Top Ten Tuesday: A Selection of Favorite Fantasy Books and Series

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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 From My Favorite Genre. I bounce between genres quite a bit, but thought I’d focus here on fantasy. My list includes stand-alones as well as series, and because I’m sticking to just 10, I ended up not including three that pretty much go without saying: of course I love the Narnia, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Lord of the Rings books! (See? I managed to mention them after all!)

My top ten, in no particular order:

  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
  • Codex Alera (series) by Jim Butcher
  • The Immortals (series) (standing in for ALL Tortall books) by Tamora Pierce (review)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (review)
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series) by Patricia C. Wrede (review)
  • Wayward Children (series) by Seanan McGuire (review)
  • The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (review)
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner (review)
  • His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

What genre did you pick this week? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years

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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 Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years, highlighting one favorite books per year. What a great excuse for a trip back through my shelves!

It’s really hard to come up with just one favorite per year, so some of these are chosen somewhat arbitrarily from among all my five-star reads. If I’ve reviewed the book here on my blog, the link is provided — check it out if interested!

  • 2018: The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah (review)
  • 2017: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)
  • 2016: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (review)
  • 2015: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (review)
  • 2014: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • 2013: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (review)
  • 2012: The Martian by Andy Weir (review)
  • 2011: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (review)
  • 2010: Feed by Mira Grant
  • 2009: Under the Dome by Stephen King

What were your favorite books of the past 10 years? Do we have any in common? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

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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 That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch. And yes, I definitely have some of these. My off-limits, NO YOU MAY NOT BORROW IT WHY DO YOU EVEN ASK books are all about the sentimental value. I’m not a book collector for the dollar value, and doubt that I have more than a handful of books that might actually be worth more than what I originally paid for them. The books that I guard and never, ever lend are ones that hold special meaning for me… and that I’d cry over if they ever got lost or damaged, or even *gasp* just a little dog-eared.

My top ten are:

1) Signed hardcover editions of The Sparrow and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow is one of my all-time favorite books, and even though I had paperback copies, I jumped on these when I found them on EBay.

2) The thousand or so copies of Outlander books stacked up throughout my house: Call me crazy. I have hardcovers, anniversary editions, trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks… multiple copies of every book in the Outlander series. And no, I don’t lend any of them.

3) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill: I went to a book signing for Joe Hill’s first novel, back before he was quite as huge as he is now, and he was charming and all sorts of awesome. So I treasure this book. (It’s also scary AF.)

4) Graphic novels: I love all the graphic novels I’ve accumulated over the years, and since they’re all part of series, I don’t let any of them out of the house. Because I once did, and I ended up having to replace that volume when it got lost. (I’m still traumatized.)

5) Lamb by Christopher Moore: I have a very beat-up paperback edition of this book, but I really especially love my Bible-esque edition.

6) Everything Harry Potter: There are lots of sets of Harry Potter books in my house. Each of my kids has their own complete set, and I have mine — and mine are mine alone. I don’t share Harry Potter!

Wrapping up my list, it’s less about individual books and more about collections. I love these authors, and I love their books, and I keep my copies strictly to myself!

7) My Gail Carriger books (only some of which are pictured here):

8) My Patricia Briggs books (again, this isn’t all of them…)

9) Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant  — once again, my pictures don’t include all of my books by this author, but I do get to show off my gorgeous hardcovers from Subterranean Press.

And while I could go on, I’ll end with this one:

10) A really pretty illustrated edition of Pride and Prejudice, just because:

Do you lend your books? Do you have any that are off-limits? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

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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 LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads.

It’s nice to be able to give some love to stellar books that not enough people know about! Here are some of my top-rated reads, all with fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. Where available, I’m including links to my reviews, so check ’em out if you’re interested!

1) All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen (1,463 ratings): A super-charming steampunk adventure, with nods to Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. I think I’m due for a re-read!

2) Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (1,292 ratings): An Austen-esque novel about a whaling community in Australia in the early 1900s. Such a great read! (my review)

3) Extreme Makeover by Dan Wells (943 ratings): The end of the world, as brought about by a cosmetics company. Scary yet kind of funny in a bizarre sort of way. (my review)

4) Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (358 ratings): Why haven’t more people read this book?? I rave about this book whenever I get a chance — a mash-up of Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice that works perfectly. (my review)

5) Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst (933 ratings): I read this book years ago, but remember being charmed by the shenanigans of the ghosts in a California cemetery.

6) Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (1,468 ratings): I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people haven’t read this terrific book and its sequel, The Wild Dead. The world-building and storytelling are amazing. (my review)

7) Miniatures by John Scalzi (1,808 ratings): This collection of short fiction is adorable and highly entertaining. (my review)

8) Unequal Affection by Lara S. Ormiston (1,857 ratings): Yet another Austen-influenced book! This is one of the best riffs off of Pride and Prejudice that I’ve encountered — not a retelling exactly, but a continuation with an alternate ending. What if Elizabeth had accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal? This book explores what might have happened, and is a wonderful read. (my review)

9) All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson (1,534 ratings): A beautiful story about love, second chances, and survival, set in one of my very favorite places, Alaska. (my review)

10) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (1,591 ratings): As I wrote on Goodreads: Weird, wonderful, beautiful, tragic. If you’re wondering how elephants could possibly fit into a story about the “radium girls” tragedy, check out this inventive, powerful novella. (my review)

Have you read any of these? What are your top underrated books?

If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link so I can check out your list!

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

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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 2018.

Looking back, I see that I spent a big chunk of my reading time in 2018 with authors already familiar (and much loved), but I did manage to try a bunch of new ones too. Here’s a selection of my favorites:

1) Kristin Hannah — loved The Great Alone! I just picked up a copy of Firefly Road to try next.

2) Christina Lauren — who would have thought I’d enjoy their contemporary romances so much?

3) Susan OrleanThe Library Book was fascinating. Must read The Orchid Thief!

4) Celeste Ng – I read Little Fires Everywhere with my book group, and am looking forward to reading Everything I Never Told You.

5) Josh MalermanUnbury Carol was so strange and wonderful. I’ve read another book and a novel by him so far in 2019, and can’t wait for his new book, Inspection, coming out this spring.

6) Madeline MillerThe Song of Achilles was beautiful. Can’t wait to read Circe with my book group this summer.

7) Jennifer Ryan – I loved The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, which was a debut novel. I hope this talented author releases another book soon — her writing is terrific!

8) Jenny Han – Got totally hooked on the Lara Jean books after watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. Should I read her other books too?

9) Neal Shusterman — how had I not heard of him before? I loved Scythe and Thunderhead, and thought Dry was pretty good as well.

10) Jasmine Guillory — yet another contemporary romance writer. I read two of her books in 2018. Between those and the Christina Lauren, maybe I need to stop saying that I don’t read romance?

Are you a fan of any of these new-to-me authors? Are there any of their works that you’d particularly recommend?

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Top Ten Tuesday: The best books I read in 2018

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019! 

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 Best Books I Read In 2018.

According to Goodreads, I gave a 5-star rating to 73 books in 2018, and a 4-star rating to 83. That makes 156 books that I pretty much loved. Yowza, what a year! I don’t think I can limit myself to just 10 books here… so I’ll highlight a few, include a few others by category, and see how it all works out…

Here are (just a few of) my favorites from 2018:

1) Powerful family drama set in Alaska: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (review)

2) Two views of an an ancient classic: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (review)

3) Terrific historical fiction that I read because of my book group: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (review) and The Chilbury Lady’s Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)

4) A surprising moving short novel by Stephen King:  Elevation (review)

5) Amazing woman-power science fiction:  The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (review)

6) Action/adventure with THE BEST heroic duo: Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer (review)

7) New books in beloved series:

8) Deliciously fun contemporary romance: 

9) Intriguing story collections:

10) A couple of classics that I finally read!

 

What were your favorite reads of 2018? Please leave me your link!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Wishing one and all a terrific new year filled with wonderful books!

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2018: My year in books

2018 has had its ups and downs… but one thing has remained constant, and that’s the joy of spending time with great books. Here’s a look back at my reading life in 2018.

I love the little words of encouragement from Goodreads! My 202 books reads this past year include novellas, children’s books, audiobooks, and graphic novels, in addition to novels and a handful of non-fiction books. It’s always fun to mix things up.

 

Goodreads stats as of 12/31/2018:

I don’t particularly like that Goodreads uses “least popular” in this context. Maybe it should just be “least read”? In any case, Rat-Catcher is a story set in the Toby Daye world, I loved it immensely, and I think more people should read it!

According to my average rating, I’ve been pretty successful this year when it comes to choosing book that appeal to me:

Star rating used most often: 4 stars (83 total)
Star rating used least often: 2 stars (4 total — and I didn’t give any books only 1-star. I think if I thought that little of a book, I just DNFd.)
DNFs: 3 – I gave up on three different books this year — one science fiction, one fantasy, and one historical fiction. With the historical fiction, I just wasn’t in the mood at that moment (and needed to return it to the library). For the other two, the tone of the writing simply didn’t work for me, and I decided not to push myself to continue something I wasn’t enjoying.

First and Last on Goodreads:

Interestingly (or not), my first and last (and bunches of others) were re-reads. I’ve definitely become fond of re-reading the previous book in a series right before the newest gets released. What can I say? I value a good refresher.

Highlights from my series reading:

2018 was the year of the series for me. I started the year with some idea of a few series I wanted to try — and was happy to discover that I picked some great ones! My best series reads this year were:

The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire: 12 novels, plus all sorts of related novellas and short stories.

Newsflesh by Mira Grant: 4 novels and a collection of stories.

From the world of Tortall by Tamora Pierce: I read three quartets and a duology (and am now reading the first book in a trilogy), for a total of 14 books set in Pierce’s amazing fantasy world.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi: 6 novels

Eye-candy covers:

Let me just take a minute to appreciate some of the most beautiful and/or eye-catching covers from my reading this year… because who doesn’t love a great looking book?

 

But wait! What were my favorite books of the year?

It’s too hard to narrow down! It’s like choosing my favorite child! But, okay, if I must… I’m working on my Top Ten list for tomorrow, when I’ll finally have my list whittled down to just 10 (or so) books that I loved to pieces in 2018. Stay tuned!

Top Ten Tuesday: My ten favorite books (so far!) in 2018

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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 Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far).

Where to even start? 2018 has been full of amazing books for me — here are some of my favorites:

1) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (review)

2) The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson (review)

3) Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (review)

4) The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (review)

5) The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (11 books and counting!)

6) The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)

7) Only Human (Themis Files, #3) by Sylvain Neuvel (review)

8) The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (review)

9) The Murderbot Diaries, books #1 & 2 by Martha Wells (review)

It’s kind of hard to limit myself to just ten… but the final spot, I think I need to go with one of the two Georgette Heyer books I’ve read (so far) in 2018. I can always count on GH’s books to brighten my day!

10) A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer (review)

Oh, what the heck… let’s include one more, because it was just so unique and awesome:

11) Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (review)

And now I’m going to hit the “publish” button before I add any more to this list!

What are your top books read so far in 2018? Please share your TTT links!

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Why I re-read

I started thinking about the topic of re-reading this week in response to today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read. I re-read books A LOT, and the prompt made me wonder: Are there any books that I’d absolutely rule out when it comes to re-reading? Sure, there are the books that I disliked or felt were only meh reads, but books I loved?

Never say never.

I can’t come up with a list that fits the category, because if I loved a book once, why wouldn’t I love it again?

So I started thinking about what I choose to re-read, and when, and pretty soon, had my own nifty little list going. Without further ado, here are my scattered reasons for why I re-read books:

Visiting old friends: Sometimes, we readers get a wee bit attached to our beloved characters. Or obsessed. Whatever. I love going back and re-reading certain books, because after enough times, it’s like spending time with family or friends who’ve been a part of my life for years and years.

Nostalgia: Thinking back to childhood or a particular era in my life, I may choose to re-read a book that brought me joy at a certain point, or that I associate strongly with events happening at the time I was reading. Or sometimes, it’s just to re-experience the wonder of a lovely story that once upon a time made me smile.

Comfort food: At times of stress, sadness, or even boredom, there’s nothing like curling up with a book that’s guaranteed to make me feel snug and content. (Lookin’ at you, Harry Potter!)

To honor someone special: There are certain books I associate with certain people — and particularly for people I haven’t seen in a long time, or even more so, those no longer with us, sometimes I’ll re-read a book because I know it was special to someone I care about, and reading their special book makes me feel closer to them.

The feels: A book that made me swoon, a book that made me cry, even a book that made me angry — if it brought out particularly strong feelings in me, I may choose to re-read it when I’m in the mood to feel that way again.

A refresher: This has been a biggie for me lately. When a sequel or a new installment in an ongoing series comes out, chances are (if I’m particularly invested) that I’ll go back and re-read the previous book, so all the details and characters and plot points will be sharp in my fuzzy brain.

A second chance: Do you ever reconsider books that you’d already tried and disliked? This one doesn’t happen all that often for me, but occasionally I’ll realize that maybe I gave up on a book too soon, or allowed a bad mood or real-life distractions to keep me from enjoying a book I might otherwise have liked. So every once in a while, I’ll decide to give a book a new chance to impress me… and I’ve actually had some good results!

Jogging the memory: Okay, yes, I’m the first to admit that my brain just doesn’t keep data forever… and so some of the books that I know I read and loved years ago are nothing but fond feelings and a general sense of storyline for me at this point. If I remember loving a book but don’t remember more than that, maybe it’s time for a re-read!

Plot twists: This one is super rare, but there have been several books in my reading life that smacked me with such mind-boggling plot twists that I had to read them all over again, just to see if the pieces really do add up or to sort out the complicated threads of the story.

New meaning: There are some books that I swear I could read over and over and over again, but each time, there’s some new enjoyment or nuance or hidden connection to discover.

 

 

Do you re-read? If so, why?

Clearly, I’m a fan of re-reading… after all, re-reading a favorite book is like giving it a big hug that lasts for hours!

Delicious.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Read Again and Again and Again

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there’s a new top 10 theme — check out the host blog for a list of upcoming topics.

This week’s topic is Books I Could Re-read Forever

That’s a pretty easy topic for me. I have certain favorites that I’ve read again and again, and I’m sure I’ll continue to return to them in years to come, kind of like spending time with old friends. And writing this post has given me a good excuse to visit them all again, at least for the quick purpose of taking photos!

The books I never get tired of re-reading are:

1. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon: I’ve read all of the books multiple times, and yet I keep going back and starting over. There’s always something new to get out of each read.

My Outlander shelf!

2. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: I’ve read The Sparrow 3 or 4 times by now, and the emotional impact never goes away, no matter how many times I’ve read it.

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: I read this book twice in a row when I first got hold of it, and have read it a couple more times since.

4. Lamb by Christopher Moore: I love all of Moore’s books, but Lamb is something really special.

5. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: I read it several times in my teens, and have come back to it once or twice since then.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Really, all of Austen’s works could be on this list, but P&P remains the one that I’ve revisited the most.

Do I have enough editions of Pride and Prejudice? Probably not.

7. The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger: I love the world of the Parasol Protectorate, and have so much fun dipping into these books whenever I need a pick-me-up.

8. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: I need a good dose of Harry Potter at least every other year. There’s just nothing that compares!

9. The Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega books by Patricia Briggs: I love the world of Mercy so, so much. I’ve read all the books more than once, and have loved all the audiobooks as well.

10: My favorite Susanna Kearsley books: I always love her works, but I especially loved Mariana, The Rose Garden, and The Winter Sea, and would be perfectly happy re-reading those books forever.

What books do you read over and over again?

Please share your thoughts and share your links!

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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!

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