Top Ten Tuesday: Ten authors I’ve read the most books by

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 Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By.

It looks like I did this topic back in 2015, but my reading habits have changed since then — so, new and improved for 2020, here are ten authors whose books dominate my shelves.

Note: The numbers as reflected in Goodreads aren’t entirely reliable, since they include novellas and stand-alone stories that I’ve marked as read as well as actual novels and other published materials. So… take the the numbers below with a grain (or ten) of salt.

Seanan McGuire – 38 

Because I adore the October Daye series and the Incryptid series, as well as her various other novels and novellas and, well, basically anything she writes. And this doesn’t even include the 12 works I’ve read by her alter ego Mira Grant.

 

Jim Butcher – 29

And more coming this year, with two new Dresden Files books releasing this summer and fall! Besides the Dresden books, this number includes Codex Alera, some story collections, and Bigfoot!

 

Dana Stabenow – 27

The Kate Shugak series is at 22 books (and counting), plus there are 4 Liam Campbell books published so far, and I’ve read a collection of her non-fiction travel writing. (Plus, I have more books of hers on my TBR, but who’s counting?)

 

Patricia Briggs – 25

I love the Mercy Thompson series, as well Alpha & Omega, plus I’ve read any and all Mercy-verse stories that have appeared in various anthologies.

 

Diana Gabaldon – 23 

I’m going to keep using this picture, because hey, I met DG once in person and it was awesome!

No, there aren’t 23 books in the Outlander series, but this include the Lord John books, the reference books, and the various novellas and stand-alone stories.

 

Gail Carriger – 23

According to Goodreads, that’s 4 each for the Finishing School and Custard Protocol series, 4 for the Parasol Protectorate, a whole bunch of novellas, and two works published as G. L. Carriger.

 

Stephen King – 21

Considering how many books he’s written, this is just scratching the surface! I don’t think I’ll ever run out of backlist King books to read, not to mention keeping up with the never-ending new releases.

 

Tamora Pierce – 19

I went on a Tamora Pierce reading binge last year, reading basically ALL of her Tortall books, one after another. And loved them all! (Mostly.)

 

John Scalzi – 19

So there’s the Old Man’s War series, the Interdependency trilogy, the Lock In books, and various others too.

 

And finally, one that maybe should go into a separate category…

Robert Kirkman – 33

Because I’ve read the entire Walking Dead series in trade paperback editions, and that’s 32 books, plus one more about Negan.

 

Which authors have you read the most? Do we have any in common?

Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer 2020 TBR

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 On My Summer 2020 TBR.

Some of these are new releases, some are books that I already own and just need to make a priority this summer. And I’m embarrassed to say that one of these books was on my summer 2019 TBR list, and I just never got to it.

  1. Peace Talks (Dresden Files, #16) by Jim Butcher
  2. The Unkindest Tide (October Day, #13)  by Seanan McGuire (a reread, but hey– I need to be ready for #14 in September!)
  3. Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald (my book group’s pick for July)
  4. The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut, #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  5. Blood of Elves (The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski
  6. Shades of Milk and Honey (The Glamourist Histories, #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
  7. Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (I know, I know…)
  8. Alice by Christina Henry
  9. Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
  10. Bookish & the Beast by Ashley Poston

What are you planning to read this summer? Please share your links!

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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!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020 (plus July!)

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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 Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020.

I do fee like I’ve covered this topic already in previous TTT posts (like my winter 2020 TBR list and a list of upcoming ARCs), but what the heck — I never get tired of making top 10 lists! So, here are ten MORE books releasing between now and the middle of July that I’m super excited to read.

  1. Parable of the Sower graphic novel (1/28)
  2. Meat Cute by Gail Carriger (2/16)
  3. When We Were Magic by Sarah Gaily (3/3)
  4. The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey (4/14)
  5. Malorie by Josh Malerman (5/19)
  6. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (5/19)
  7. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (5/26)
  8. The Ghosts of Sherwood by Carrie Vaughn (6/9)
  9. Peace Talks (The Dresden Files, #16) by Jim Butcher (7/14)
  10. The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut, #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal (7/14)

What new releases are you most looking forward to in 2020? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

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: Ten authors I’d love to meet

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 Authors I’d Love to Meet. I could probably go on and on with this topic, but here are the top 10 on my mind right now, starting with favorite authors whom I’ve never seen in person:

1. Seanan McGuire: I’ve loved her books for quite a while, but this year I totally binged on the October Daye and InCryptids series, as well as the Newsflesh books by her alter ego Mira Grant. Sadly, I ended up out of town for a weekend in September when she was doing a signing event at a local bookstore, but since she’s incredibly prolific (I suspect she doesn’t sleep), I’m hoping it won’t be a long wait until there’s another book launch event to attend.

2. John Scalzi: Love, love, love his writing, and definitely need to read more.

3. Katherine Arden: I adored The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, and can’t wait for the trilogy wrap-up in 2019.

4. Amy Stewart: The Kopp Sisters rule! Her historical fiction is so much fun, and so full of terrific female characters straight out of history.

5. Jim Butcher: I’m a big Dresden fan, and loved Codex Alera and The Aeronaut’s Windlass too.

6. Jojo Moyes: Her books always move and inspire me.

7. Lisa See: I was fascinated by The Teagirl of Hummingbird Lane, and have enjoyed many of her books over the years. I’d love to hear her speak and learn more about her writing and research process.

8. Lisa Genova: Her books tackles such fascinating medical conditions. She’s another author I’d like to hear talk about inspiration, medical research, and the conditions she clearly cares so much about.

9. Dana Stabenow: I love the Kate Shugak series, and really enjoy reading this author’s blog posts on writing, general topics, and life in Alaska!

I’ll wrap up with an author whom I had the pleasure to meet once already, back in 2014 when Written in My Own Heart’s Blood was released — but I’d love to see her again (and again and again):

10: Diana Gabaldon: Author extraordinaire of the Outlander series!

Yes, I met her! What an amazing day!

Have you met any of the authors on my list? Which authors would you most want to meet? Please share your TTT link!

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Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Aeronauts WindlassI’ll admit it up front: I’m a Jim Butcher fan. I’ve read all of the Dresden Files novels (15 so far), and various and sundry related stories, novellas, and graphic novels. Heck, I own the DVD of the (sadly short-lived) Dresden Files TV series. I binge-read the six volumes of the Codex Alera series a few years back. So, I guess you could say there was a decent chance that I’d love The Aeronaut’s Windlass too.

Yup. I did. Loved it a bunch.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first book in a new series (The Cinder Spires), and it’s a remarkable feat of world-building. The book is set in a world in which mankind lives in huge, multi-storied towers (which are miles high and about two miles in diameter) that function as independent countries. The surface of Earth is dangerous and uninhabitable, covered by mists that conceal all sorts of dangers. Commerce is conducted in the air by fleets of airships that use etheric currents and power crystals to swoop, soar, dive, and attack.

Our loyalty is to Spire Albion (which I assume is more or less England, between the name and all the tea-drinking), and we meet a sprawling cast of characters right from the start. The main hero is Captain Grimm, commander of the AMS Predator, a non-military ship that makes its money from privateering. Grimm has a shadowy past that includes a dishonorable discharge from the Fleet, but from the first instant, it’s clear that he’s brave, noble, and a kick-ass air captain.

In addition to Captain Grimm and the crew of the Predator, we meet Gwen, a military recruit who stems from the very upper crust Lancaster family, which basically holds the monopoly on crystal production; Gwen’s cousin Benedict, who is a genetically-mixed warriorborn human; and Bridget, a large, self-conscious girl who finds an inner core of strength and courage.

And let’s not forget my very favorite character (and I suspect he’d resent anyone but himself being considered the hero of the piece): Rowl of the Silent Paws tribe, kit to Maul, chief of the Silent Paws. Rowl is a cat, and the cats in this book absolutely rock. They’re fierce warriors with an elegant and intricate system of power dynamics, clan politics, and etiquette. They mostly look down on clumsy humans, apart from the few (like Bridget, whom Rowl refers to as Littlemouse) who can speak Cat fluently.

Littlemouse was in danger, doubtless a prisoner, and the humans could not be trusted to handle her rescue with appropriate violence. They might be willing to leave someone alive, and Rowl was not prepared to tolerate incompetence where his personal human was concerned. He had just gotten her properly trained.

The action kicks into high gear when Spire Albion is attacked by a Marine contingent from Spire Aurora (Spain, as far as I can figure). The attack is sudden and devastating, and seems to have a sinister mastermind behind it whose motives are unclear. The good guys seems to be constantly outnumbered and outgunned, and the danger is vivid and terrifying — especially when highly venomous icky things called silkweavers seem to be serving the Aurorans, killing and maiming everything in their path.

Our little band of heroes is aided by a master etherealist, who has strange and inexplicable powers that allow him to see the unseen currents all around him, and his apprentice Folly, who’s another amazing and wonderful character. Folly is odd and off-kilter, but is possessed of incredible skill and instinct and comes to the rescue more than once (or twice, or thrice).

It’s all quite thrilling and absorbing. Jim Butcher does many things well, and he truly excels at writing action sequences. The extended airship battles are breathtaking, with booming cannons and swooping maneuvers, and a brave captain who never waivers in the face of enemy attack. (Okay, maybe I have just a teensy crush on Grimm at this point, but can you blame me?)

As always, Butcher knows just how to mix tense drama and high danger with sparkling, witty dialogue. The scenes narrated by Rowl are, of course, my favorites, but you don’t have to turn many pages in a Butcher book to find some clever wordplay or smart-ass retorts to lighten the mood.

Gwen sighed, and fetched another pair of mugs for the etherealist.

“Lovely,” Ferus said, and gulped some more. “Perceptions of etheric energy change from mind to mind, just as you and Sir Benedict demonstrate with your weapons crystals. And if one changes one’s mind, that also changes the nature of those perceptions. This will allow me to perceive those energies in ways in which I would not normally be able to do so.”

“You’re getting drunk,” Gwen said slowly, “so that you can experience etheric energy differently?”

Ferus held up his mug and said solemnly, “Think of it as goggles for one’s mind, instead of one’s eyes.”

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is a BIG book, over 600 pages. That would be huge, in and of itself, but considering this is just the first in a series, reading it feels like a pretty major undertaking. If I didn’t already know and love Jim Butcher’s books, I might be scared off, I suppose. There’s obviously much more yet to come in this series. While the book’s conclusion wraps up the first wave of battle, it’s clear that the war is just getting underway, and there are major questions left unanswered.

I struggled a bit at the beginning to understand the structure of the Spires and some of the fundamentals of the world of this book, but the action and the characters drew me in immediately, and it didn’t really take all that long for the more obscure elements to start to make sense and feel natural. By about the midpoint, I really hated to put the book down. And now that I’ve finished, I can say with certainty that I’m all in. I can’t wait for more of this excellent series, and just wish I could move straight on to the next book, instead of having to wait the year or two it’ll probably take for #2 to be released.

You really can’t go wrong with a Jim Butcher series. Fans will absolutely want to dive into the world of The Cinder Spires, and I think The Aeronaut’s Windlass is a great introduction for people who haven’t read his books too. (Although, if you haven’t read any Butcher, I’d urge you to run right out and find a copy of Storm Front, the first Dresden book).

So there you have it — a lengthy review which all boils down to: I loved this book. Go read it.

I’ll let Rowl have the final word, because he deserves it:

Each creature had something it excelled at, he supposed. Humans could manage knots easily, and cats could do everything else.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Length: 630 pages
Genre: Fantasy/steampunk
Source: Purchased

Thursday Quotables: The Aeronaut’s Windlass

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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.

Aeronauts Windlass

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
(published 2015)

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first book in a new series by Jim Butcher, and I’m loving it so far! It’s a huge book (600+ pages), and I’m only about 2/3 of the way through it at this point — but I’m hooked already. Steampunk, airships, power dynamics, air battles, creepy crawly icky things, and clans of cats who have utter disdain for most of the people around them… yes, please!

There are heaps of battles and intrigues, and danger galore, but also some quite funny moments to lighten the mood:

“Poison?” Grimm asked.

Ferus waggles his hand back and forth. “Yes. No, actually, not even remotely, but for purposes of this conversation, yes.”

Grimm frowned. “Ah. Um. Am I in any danger?”

“You’re dead as a stone, man!”

“I am?”

“Yes. No, actually, not even remotely, but for purposes of this conversation, yes.”

And a nice little line that made me think of my favorite Gail Carriger books:

Grimm did not, as a rule, believe in extravagance. That said, he did own a rather finely made teapot.

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!

Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday: The Aeronaut’s Windlass

There’s nothing like a Wednesday for thinking about the books we want to read! My Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday post is linking up with two fabulous book memes, Wishlist Wednesday (hosted by Pen to Paper) and Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine).

This week’s pick:

 

Aeronauts Windlass

 The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Book #1, The Cinder Spires
(to be released September 29, 2015 )

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake

Jim Butcher has been on my mind lately, as I’ve been feeling grumpy about the long wait for a new Dresden Files book — and just in the nick of time, here comes the 1st book in a new series! OK, granted, the synopsis seems complicated, but I have complete faith in Jim Butcher’s ability to create a brand new world and make it amazing!

What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Looking for some bookish fun on Thursdays? Come join me for my regular weekly feature, Thursday Quotables. You can find out more here — come play!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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!

Book Review: Skin Game

Book Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)

Harry Dresden is back!

Chicago’s only professional wizard (or at least, the only one listed in the yellow pages) returns in the 15th installment of Jim Butcher’s fast-paced urban fantasy series, the Dresden Files.

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….

Clearly, at book 15, this is not a good entry point for Dresden newbies. Sure, you might be able to figure out what’s going on — but I doubt it. By this point in the series, the relationships are complex, there’s a lot of backstory, and the mythology and world-building are so intricate, with so many interwoven storylines and a huge cast of characters, that there’s not much that would make a whole lot of sense coming in cold.

For Dresden fans, however, Skin Game is a delight. Picking up soon after the jaw-dropping events in Cold Days, Skin Game sees Harry thrust right back into action, thrown into a seemingly no-win situation in which he’s forced to help an archenemy carry out a crazy dangerous plan with potentially devastating consequences. Still, Harry has no viable way to refuse, and thus embarks on a whirlwind three-day escapade alongside a team of colleagues who mostly can’t be trusted. Harry’s life is at stake every moment, his friends and loved one are all at risk, he gets broken and bruised — a lot — and above all, Harry has to figure out how to make his way through without endangering everything he holds dear and without turning into what he most fears.

Why do I love Harry Dresden? He’s smart, he’s brave, he’s a total wiseass, and he’s just really, really funny. Jim Butcher’s writing crackles with energy and humor, even in the midst of bloody action sequences. Harry may get hurt, but he’s never completely down for the count. And even in the midst of grave peril, he manages to get off some of the best one-liners and pop-culture references in fiction today.

My only complaint about Skin Game: No Thomas, and not enough Molly*. Other than that, we’re treated to a compelling plot, exciting action, forward motion in Harry’s ongoing personal drama, and an adventure story that’s simply impossible to stop reading.

Plus, we get to meet a Greek god, so there’s that.

All in all, Skin Game is a very successful addition to the Dresden body of work. Ongoing readers of the series have to read this one, period.

Some series stick around way past the point where there’s anything fresh or interesting to say. Not Dresden. I hope Jim Butcher plans to continue writing about Harry for years to come. If he does, I promise, I’ll be there to read the books. All the books. Forever.

And a final word:

Parkour!!**

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Length: 454 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Library

* Oh, wait. One more complaint: We have to wait another year for book #16.

**with special credit and a big smile to my Goodreads friend Emily for reminding me of one of my favorite repeated utterances in Skin Game.