Top Ten Tuesday: Books with summery titles that aren’t really summer books at all

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 Give Off Summer Vibes.

Since I just did a Top 5 Tuesday post about summer books a few weeks ago, I thought I’d switch it up a bit and instead talk about books whose titles sounds full of summer themes… even though the books themselves aren’t exactly light, beachy reads.

  1. On the Beach by Nevil Shute: On the beach? Excellent! Except not, because it’s the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust and radiation is coming to wipe out the last remaining survivors.
  2. Dune by Frank Herbert: Glorious rolling sand dunes along a beautiful beach? Sorry, nope. It’s sci-fi on a desolate world. With killer sand worms.
  3. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian: Little girls playing in the sand with their parents on a sunny day? No. This one is set during and after the Armenian genocide.
  4. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green: An epic summer romance about star-crossed lovers? Not at all. It’s about a lonely American girl and a German POW.
  5. The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff: Yes, there’s a beach! But it’s really a wartime love story with lots of sadness and loss.
  6. Sunshine by Robin McKinley: A bright sunshiny day? Ha ha. No. This is one of my very favorite vampire stories, very dark and creepy.
  7. Firefly: Big Damn Heroes by Nancy Holder: Chasing lightning bugs on a summer lawn as evening falls? Nope. A super fun sci-fi space western, but nothing to do with actual fireflies. (Or summer.)
  8. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher: A chivalric tale about knights and ladies and a summer joust, perhaps? No, it’s all about Chicago wizard Harry Dresden and the dangerous, deceptive faerie courts.
  9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: A little beach town, with a country lane leading to the shore? Sorry again. This is a terrific fantasy… but it’s not about a beach vacation.
  10. In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien: Ooh, a country get-away by a romantic lake? Well, there’s a lake, but it’s not peaceful or romantic. This is really disturbing suspense, without a hint of summer fun and relaxation.

Can you think of more books with summer-themed titles that just aren’t summery at all?

If you wrote a TTT post, please share your link with me! Tell me about your favorite books with summer vibes!





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!





Graphic Reaction… Serenity: Leaves on the Wind

Browncoats, rejoice!

If you’ve been in mourning ever since you watched Serenity once or twice or a thousand times, there’s a glimmer of sunshine waiting for you:

serenityMal is back! And so is his crew of big damn heroes.

Picking up after the events of the movie Serenity, we rejoin the gang some eight months or so later, on the run, avoiding the Alliance baddies, and trying to lie low and go their own way. But Captain Mal doesn’t manage to stay out of trouble for very long, and some very bad bad guys are trying to track them down.

Meanwhile, there’s bittersweet joy onboard the Serenity, as personal lives have moved forward in all sorts of ways — most pretty expected, but at least one development totally unexpected.


I can’t even begin to express how great it was to spend time with these guys again! River, Kaylee, Inara, Simon… even Jayne’s hat!… and the mule… and so much more.

serenity 3

This isn’t just fan service, though. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind has a story to tell, and it’s a good one. The plot is tight and action-packed, but with the same heart that held together the stories told in the too-brief life of Firefly.

The artwork is a bit spotty at times — sometimes Mal and Simon seemed interchangeable, and ditto for Inara and River. But overall, the likenesses worked well enough to make me happy.


via ThinkGeek

What really and truly sent me over the moon was the dialogue. Words on a page aren’t the same thing as words spoken on a big (or small) screen — but the writers of Serenity: Leaves on the Wind have done a gorram great job of capturing the essence of the characters through the words they speak.

serenity 2

I know! Let’s play a guessing game! Can you guess who says each of the following in Serenity: Leaves on the Wind?

a) Bad people got in my head, put things there, secrets. I could feel them hidden away, dug in like parasites.

b) This job can’t go but one way. Turns out you’re beyond your depth, I ain’t gonna drag you back.

c) This ain’t right, havin’ that man on our ship.

d) Vera’s got this.

e) I marched a lot of young folk to their deaths and had it in mind never to do so again. Anyone shows up uninvited, there’ll be a fine amount of hell to pay, that clear?

f) Plus, you need me, sir.

g) Case you don’t remember, we dealt a pretty ugly blow to a giant wasn’t too fond of us in the first place.

h) I can hear everything, all at once. I can hear the whole ‘verse.

serenity 5Whee! I could go on all day. But I’ll stop there. Share your guesses in the comments. Whoever gets the most right wins… the undying admiration of your peers!

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is a hardcover compilation volume of six previously published comic book editions plus a short story comic, “It’s Never Easy”, from Free Comic Book Day in 2012. The story is left open-ended just enough to allow for more Serenity tales to come (although I couldn’t find anything saying one way or the other whether more are planned at the moment).

If you’re a fan, you’ll want to read this. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s sexy. It’s moving. It even brought on a tear or two.

But you know what it is, more than anything else?



The details:

Title: Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
Author: Zach Whedon
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication date: November 5, 2014
Length: 152 pages
Genre: Comics/graphic novel
Source: Purchased

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Love To Get As Gifts


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 Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me. 

Sadly, my house is not on Santa’s route (and I promise, it’s not because I’ve been naughty this year!) Still, if some magical bearer of gifts happened to drop by, these are the books I’d be hoping for! As I did last year when this topic came up, I’m filling up my list with books that I’d love to receive, but for whatever reason — high price, feeling like too big an indulgence, a “nice to have” but not really a necessary book — I just most likely wouldn’t buy these for myself. (Ahem, secret gift givers — are you paying attention??)

1) Firefly: A Celebration by Joss Whedon

fireflyDescription: Titan’s three bestselling Firefly titles collected together at last, just in time for the 10th anniversary of Joss Whedon’s beloved series. This huge, 544 page full colour volume is simply one of the most lavish books ever produced for a TV show, and is presented in a foil-stamped leather-effect binding. Plus, as an exclusive bonus for this edition, a pocket at the back of the book contains 9 frameable photo prints of the cast, featuring rare and previously unseen images, and a facsimile of one of the prop banknotes used in the show.

2)Bone: Full Color One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith

bone slipcoverBone is one of my very favorite things ever. I love the artwork, the story, and the ridiculous stupid rat creatures. We have the 9 individual books, but I’m sure lusting after this all-in-one version. However… at about $100, this isn’t an edition I’m likely to buy unless I’m suddenly discovered by some long-lost wealthy relative… I can dream, can’t I?

3) The new Harry Potter collection:

potterDo I need another set of Harry Potter in my house? Well, no. But I’m so enchanted by the new cover artwork by Kazu Kibuishi… and this boxed set would look so pretty on my shelf…

4) The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition by J. R. R. Tolkien; Illustrated by Jemima Catlin

Hobbit-Jemima-Catlin1Have you seen the images from this new illustrated edition of The Hobbit? Just gorgeous. This may be one book that I’ll end up treating myself to. Want, want, want.


5) I would be tickled pink to receive pretty much any book from the Barnes and Noble Collectible Editions library. Here are few that I especially covet… but really, I’d take ’em all if I could:

Dracula and Other Horror Classics (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)The Bronte Sisters: Three Novels (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)Anne of Green Gables (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)

6) Fosse by Sam Wasson:

Buying this 750 page book for myself would feel too over-the-top indulgent, especially given that I have a lousy track record when it comes to finishing non-fiction books. If I owned it, it might just sit on my shelf for umpteen years… but I’d like to at least page through it for a while! (I think this is why they invented libraries.)

7 – 10) There are a whole bunch of books that I’ve read over the years, borrowed from friends or from the library, that I’d really like to read again — or at least have on my shelf for a rainy day. I can’t quite justify paying full price for these, but if a holiday elf wanted to drop one off, I’d be grateful!

LifeRedshirtsThe Snow ChildWonderstruck

And a bonus pick:

This isn’t a book, but it’s certainly bookish. Last year, I used a holiday gift card to treat myself to My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force and Jane Mount. It’s an absolutely beautiful book, and I’ve had so much fun leafing through it and picking out all of my favorites. So this year, what I really covet is one of the prints available through the Ideal Bookshelf website. My only difficulty is in picking just one: Do I want:

Ideal Bookshelf 660: Girl Stars

Ideal Bookshelf 660: Girl Stars

or perhaps:

Ideal Bookshelf 629: Fantasy

Ideal Bookshelf 629: Fantasy

If I had unlimited dollars and unlimited wall space, I think I’d want them all! Or maybe totally splurge, and get a custom painting! (Check out the options here.)

So that’s my little holiday cheer list for whatever extra-special pixies are circling my house bearing gifts!

What are you hoping to find under your tree, in your stocking, or in the UPS driver’s hands this year? Whatever you’re wishing for, I wish you good health, good friends, lots of laughter, and amazing reading!

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!


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different topic for a top 10 list each week. This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Book I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Before jumping in, let me preface this post by saying that I’m using “Santa” in the metaphorical sense. I have never received nor do I anticipate ever receiving a visit from Santa. It’s not that I’m naughty (at least not on a daily basis) — I just don’t swing that way, religion-wise.

So onward to the top 10 books I wouldn’t mind receiving this holiday season. Bear in mind that my loved ones usually shy away from buying me books, since chances are either a) it’s something I want to read and I already own it; b) I’ve already read it but thanks anyway; or c) it’s sooooo not my taste — don’t you know me at all? As a result, just about all of the books currently on my shelves are books that I’ve bought myself, and everything else that I’ve read has come from the library. I’m difficult, I admit it.

Therefore, my top 10 list consists of books that I’d LOVE to receive as gifts but either haven’t bought for myself (because I haven’t gotten around to it yet or they’re just not available), OR they’re books that seem wonderful but would feel like too much of an indulgence to buy for myself.

1 & 2) Two pop-culture celebrations top my most-wanted list: Firefly: A Celebration is what appears to be a lovingly produced tribute to Joss Whedon’s Firefly series, filled with photos, scripts, behind-the scenes looks, and more. Buffy: The Making of a Slayer is a hardcover, slipcased edition that is, according to Amazon, “the first authorized, fully illustrated retrospective” of the hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both are priced at about $30, which puts them into my luxury book items category. Unless there’s a huge price drop at some point, I probably wouldn’t get these for myself — but if any family members happen to be reading this, consider this a huge hint droppage.

3) I find myself rather intrigued by Building Stories by Chris Ware, which is a graphic novel that comes in a box and consists of 14 separate pieces that can, if I understand correctly, be read in whatever order you’d like. I’m not sure that I need to own this, but boy, would I like to open it up and play with it.

4) The Rolling Stones 50 by The Rolling Stones. 352 pages, over 1,000 illustrations! It sounds like a real treat for Stones fans, but I’m certainly not die-hard enough to spend $60 on it. I’d be perfectly happy to just look through it once or twice at a friend’s house, to be honest. Still, if it turned up as a gift, I certainly wouldn’t say no.

5) My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force and Jane Mount. Can I just tell you that I’m in love with this book? I mean, I really love everything about it. The concept is just lovely:

The books that we choose to keep –let alone read– can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others. With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect gift for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book.

Not only that — check out the artwork! I could spend hours staring at these paintings of book spines. And what’s more, you can buy prints of many of the shelves from the artists’ website (… and, if you’re willing to shell out some $$, you can order a custom original painting of your own ideal bookshelf. Love, love, love.

6 & 7 & 8) It’s graphic novel time! I’ve been reading a lot more graphic novels this past year, and the more I read, the more I want to read. My choices here are some graphic novels that have been out for a while. The idea of trying to catch up and read the whole series for any of these is rather daunting. Still, if my metaphorical Santa decided to gift me with one or two of these, I’d be thrilled. My top picks for extravagant graphic novel gifts are:

  • The Walking Dead Compendium 1 & The Walking Dead Compendium 2: These massive paperbacks each encompass eight of the Walking Dead graphic novels and are over 1,000 pages in length, with a retail price of $60 each. I’ve missed the Walking Dead phenomenon completely so far, on the page and on TV, but I’m soooo tempted to dive in.
  • The five hardcovers that make up the Absolute Sandman collection each run about $100. But, hey, it’s Neil Gaiman! Considering the price, I’ll probably rely on my public library when I’m ready to tackle what I’ve heard is a masterpiece. Still, if a gift were to come my way…
  • Bone! It’s the Bone: 20th Anniversary Full Color One Volume Edition! The Bone series by Jeff Smith is marketed as a children’s series, but I found it engaging, funny, dramatic, and wonderfully drawn. What a world! And the stupid rat creatures are, hands-down, my very favorite stupid evil carnivores. My son has the Bone collection in paperback, but this hardcover special edition looks absolutely stunning.

And to wrap it all up, how about a couple more books about books?*455/1queenan1028.jpg

9 & 10) My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (published by Black Dog & Leventhal) and One For The Books by Joe Queenan. I spend a good portion of each day either thinking about, writing about, or talking about books. These books about other people’s favorite books sound like perfect reading for a bookworm like me.

And there you have it, my top 10 pie-in-the-sky wishes for holiday gifts. Maybe most aren’t too realistic, but it’s awfully fun to fantasize a bit!

Here’s hoping that you find some reading goodies wrapped up in shiny paper with your name on them this year! Happy reading!