Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

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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 2020.

There were so many great authors whose works I got to experience for the first time in 2020! Here are 10 favorites (although I think I could come up with a lot more!)

  • Stephen Graham Jones
  • Constance Sayers
  • Emily M. Danforth
  • Paulette Jiles
  • Lisa Grunwald
  • Andrzej Sapkowski
  • TJ Klune
  • Veronica Roth
  • V. E. Schwab
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia

What new-to-you authors did you discover in 2020? Any particular favorites? Do we have any in common?

Please share your link so I can check out your top 10!

Shelf Control #252: The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

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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 Stranger’s Child
Author: Alan Hollinghurst
Published: 2012
Length: 564 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge friend Cecil Valance, a charismatic young poet, to visit his family home. Filled with intimacies and confusions, the weekend will link the families for ever, but its deepest impact will be on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne.

As the decades pass, Daphne and those around her endure startling changes in fortune and circumstance, reputations rise and fall, secrets are revealed and hidden and the events of that long-ago summer become part of a legendary story, told and interpreted in different ways by successive generations.

Powerful, absorbing and richly comic, ‘The Stranger’s Child’ is a masterly exploration of English culture, taste and attitudes over a century of change. 

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy on a whim, at least 6 or 7 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This was a total impulse buy! On a weekend trip with my daughter, we happened to find a really great bookstore, and this book was prominently displayed on their front rack. I loved the look of the cover, and while I didn’t feel like the back copy gave me a whole lot of information, I just needed to buy it!

I think the main reason I haven’t actually read the book yet is its length. It’s a big book! I do still want to get to it eventually, which is why it hasn’t ended up in my library donation piles just yet.

Have you read this book? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

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: Books I Meant To Read in 2020 (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 2020 but Didn’t Get To.

I recently did a similar post about the books I bought in 2020 but didn’t read. For this week’s prompt, I thought I’d look back at the quarterly TBR list Top Ten Tuesday posts from 2020, and see how well I did at reading the books I said I’d read.

Overall? Not too shabby!! Here are the books that are left, along with a note on whether I still plan to to read them. Starting with:

Winter 2020: Only two left unread:

  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: Still plan to read? YES. High priority for 2021!
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: Still plan to read? YES. Also high priority!

Spring 2020:

  • Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman: Still plan to read? YES
  • The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward: Still plan to read? Probably not — I seem to have lost interest.

Summer 2020 – I read all the books!

Fall 2020:

  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: Still plan to read? I’m thinking no. Even though I was excited for this initially, after reading a bunch of reviews and synopses, it just doesn’t draw me in.
  • Dying with Her Cheer Pants On by Seanan McGuire: Still plan to read? YES. It’s Seanan McGuire, so the answer has to be YES.
  • The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: Still plan to read? YES for sure, but I just haven’t been feeling any urgency around this one. I do intend to read it eventually.

That’s seven, so I’ll also include unread books from my “most anticipated” posts from 2020:

  • When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey: Still plan to read? YES. I don’t know why I didn’t get to it when it came out, but I do own a copy and absolutely want to read it.
  • Malorie by Josh Malerman: Still plan to read? Probably. I liked Bird Box, so I’m curious to see what comes next… but it doesn’t feel all that important to read any time soon.
  • Parable of the Sower (graphic novel): Still plan to read? YES. The novel of Parable of the Sower is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. I’ve been waiting to read the graphic novel until it suits my mood, but I definitely do plan to get to it.

What books did you mean to get to in 2020, but didn’t? Have you read any of the books on my list? And if so, which do you think should be top priority?

Here’s hoping we all get to our 2020 books, plus all the great books ahead in 2021!

Shelf Control #251: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

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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 Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1920
Length: 208 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorp and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary—from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary.

With impeccable timing, and making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a Kindle edition a couple of years ago.

Why I want to read it:

After reading the excellent new novel by Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, my interest in Agatha Christie is definitely piqued! I’ve only read one of her books so far, but I’ve been intending to read more.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Agatha Christie’s first published novel, and it’s also the book where she introduced Hercule Poirot. I feel like this would be a great starting place for me, and if I enjoy it (as I suspect I will), I can pick and choose more of her works to read.

Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Any recommendations on which books to read? Particular favorites?

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: Bookish Resolutions for 2021

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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 Resolutions/Hopes for 2021.

I’m not a big fan of making resolutions. I’ve been around enough years to know that most don’t stick. But I’m not opposed to setting a few goals, so…

Here are some low-key bookish goals for 2021:

Read whatever I feel like. Okay, I say this every year… and every year it’s worth repeating. It’s easy to get caught up in ARCs and reading schedules, and that’s fine — but I know what makes me happiest is to read whatever I want, whenever I want. And reading is for happiness, right?

Resist the urge to over-request. I’m looking at you, NetGalley request button! I love NetGalley, and I so appreciate how wonderful it is to have access to all these amazing early review copies! But I need to keep better perspective, and not allow myself to overwhelm my to-read plans with nothing but ARCs.

Organize my bookshelves — again! — and donate the never-gonna-read books and the read-’em-but-don’t-need-to-keep-’em books to the library (once their donation center reopens).

Stick to my series reading plans for 2021! Subject to change, of course, but I do want to get to the books and series that I set as my priorities.

Updated to add: After this post was already up and published, I realized I forgot one goal! So, my late addition is… Tackle one or two of the heftier non-fiction books on my shelves (mostly a variety of history books) by reading them in small bites, just a few chapters per week. Slow and steady, so I get to enjoy them without feeling like I’m missing out on reading fiction too.

And a couple of blogging goals too:

Update my Book Blog Meme Directory page. It’s been a while since I’ve gone through and checked all the links, made sure all the listed memes are still current, etc. It’s clean-up time!

Go through old posts to make sure that images and links still work. This is a big, tedious job, but if I do it in little bites over the course of the year, it should be okay.

What are your bookish, non-bookish, or blogging resolutions for this year? Whatever you’re resolving or hoping for, I’m wishing you all a happy and healthy year. It can only get better, right?

Shelf Control #250: The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt

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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 Search for Delicious
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Published: 1969
Length: 167 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylen, to poll the citizenry. Gaylen soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country. 

Synopsis from Scholastic.com:

Which food should stand for “delicious” in the new dictionary? No one at the royal castle can agree, and so Gaylen, a skinny boy of twelve and the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant, is sent off to poll the kingdom. Traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow — Gaylen finds more than he expected. It seems that the search for “delicious” had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.

Gaylen’s quest leads him through a wonderland full of fascinating people, ancient dwarfs, odd woodland creatures, and more. He meets the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest, and Canto, a minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and gives him a peculiar good-luck charm. Can he find the meaning of “delicious” and save the kingdom at the same time?

In The Search for Delicious, the award-winning author of Tuck Everlasting and other beloved books has created a magical world full of surprises and a tale brimming with excitement. Delighted readers will be reluctant to turn the last page of this imaginative, fast-paced fantasy.

How and when I got it:

My sister sent me a hardcover copy of this book (with the cover shown above) a few years ago.

Why I want to read it:

The only Natalie Babbitt book I’ve read is Tuck Everlasting, which I really liked. My sister insists that we read The Search for Delicious as children, but I’m sure I’ve never even heard of it! Sisters… never too old to disagree! In any case, she says that this was one of her favorite childhood books, and has been pushing me to read it.

The plot does sound charming, and while I don’t read a lot of children’s lit these days, for the sake of family peace, I probably should make time for this one.

There are many different editions that have been released over the years — this one with a mermaid makes me so much more interested in reading the book!

Have you read The Search for Delicious? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

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: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2021

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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 Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2021.

I highlighted some of the upcoming releases I’m most excited for in my winter TBR post from a couple of weeks ago — but it’s always fun to look ahead and make even more reading plans! So, here are ten MORE books releasing between now and the end of June that I’m super excited to read.

  1. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (2/2)
  2. A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel (2/2)
  3. Later by Stephen King (3/2)
  4. An Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell, #6) by Deanna Raybourn (3/2)
  5. Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman (4/6)
  6. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian (4/20)
  7. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5/4)
  8. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (5/11)
  9. The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (5/18)
  10. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (5/25)

What new releases are you most looking forward to in 2021? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Shelf Control #249: Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

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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: Blackberry Wine
Author: Joanne Harris
Published: 1999
Length: 336 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From the author of Chocolat, an intoxicating fairy tale of alchemy and love where wine is the magic elixir.

Jay Mackintosh is a 37-year-old has-been writer from London. Fourteen years have passed since his first novel, Jackapple Joe, won the Prix Goncourt. His only happiness comes from dreaming about the golden summers of his boyhood that he spent in the company of an eccentric vintner who was the inspiration of Jay’s debut novel, but who one day mysteriously vanished. Under the strange effects of a bottle of Joe’s ’75 Special, Jay decides to purchase a derelict yet promising château in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. There, a ghost from his past waits to confront him, and his new neighbour, the reclusive Marise – haunted, lovely and dangerous – hides a terrible secret behind her closed shutters. Between them, there seems to be a mysterious chemistry. Or could it be magic?

How and when I got it:

I actually have no idea, but I assume I picked it up at a library sale at some point in the last 5 years or so.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read Chocolat and one other book by this author, and I know I really enjoyed her writing. I’m assuming the cover was one of the things that attracted me to this book — so pretty!

The synopsis makes the plot sound intriguing — hints of magical realism? It’s hard to get a true sense of what it might be about, but I’d like to give it a try.

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!

Shelf Control #248: Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint

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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: Dreams Underfoot
Author: Charles de Lint
Published: 1993
Length: 416 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Welcome to Newford…

Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

About the Newford series:

Welcome to Newford, the fictional North American city setting for award-winning author Charles de Lint’s popular and beloved urban fantasy series.

Human beings share the city with European and Native American mythological legends, finding common ground as they live out their daily lives or find themselves swept up in adventures beyond imagination.

“As familiarly as though he were chronicling the lives of old friends, de Lint spins yet another magical story of the intersections between reality and the faerie and spirit world in this latest addition to the Newford opus, his twin loves of storytelling and music-making shining through every page…[H]ighly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review) on Widdershins

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy at one of our library’s big sales, probably 3 or 4 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve been hearing about the Newford books for years! In fact, I think I actually own copies of a few books from the series (all books that I’ve grabbed at various used book sales). Charles de Lint is considered a master fantasy writer, yet I’ve only read one of his books so far (The Mystery of Grace, a stand-alone novel that was excellent).

Dreams Underfoot is a collection of stories set in Newford, and while I don’t usually gravitate toward short stories, I’d want to read this book to get an introduction to the world of the series and then see if I want to continue.

Have you read any of the Newford books?

And if not — 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!

Shelf Control #247: Cool Gray City of Love by Gary Kamiya

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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: Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco
Author: Gary Kamiya
Published: 2013
Length: 400 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Cool, Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal insight, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site or intersection in the city, from the mighty Golden Gate Bridge to the raunchy Tenderloin to the soaring sea cliffs at Land’s End.

This unique approach captures the exhilarating experience of walking through San Francisco’s sublime terrain, while at the same time tying that experience to a history as rollicking and unpredictable as the city herself. From her absurd beginnings as the most distant and moth-eaten outpost of the world’s most extensive empire, to her instantaneous fame during the Gold Rush, from her apocalyptic destruction by earthquake and fire to her perennial embrace of rebels, dreamers, hedonists and misfits of all stripes, the City by the Bay has always followed a trajectory as wildly independent as the untrammeled natural forces that created her.

This ambitious, eclectic, and beautifully written book draws on everything from on-the-ground reporting to obscure academic papers to the author’s 40-year life in San Francisco to create a rich and insightful portrait of a magical corner of the world. Complete with hand-drawn maps of the 49 locations, this handsome package will sit comfortably on the short shelf of enduring books about places, alongside E. B. White’s Here is New York, Jose Saramago’s Journey to Portugal, or Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy last year.

Why I want to read it:

I came to San Francisco in my 20s, and while I love my adopted city, I always feel like there’s more for me to learn and explore. I’ve been familiar with this author for a while now, thanks to the weekly column he writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, Portals to the Past, in which he highlights different stories from SF’s history. They’re always surprising, sometimes very funny and/or weird, and never fail to entertain.

I first heard of this book a few years ago, and I finally decided to treat myself to a copy last year, but sadly, haven’t actually taken it off the shelf to read yet. I think this is one that could be read in small bites, maybe just a chapter here and there in between other books.

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!