Top Ten Tuesday: My super-special special editions

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 FREEBIE, meaning we all choose our own themes. My topic this week is Special Editions… which means, fancy/extravagant/nice-to-have books that I gave myself as gifts. Because if I don’t treat myself to the nice things in life (BOOKS!), who will?

Here are ten books that I’ve treated myself to over the years — they make me happy whenever I see them!

1. Anne of Green Gables: I made it through decades of life deprived of the joys of Anne, but I suffer no more! I’m working my way through the series (on book #6 right now), and couldn’t resist this adorable hardcover edition.

2. Firefly: A Celebration: Browncoats, unite! Firefly’s TV life was cut short, but it lives on in the hearts of its fans. This big picture book includes complete scripts, amazing photos, and more. I needed it in my life!

3. Soulless: As a devoted fan of the Parasol Protectorate series, I really needed these pretty editions.

4. The World of Ice and Fire: Not only is this book SO gorgeous to look at, it’s really an amazing reference guide. So helpful when trying to keep your Targaryens, Starks, and Baratheons straight.

5. Y: The Last Man: I loved these graphic novels, and when I found a hardcover set of the full series on EBay, I had to have them.

6. Wonderstruck and The Marvels: I really love Brian Selznick’s approach in these books, using words and images to tell a complete story.

7. Harry Potter illustrated editions: I mean, obviously. I’ve been buying them as they’ve been released. Can’t wait for #4 this fall!

8. The Outlander Kitchen: If you knew me, you’d think it’s hilarious that I own this book. I do not cook. Really, at all. Yet I had to have this Outlander-themed cookbook, because Outlander. (And it’s really fun to look through, even if I will never, ever try any recipes.)

9. The Tales of Beedle the Bard: This one is a pretty recent edition to my shelves. I have a version of this book from when it first came out — but then I heard that there was an edition available with illustrations by Chris Riddell, and I was sold.

10: Hamilton: The Revolution: I bought a copy of this book as a gift for my daughter, back before I’d ever seen the show. But then I became a Hamil-fan, and needed one for myself. And yes, I’ve read it cover to cover, and loved it.

 

 

Do you ever treat yourself to special editions? What’s the best book present you ever gave yourself?

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

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Top Ten Tuesday: My top ten auto-buy authors

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 Auto-Buy Authors, a topic I did for TTT posts in 2013 and 2015. So what is an auto-buy author? For me, it’s a favorite author whose books I’ll buy pretty much on faith — no matter what the plot is about, if it’s by one of these favorites, I know I’ll want to read it!

Some of the authors on my 2013 list are included here as well (proving that fandom is eternal!), and there are several others whom I’ve only had the pleasure of discovering since then. Without further ado, my old and new auto-buy authors as of summer 2019:

1. Diana Gabaldon: Because of course Diana Gabaldon is — and always will be — at the top of my list! I’m an Outlander fan, through and through, and will never stop reading these wonderful books.

2. Patricia Briggs: I love the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series so, so much. Give me more and more and more, and please don’t ever stop.

3. Seanan McGuire: Surely, if you’ve ever visited my blog before, you’ve seen me rave about the October Daye books, the InCryptid series, the Wayward Children series, and more… not to mention everything she writes as her alter ego Mira Grant. I will absolutely read whatever she writes!

4. Gail Carriger: I’m such a fan! True, I haven’t read her San Andreas Shifters books yet, but I’ve read everything else she’s written, and find her books just delightful.

5. Neil Gaiman: I mean, who isn’t a fan? Okay, I didn’t love American Gods, but I do love almost everything else, so chances are whenever a new book comes out, I’ll buy it.

6. Dana Stabenow: I fell crazy in love with her awesome Kate Shugak series (#22 comes out next year!), and I do plan to read her non-Kate novels too one of these days.

7. Sarah Gailey: Well, I’m three for three for Sarah Gailey — loved the two American Hippo stories, and loved Magic For Liars too. So yes, I’ve already preordered her next book!

8. Lisa See: Wow, what can’t she do to my heart? I love her characters and her exploration of cultures and societies that I’d otherwise know little to nothing about. Such beautiful writing.

9. Cat Winters: So creative! So expressive! I always enjoy her books, and even the ones that aren’t my favorites are still really great reads.

10: Taylor Jenkins Reid: I still need to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo *hangs head in shame* — but I’ve read all her other books, and have loved every single one!

Do you have auto-buy authors? Do we have any in common? (And if so — which are your favorite of their books?)

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

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Childhood Favorites (updated 2019)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s top ten topic is Childhood Favorites  — a topic I featured back in 2013. And you know what? While I might be tempted to add another ten, there isn’t a single one of my original choices that I’d want to remove. So, once more with feeling… ten favorite books from my distant past that have absolutely influenced me as a reader…

1) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In early readings, I wanted to be Beth (go ahead, psychoanalyze me based on that little fact!), then envied Amy her world travels, but finally came to appreciate Jo in all her prickly glory. Pop culture references to Little Women always make me happy — like when Joey read it on Friends. Classic, in so many ways.

2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It just never gets old. Me in 2013: I’m trying to convince my 10-year-old to read it, mostly so I’ll have a good excuse for rereading it myself. 2019 update: The 10-year-old is now 16, and still hasn’t read this book. But I’ve reread it myself, so all is well.

3) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. Seriously, wouldn’t you love to run away to live in a museum? This books was responsible for my mad scribblings, throughout my youth, of a whole bunch of half-written stories involving running off to exotic locations and having crazy adventures.

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9 of my top 10 childhood favorites — I can’t believe I still have all of these!

4) Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager. I read this book as a kid and loved it — but years later, all I could remember was that it was about kids entering into an imaginary world throught their toy castle in the playroom. I had no idea about the title or author and was never able to track it down, until my daughter came home with Half Magic by the same author, and something just clicked into place.

5) The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I just adored these books as a kid, and didn’t know enough at the time to be bothered by some of the problematic elements. I loved Laura and her family, the crazy struggles for survival in harsh circumstances, and of course, the love story between Laura and Almanzo. Whoa, those blizzards! I still get cold thinking about the kids trying to get home from school during a wild snow storm. Brrrrr.

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Merry, Rose, and Christmas Tree June

6) Merry, Rose and Christmas Tree June by Doris Orgel. This story of a girl and her dolls just really stuck with me, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally tracked down a copy. The fact that it’s illustrated by Edward Gorey just makes it even more of a win.

7) The All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. My sister and I could not get enough of these books about a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of New York in the 1920s. Inspiration for many a game of make-believe at our house — we even asked to take on dusting chores so we could play the button game. (If you’ve read the books, you’ll understand).

8) Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Oh, come on, admit it — you cried when you read this one, right?

9) Tall and Proud by Vian Smith. I went through a phase where I read everything I could get my hands on about horses.* The only thing better than a horse book was a book about a girl fighting a dreadful illness. So what could be better than this terrific book (out of print now, I believe) about a girl with polio who learns to walk again for the sake of her horse?

*I felt like I should only include one horse book on this list, but it was a close call — so here’s my special little shout-out to the books of Marguerite Henry, most especially, Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy: Misty’s Foal, and Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West.

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Horse books!

10) Light a Single Candle by Beverly Butler. In the same spirit as #9, this book about a girl dealing with blindness really resonated with my tween-self’s love of fictional heroines bravely battling illness, disability, or some other dramatic/tragic life event.

 

It’s really hard to stop at ten (or 10-ish, since I included extra horse books!).**

**I realize that I excluded Judy Blume’s books, which should certainly be on this list — but since I did a whole post about Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret last year (actually 2012), I figure I’m covered already.

What are your favorite books from childhood? If you did a TTT post this week, please share your link!

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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!