’m not getting any of those! I just blog because I enjoy it — the creativity, the writing process, the sharing, and the community. When it stops being fun, I need to change my ways.

Which brings me back to the main issue of this post — what to do about my memes. I’m riding out my inclination to stop for now. I’m going to stick with things as is for at least a few more weeks, to see if I’m just in a temporary rut or if I really want to change things up.

But I’m looking for input too. Do you have regular features on your blog, and if so, what do you do when you start to lose interest?

Any suggestions for me and the future of my memes?

I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts!


Input, please! I need your opinion.

Hello, friendly booklovers and bloggers! I’m working on a new weekly feature that I’ll be doing here at Bookshelf Fantasies. For now, this is just something that I plan to have fun with myself, but if there’s interest, I can certainly turn it into a meme/link-up/shared kind of thing.

As an alternative to participating in a couple of different Wednesday posts that focus on upcoming new releases, I thought I spend some time featuring books that I already own, haven’t read yet, but really want to get to! I’m noodling around with a couple of formats and approaches, but meanwhile, I haven’t quite settled on a title. And here’s where you come in:

Take a look at the possible titles for my new feature, and let me know which ones you like! I’m going with a “shelf” theme, and have a bunch of variations so far. Vote for your favorite… although I warn you now, votes are not binding! I may end up using the one with most votes, but then again, I may invoke the blog host prerogative of going with whatever suits my mood.

So what do you think? Vote for up to your top three choices, and feel free to suggest your own twist!

Heading north of the border

A quick note to say au revoir — for now!

I’m heading north to Canada! I’m about to leave on a 10-day road trip through Alberta, with stops in Jasper, Banff, and Calgary. Much as I love my bloggy friends, I’m looking forward to a little time offline.


Mountains, lakes, ice fields… bliss! Oh, and plenty of books…

So, a little programming note: While I’ll be mostly absent, please do come by for Thursday Quotables as usual! My Thursday posts are queued up and ready to go.

Wishing you all a wonderful middle of July! Let’s catch up when I get back, shall we?