Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for winter 2018/2019

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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 about reading plans for this winter.

My main reading plan for this winter is to read the books I’ve recently acquired — basically, books that I had to have IMMEDIATELY and spent actual money on! My terrible tendency is to rush to buy books, and then once I get them, suddenly have other books that I need to read first… and so they sit there, unloved and unread, for months and months.

So, top priority for the next few months will be these books — my newest acquisitions:

1) Becoming by Michelle Obama

2) A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris

3) Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

4) The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

5) Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow

6) In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

7) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

8) The White Darkness by David Grann

9) We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

10) One of the Austen-inspired books I’ve picked up at recent library sales — either Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski or Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos… or both!

What books will be keeping you warm this winter? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Resolutions, kept and broken

Perhaps the end of February is too soon to https://bookshelffantasies.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/j0439527.jpg?w=225really take stock, but certain trends are becoming crystal clear to me — namely, that my well-intentioned resolutions for 2013 just aren’t all recipes for success. I can see which way these things are going already… and it’s truly a mixed bag.

Let’s start with where I’m safely on track:

I resolved to organize my bookshelves. Well, I can’t say that I’ve completed the task, but in little chunks and bites, I’m making a dent. My books and their neighbors are starting to make some sort of weird sense. I can more or less find whatever I want within one or two tries. And hey — I’ve got ten more months to get it right!

I resolved to not start any new series, other than a) those written by authors whose works I read no matter what, or b) series that are new to me but have, in fact, already been completed by the author. So far, so good. The only new series I’ve allowed myself thus far is Gail Carriger’s new Finishing School series, starting with the newly published Etiquette & Espionage — and Gail C. is on my “read no matter what” list, so it’s all good.

I resolved to dive in and slowly work my way through the book of fairy tales I’d been coveting all of last fall. I’m happy to report that I’m making steady progress, and have now read about 1/3 of the stories. Seeing as how I usually abandon all short story books I attempt to read, I’d say I’m on the path of righteousness here.

I resolved to break out of my fiction-loving world and read 3 – 5 books from non-fiction genres. And here I am, two months into 2013, and I’ve just finished reading my first one! I read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild this past week, and really enjoyed it. Next up in my non-fiction quest? I’m not 100% sure yet, but I’m leaning toward science or history. Stay tuned…

So far, so good. I seem to be sticking with my resolutions. Until, of course, you consider the #1 resolution on my list:

Maintain a healthy ratio of old to new: I have piles and piles of unread books in my house, at least 20 unread books on my Kindle, and yet I still gravitate toward grabbing the newest releases, checking new titles out from the library, and ignoring what I already have. Well, it has to stop! Stop, I tell you! My resolution for 2013 is to aim for at least a 2:1 ratio. For every new book, whether purchased or borrowed from the library, I will read at least two that are already in my collection. I think this will be my biggest challenge, to be honest, and I thought of settling for even a 1:1 ratio… but hey, let’s aim high.

FAIL! I am utterly and completely failing at sticking to this goal. Yes, I’ve read a few good books from off the shelves… but I can’t help myself! I keep acquiring more… and more… and more. Library or purchase, new or used, the books keep coming. I read book reviews, or I stumble across something interesting in a store window display, or I see what my friend is reading, and I just have to get it. Now. Even if I’m not going to read it for a while. Here are the new-to-me books that have made their way into my home since January 1st:

  • A Small Death in the Great Glen by A. D. Scott
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
  • Hanging By A Thread by Sophie Littlefield
  • The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
  • The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
  • The Reinvention of Love by HelenHumphreys
  • Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  • Graphic novel series Y: The Last Man and Runaways
  • About 15 books picked up at my workplace book swap
  • Library books, including my current read, The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

So, yeah. Not doing so great on the no new books front. My healthy ratios are kaput.

But I may be okay with that. I guess I should just pat myself on the back for my small successes, and keep plowing forward. I solemnly swear that I will make a dent in the numbers of books sitting unread on my shelves by the end of 2013 — just maybe not as big a dent as I’d naively assumed I could make.

Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island

Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

I’ve been a bit in awe of Margo Lanagan ever since reading her story collection Black Juice. Regular readers of my blog will know that I have an aversion to short stories; no matter how well written, I get antsy and never quite make it through an entire book of stories, at least not without a lot of hair-pulling. Not so with Black Juice; I was captivated, start to finish, by the author’s language and the mood she creates. The lead story in Black Juice, “Singing My Sister Down”, has to be one of the saddest and most matter-of-factly tragic stories I’ve ever encountered. There’s also a very odd story told from the perspective of elephants, but that’s okay… it was weird but it worked.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of The Brides of Rollrock Island for some months now, and was delighted to finally get my hands on a copy. The verdict? In short, well worth the wait.

The Brides of Rollrock Island is a novel — which often feels more like a collection of linked stories — about the odd lives of the people of windswept, sea-battered Rollrock Island. Generations gone by, legend has it, the men of the island would take sea-wives, women called forth from the sea, leaving behind their true forms as seals in order to live and love among men. Children grow up hearing whispers of these lovely women, but it’s so long ago as to be remembered only by the great-grandparents among the town.

Into this small, isolated island community is born a homely little girl named Misskaella, youngest daughter of the rather large Prout family. Misskaella is valued by no one, considered odd and ugly, and grows up realizing that the men and women of the island either scorn or pity her. Yet Misskaella has one thing that no one else does — the magic to call to the seals. Misskaella revives the island’s past by bringing forth a sea-wife for one young man of the town. The woman is ethereally beautiful — graceful, slender, with large dark eyes and silky black hair. By comparison, the other women of Rollrock appear frowzy and rough. The men are enchanted, and bit by bit, the island is emptied as the womenfolk, deserted in favor of the sea-wives, leave the island. The men of Rollrock shower Misskaella with treasures and provide her with a place of honor in the town, and in return, she makes sure that they have lovely sea-wives to marry and to provide them with sons.

The men and boys treat their women (the mams, as the boys call them) with veneration and tender care, never losing their fascination with the women’s gentle beauty and fragility. And the women love their husbands and sons, without doubt, yet they pine for the sea and the world that they lost.

Did Misskaella bless the men of Rollrock Island with true love? Or did she exact a torturous revenge upon all the island folks by gifting them with love that must inevitably lead to pain?

It’s hard to describe just how strange and beautiful is the language of The Brides of Rollrock Island. Margo Lanagan’s words twist and cut, caress and murmur. She evokes the crash of the sea, the pervasive smell of the ocean air, the natural wonders of the island and the sea:

And down the cliff we went. It was a poisonous day. Every now and again the wind would take a rest from pressing us to the wall, and try to pull us off it instead. We would grab together and sit then, making a bigger person’s weight that it could not remove. The sea was gray with white dabs of temper all over it; the sky hung full of ragged strips of cloud.

Ms. Lanagan use the first person plural throughout; the narrative is full of what “we” did and how “we” felt, creating with the very words a sense of tight-knit community and insularity. Her odd vernacular seems particularly suited to this island of outcasts and loners, and her writing creates its own spell throughout the book.

The Brides of Rollrock Island is not a typical romance or fantasy, not a supernatural love story or thriller. This is a book of magical power and grace, of tragedy and sorrow as well as love, filled with lyrical writing unlike most anything on bookstore shelves today. Don’t miss it.