Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 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 Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

I’m so excited for all of these… as you could probably tell if you took a peek at my pre-order list. A lot of these books are sequels or parts of series, and that’s just fine with me. Here are my top ten anticipated books — see the list below for release dates.

  1. The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell (release date 8/6/2019)
  2. Reticence (The Custard Protocol, #4) by Gail Carriger (release date 8/6/2019)
  3. Snow, Glass, Apple by Neil Gaiman (release date 8/20/2019)
  4. The Institute by Stephen King (release date 9/10/2019)
  5. The Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale, #2) by Margaret Atwood (release date 9/10/2019)
  6. Wayward Son (Carry On, #2) by Rainbow Rowell (release date 9/24/2019)
  7. The Unkindest Tide (October Daye, #13) by Seanan McGuire (release date 9/3/2019)
  8. The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2) by Philip Pullman (release date 10/3/2019)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (illustrated edition) by J. K. Rowling (release date 10/8/2019)
  10. Malorie (Bird Box, #2) by Josh Malerman (release date 12/3/2019)

Are you planning to read any of these? What books are you dying to read in the 2nd half of 2019? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books (or series) I can count on to lift my spirits

TTT summer

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 to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump. I’m not sure I actually have reading slumps — I mean, I can ALWAYS find something that gives me a reading energy boost! So, twisting the theme just a bit, here are ten books that make me happy (even though their stories are not only rainbows and kitties.)

1) The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon: Sure, terrible things happen to the characters throughout the series, but there’s just something so wonderful about spending time with them all, no matter how dire the circumstances.

2) The Parasol Protectorate books by Gail Carriger: Supernatural shenanigans plus Victorian manners — definitely a winning combination.

3) Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs: I love the Mercy Thompson series as well as the Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs. This novella in particular is one that I love reading and re-reading. It’s short and sharp and just so perfect.

4) Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling — need I say more?

5) Pretty much anything by Jane Austen: I love them all, and they always make me smile. The audiobooks are sheer delight!

6) And also, anything by Georgette Heyer! I’ve read 6 or 7 of her books so far, but plan to read lots more! Just happy, fun reading experiences.

7) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley: It’s been a while since I last read this one, but I know it always makes me happy.

8) Fables by Bill Willingham: Such an amazing graphic novel series. I’m definitely looking forward to starting again from the beginning one of these days.

9) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Such silly fun.

10) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Not necessarily this book specifically, but sweet YA romances in general are sometimes the perfect solution to a gray and cloudy mood.

 

What books made your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

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Travel reading wrap-up (summer 2018): A big batch of mini-reviews — bread, tea, roller derby, and more!

As I mentioned in my post-vacation blog post, I’m home again after three weeks away. And yes, as always, my reading time was an essential part of my fun! (But try explaining that to my 16-year-old son, who is most adamantly not a believer in recreational reading…)

Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I read while I was away. Definitely an odd assortment of topics and genres, which is just how I like it!

 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See: A haunting, beautiful story of a young woman’s life in a remote village in the Yunnan province of China, growing up as part of the Akha ethnic minority with their unique blend of rituals, traditions, and superstitions. Li-yan’s family depends upon the rare tea trees they nurture for their income, but as the outside world discovers their valuable tea, their entire way of life is changed by their collision with the modern world. Meanwhile, Li-yan’s personal life leads her into sorrow and redemption, and we span the globe as we follow Li-yan and her family members through this touching saga. Fascinating and lovely, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a provocative look at a culture I knew nothing about previously. Above all, it’s a moving story of a woman whose life changes dramatically and the power of family bonds and traditions.

 

 

Sourdough by Robin Sloan: Sourdough takes the prize for my weirdest read of the year. I bought it on a whim at the airport, despite having a fully loaded Kindle in my backpack. Well worth it — I “devoured” Sourdough in a day. (Mmmm, sourdough.) This is such an odd book. It’s the story of a young woman who comes to San Francisco for a tech job that sucks the soul out of her, until her life turns around thanks to a strange pair of brothers who gift her with their mysterious sourdough starter. As Lois learns to nurture the starter, she is slowly introduced into a (literally) underground world of foodies who attempt to reinvent peoples’ relationships with food and eating. Meanwhile, the sourdough starter has an uncanny tendency to display odd lights and make strange sounds… and oh yeah, the bread loaves baked from the special starter have faces etched into the finished crusts. The writing is funny and quirky, and I just loved it. I think I’m the only person on earth who hasn’t read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the same author), and I know I need to fix that pronto.

 

 

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg: This collection of retellings is a mixed bag, which includes some truly creepy fairy tale retellings, and some stories that simply failed to make an impression. I particularly loved The Daughter Cells (a retelling of The Little Mermaid) and The Six Boy-Coffins (a retelling mash-up of the Grimm stories The Six Swans and The Twelve Brothers). For sheer creepiness, you can’t beat The Rabbit, a retelling of The Velveteen Rabbit that’s just awfully bloodthirsty and disturbing and wonderful. As a whole, the collection is worth reading, especially if you’re familiar with the original stories. I’m really not much of a short story reader, and some of the stories here left me cold — but the ones I liked, I really liked.

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne: This was a re-read for me — I read the book when it was first released two years ago, but after seeing the show on Broadway, I just had to read it again. The visuals and presentation of the live show are stunning, and having experienced it, I was able to much more fully enjoy reading the book. (I’ve since learned that the show will be coming to San Francisco in 2019, and I definitely want to see it again!)

 

 

 

 

 

InCryptids! Books #5, 6, 7 in the delightful series by Seanan McGuire: Saving the super awesomeness for last! I couldn’t help myself — I binged my way through the remaining 3 books in the InCryptid series, and now I’m stuck waiting for the next new book, which doesn’t come out until 2019. Sob. This series is just so much fun. Chaos Choreography goes back to the original lead character, Verity Price, who battles snake-god-summoning idiots while competing in a reality TV dance competition. Weird, wonderful, absolutely delicious. In books 6 and 7 (Magic for Nothing and Tricks for Free), the focus shifts to Verity’s younger sister Antimony, who ends up joining a carnival and later, working at a Florida theme park that’s almost (but not quite) Disney World. The magic at this kingdom is not particularly friendly, mayhem ensues… and there’s plenty of trapeze work and roller skating too. Oh, and an awesome boyfriend who has quite a few secrets of his own. The InCryptid series, about a family of cryptozoologists who battle evil in order to keep the world safe for all sentient creatures, is silly and funny and totally hilarious — but also contains moments of real emotion and pathos. And hey — talking mice!

 

 

And that’s what I read while I was away! No matter how busy we were, I always managed to sneak away here and there for a bit of reading in the sun. Bliss!

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I’m back! Where I went, what I did, and what I read

Hi all! Happy 4th of July!

After three weeks away, I arrived home safe and sound early yesterday morning, and promptly fell into bed to sleep myself back to some degree of being human again. (Only partially successful, but hey, it’s only been one day.)

So what have I been up to while being absent from my blogging life? Quite the whirlwind, in fact.

First, I started off with five days in New York. We stayed at a hotel right at Times Square — and no, that’s not a mistake I’m likely to repeat. The hotel was fine, but the crowds were awful. No need to be quite that touristy! The absolute highlight was seeing the oh-so-glorious Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

Side note: Going to see the HP production is an adventure two years in the making! Two years ago, when tickets were first released for the London production, I jumped through about a million hoops to get tickets for my daughter and me. We had plans for a trip to London last June… and then complications with my elderly father arose, forcing me to cancel my part of the trip. (Darling daughter and her boyfriend enjoyed the show tremendously, lucky them.) When the Broadway ticketing process opened, I was absolutely determined to make it happen… and it did!

For those not familiar with the HP production, it’s a two-part show, which we saw on two consecutive nights. Really, it’s the equivalent of seeing two full-length Broadway shows. Each part ran about 2 hours, 40 minutes, with intermissions. Drink lots of coffee before you go!

What can I say about the show itself? It’s magnificent. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, chances are you’ve read the book already. I had — but even knowing the plot basics, I wasn’t prepared for the spectacle and wonder of the live show. The staging, the lighting, the effects, and above all, the acting, make this a story that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. We were lucky enough to see the original London cast in the Broadway production… and, no surprise, they were simply amazing. One thing I didn’t get from reading the book is just how awesome the character of Scorpius Malfoy is — he really stole the show (and my heart.)

Around the theater, staff gives out buttons saying #keepthesecrets, so I suppose I’m duty-bound not to reveal too much! All I can say is that the show is magical and delightful, and well worth every moment.

Okay, that’s the Harry Potter stuff! Also in New York, my family and I went to see The Band’s Visit, which is a beautiful musical, full of humor and emotion, tightly woven together into a 90-minute production that’s human and moving and has truly lovely music. If you have the chance, definitely check it out! And what’s a trip to New York without a visit to the top of the Empire State Building and an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Add in some great deli, a walk through Central Park, and oodles of people-watching, and who could ask for more?

From there, I headed to Connecticut for a few days of family time, visiting my dad, spending time with other relatives, and basically just chilling out before stage 3 of the vacation, which was…

A two-week trip to Israel!

My husband was born and raised in Israel, and we try to get back to see his family every few years. Somehow, we let more time than usual go by, so this was our first trip in four years! A big chunk of the time there was spent in Tel Aviv, where the family is. Days of hitting the beach, nights of eating at different relatives’ homes. Food. So much food. So much hummus. So much yum.

Because we were traveling with our teen son, I wanted to make sure to include some travel and culture while we were there (although the boy probably would have been happy with nothing but beach, all day, every day.) So we spent two days in Jerusalem, including solemn places (Har Hertzl, Israel’s military cemetary, and Yad Vashem, the incredibly powerful Holocaust museum), the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, dinner in the newer parts of the city, and a spectacular light show at night within the walls of the Old City. If we’d had more time, we could have spent days and days exploring, but at least we have something to look forward to on the next trip!

Onward we went, heading into the desert for a night at the Dead Sea, where we did our requisite floating! From there, we ventured to Masada — by cable car, no climbing for me in the incredible heat. Masada is always fascinating, and the views are amazing.

One final road trip before heading home — Rosh HaNikra, at the northern tip of Israel along the Mediterranean, where we took cable cars down to the sea grottoes — one of my all-time favorite places! I try to get there on every trip to Israel.

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And now… ta da! We’re back home in SF, where the skies are cool and cloudy, and I have mountains of laundry, mail, and bills to tackle. The joys of post-vacation tasks!

Okay, as for the “what I read” part — here’s a peek at the reading that kept me busy during my quiet moments (amazingly, there were actually a few) during the last few weeks:

I’ll be doing some mini-review posts to talk more about what I read, once I finally catch my breath and finish unpacking and figure out what time zone I’m in!

It’s great to be home! I may be a bit slow to get back into my blogging groove, but I’m excited to be here and look forward to catching up with everyone!

Audiobook Review: Quidditch Through the Ages

 

A perennial best seller in the wizarding world and one of the most popular books in the Hogwarts School Library, Quidditch Through the Ages contains all you will ever need to know about the history, the rules – and the breaking of the rules – of the noble sport of Quidditch. Packed with fascinating facts, this definitive guide by the esteemed Quidditch writer Kennilworthy Whisp charts the game’s history from its early origins in the medieval mists on Queerditch Marsh through to the modern-day sport loved by so many wizard and Muggle families around the world. With comprehensive coverage of famous Quidditch teams, the commonest fouls, the development of racing brooms, and much more, this is a must-have sporting bible for all Harry Potter fans and Quidditch lovers and players, whether the weekend amateur or the seasoned Chudley Cannons season-ticket holder.

Narrated by Andrew Lincoln, this is the first audiobook edition of Whisp’s book ever to be released

My Thoughts:

I read the Hogwarts schoolbooks ages ago, and thought they were good silly fun, if a bit inconsequential. BUT, when I heard that Pottermore was releasing an audio version narrated by Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes, yo), I was all in.

Rick is an avid Quidditch fan.

So was it worth it?

Well, yes. Clearly, this is a fans-only book for Potter-philes. A passion for the Potter-verse is required! An interest in the minutiae of Quidditch play might be helpful too. The book itself covers the history of Quidditch, modern teams, Quidditch equipment, the evolution of the racing broom, and famous (or infamous) examples of unusual World Cup tournaments.

The audiobook includes material not found in the original printed edition, but (I believe) available via the Pottermore website — coverage of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup, as told by the Daily Prophet’s sports reporter Ginny Potter, with occasional social commentary from gossip columnist Rita Skeeter. The Skeeter bits are particularly funny; Ginny’s coverage of EVERY SINGLE GAME in the tournament, which initially amusing, gets old really fast.

This was a good, fairly entertaining companion on my daily commute. Definitely doesn’t require much concentration! It’s a bit long for what it is — the concept wears out its novelty pretty early on. Also, the production includes sound effects (all sorts of whooshes, as if Quidditch players are zooming by… constantly), which I found annoying, but a less grumpy listener might find these amusing.

All in all? A fun listen, not essential, but not a bad choice for escapist fare while your mind is mostly elsewhere.

Worth noting: Proceeds from Quidditch Through the Ages benefit Comic Relief and the Lumos Foundation. It’s always nice to support a good cause while indulging Potter obsessions!

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The details:

Title: Quidditch Through the Ages
Author: Kennilworthy Whisp (J. K. Rowling)
Narrated by: Andrew Lincoln
Publisher: Pottermore
Publication date: Audible edition released March 15, 2018; originally published 2001
Length (print): 56 pages (2001 edition)
Length (audio): 3 hours, 10 minutes
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased via Audible

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Thursday Quotables: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

hp5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
(published 2003)

It’s never not a good time to revisit Harry at Hogwarts. I’m having a blast listening to the audiobook of HP5. And sure, Harry spends a lot of time feeling angry and ignored, and some very bad things that I refuse to think about happen later on… but meanwhile, there are also all sorts of gems along the way.

“Don’t you understand how Cho’s feeling at the moment?” she asked.

“No,” said Harry and Ron together.

Hermione sighed and laid down her quill.

“Well, obviously, she’s feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying. Then I expect she’s feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes Harry, and she can’t work out who she likes best. Then she’ll be feeling guilty, thinking it’s an insult to Cedric’s memory to be kissing Harry at all, and she’ll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her if she starts going out with Harry. And she probably can’t work out what her feelings toward Harry are anyway, because he was the one who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that’s all very mixed up and painful. Oh, and she’s afraid she’s going to be thrown off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team because she’s been flying so badly.”

A slightly stunned silence greeted the end of this speech, then Ron said, “One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.”

“Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have,” said Hermione nastily, picking up her quill again.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Thursday Quotables: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

HP4

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
(published 2000)

It’s never a bad time for Harry Potter.

A week ago, Harry would have said finding a partner for a dance would be a cinch compared to taking on a Hungarian Horntail. But now that he had done the latter and was facing the prospect of asking a girl to the ball, he thought he’d rather have another round with the dragon.

Oh, the woes of a teen boy faced with the horror of getting a date:

“Why do they have to move in packs?” Harry asked Ron as a dozen or so girls walked past them, sniggering and staring at Harry. “How’re you supposed to get one on their own to ask them?”

“Lasso one?” Ron suggested.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Burning Questions: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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In which I ask the questions that keep me up at night…

I’ve read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at least 4 or 5 times, and now I’m listening to the audiobook. It’s my first time revisiting HP4 in a few years, and here’s what’s on my mind and making me lose sleep:

WHY IS HARRY REQUIRED TO COMPETE IN THE TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT???

Apparently, the rules state that if your name comes out of the goblet, you must compete. Dumbledore says that Harry doesn’t have a choice, because it’s a binding magical contract.

Wait a sec — a magical contract?

Doesn’t a contract imply consent? You have to sign your name to a contract in order for it to be binding. You certainly have to enter into it knowingly and willingly.

The noun contract is defined as a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.

So if Harry’s name was submitted by someone else, shouldn’t the implied contract be null and void? After all, he didn’t put his name in the goblet. He did not agree. (He’s also underage, so he doesn’t meet the tournament requirements.) But really, most importantly, he was not a party to the terms and conditions.

What would happen if he refused to compete, or if Dumbledore refused to let him? Would he die? Would he be cursed? Would his hair fall out? What’s the consequence?

I NEED TO KNOW.

It’s easy, upon first read, to skim the fine print in order to get on with the story — and it’s a damned fine story. And sure, if Harry weren’t required to compete, then there wouldn’t be any plot to the book. (Imagine what a great 4th year Harry might have had if he’d just been sitting in the stands as a spectator, alongside Ron and Hermione.)

So why doesn’t Dumbledore find a way to get Harry out of the tournament, suspecting as he does that someone entered Harry in order to do him harm? Why is everyone willing to just accept the idea of a binding magical contract?

Seriously. I really want to know what would have happened if Harry just said no.

Anyone else losing sleep over this?

Just me?

Thursday Quotables: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

HP cursed

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
(published 2016)

HARRY POTTER! Seriously, HARRY POTTER! I read this on Sunday, and have been flipping through it since. It’s all wonderful, but here are a few favorite (non-spoilery) moments:

Scorpius: You know it’s the strangest of things, but ever since being in the scariest place imaginable I’m pretty much good with fear. I am — Scorpius the Dreadless. I am – Malfoy the Unanxious.

On a more serious note:

Harry: [Name deleted], playing with Time? You know we can’t do that.

[Name deleted]: How many people have died for the Boy Who Lived? I’m asking you to save one of them.

One more:

Albus: So what would you like me to do? Magic myself popular? Conjure myself into a new House? Transfigure myself into a better student? Just cast a spell, Dad, and change me into what you want me to be, okay? It’ll work better for both of us. Got to go. Train to catch. Friend to find.

I loved this book! I’m traveling this week, but when I get home, I plan to read it all the way through again… this time, calmly and with an eye for detail, rather than just inhaling it as fast as possible.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

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