Top Ten Tuesday: Book Quotes About Hope

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

May 25: Book Quotes that Fit X Theme (Pick any theme you want, i.e., motivational quotes, romantic dialogues, hunger-inducing quotes, quotes that fill you with hope, quotes on defeating adversity, quotes that present strong emotions, healing, etc. and then select quotes from books that fit that theme.)

Foe this one I decided to go with quotes about hope. Because we always need a little hope:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” This is used in Coraline by Neil Gaiman, but the source is actually debatable.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only someone remembers to turn on the light.” From Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” From The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster


“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” From The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien

“Hope like that, as I thought before, doesn’t make you a weak person. It’s hopelessness that makes you weak. Hope makes you stronger, because it brings with it a sense of reason. Not a reason for how or why they were taken from you, but a reason for you to live. Because it’s a maybe. A ‘maybe someday things won’t always be this sh*t.’ And that ‘maybe’ immediately makes the sh*ttiness better.” From The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahearn

“Reader, do you think it is a terrible thing to hope when there is really no reason to hope at all? Or is it (as the soldier said about happiness) something that you might just as well do, since, in the end, it really makes no difference to anyone but you?” From The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

“And remember: you must never, under any circumstances, despair. To hope and to act, these are our duties in misfortune.” From  Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

“That’s what winter is: an exercise in remembering how to still yourself then how to come pliantly back to life again.” From Winter by Ali Smith

“My belief is that if we live another century or so — I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals — and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting-room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton’s bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.” From A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

“It’s not that we had no heart or eyes for pain. We were all afraid. We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable…What was worse, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces? Or to choose our own happiness? So we decided to hold parties and pretend each week had become the new year. Each week we could forget past wrongs done to us. We weren’t allowed to think a bad thought. We feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy. And that’s how we came to call our little parties Joy Luck.” From The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring-y Books

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

March 9: Spring Cleaning Freebie (for example, books you’re planning to get rid of for whatever reason, book’s you’d like to clean off your TBR by either reading them or deciding you’re not interested, books that feel fresh and clean to you after winter is over, etc.)

For this one I decided to stay simple and go with books that feel like/ remind me of springtime. Themes of nature, rebirth, renewal, hope, and second chances abound!

  1. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim– It’s a miserable February when two English ladies see an advertisement “To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.” They end up spending their April with two other ladies. The only thing these four have in common really is dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. The month they spend in a medieval castle in Portafino, Italy, is transformative for all.

2. The Lake House by Kate Morton– This is actually not my favorite Kate Morton book, but it does strike me as the most spring-y. Alice lives on her family’s estate in Cornwall. Her baby brother, Theo vanishes without a trace one night after a party, and the family, torn apart, abandons the lake house. Decades later, the house is discovered by Sadie, a young detective with the London police force, who is staying in Cornwall with her grandfather. Her investigation into what happened long ago connects her with Alice, and some shocking revelations. I think the themes of healing and second chances make this one feel like springtime.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett- This childhood favorite is all about rebirth, renewal, second chances, and of course, gardens! Mary is raised in India and sent to her uncle’s gloomy English manor after she’s orphaned by a cholera outbreak. As she tries to crave a new life for herself on the moors, she discovers and abandoned garden. In making the garden grow, she helps herself and others grow as well. She brings healing, and new life, to a grieving household.

4. Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth by Phillipa Gregory- Technically these two books make up the Tradescant duology, but they’re both pretty stand alone, so they can be read in either order. The first book is about John Tradescant, royal gardener in 17th century England. The second book follows his son, who immigrates to America (which was then colonies). The only thing that the father and son, and the two books, have in common is their name, and their strong connection to nature.

5. Arcadia by Lauren Groff- In upstate New York, in the 1970s, a few idealists found a commune on the grounds of a decaying mansion (Arcadia House). They vow to work together and live off the land. The books follows the utopian dream through it’s demise. This may seem almost: anti-spring! After all the living off nature idea falls apart. But the people change. They grow. They realize they have to face the wider world outside, and they emerge when they’re ready to take it on. To me that seems like a springtime theme.

6. Persuasion by Jane Austen- This is actually one of my least favorite Austen books (which still makes it better that about 90% of other books!), but it’s themes of first loves and second chances make it great for spring. It’s about a couple that falls in love and is separated by fate. Years later, they meet again. Older, wiser, and still in love. Is it too late for them? After all, they’ve both grown and changed… Of course not! Spring is the season of second chances.

7. Spring by Ali Smith-Spring is the third novel in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. All of the novels have connections but they’re all stand alone and can be read in any order. All are about contemporary Britain, but also in a larger sense about the attitudes of the western world. This book has a focus on immigration and refugee crises. While the depiction of detention centers is sometimes hard to take, there is also a sense of optimism and hope that we can learn and change, that feels spring-y.


8. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf– This imagined biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s loyal canine friend is a story of love, companionship and renewal. It’s also a story of transformation, change and growth. We see Flush go from stifled lap dog to cosmopolitan dog about town.

9. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter- This book opens on the Italian coast in 1962. A chance at romance between an innkeeper and an aspiring actress is cut off. But 50 years later it might get a second chance thanks to some Hollywood hustlers. This could have been a cynical Hollywood satire, but Walter gives the story a sweetness that is accompanied by wit.

10. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed- Cheryl Strayed is in sort of a personal, metaphorical winter at the beginning of this memoir. And much of the content takes her though actual snowpack! But she emerged from the winter, stronger, wiser, and most of all, hopeful: a metaphorical spring ends the winter.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books From Old TBRs That I’ve Actually Read

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

The prompt this week was:

December 15: Books On My Winter 2020-2021 TBR (or summer if you live in the southern hemisphere)

But I thought that since I’ve done so many TBRs, I’d go through them and comment on what I’ve actually read.

  1. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey– This is one I readalong and I’m glad I did read it that way, because I don’t know if I’d have made it through if I didn’t have that holding me accountable! I was very unsure of how to rate this (I eventually gave it 3/5 stars on goodreads) because, while I can see what others enjoy it and it had qualities I enjoyed, I don’t think it’s for me. (Mentioned in: TBR Procrastination)

2. The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis– This was another 3 star read, but that was more or less in line with my expectations. I love historical fiction set in NYC, and the period stuff was great, but I found it lacking in terms of plot and character. (From: Upcoming releases for the 2nd half of 2019)

3. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware– I gave this one 4 stars. It wasn’t great literature and it didn’t try to be. It embraced what it was: a twisty thriller. (From: Upcoming releases for the 2nd half of 2019)

4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern– I loved The Night Circus, so my expectations for the follow up were high, but this lived up to most of them! I think it’s a tough book to describe, it’s more like an experience. I’d like to give it a reread at some point because I’m sure I’ll notice new things. (From: Upcoming releases for the 2nd half of 2019)

5. Autumn by Ali Smith- It’s hard to explain precisely why someone should read Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, but they should! Each book is a stand alone but connections emerge if you read them all . It’s very alert to where the world is right now. (From: Fall TBR 2017)

6. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell– This is definitely a good Halloween read. Not everyone in my book club enjoyed it as much as I did though. So take my recommendation with a grain of salt, I suppose! (From: Fall TBR 2017)

7. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman– I’d say that this prequel to Practical Magic lived up to the original. There’s another new prequel to them both out now. I haven’t read it yet though! (From: Fall TBR 2017)

8. The Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdich– This was a disappointment. I think I gave it two stars. The quality of the writing was very good, but it didn’t explore the premise enough. (From Fall TBR 2017)

9. Idaho by Emily Ruskovitch– I remember that I loved this book but on amazon and goodreads there was a very so-so reaction amongst other readers. It was ambiguous, which I liked, but I guess not everyone did. (From: Winter TBR: 2017)

10. The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden– This is one of the rare cases where I liked a books sequels better than the book itself. Not that it was a bad book by any means! It was very good! I just felt like the story opened up a little more in the second and third novels. (From: Winter TBR 2017)

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer 2020 TBR

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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June 16: Books on My Summer 2020 TBR (or winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere)

91kikzx6cdl._ac_uy218_1.Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia- I love the idea of setting a Victorian-eque Gothic in 1950’s Mexico. (June 30)

 

 

 

 

81lfpkdhvql._ac_uy218_2. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan– I enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians but I didn’t feel the need to read more of Kwan’s work, until I head that his newest was an homage to A Room with A View. (June 30)

 

 

 

a1qw7wbt5l._ac_uy218_3.Crossings by Alex Landragin-This book consists of three separate stories that can be read straight though, or out of order, using a secret key. They can also apparently be read as a story, within a story, within a story. I want to see how the author pulls off the concept! (July 28)

 

 

71wscsoaygl._ac_uy218_4. Summer by Ali Smith– The conclusion of Smith’s seasonal quartet. I don’t know much about this one but if the previous books are any indication, I expect an innovative sociopolitical tale set in, and illuminating the season in an unexpected way. (August 18)

 

 

 

91hgjcuezql._ac_uy218_5.The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner– I’ve heard really good things about this novel about a group of strangers who put aside their differences to preserve Austen’s legacy in post- WWII England. It sounds like it has the potential to be both intelligent and uplifting (rather like Austen herself!) (May 26)

 

 

91dl5yyl84l._ac_uy218_6.Home Before Dark by Riley Sager– I’ve read a few of Sager’s novels this past year and really enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to this tale of family secrets and old (and perhaps real?) ghosts. (June 30)

 

 

 

81jbrqqbgl._ac_uy218_7.Beach Read by Emily Henry– This tale of writers who swap genres looks like a light beach read  itself. (May 19)

 

 

 

 

91lq27bv9zl._ac_uy218_8. Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton– I’ve enjoyed this author’s other books, Next Year in Havana and When We Left Cuba, so I’m looking forward to her new one. (June 16)

 

 

 

81hegtntrcl._ac_uy218_9.The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti– This tale of backstage drama a theater in the Berkshires seems like a fun, escapist summer read for a theater-geek like me! (May 12)

 

 

 

81yn5yv9-l._ac_uy218_10.Or What You Will by Jo Walton– I love the premise of this one: a character realizes that once his writer dies, he does too. The writer is in her 70’s, so the character figures it’s time to take matters into his own hands… (July 7)

 

 

 

Looking over these picks it seems like (with one or two possible exceptions) I’m looking for escapism this summer. But as long as I live in the real world, a bit of fictional escape is allowed, no? Of course these are just the newbies on my TBR. They’re joining a looooong list!

Top Ten Tuesday: Springtime Reads

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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May 5: Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party (choose 10 things: items, accessories, foods, people (real or fictional), decorations, activities, etc.)

This week’s topic didn’t grab me, so I went in my own direction again. It’s finally starting to feel like spring in my neck of the woods, and even though I think of myself as a “winter person,” behind my mask and beneath my gloves I’m starting to celebrate.  So I’m sharing ten books that feel like spring to me:

51p9iawrnol._ac_uy218_1.The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett- I think that this book is perfect for spring, because we follow this orphan who comes to England from India. She’s bereaved and isolated, but she finds the secret garden. As she brings it back to life, her own health and spirits are also rejuvenated.  It’s about renewal and rebirth.

 

 

41etjy5BOOL._AC_US218_2. Spring by Ali Smith– This is part of Smith’s seasonal quartet. Each book is stand alone, but has subtle links to the others.  This one focuses on characters that seem very separate: Richard is an elderly director who is grieving after the loss of his friend and Brit works at a migrant detention center until she meets Florence, a young girl travelling to what she hopes will be a better life. It examines current events in Britain, which in this case probably aren’t too different from the US, but  it also weaves together the characters and ideas to create a larger picture. The characters’ relationships and their values are highlighted and questioned against these larger issues.

812ey934m8l._ac_uy218_3. A Room With A View by EM Forester– Miss Lucy Honeychurch, A Proper English Young Lady, is destined for a Respectable Marriage, until she takes a vacation in Tuscany. She meets George Emerson, who is travelling with his father, and “In the company of this common man the world was beautiful and direct. For the first time she felt the influence of Spring.” When she returns to Italy respectability tries to take over her life once again, but Lucy has already become open to a different kind of life.

913a0g0ghvl._ac_uy218_ml3_-14. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim– Yes, I know it’s May, but this book still applies. It’s about four Englishwomen with little in common other than the fact that they need a break from their daily lives. They decide to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. The new location restores them and brings them new perspective in different ways.  When the men in their lives join them (sometimes by invitation, sometimes not) the transformation can’t help but overcome them as well.

 

71-ozsgkwsl._ac_uy218_5. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf-This book is an imagined biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, Flush. From a dog’s eye view, we get a chance to see Elizabeth as a young invalid who spends most of her time indoors. She manages to meet Robert Browning (initially a fan of her work) and they fall in love. He whisks her (and Flush, naturally) off to Italy (I’ve never been to Italy but I get the sense that it’s the place to be in springtime!). We see Elizabeth transform through Flush’s perspective, and we see Flush transform as well: he goes a lapdog to a dog about town.

51tsapquwul-_ac_us218_6. Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson– On the first day of spring in  1911, Susanna Weber, who runs a dress salon in the titular square in Vienna, starts to keep a diary. In it she records the lives of and stories of herself and her neighbors. Other than being literally set in spring, this book feels springy to me because it’s about life: good, bad, and occasionally ugly.

 

51kc21bqngl-_ac_us218_7.Anne of Avonlea by LM Montogmery- Read just about any LM Montgomery book and you’re almost sure to find a beautifully written description of spring. I suppose that I chose this particular book because it’s about growth- Anne’s growth and that of her friends. They’re in the spring of their lives here. It reminds us That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”

 

81wnvagspxl._ac_uy218_ml3_8.Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed–  When Cheryl Strayed started to hike the Pacific Crest Trail she had lost her mother and her family dissolved,  her own actions had brought about the end of her marriage to a man she still loved, and she was lost in a mire of substance abuse. She was in an emotional winter. While she treks through miles of snowpack and hot desert, she grows and changes. She emerges from her journey renewed and reborn, in a personal spring.

 

91mfkvjzw-l._ac_uy218_9. Emma by Jane Austen- For some reason I always associate this book with picnics. I can recall one important picnic scene, but in my head it seems like Emma and friends are always going on a picnic. But I also think of Emma as a springtime character. She embarks on several (disastrous but well-intentioned) attempts at matchmaking only to realize how in the dark she really is. Finally she comes through a bit wiser and the world opens up around her. Her mind opens up. She’s in a metaphorical spring.

 

91paeh4pugl._ac_uy218_ml3_10.Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen– The Waverly family is endowed with usual “gifts” that make them outsiders in their small time home of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has special powers. Claire is a caterer who brings a magical touch to her dishes with these plants, but her sister, Sydney fled town as soon as she was old enough to go. When Sydney returns, daughter in tow Claire’s quiet life it turned upside down. Sydney and her daughter tear down the boundaries that Claire had put up around her heart, leaving her wide open.

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books With One Word Titles I Read

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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March 3: Books With Single-Word Titles (submitted by Kitty from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner)

For this one I decided to do the last ten books I read with one word titles. I made a few rules for myself: Subtitles don’t count. “The” counts as word. Titles that are names are acceptable. I usually add some commentary, but since this is about economy of words, that doesn’t feel right!

81wnvagspxl._ac_uy218_ml3_1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

 

81o0w3k8oyl._ac_uy218_ml3_2. Panchinko by Min Jin Lee

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3. Spring by Ali Smith

91txkgehbnl._ac_uy218_ml3_4. Moonrise by Cassandra King

81lrqhg4fgl._ac_ul320_ml3_5. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

81xr45udqkl._ac_uy218_ml3_6. Educated by Tara Westover

a1wovobgowl._ac_uy218_ml3_7. Melmoth by Sarah Perry

81tljs7lr7l._ac_uy218_ml3_8. Circe by Madeline Miller

81lfdckpnjl._ac_uy218_ml3_9. Winter by Ali Smith

71pwec3g0ol._ac_ul436_10. Flush by Virginia Woolf

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Season Reads

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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December 3: Holiday Reads (Books you love reading during the holiday season.)

I tweaked this topic a little to make it about books set during the holiday season.

81fwkoncpnl._ac_uy218_ml3_1.One Day In December by Josie Silver–  Laurie sees a man on a bus one day in December. There are lightening strikes and cupids arrows but they are too stunned to get on/off the bus in time to meet.  Laurie is convinced that he’s The One That Got Away, but what can she do? She doesn’t even know his name. A year later, she meets him at a New Year’s Eve party. Her best friend, Sarah introduces him as her new boyfriend, Jack. Oops! Laurie tries to move on with her life, and Jack makes a real go of his relationship with Sarah, but whatever was between them doesn’t seem to be going away. We check in with these characters over the next decade as love and friendship tears them apart and brings them together again. It’s not a deep book but it’s a sweet one that leaves you in a good mood.

81lfdckpnjl._ac_uy218_ml3_2. Winter by Ali Smith- This is the second in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. Art is meant to spend Christmas in Cornwall with his fiancee, Charlotte, and his mother, Sophie, at her home in Cornwall. But Art and Charlotte split up shortly before the holiday, and rather than explain things, Art hires, Lux, a young immigrant who looks like she needs the cash, to pretend to be Charlotte. When they arrive, Sophie seems unwell, and Lux convinces Art to call Sophie’s estranged sister, who comes at once to help. It’s a family story, yes. But it’s also a very contemporary story about the changing climate, both environmental and political. We travel back and forth in these character’s memories and ask how they- and we- got to their present circumstances.

91gdkmclk5l._ac_uy218_ml3_3.Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire– This story is about a famous, magical nutcracker and the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him. It’s based on ETA Hoffman’s famous Christmas story, made famous by Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. It’s essentially a story of a man who has been hurt and abused by life and other people. Yet he has something precious to share with his goddaughter one Christmas Eve, and he makes sure that he does that.

 

5158epcfxkl._ac_uy218_ml3_4. A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer– Originally published in 1941 under the title Envious Casca, this book  introduces readers to the dysfunctional Herriard family, gathered at Uncle Nat’s country house for Christmas. When Nat is murdered in a room locked from the inside on Christmas Eve, police detectives descend on the family, and the secrets come flying out. It’s a darly comic British country house mystery that will make you feel grateful for your own family, whatever issues you might have with them.

 

91zpl5vqnl._ac_uy218_ml3_5. Shakespeare’s Christmas by Charlaine Harris-While I’m not totally sold on Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires series, I do like her Lily Bard novels. This is the third and I’d recommend at least reading the first in the series prior to this one, to learn about Lily’s backstory. In this book Lily returns to her native Bartley, Arkansas, to attend her sister, Verena’s, Christmas wedding. When Lily’s boyfriend, Jack (a fellow PI) arrives in town, it’s not just to accompany Lily to the wedding: it’s to follow up a lead about an eight year old kidnapping. Lily, bearing physical and psychological scars of her own, finds herself drawn into the case when she learns that Verena is marry a widower with an eight year old daughter, who bears a strong resemblance to the girl that Jack is searching for…

51ipaqycwl._ac_uy218_ml3_6. Take A Chance on Me by Jill Mansell– Cleo Quinn has bad luck when it comes to men. When her childhood nemesis, Johnny LaVenture returns to town, and starts teasing her as if he’s never left. Meanwhile, Cleo’s sister, Abbie, has an idyllic relationship with her husband, Tom. Until Tom starts acting strange. She’s determined to find out what’s happening, even if it means the end of their marriage. The various storylines converge one chaotic holiday season. It’s charming,  British, and fun. What more do you need to know?

81eosgtgbtl._ac_uy218_ml3_7. Landline by Rainbow Rowell–  Georgie McCool and her husband Neal still love each other  and they both adore their two young daughters. But their marriage is on the rocks. They just can’t seem to make it work.  When Georgie, a sitcom writer, gets an important Christmas meeting with some studio executives, she expects Neal to by angry. But she’s still surprised when he takes the kids and goes to his parents in Omaha for Christmas. That night, Georgie manages to get a call through to Neal, but the Neal she’s speaking to is Neal from 15 years earlier, when they first started dating. Now Georgie feels like she’s got a chance to fix her marriage to Neal before it even starts. Should they have split up at that first pivotal moment? Or this this just another in a long line of the ups and downs that make up a marriage?

51ptxd7etil._ac_uy218_ml3_8. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich– I actually think that I got tired of the Stephanie Plum books shortly after this one, but the series still felt funny and fresh in this short, in between the “official” series, novella. Stephanie Plum is behind on Christmas. She’s got no tree, no presents, and a strange man in her kitchen. Not to mention she’s searching for a bail jumper names Santa Claws, and a mob of manic elves is after her. Just a normal Christmas in Jersey for this bounty hunter extraordinaire. If this were any longer it would feel like too much but at 150 pages, it’s a light treat.

51jb19dy-ul-_ac_us218_9. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding- OK this may be cheating since it’s bookended by New Year’s Eve but the action of the novel takes place over the course of a year. But I suppose a few of the other books on the list aren’t strictly limited to the season. And I like the way that this book uses the New Year as a time for new beginnings, in narrative, and in life.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Autumn Books

For That Artsy Reader Girls Top Ten Tuesday

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November 5: Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes (Autumn scenes/colors on the cover, autumn atmosphere, etc.)

These are just books that give me a strong sense of the season:

41hn3x56n9l-_ac_us218_1. Autumn by Ali Smith– This is the first in Smith’s quartet of interconnected, stand alone cyclical novels each focused on a different season. The plot, such as it is, deals with a platonic friendship between a thirty two year old woman and a man seventy years her senior. But really it reads more like a post-Brexit prose poem.

“November again. It’s more winter than autumn. That’s not mist. It’s fog. The sycamore seeds hit the glass in the wind like – no, not like anything else, like sycamore seeds hitting window glass. There’ve been a couple of windy nights. The leaves are stuck to the ground with the wet. The ones on the paving are yellow and rotting, wanwood, leafmeal. One is so stuck that when it eventually peels away, its leafshape left behind, shadow of a leaf, will last on the pavement till next spring. The furniture in the garden is rusting. They’ve forgotten to put it away for the winter. The trees are revealing their structures. There’s the catch of fire in the air. All the souls are out marauding. But there are roses, there are still roses. In the damp and the cold, on a bush that looks done, there’s a wide-open rose, still. Look at the colour of it.”
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2. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen– This book deals with the same characters that we first met in Addison’s debut novel, Garden Spells, but First Frost can definitely be read as a stand alone. The Waverly sisters are a slightly magical pair, living in Bascomb, North Carolina. For the Waverley family, Autumn is a season of transformation, change and magic. Sometimes in a very literal sense!

“On the day the tree bloomed in the fall, when its white apple blossoms fell and covered the ground like snow, it was tradition for the Waverleys to gather in the garden like survivors of some great catastrophe, hugging one another, laughing as they touched faces and arms, making sure they were all okay, grateful to have gotten through it.”

61xeuwoxcl-_ac_us218_3. Night Film by Marisha Pessl– Ashley Cordova, daughter of a famous director of scary movies, commits suicide one rainy, October night. Investigative journalist, Scott McGrath has suspicions about the death and his investigation takes him into the nightmare world of Stanislas Cordova. Not only is this book set during a rainy, foggy, autumn, it consists of textbook excerpts, newspaper articles and more that give the text a similarity to a pile of multicolored leaves.

My Cordova tale began for the second time on a rainy October night, when I was just another man running in circles, going nowhere as fast as I could…I was too strung out to sleep, hounded by an inertia I couldn’t explain, except for the vague understanding that the best part of my life was behind me, and the sense of possibility that I’d once had so innately as a young man was now gone. It was cold and I was soaked. The gravel track was  rutted with puddles, the black waters of the Reservoir cloaked in mist. It clogged the reeds along the bank and erased the outskirts of the park as if it were nothing but paper, the edges torn away.

818ezr7u2al._ac_uy218_ml3_4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern– In terms of plot, this novel deals with a competition between two magicians that will result in a high stakes fight to the death for their children. However, the setting, Le Cirque des Reves, a circus open only at night, that arrives without warning, and defies the conventional laws of physics, is the real star here. It puts the reader in minds of crisp autumn nights, hot apple cider, and hints of magic everywhere.

“The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold.”

91ucd7rhqhl._ac_uy218_ml3_5. The Cider House Rules by John Irving- This novel is set in Maine in the first part of the twentieth century. It tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, obstetrician, ether addict, abortionist, orphanage director; and his favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted. The rural new England setting brings to mind picturesque autumns full of colorful trees and crisp blue skies fading into golden sunsets.

 When he would almost despair, when the ether was too overpowering, when his own age seemed like the last obstacle and the vulnerability of his illegal enterprise was as apparent to him as the silhouettes of the fir trees against the sharp night skies of autumn, Wilbur Larch would save himself with this one thought: I love Homer Wells, and I have saved him from the war.”

913bxaz8drl._ac_uy218_ml3_6. The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick– This is another book set in New England. Patience Sparrow is the town healer (and some say witch) whose herbs and tinctures are given to many. But her remedies are implicated in a tragedy, the town is consumed by fear, and it’s witch hunting history may resurrect itself. The fear that infects the town causes a sort of premature autumn: leaves and plants, wither and die, fishermen return empty handed.

“The Sparrow Sisters’ roses still bloomed on New Year’s Day, their scent rich and warm even when snow weighted their petals closed. When customers came down the rutted road to the small eighteenth-century barn where the sisters worked, they marveled at the jasmine that twined through the split-rail fence, the perfume so intense they could feel it in their mouths. As they paid for their purchases, they wondered (vaguely, it must be said, for the people of Granite Point knew not to think too hard about the Sisters) how it was that clematis and honeysuckle climbed the barn in November and the morning glories bloomed all day. The fruit trees were so fecund that the peaches hung on the low branches, surrounded by more blossoms, apples and pears ripened in June and stayed sweet and fresh into December. Their Italian fig trees were heavy with purple teardrop fruit only weeks after they were planted. If you wanted a tomato so ripe the juice seemed to move beneath the skin, you needed only to pick up a punnet at the Nursery.”

517vbd5d37l-_ac_us218_7. Still Life by Louise Penny– This is the first in Penny’s series about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec. It’s a popular series, but even though I enjoyed this book, I haven’t read any of the others yet. It’s set in Three Pines, a small hamlet near the US Border, where there’s been a suspicious death on Canadian Thanksgiving (in early October). Three Pines seems like a perfect, picturesque Autumn town, where anyone would love to life (if not for the gruesome death…)

Three Pines wasn’t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back. And Thanksgiving, in early October, was the perfect time. The weather was usually crisp and clear, the summer scents of old garden roses and phlox were replaced by musky autumn leaves, woodsmoke and roast turkey.
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8. Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour– In some ways this book is a victim of the YA fantasy craze of the early 2000s. But the time this came out in 2014, a lot of elements had become cliche. But the story, set in upstate NY and inspired by the Scottish ballad, Tam Lin, has a vivid Fall setting. It’s set on a college campus (to me campus novels always have a whiff of Autumn) and most of the action takes place in October, culminating on Halloween.

He held out a hand.
Beware, the rustling leaves seemed to whisper.
Finn clasped Jack’s hand as her own self whispered, Be brave.

81nnru9c61l._ac_uy218_ml3_9. The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert– To be fair I just started this one, but it seems like it’s very much a seasonal read. It’s set on a family run orchard, where the daughter, who has some major issues, is trying to start a cider business. Meanwhile, a single father comes to work on the orchard for the season, with his son, from whom he’s keeping some big secrets.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Released for Early 2019

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

January 8: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

511V7J75KsL._AC_US218_1.  The Witches are Coming by Lindy West– This book looks at how our current socio-political moment has been stoked by a steady diet of pop culture created by mediocre white men.

 

 

 

2. 51SnHkgfUEL._AC_US218_ Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert– I loved Brennert’s Moloka’i and I’m hoping that this lives up to that standard.

 

 

 

41q9vrZpraL._AC_US218_3. The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick- In this case the comparisons to Kate Morton, Barbara Erskine and Susanna Kearsley got my attention pretty quickly!

 

 

 

 

51sOOMroi9L._AC_US218_4. The Familiars by Stacey Halls– This is historical fiction set against the backdrop of the Pendle Hill witch trials. It looks interesting!

 

 

 

515y9hgrwzl-_ac_us218_5. The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye– I loved Faye’s Jane Steele and I’m currently reading (and enjoying) her first novel, Dust and Shadow. Her latest has been getting some good advance reviews, so I’m excited.

 

 

 

41qPb6ELO-L._AC_US218_6. Normal People by Sally Rooney– I think that this book has already been released some places, but here the release date is listed as April 2019. Regardless, it sounds good!

 

 

 

31ieCRhGhEL._AC_US218_7. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan– Sometimes when McEwan gets weird it doesn’t quite work for me (Nutshell, I’m looking at you!) but this novel about artificial intelligence set in a alternative version of London in the 1980’s sounds interesting.

 

 

41etjy5BOOL._AC_US218_8. Spring by Ali Smith– I’m a little behind on Smith’s four seasons quartet (I still haven’t read Winter!) but  I still plan to read that and this one ASAP.

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors I Read in 2017

For The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday:

January 2: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2017

  1. 51f6ex2-vul-_ac_us218_Mary WebbPrecious Bane– I read Precious Bane at the end of 2017 and loved it. It’s a beautiful story about Prue Sarn, a girl with a harelip, her (crazy) family, the village where she lives and her seemingly hopeless love for the weaver Kester Woodseaves. It’s been compared to the likes of Charlotte Bronte and Thomas Hardy. While I see some parallels in terms of setting and theme, I think Webb’s work has its own identity. Author Kate Forsyth recommended Webb’s Gone to Earth as a follow up read, so that’s on my 2018 TBR.
  2. 515vcf5e7ol-_ac_us218_51bn96akpgl-_ac_us218_CL Wilson– Tarian Soul series- I suppose that I’d call these books romantic fantasy. I had some issues with first one, Lord of the Fading Lands, in that it was a bit too Cinderella-ish. But some of that was changed in the follow-up Lady of Light and Shadows. It’s still not perfect mind you, but it’s got my interest enough to keep reading the 5 books series.
  3. 51dqnh9enml-_ac_us218_Lyndsay FayeJane Steele– After finding Jane Steele to be a lovely surprise (I recommend it to anyone who wonders what Jane Eyre would be like if Jane were a serial killer), I definitely want to check out some of her other work. I’m not sure if I’ll get to Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Jack the Ripper Killings by John H. Watson (basically Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper) first or The  Gods of Gotham, the first in her Timothy Wilde trilogy about a police officer in 19th century NYC. But both are on my TBR.
  4. 61xeuwoxcl-_ac_us218_1Marisha PesslNight Film– Night Film was like a crazy fever dream of a read. It was entertaining, disturbing, and innovative. I definitely want to read more of her work in 2018. Her debut, Special Topics in Calamity Physics received a lot of acclaims, so that might be where I go next. But there’s another book coming out called Neverworld Wake that also looks good…
  5. Marina WarnerFly Away Home- I really enjoyed Marina Warner’s short story collection Fly Away Home. Like many collections of short work, some stories were, of course, better than others.  But I liked how she played with the line between fantasy and realism in different ways in these stories. Next up, I may go for a novel or some nonfiction like From Beast to Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers.
  6. 51vp6vchi4l-_ac_us218_Hanya Yanagihara A Little Life– I’ve spoken about this book before. Even people who say that it’s too dark have praised the beautiful prose. Personally, I found it dark, but appropriately so, and ultimately I took something hopeful from it. I hope to read Yanagihara’s first novel, The People in the Trees in 2018. Hopefully, that’s got something equally beautiful to offer.
  7. 41hn3x56n9l-_ac_us218_Ali SmithAutumn– Autumn was the first in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. While it wasn’t perfect, I appreciated the emphasis on how art and current events influence our perceptions of what is temporary and transient and what is eternal and unchanging. I also appreciated that the crux of the story was about the platonic friendship of an older man and a younger woman. Platonic relationships don’t get much attention! Anyway, I definitely want to pick up the follow-up, Winter in 2018. Preferably before spring hits!
  8. 51t-vfynk1l-_ac_us218_Susan Bishop CrispellThe Secret Ingredient of Wishes– Well done magical realism- especially when it’s not the highbrow Gabriel Garcia Marquez/Isabelle Allende/Salman Rushdie kind- is hard to find. I enjoyed The Secret Ingredient of Wishes enough to want to read some more of Crispell’s work, though with titles like Dreaming in Chocolate I suspect it might make me very hungry…
  9. Johanna SinisaloTroll: A Love Story– This was a weird book. Actually, her work has been dubbed “Finnish Weird”. Troll is about a Finnish man who stumbles across an injured, sick troll (a rare species but not unheard of) and takes it in. The events of the story are mixed with excerpts from “sources” about troll folklore and scientific “sources” about where and how they live. Her only other book that’s been translated into English is called The Core of the Sun, and it sounds equally strange.
  10. 51-xlyewull-_ac_us218_Richard SikenCrush– I’m  not usually a poetry reader. I mean I’ll read a poem in a magazine here and there but I’m not usually someone who goes out and buys a volume of poetry. But Siken’s collection is a ferocious look at love and obsession. Some poems had an almost violent linguistic impact. For that reason, his follow up War of the Foxes is in on my TBR for 2018.