Shelf Control #240: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded by John Scalzi

Shelves final

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

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

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

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Title: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded
Author: John Scalzi
Published: 2008
Length: 368 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

On September 13, 1998, John Scalzi sat down in front of his computer to write the first entry in his blog “Whatever” — and changed the history of the Internet as we know it today.

What, you’re not swallowing that one? Okay, fine: He started writing the “Whatever” and amused about 15 people that first day. If that many. But he kept at it, for ten years and running. Now 40,000 people drop by on a daily basis to see what he’s got to say.

About what? Well, about whatever: Politics, writing, family, war, popular culture and cats (especially with bacon on them). Sometimes he’s funny. Sometimes he’s serious (mostly he’s sarcastic). Sometimes people agree with him. Sometimes they send him hate mail, which he grades on originality and sends back. Along the way, Scalzi’s become a best-selling, award-winning author, a father, and a geek celebrity. But no matter what, there’s always another Whatever to amuse and/or enrage his readers.

Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded collects some of the best and most popular Whatever entries over the history of the blog, from some of the very first entries right up into 2008. It’s a decade of Whatever, presented in delightfully random form — just the way it should be. 

How and when I got it:

I’m not sure when exactly, but I bought a copy sometime in the past couple of years.

Why I want to read it:

I love John Scalzi’s novels — I think I’ve read them all! At some point after discovering how much I loved his writing style, I visited his blog, Whatever. And kept going back.

I’ve been following Whatever for several years now, but didn’t start until after the period covered in this book. I know I love his snark and intelligence and humor (and cat photos), so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy this book too, although I suspect I’ll want to read it in little bits and pieces over time.

368 pages of Whatever sounds like A LOT, after all.

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: Ten (OK, actually eleven) Witchy Books for Halloween!

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 Halloween Freebie. I’m keeping it simple and featuring books about witches — mostly books I’ve read, plus three from my TBR list that I’m really looking forward to.

  1. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow — a 2020 favorite! (review)
  2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  3. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs — part of the ongoing Mercy Thompson series, but this one has some very bad witches in it! (review)
  4. The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry — despite the title, this book has much more to do with witches than ghosts. Loved it. (review)
  5. A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers — another 2020 favorite (review)
  6. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare — not actual witches, but about witch hunts in the Colonial era. I think every kid who grew up in Connecticut (like me!) read this book at some point. (review)
  7. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (review)
  8. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  9. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian — new release coming in April 2021
  10. The Factory Witches of Lowell by C. S. Malerich — coming in November 2020, and I think it sounds amazing.
  11. The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson — haven’t read yet, but I intend to!

Yes, that actually makes eleven books. I realized I had an extra, but couldn’t decide which one to drop!

What are your favorite witchy books?

I’d love to hear about your Halloween topic, so please share your TTT link!

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Shelf Control #239: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Shelves final

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

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

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

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Title: Central Station
Author: Lavie Tidhar
Published: 2016
Length: 275 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive…and even evolve.

How and when I got it:

I bought myself a copy after reading another book by this author.

Why I want to read it:

One of the weirdest and most original books I read in 2019 was Lavie Tidhar’s Unholy Land, and it immediately made me want to read more by this author.

Unholy Land was my first encounter with Israeli science fiction. Central Station, published two years earlier, looks like another strange and fantastical trip to a futuristic world. The story includes space exploration and other dimensions, but is also set in that world’s version of Tel Aviv, and honestly, I can’t wait to see what it’s like.

The only reason that I haven’t read this yet is the perpetual problem of having way too many books to read and always finding something else that’s a higher priority. I really do want to get to Central Station!

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: Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me

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 Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me.

I could probably list hundreds, but here are the first 10 that come to mind… with a big THANK YOU to the amazing people who did the recommending! (With review links where available, in case you want to know more about the books…)

1. Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland: Recommended by my husband’s friend, whose book group read this over the summer. (review)

2. Finishing School series by Gail Carriger: Even though I loved the Parasol Protectorate series, I was under the impression that I wouldn’t care for these books — but my daughter kept insisting I needed to give them a try. She was right! So enjoyable. (review)

3. Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell: A captivating novel about Shakespeare and his players, which I probably never would have read except that my book group picked it for a group read. Loved it! (review)

4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins: I’ve loved this author’s works, but for some reason didn’t get around to reading Evelyn Hugo despite owning a copy… until all the rave reviews from other book bloggers convinced me to finally read it. Thank you, all! Such an excellent book. (review)

5. The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler: I had never heard of Octavia Butler as of about 15 years ago, before a coworker (who’s also once of my best book buddies) urged me to read this. Truly a life-changing read.

6. Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow: I first heard of these books because they were recommended by another favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, on her “Methadone List“. The Kate books quickly became favorites, and I hope the author never stops writing them! (series overview)

7. If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser: My son, who is the most reluctant of readers, insisted that I read this book. And since he almost never reads willingly, I had to check it out to see what it was that made such an impression. (review)

8. The Blind Side by Michael Lewis: I am not a sports fan. At all. So why would I read a football book? Because one day while driving to work, I heard a review on NPR, and it was so highly recommended that I thought I’d give it a try. Glad I did!

9. All of Tamora Pierce’s books! I could list tons of books recommended by my daughter, but Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books were her favorites as a teen (and probably still are), and I finally got around to reading them over the past couple of years. And with minor exceptions, thought they were excellent!

10. I would be remiss if I didn’t include Letters from Thailand by Botan, which is the book that is at least partially responsible for me falling in love with my husband! If he hadn’t recommended it, we might never have started talking about books, and we all know how a booklover’s heart glows when you get on our favorite subject! If you want to know the backstory, you can check out my post here.

What books made your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

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Shelf Control #238: Outside the Dog Museum by Jonathan Carroll

Shelves final

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

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

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

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Title: Outside the Dog Museum
Author: Jonathan Carroll
Published: 1991
Length: 267 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Harry Radcliffe is a brilliant prize-winning architect—witty and remarkable. He’s also a self-serving opportunist, ready to take advantage of whatever situations, and women, come his way. But now, newly divorced and having had an inexplicable nervous breakdown, Harry is being wooed by the extremely wealthy Sultan of Saru to design a billion-dollar dog museum. In Saru, he finds himself in a world even madder and more unreal than the one he left behind, and as his obsession grows, the powers of magic weave around him, and the implications of his strange undertaking grow more ominous and astounding….

How and when I got it:

I found this at a library sale several years ago, and it’s been sitting in an unshelved stack of books ever since.

Why I want to read it:

Well, I’m not exactly sure that I want to read it, which is probably why it’s still sitting in its lonely stack waiting for some attention. I’ve read one book by this author, Bones of the Moon, which was incredibly weird (and also has one of my favorite covers of all time).

Once again, I was drawn to a Jonathan Carroll book because of the cover. (You have to look closely — but look! Doggos!)

I really can’t tell from the synopsis what this book will be like, how weird it’ll be (likely, very), or whether it will end up holding my attention. But, I do love the title and cover!

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: Super Long Book Titles

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 Super Long Book Titles.

I did a similar topic several years ago, so I’m challenging myself to come up with a new list without repeats (even though some of the titles from my earlier post are true favorites). In any case… here are my top 10 books with awesome long titles!

1. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman: I haven’t actually read this one, but I’m usually a fan of his books, so I’ll need to get to this sooner or later. And hey, that’s a great title!

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: I listened to this YA audiobook (narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda!!) and loved it.

3. If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende: Charming non-fiction about life in small town Alaska. Added bonus: cute moose on the cover!

4. The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff Vandermeer and Mark Roberts: A strange little guidebook to weird (fictional) illnesses — I picked up this book at a library sale a couple of years ago, and while I haven’t read the whole thing, it’s fun to open at random and read in small doses.

5. The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann: This was such a favorite picture book to read with my kids! I love the story, the rhymes, and the illustrations!

6. The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t by Gail Carriger: A delightful short story from a favorite author, finally revealing the backstory of a mysterious character. As always, lots of good fun.

7. How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days by Megan O’Russell: I’d never heard of this book until a few days ago when it popped up on one of my Amazon recommendation lists. I don’t know if I want to read the story, but I do love the title.

8. Alexander, Who Used To Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst: Since I included a different Alexander book the last time around, I thought this would be a good one to mention. Judith Viorst’s books are so funny and clever.

9. European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss: I’ve been a little obsessed with the Athena Club trilogy this year, and since I’ve already talked about the 1st in the series quite a bit, I thought I’d switch things up and include #2.

10. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer: This is a repeat from my earlier post about book titles, but it’s just too good not to include! This is a terrific collection of new and retold fairy tales, and the title has always stuck with me.

And there you have it – a random assortment of all sorts of books with long book titles.

What books made your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

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Shelf Control #237: Dragon Bones by Lisa See

Shelves final

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

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

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

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Title: Dragon Bones
Author: Lisa See
Published: 2002
Length: 368 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In a magnificent land where myth mixes treacherously with truth, one woman is in charge of telling them apart. Liu Hulan is the Inspector in China’s Ministry of Public Security whose tough style rousts wrongdoers and rubs her superiors the wrong way. Now her latest case finds her trapped between her country’s distant past and her own recent history.

The case starts at a rally for a controversial cult that ends suddenly in bloodshed, and leads to the apparent murder of an American archaeologist, which officials want to keep quiet. And haunting Hulan’s investigation is the possible theft of ancient dragon bones that might alter the history of civilization itself.

Getting to the bottom of ever-spiraling events, Hulan unearths more scandals, confronts more murderers, and revives tragic memories that shake her tormented marriage to its core. In the end, she solves a mystery as big, unruly, and complex as China itself. 

How and when I got it:

I picked up a paperback copy at a library sale, sometime within the last 3 – 4 years.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read many of Lisa See’s more recent books, including two of my all-time favorites, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and The Island of Sea Women. This book is a little different. Written earlier in the author’s career, Dragon Bones is one of three mysteries in the Red Princess series, although from what I understand, they can be read as stand-alones. (At least, I hope this is true, since I only have this one, and Goodreads says it’s #3.)

The plot itself sounds really appealing. I do love a good mystery that involves archaeology and a mix of ancient and recent history. Plus, I feel confident that any book by this author will be worth reading!

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: Book Covers That Give Off Autumn Vibes (2020 edition!)

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 Book Covers with Fall Colors/Vibes.

I just did a similar post last fall, so I’ll try not to repeat any books! When I think of autumn, I think of browns and oranges and yellows — so here are a selection of books from my shelves with cover colors in a fall palette.

What books make you think of autumn? Please share your TTT link!

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Shelf Control #236: The Gown by Jennifer Robson

Shelves final

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

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

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

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Title: The Gown
Author: Jennifer Robson
Published: 2018
Length: 371 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy in January 2019.

Why I want to read it:

I read so many stellar reviews when this book first came out. I don’t always love dual timeline historical fiction, but the synopsis for this book really intrigued me. After watching seasons 1 and 2 of The Crown, I’m very interested in learning more about Queen Elizabeth’s royal wedding. This novel’s focus on the people behind the scenes of the wedding preparations makes this sound like a really special read.

Plus, this is a good reminder for me to get caught up on The Crown season 3 before season 4 is released in November!

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: Favorite quotes about books and reading

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 Book Quotes.

My focus this time around is quotes about reading. Here are some quotes I love:

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
– Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“… a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
– George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.”
– Louisa May Alcott, Work: A Story of Experience

“A library is infinity under a roof.”
– Gail Carson Levine

“Despite his money and his looks and all the good-on-paper attributes he possessed, he was not a reader, and well, let’s just say that is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.”
– Eleanor Brown, The Weird Sisters

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
– Philip Pullman

“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.”
– Diane Duane, So You Want to Be a Wizard

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
― C.S. Lewis

“Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw

 

What book quotes do you love? Please share your TTT link!

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