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!


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: Cover Elements I Love & Loathe

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 Cover Freebie – meaning we come up with our own spin on the topic, so long as it relates to book covers.

I thought I’d keep it simple and highlight types of covers that I love… plus a couple that I loathe.


1. Covers featuring dreamy characters gazing out to sea — my favorite example being this lovely cover for The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley:

2. Bright colors on a black background: Maybe it became popular back with Twilight, but I’m always a sucker for the bright-on-black look.

3. Cutesy cartoon-y romance covers:

4. Cheesy 70s covers:

5. Moody urban fantasy heroes:

6. A series with a committed cover theme:

7. Bonkers looks for a bonkers book — such as these covers for books by Grady Hendrix:

8. Covers full of YUM — I’m not a foodie, but I do love a good cupcake!


And just a couple types of covers that I LOATHE:

9. Bare chests. Muscles. Tattoos. Muscle-y tattooed chests. You get what I mean.

[Note: Sorry — I started looking for images to go with this one, and I just couldn’t. For whatever reason, this type of cover makes me cringe SO much.]

10. Movie/TV tie-ins. I mean, I love a great adaptation as much as anyone, but I still prefer my book covers to be just book covers, not pictures of movie or TV stars. Even for my beloved Outlander series, I’d still take an old-fashioned cover over the new Jamie/Claire/TV cover (and don’t get me wrong, I adore the TV series!)


Are there certain types of covers that you love or loathe? Let me know what you think!

And if you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link.





Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

First, let’s pause to admire the sheer gorgeousness of this book cover. There. Now we’ve had our daily dose of beauty.

In The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a young woman learns that the world is not entirely as it appears, and that she herself isn’t quite who she thought she was.

January’s father is employed by the fabulously wealthy Mr. Locke to travel the world and seek out rare and exotic artifacts. Because his journeys take him away for months at a time, January lives in Mr. Locke’s mansion, pampered but isolated, feeling abandoned by her father and unsure of her place in the world.

When a battered book called The Ten Thousand Doors comes into her possession, January begins to learn about Doors — secret portals that bridge the thin connection between worlds. According to the book, Doors are real, and people who know how to look and find can access their pathways. And yet, there are those who would see these doors destroyed, viewing them as dangerous to the world we know.

The more January reads, the more she learns about the secrets of her own life and why she lives as she does. She also begins to learn about her own hidden powers, and realizes that her life with Mr. Locke is built on control and lies. But freedom comes at a steep cost with great danger, and as January struggles to get away, she becomes hunted by very powerful people who want her stopped.

The writing in this book is lovely, capturing the magic of books as well as the beauty of the natural world and the mysteries all around us. For book-lovers, there are special little passages that touch our hearts:

Those of you who are more than casually familiar with books — those of you who spend your free afternoons in fusty bookshops, who offer furtive, kindly strokes along the spines of familiar titles — understand that page-riffling is an essential element in the process of introducing oneself to a new book.

It’s like the author has been spying on me! How did she know that I feel the need to touch the spines of my favorite books when I see them at the library or a bookstore, and maybe whisper a quiet “hello” while I’m there?

The book’s imagery and use of unusual words also delighted me:

Time went strange. The hour-dragons stalked and circled. I heard their belly scales susurrating against the tile in my sleep.

January is a wonderful lead character, brave but not without fear, curious, open-minded, and desperate for both belonging and the truth. She risks herself over and over again to fight for freedom, and remains utterly loyal to the important people in her life. I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that the truth about her family is its own story-within-a-story, and is beautiful as well.

Once we have agree that true love exists, we may consider its nature. It is not, as many misguided poets would have you believe, an event in and of itself; it is not something that happens, but something that simply is and always has been. One does not fall in love; one discovers it.

The only thing that keeps this from being a 5-star read for me is that it really starts off slowly. I had to reach the 25% mark before I truly started to feel invested in January and the other characters. Of course, later I was so involved that I didn’t want to pause even to sleep, so I’m absolutely glad to have stayed with it. Still, I had enough doubts early on that it took me a while to overcome my reluctance and really plunge in.

A final note: As I read the excerpts from The Ten Thousand Doors (the book that January finds), I found myself struggling a bit with the footnotes and missed quite a few. They’re worth reading, but in Kindle format, they weren’t always easy to access and are actually embedded at the end of the book (at least in my copy), and the back and forth was a bit irritating. Small annoyance, but I thought I’d mention it.

I won’t say any more about the plot, but it’s best experienced fresh and without foreknowledge. I highly recommend The Ten Thousand Doors of January. It’s both an enchanting fantasy story and a very human story as well, with memorable characters and filled with emotion and passion. What a lovely read!


The details:

Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Publisher: Redhook
Publication date: September 10, 2019
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Won in a Goodreads giveaway!










Top Ten Tuesday: Cover redesigns — love ’em or hate ’em?

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 Cover Redesigns I Loved/Hated — which at first I wasn’t going to do, but then I took another look at my shelves, and found last-minute inspiration! Here are a variety of books that have been redesigned over the years. You be the judge of whether it’s for better or worse!

And because I’m running late, my top 10 list is really a top 5 list this week. Short & sweet!

1. Wuthering Heights: This just makes me laugh. In the heat of Twilight mania, this classic was reissued and blurbed as Bella’s favorite book. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the tweens who picked up a copy expecting vampires!


2. Stephen King books: I was always kind of partial to the cheesy early paperback editions of Stephen King’s books. The more streamlined graphic covers don’t have the same scare factor for me:


3. John Scalzi books: A few early Scalzi novels have been issued with new covers this past year. The new ones are nice, but you just can’t beat the whimsy of the earlier version.

4. Harry Potter: Okay, yes, the original is an absolute classic… but I do think Brian Selznick did a fantastic version with his set too.

5. Outlander: Some of the early covers in the series are so old-time cheesy, they just make me laugh!

How do you feel about cover redesigns? Are there any that you particularly love or hate?

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





Cover Cousins #3

Everyone once in a while, a book cover will call to mind another for me… and when that happens, I think of them as Cover Cousins.

Here’s how I framed the concept for my first Cover Cousins post:

I love when I pick up a new book and am instantly reminded of another — not necessarily because the covers are the same, but more because there’s a common feeling to them, a style, a color pattern, an image. The connection may only be in my mind, but it’s something I really enjoy thinking about.

Here’s my newest set of Cover Cousins — first, a book that I read last year and loved:

girl with all the gifts

And now, two books whose covers immediately made me think of The Girl With All the Gifts:

The three books are all quite different when it comes to genre and content… but those yellow covers with a single, representational figure!

What do you think?

Cover Cousins #2

Everyone once in a while, a book cover will call to mind another for me… and when that happens, I think of them as Cover Cousins.

Here’s how I framed the concept for my first Cover Cousins post:

I love when I pick up a new book and am instantly reminded of another — not necessarily because the covers are the same, but more because there’s a common feeling to them, a style, a color pattern, an image. The connection may only be in my mind, but it’s something I really enjoy thinking about.

Here’s my newest set of Cover Cousins:


These two are quite different, but between the title fonts and the overall layout, including the flowers and plants around the edges, seeing Vengeance Road immediately made me thing of The Darkest Part of the Forest.

What do you think? Do see a connection, or is it all in my mind?

Cover Cousins

I love when I pick up a new book and am instantly reminded of another — not necessarily because the covers are the same, but more because there’s a common feeling to them, a style, a color pattern, an image. The connection may only be in my mind, but it’s something I really enjoy thinking about. So… I thought I’d create a feature to highlight great book cover pairs whenever I happen to stumble across them.

To kick things off, here’s my first set of Cover Cousins:

5 to 1

White Cat


They’re not identical or anything, but there’s something about the look — the black background, the stylized graphic, the color scheme — that makes me want to put these two together.

Pretty cool covers, aren’t they?

Cover Cousins is a just a goofy little diversion of mine… but I like it. I’ll be back with more cover match-ups from time to time!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art


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 Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art. I’ve done other top 10 lists with favorite covers (and even one with scary covers) — so I’ll try to come up with 10 “work of art” book covers without repeating myself… too much.

1) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker


2) Mokoka’i by Alan Brennert


3) Impossible by Nancy Werlin


4) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman


5) Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore

sacre bleu

6) Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich
(I haven’t read the book, but I do love the cover!)

meet me

7) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (original edition with Tolkien’s cover art)


8) Any of the new series of covers for Susanna Kearsley books, especially:

 9) The covers from any of the Fables series volumes, especially:

10) The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
(Two different covers, and I like them both!)

If you want to see one of my earlier posts about favorite covers, check it out here. (Only 2 repeats! Not bad…)

What’s on your list this week? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!


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!


What’s black and red and read all over?

Some of the most striking book covers on my shelves, that’s what.

There’s something about that black and red combination that is so sharp and so eye-catching — maybe that’s why we’re seeing more and more of the black and red look in bookstores these days. I suppose you could credit this one for really popularizing the color combo:

This is not a Twilight post! I’m talking about the color scheme here.

Then publishers decided to Twilight-ify some of the classics, as if adding shiny black and red covers would suddenly make teens salivate over Emily Bronte:

Let’s ignore the “Bella & Edward’s favorite book” caption at upper right, shall we?

They’ve even done it to Austen:

“The Love That Started It All”. Please…

Well, I do have to admit that the black and red look is quite catchy… and perhaps a bit sinister. Does this version imply that there will be blood in Pride & Prejudice? (Gotta love that ampersand, by the way.) Teens who pick this one up expecting sparkles and red eyes may be a tad disappointed.

As I was reshelving books this past week, I pulled out some of my favorite red and black covers from my own collection. Excuse the shoddy camera work — that just proves that these are really mine. Here are some from my shelves that I think are most effective:

Replay by Ken Grimwood

A wonderful, awful, disturbing book of timey-wimey weirdness, as a man replays his life over and over again. If you had the ability to change your life, would you? The black and red cover with the repeating half-photo gives me a bit of the chills.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

This YA book is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with a Buffy-style heroine who kicks butt, brings down the monsters, and tries to make a better life for her sister.

Restless by William Boyd

I will admit to not having read Restless, but it sounds fascinating — and I do like the cover. Stark and a bit mysterious.

Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

Such an odd book, mind-bending at times. I’m still not sure whether it worked for me, but one thing’s certain — I do love the cover.

The Radleys, a genre-defying story of vampires living in the suburbs, got a comic-esque cover aimed toward the YA audience in the UK (above), but I actually prefer the US version, which conveys more of a sense of something sinister lurking behind the domestic facade:

The Radleys, with the US version, marketed as adult fiction

Sadly, my more camera was not up to completing its task, so although this book lives on my shelves, I could not get a decent picture of it and had to resort to importing an online version:

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

This story of dark secrets in a small town is well-served by the sharp cover art that combines a gothic feel with modern images.

Another that I’ve read, but only as an e-book:

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

This modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter is hauntingly well-done, and I really love the sharpness of the cover portrait.

Finally, I just came across this image of new editions of classic works by Stephen King:

I think I’ll be dreaming about these tonight. Wouldn’t they look terrific on my shelves?

That’s all I’ve got. How about you? What black and red beauties have caught your eye lately?