Shelf Control: Changes & New Beginnings

Shelves final

New year, new beginnings, new decisions, new directions…

I’m writing to announce a change here at Bookshelf Fantasies — specifically, about my Shelf Control weekly posts.

Back in 2015, I created Shelf Control and invited others to participate as well:

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!

Over the past seven years, I’ve featured 347 books from my shelves. I’ve been joined by wonderful participants, all book bloggers sharing their own variety of featured books. It’s been so much fun sharing and exchanging ideas, reading plans, and insights!

This past year, I’ve noticed that hosting a weekly book blog meme has occasionally started to feel more like an obligation and less like pure enjoyment. I’ve written in the past about my strong belief that book blogging should be a source of fun and happiness, and if it ever starts to feel like work, then I should reconsider what I’m doing. I still love the idea of Shelf Control, but I think it’s about time for me to cut back on commitments and just post when the inspiration strikes.

For that reason, it’s time for me to pass the reins to a new host!

I’m delighted to announce that Mallika at Literary Potpourri will be “adopting” the Shelf Control meme and will become its new host! Mallika has been the most involved participant in Shelf Control over the years, and her book selections are always fascinating.

I’ll still participate in the meme, but I love the idea of contributing now and then, rather than feeling forced to find a new book to feature week in and week out. So, look for my posts… just not necessarily every week.

Thank you to one and all who’ve participated by sharing your own Shelf Control posts and/or commenting on mine! Your thoughts, comments, and insights have meant so much to me.

Please join me in thanking Mallika for taking over Shelf Control, and please check in at Literary Potpourri for future Shelf Control posts!

Happy New Year!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Shelf Control: Taking stock – 2022 round-up

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!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

A few years ago already, I shared my intention to do a “taking stock” Shelf Control post on an annual basis, to see how many of the books that I’ve featured as Shelf Control picks I’ve actually ended up reading.

Well… that was in 2019, and I only just remembered that I’d intended to make it a yearly tradition! Oops.

Better late than never — so here I am, at the end of 2022, ready to do a little tallying.

In 2022, I shared 47 Shelf Control posts

Of those 47:

  • I have read a grand total of TWO books.
  • There are FIFTEEN that I’d put into the “unlikely to read” category. Upon reflection, I just don’t feel all that interested in taking the time to read them.
  • Some of these may end up in my donation pile, whenever I get around to doing another bookshelf purge. 

Keep in mind, that’s just the 2022 selection of Shelf Control books!

Going back to when I first started this weekly feature (in 2015 — I can’t quite believe I’ve been doing these post for that long!) my stats are a little intimidating:

Total Shelf Control books so far: 347
Number of Shelf Control books I’ve read since posting about them: 33
Number of Shelf Control books donated or otherwise discarded: 63
Number of Shelf Control books that I doubt I’ll ever read (I still have them, but they may be next to go): 61

Which means:

Of the books I’ve featured, I have…

190 books still to read! 

Which just goes to show that these Shelf Control posts do seem to help me in some way — they at least force me to really think about the books on my shelves, and eventually decide if I’m still interested. Although as my stats show, the most probably outcome for my Shelf Control books (particularly those I’ve owned for more than a year or two) is that I’m unlikely to actually read or keep them, when push comes to shove.

Still, this isn’t necessarily a negative. Since I don’t seem to ever quite stop adding to my home library, getting a bit of organization and motivation to donate the books I don’t intend to read is really a good thing.

Onward to 2023! Let’s see how my shelves are looking a year from now.

Happy New Year!

And for those doing a regular Shelf Control post this week:

A Novel Start
Bookshelf Journeys

__________________________________

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!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

All the books I meant to read – 2022 edition

It’s time for my annual end-of-year tradition — all the books I meant to read! Here’s a look back at all the books I purchased in 2022, but just didn’t get around to reading for one reason or another.

And… oops… I did manage to order a few more that are set to arrive later this week, but I’ll just go ahead and consider them 2023 purchases!

When it comes to physical books, I seem to have improved my track record during this past year! I bought fewer hard copies overall, and of the ones I did buy, I actually read quite a few (so they’re not included in this post).

In past years, this round-up post only included physical books (hardcovers and paperbacks), but I thought it might be fun (or embarrassing or daunting or overwhelming…) to also include all the e-books I added to my Kindle library but haven’t read yet.

Here’s a salute to my unread books of 2022!

First, the hardcovers and paperbacks:

And now, the Kindle books purchased in 2022. (In my defense, I tend to grab books I’m interested in when I see a good price drop… so most of these were deals that I snatched up, not necessarily books that I intended to read immediately and then just didn’t get to). My 2022 e-books:

Save

So, if I prioritized reading all of these 2022 book purchases in 2023… that would take up most of the year! I’ll give it a fair shot — and will try to stick to just buying the books I know I’ll read right away.

Have you read (and loved) any of my 2022 “meant-to-read” books? Please let me know if you see any you’d consider best of the bunch!

Onward to 2023! Happy New Year!Save

Shelf Control #347: The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

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!

Title: The Wild Silence
Author: Raynor Winn
Published: 2020
Length: 280 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Nature holds the answers for Raynor and her husband Moth. After walking 630 homeless miles along The Salt Path, living on the windswept and wild English coastline; the cliffs, the sky and the chalky earth now feel like their home.

Moth has a terminal diagnosis, but against all medical odds, he seems revitalized in nature. Together on the wild coastal path, with their feet firmly rooted outdoors, they discover that anything is possible.

Now, life beyond The Salt Path awaits and they come back to four walls, but the sense of home is illusive and returning to normality is proving difficult – until an incredible gesture by someone who reads their story changes everything.

A chance to breathe life back into a beautiful farmhouse nestled deep in the Cornish hills; rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their saving grace and their new path to follow.

The Wild Silence is a story of hope triumphing over despair, of lifelong love prevailing over everything. It is a luminous account of the human spirit’s instinctive connection to nature, and how vital it is for us all.

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy about a year ago.

Why I want to read it:

The Wild Silence is the follow-up to The Salt Path, Raynor Winn’s memoir of the journey she and her ailing husband made along the 630-mile Coast Path of Cornwall. I absolutely loved The Salt Path, feeling both incredibly impressed and incredulous that they attempted this trek during the lowest period of their lives. It’s an astounding feat, and the book is powerful, honest, funny, and touching.

But, at the end of The Salt Path, we readers are left with questions. What happened to the couple next? Did they find peace and happiness? How did the next chapter of their lives unfold?

As soon as I heard that the author would be publishing a sequel, I knew I needed it! Since I listened to the audio version of the first book, my intention was to do the same with The Wild Silence, but I also wanted the paperback to be able to follow along. Unfortunately, my good intentions just haven’t panned out, and I still haven’t started either the print or audio of this book.

Still, this is a Shelf Control book that I’m certain I want to read. I tend to always choose fiction over non-fiction whenever it’s time to start a new book, but I do love a good memoir. I’m excited to read/listen to The Wild Silence in 2023.

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 #346: Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

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!

Title: Black Rabbit Hall
Author: Eve Chase
Published: 2015
Length: 400 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here’s a magnetic debut novel of wrenching family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall.

Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers …

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does.

More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.

Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.

How and when I got it:

I added the e-book to my library several years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I remember seeing promotional material for this book and thinking it looked good, and then saw it featured while browsing at the library and was drawn to the dark and mysterious cover. I didn’t actually borrow it at that time, but when I saw a Kindle deal for it, I grabbed it.

I’m intrigued by the synopsis. Why would the clocks always be different? What actually happened at Black Rabbit Hall? Why does it have a different name 30 years later, and what happened to the family who used to live there? So many riddles to untangle!

I do like grim, gothic stories, and nothing beats a decrepit old mansion with a secret past! I don’t know anyone who’s actually read this book, but I’m interested enough to want to hold on to it and finally 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 #345: Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

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!

Title: Catherine House
Author: Elisabeth Thomas
Published: 2020
Length: 336 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

Trust us, you belong here.

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition of this book in 2020.

Why I want to read it:

After seeing lots of rave reviews when this book came out, I stumbled across a Kindle deal that was too good to pass up.

Dark academia as a genre has never exactly been my thing, and I’ve been in the minority of people who didn’t like some truly popular books in this category. Still, gothic vibes and “all is not what it seems” are both elements that tend to appeal to me, so I’m willing to give Catherine House a try.

I like the sound of an elite school with enforced isolation, and clearly there’s some seriously dark secret at the heart of it all. I’m curious to see what it’s all about, and what the trade-off is for the students who achieve the promised power and success that the school offers.

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 #344: The Book of V. by Anna Solomon

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!

***Question for Shelf Control participants: I currently go ahead and add the links for participants’ posts as they’re shared in the comments or via pingbacks. Does this work for you, or would you prefer a system where you add your own links (such as via InLinkz or similar)? Please let me know!**

Title: The Book of V.
Author: Anna Solomon
Published: 2020
Length: 320 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Anna Solomon’s kaleidoscopic novel intertwines the lives of a Brooklyn mother in 2016, a senator’s wife in 1970s Washington, D.C., and the Bible’s Queen Esther, whose stories of sex, power and desire overlap and ultimately converge—showing how women’s roles have and have not changed over thousands of years.

Lily is a mother and a daughter. And a second wife. And a writer, maybe? Or she was going to be, before she had children. Now, in her rented Brooklyn apartment, she’s grappling with her sexual and intellectual desires while also trying to manage her roles as a mother and a wife.

Vivian Barr seems to be the perfect political wife, dedicated to helping her charismatic and ambitious husband find success in Watergate-era Washington D.C. But one night he demands a humiliating favor, and her refusal to obey changes the course of her life—along with the lives of others.

Esther is a fiercely independent young woman in ancient Persia, where she and her uncle’s tribe live a tenuous existence outside the palace walls. When an innocent mistake results in devastating consequences for her people, she is offered up as a sacrifice to please the king, in the hopes that she will save them all.

Following in the tradition of The Hours and The Red TentThe Book of V. is a bold and contemporary investigation into the enduring expectations and restraints placed on women’s lives.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition of this book late in 2020.

Why I want to read it:

This is my second week in a row with a historical fiction pick for Shelf Control! So why this particular book?

Dual timeline narratives seem to be everywhere when it comes to historical fiction, particularly novels that focus on women’s lives and societal roles. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a split timeline combining modern women’s lives with Queen Esther before now!

I’ve always loved the story of Queen Esther — as a child, we learned the simplistic version about a good and beautiful queen saving her people. We never did give much thought to the previous queen, Vashti, except to consider her the “bad” queen who came before Esther. Of course, as an adult, I’ve enjoyed more nuanced views of the tale, and especially learning about Vashti as a feminist icon!

The idea of Esther/Vashti as ancient counterparts to contemporary women’s experiences sounds… weird??? But also potentially fascinating. On the surface, it seems like a stretch to me — but I remain interested in seeing how the author balances and contrasts the two stories, and wonder whether it works well or feels forced.

I do think I’ll read this one — maybe I’ll time it just right and read it in time for the holiday of Purim!

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 #343: The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

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!

Title: The Heretic’s Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
Published: 2008
Length: 332 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha’s courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family’s deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

How and when I got it:

I have no idea! I’ve had a paperback edition on my shelf for many years now, but I’m not sure how I ended up with a copy. (Library sale is a likely suspect!)

Why I want to read it:

The subject of the Salem witch trials is an endlessly fascinating (and terribly tragic) topic to read about. Until I sat down to write this post, I didn’t realize that the author of this book is a descendant of the real-life person this historical novel is about.

While I’ve read several novels focused on the Puritan era and witch trials, this one sounds like it has a different perspective from what I’ve read so far, and I’m interested to see how the author presents this mother-daughter story.

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 #342: Jane in Love by Rachel Givney

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!

Title: Jane in Love
Author: Rachel Givney
Published: 2020
Length: 434 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

If Jane Austen had the choice between the heart and the pen, what do you think she would do?

At age twenty-eight, Jane Austen should be seeking a suitable husband, but all she wants to do is write. She is forced to take extreme measures in her quest to find true love – which lands her in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Magically, she finds herself in modern-day England, where horseless steel carriages line the streets and people wear very little clothing. She forms a new best friend in fading film star Sofia Wentworth, and a genuine love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred, who has the audacity to be handsome, clever and kind-hearted.

She is also delighted to discover that she is now a famous writer, a published author of six novels and beloved around the globe. But as Jane’s romance with Fred blossoms, her presence in the literary world starts to waver. She must find a way to stop herself disappearing from history before it’s too late.

A modern-day reimagining of the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers, this wonderfully witty romantic comedy offers a new side to Jane’s story, which sees her having to choose between true love in the present and her career as a writer in the past.

How and when I got it:

I bought a paperback copy on a whim when I saw it on sale, probably a little over a year ago.

Why I want to read it:

Oh dear. Now that I’m reading the synopsis, I have to say… it doesn’t sound good! I’m always up for giving an Austen-inspired book a try, but finding herself “magically” in modern-day England? And being at risk of disappearing from history? Sounds a little too Back To the Future, perhaps. I’m already cringing, and I haven’t even picked up the book!

On the other hand, I do own a physical copy, and should probably at least give it a fair try before casting it into the discard pile.

Right?

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 #341: All the Murmuring Bones by A. G. Slatter

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!

Title: All the Murmuring Bones
Author: A. G. Slatter
Published: 2021
Length: 337 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Long ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.

A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.

How and when I got it:

I bought a paperback edition about a year ago, and I also have the audiobook on my Chirp app.

Why I want to read it:

Mermaids. Need I say more?

Yes?

I don’t really remember how I first became aware of this book, but it seemed like there was a moment where it was all over the blogs and Goodreads, and I just knew I needed a copy!

There’s really no reason I haven’t read All the Murmuring Bones yet, other than my huge TBR pile looming over me every second of the day. The synopsis above is really brief, but it’s enough to absolutely pique my interest!

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!