Top Ten Tuesday: Nautical Novels

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

April 6: Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean (submitted by Beauty & Her Books)

Since there aren’t many books I’d gladly throw in the ocean (even if I strongly dislike it, someone else may like it! That just seems like such a waste!) I decided to take the ocean theme in it’s own direction. These are my top books set at/near/on the ocean.

Just an early disclaimer: I have read a lot of the sea set novels that we now think of as for children (though are some aren’t) like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Treasure Island. My opinion varies depending on the book but for one reason or another a lot of them don’t resonate with me. So this won’t be a list of novels with “the most” ocean presence. But they’re books about the ocean that I enjoyed.

1.

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Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne DuMaurier– The sea plays a role in a lot of DuMaurier’s Cornwall set work (it certainly plays a key role in the plots of Jamaica Inn and Rebecca) but it’s most prevalent in this tale of a married woman’s dalliance with a pirate.

2.

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Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter-Naslund– I suppose this list is a good place to confess that I’ve never actually read Moby Dick, so that won’t be on this list. But the ocean takes a strong role in Una’s epic as well. I actually did really like this book, but it didn’t make me want to read Moby Dick more. I was actually more interested in what Una was up to while Ahab was off at sea.

3,

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Circe by Madeline Miller– Parts of this novel (based on a character who shows up in The Odyssey) take place at sea. Other parts take place under it, and still others take place on an island, but the sea is present throughout, so I’m counting it as “nautical.”

4.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware– Not only a whodunnit, but also a “did it even happen?” set at sea. A travel journalist sees someone thrown overboard on a cruise. But no one else saw anything and no one is missing.

5.

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Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon– If I hadn’t specified “novels” in the topic, I might have been tempted in include Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. But since I did, I’ll go with this novelistic interpretation of it. It’s told from two perspectives: that of the princess who marries the prince that the mermaid loves, and the mermaid herself.

6.

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The Pirate Captain by Kerry Lynne- Like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Outlander. That’s really the best way to describe this book. It’s a lot of fun, as long as you’re not looking for it to be anything deeper (no pun intended) than that. I want to read the second in the series but it’s long (over 750 pages) so I’m hesitant to dive in (again, I’m really not doing this on purpose!)

7.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck– Years ago, I read this short novel about a poor pearl diver with a sick son. But it’s haunted me for a long time. When he finds a huge pearl the family’s fortunes change, and his family dreams of a better life. But the pearl may be more of a curse than a blessing. It’s a retelling of a Mexican folktale, in which diving, pearls, and the sea, play an important role.

8.

Foe by JM Coetzee– This is the third book on this list that reimagines a sea set classic. In this case, Coetzee imagines that a woman named Susan Barton tells Daniel Foe (Defoe’s name before he fancified it) about her experiences on an island with a shipwrecked Cruso (Robinson Crusoe) and his manservant Friday. But Foe changes up the story a bit to make it more marketable. Barton turns Cruso into her own invention in the story, and then Foe turns that into his invention. It’s really about the enigmatic nature of storytelling, but the ocean (and an island) are strong settings throughout.

9.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys- Wow, yet another classic reimagining with a strong nautical element. Jane Eyre isn’t nautical at all, but this tale of the madwoman in the attic, begins on the shores of the Caribbean.

10.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell– I was obsessed with this book as a kid. It’s based on a true story about a girl who spent 18 years alone on the Island of San Nicholas, off the coast of California.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want To Reread

For ThatArtsyReaderGirl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

December 1: Books I Want to Read Again (This could mean books you plan on re-reading OR books you wish you could read again for the first time.)

I was commenting the other day about how my “want to reread” list is getting to be almost as long as my TBR. Sadly I hardly ever feel like I have time for rereads because there are so many books out there that I haven’t read yet. But here are a few I want to revisit.

1. Devil Water by Anya Seton– I read this when I was in college or shortly after. I tend to remember Seton’s books by little facts about them rather than overall plot. Only in this case, I don’t remember anything about the plot! I remember that it took place during a Jacobite rebellion in Scotland (1715 according to the synopsis) but other than that, nothing. Actually, if I had all the time in the world to reread things, I’d reread a lot of Anya Seton’s books.

2. Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray– I bought the first book because I liked the cover, but I quickly got pulled into the plot. It combined a lot of things that I love (feminism, fantasy, the Victorian era) and actually got me started reading YA again. I remember the broad strokes of the plot, but the details are hazy. I’m a little nervous to read it again though, because I’m afraid it won’t live up to my memory of it.

3. Evelina by Fanny Burney – I remember I read this because I heard that the author was a strong influence on Jane Austen. I definitely remember seeing the influence (focus on a young woman, comic misadventures, vulgar relatives, hypocritical society), and wanting to read more of Burney’s work, Actually that reminds me that her other work is still sitting on my TBR.

4. Sophie by Guy Burt– This book is sitting on my shelf. I have a vague memory of picking it up and reading it at some point in my life. I also remember something about it frustrated and confused me. Based on some of the reviews it looks like I wasn’t the only person who was confused. But I do wonder what it was about…

5. Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livsey- This is one of several books by Margot Livsey on my bookshelf. I remember at some point about 10-ish years ago I really liked her and read several of her books. But I don’t remember much about them. I picked this one to reread first because I liked the cover. I figure if I enjoy it, I’ll reread the others.

6. Middlemarch by George Eliot– I read this for a class in college. I remember finding it hard to get into, but once I did, I enjoyed it. But I suspect I’d probably get more out of it reading it now. It seems like the kind of story that improves as one matures.

7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle– I read this as a kid and I remember liking it, and I remember it was about kids on a journey through space and time, trying to find their father. When the recent movie came out I read an article somewhere (I can’t remember where) that discussed some of the religious, political and scientific undertones and subtext in the book. Needless to say, that went totally over my head as a kid, but now I’m curious about them.

8. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L’Engle– This is actually 4th in L’Engle’s Austin family series. I remember enjoying the series as a kid, and finding it very different from the sci-f of A Wrinkle in Time. The reason I want to read this one in particular was that I recall the main character writing a poem in it, that 12 year old me found beautiful. I’m curious as to whether that holds up.

9. The Quincunx by Charles Palliser– I read this in college and I remember it was a combination of historical fiction and mystery. It was a complex, Dickensian plot, that when all was revealed it was kind of like a puzzle. But I don’t remember the specifics. It had something to do with a kid whose mom dies, and some inheritance. But that’s it.

10. This one is two books I want to reread for the exact same reason.

The Pirate Captain by Kerry Lynne and Exit Unicorns by Cindy Brander– Both books are the first books in a series. I enjoyed both for different reasons (The Pirate Captain was just a lot of fun, Exit Unicorns was a vivid depiction of characters and historical setting) I remember the broad strokes of the plot of each. But that’s all I remember. Both books are first in a series (the sequel to The Pirate Captain is Nor Gold, the sequel to Exit Unicorns is Mermaid in A Bowl of Tears) and I want to continue with both series. But I think I should remember more about how they started.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Long Titles

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

October 13: Super Long Book Titles

1. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by EL Konigsburg – A childhood fave. Mrs. Basil E. has a long name in and of herself, but when you add those mixed up files, you get a really long title.

2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente– Most of the time I just refer to this one as “Fairyland” or “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland” if I’m feeling particularly long winded. I never go for the full title!

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon- This one is meant to sound like the title of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, and I suppose it does.

4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows– For some reason always use the full title when talking about this book.

5. If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino- This one I shorten to “If On A Winter’s Night.” We don’t need the traveler.

6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – I usually just call this one “Eleanor Oliphant” and leave her status out of it.

7. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardscastle by Stuart Turton– This is another one where I just call it by the name of the character (in this case “Evelyn Hardcastle”) and leave out all the rest.

8. The Pirate Captain: Chronicles of A Legend: Nor Silver Kerry Lynne– The author of the book cleared up via twitter that this is the full tile of her first book. It’s a fun read, but I don’t think we need the double subtitle. Just one is fine!

9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg– This one I usually just call by the film adaptations’ title, Fried Green Tomatoes.

10. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon– The author called this one MOBY on social media. The logic was it’s big, it’s white. And when you say the initials “MOHB” it sounds like “MOBY.” As a result the fandom tends to call this one MOBY,

Top Ten Tuesday: TBR Procrastination

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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September 10: Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why (maybe you’re scared of it, worried it won’t live up to the hype, etc.) (submitted by Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea)

Books that are intimidating because they’re really long

51saga5aeml-_ac_us218_1. Nor Gold by Kerry Lynne– Second in The Pirate Captain series 753 pages.  I’ve also heard it ends with a cliffhanger, so I’m not sure I want to start it until I have the next book nearby.

 

 

41oulsn7jul-_ac_us218_2. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn– Got really great reviews but between the heavy subject matter and the fact that it’s 768 pages I keep putting it off.

 

 

51qkdj8lpel-_ac_us218_3. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss– Second in the Kingkilller Chronicles. I loved the first, but this is 1120 pages. Also, number three hasn’t been published yet so maybe I’ll wait until then and finish the series when it’s complete.

 

51dyrlatcxl-_ac_us218_4. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey– First in the Kushiel’s Legacy series. It’s been recommended many times, it’s sitting on my shelf, but the premise doesn’t really grab me and it’s 912 pages.  I’ll get to  it at some point.

 

51q4v7d1rl-_ac_us218_5. Trinity by Leon Uris– This was recommended by several people but it’s a heavy subject matter and it’s 894 pages.

 

 

 

51bzo0tnhl-_ac_us218_6. Kristin Lavranstradder by Sigrid Undset– This is technically a trilogy of three normal sized books but apparently the translation matters, and I have the first book in the wrong translation. At some point I’ll try to read it and if it’s no good I’ll go for this edition which is supposed to be the “good” translation, but it’s all 3 books together making it a cumbersome 1168 pages.

61jrknqrsel-_ac_us218_7. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett– Third in Follett’s Kingsbridge trilogy. I liked the first two but at 923 pages it’s hard to dive into.

 

 

 

51wxqincjul-_ac_us218_8. The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch– I loved Fitch’s White Oleander and I’m  interested in this genre change (literary fiction to historical fiction) but the fact that it’s 812 pages makes it intimidating to get started on.

 

Books I’m hesitant to start because of content

51mmdwir-zl-_ac_us218_9. The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett– This is third in Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles series. I liked the first two but they’re filled with obscure references and we rarely get into the main character’s head so it takes a lot of focus to read.

 

a1yvcyz-l._ac_uy218_ml3_10. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear- This is the fifth in the Maisie Dobbs series. I’ve been enjoying it but after a while the terrible things that these characters go through (so far it’s not limited to war, PTSD, drug addiction, illness, and death) make it a fairly depressing experience.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Indie Reads

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

June 5: Books I Decided to DNF (did not finish) too Quickly (are you questioning your DNF choices on any books? If you have a policy to not DNF, put a spin on the topic to make it fit you.)

This week’s topic didn’t really speak to me. It’s rare that I don’t finish a book.

But I decided to use the opportunity to look at some great indie reads this week. Ebooks have really helped to allow indie authors to connect with readers in a way they never have before. But there are a lot of misperceptions about independent publishing and authors. A lot of people seem to think that only the reason an author would publish a book him/herself is that s/he isn’t good enough to land a traditional publishing deal. While this may be true in some cases,  it’s not the most common reason. A lot of writers don’t want to deal with the long process of querying agents and submitting manuscripts for possibly years. Others want creative control of both the process and the product. Still, others have difficulty finding a traditional publishing deal, not because of the quality of their work but simply because they’re writing about a subject or in a way that the market doesn’t have a lot of interest in at the moment. But whatever the reason a lot of writers are going indie and there are some really good indie books out there. Not all the books on this list are great literature, but they’re fun reads and highlighting them can help get them some well-deserved attention.

51fbqr8a2jl-_ac_us218_1. The Pirate Captain by Kerry Lynne- Catherine MacKenzie escapes Britain after several desperate years of living hand to mouth under the radar. Her husband was a Jacobite leader and following the defeat at Culloden, she’s a wanted woman. She stows away on a ship bound for the West Indies, but when a kidnapping goes wrong, Cate finds herself on board the Ciara Morganse, under the protection (as it were) of Captain Nathaniel Blackthorne, a pirate with a mysterious past and a vengeful mission. Sparks fly between Cate and Nathaniel but their respective pasts might keep them from having a future. Yes, it often reads a bit like Pirates of the Carribean meets Outlander. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun. It’s the first of three (so far) books. I haven’t read the others yet but they’re on my TBR. Also part of the series: Nor Gold (book 2) and Treasured Treasures (book 3)

31mezqr7t8l-_ac_us218_2. Exit Unicorns by Cindy Brandner– In 1968 Belfast, Jamie Kirkpatrick is a wealthy industrialist with a tragic past. He’s just lost his father. Meanwhile, Casey O’Riordan is somehow involved with the IRA and has just been released from prison after five years. Pamela O’Flaherty is an American who has traveled to Ireland to find the man that she fell in love with as a child. The lives and fates of these characters intersect as Ireland teeters on the brink of revolution.  I didn’t know much about the situation there before I read the book and let me just say that it’s complicated. I appreciated that in spite of the sometimes gritty realism, the characters were still tied into the magic and myth of Ireland’s past. Also part of the series: Mermaid In A Bowl of Tears (book 2), Flights of Angels (book 3), In the Country of Shadows (book 4), Spindrift (short stories involving the characters; can be read as a standalone), Bare Knuckle (prequel novella)

51fzt-s59nl-_ac_us218_3. Dark Desires by Eve Silver–  Darcie is alone, homeless and hungry. Her desperate situation leads her to a position as a maid in Dr. Damien Cole’s household. But her artistic ability means that Dr. Cole uses her as an assistant who can help him record his work (this is before photography). She and Damien begin to develop feelings for one another. But someone is murdering prostitutes, and taking their body parts. Often Damien will ask Darcie to sketch those same body parts not long after a body is found… So is Damien the killer? I forgot what made me pick this up initially, but I kept reading it until it was done because I wanted to know more about the characters. The whodunnit aspect didn’t interest me as much as who didn’t do it. It’s very much a gothic romance that indulges in all the common tropes without apology. This is the first in a series, though each novel is more or less a stand-alone. They’re united thematically as gothic romances. Also in the series: His Dark Kiss, Dark Prince, His Wicked Sins, Seduced By A Stranger, and Dark Embrace.

616x-jkvqpl-_ac_us218_4. The Wayfarer by Jennifer  L Hayes– The first in a trilogy, this introduces us to Emma Clayton, whose life is pretty predictable, until an electrical storm sends her to Victorian England. Emma is pretty desperate to make it back home, but when she meets Lord Henry Drake she develops a fondness for the nobleman that eventually becomes love. The only problem is that Emma knows from historical records that Henry is going to die very soon unless she can somehow stop it. I love a good time travel romance, but indie publishing is full of bad time travel romances! Every once in a while a good one sneaks in though. If you’re looking for something on par with Outlander, look elsewhere. This is about 250 pages and doesn’t have the complex plot, historical detail, and large cast of characters. But it’s a diverting read. I enjoyed this one, even though it had some formulaic elements. Also in the series: The Wayfarer’s Daughter (book 2) and The Last Wayfarer (book 3)

51lsnu1mnyl-_ac_us218_5. The  Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan by Steve Wiley– Richard Lyons is a businessman living a boring life that’s on the verge of falling apart. He’s completely forgotten the one, magical night,  he spent as a twelve-year-old boy, traveling the Lavender Line of the L train through a secret section of the city alongside the mysterious Francesca Finnegan. It will take another trip on the Lavender Line to get Richard’s life back on track. This is sort of an urban fairy tale in which we learn alternative explanations for events in Chicago’s actual history. The author, Steve Wiley, is donating 50% of the profits from this book to Chicago’s Public Schools. You can learn more at the website, here: http://fairytalechicago.com/

51ldnz9zapl-_ac_us160_6. Social Death by Tatiana Boncompagni– Clyde Shaw is a veteran news reporter. When she’s called to the scene of a murder on NYC’s Upper East Side, she expects another story. What she finds, is Olivia Kravis, the daughter of Clyde’s boss, and Clyde’s childhood best friend. Clyde takes on the case, desperate to solve her friend’s murder. But then another body is found. And then Clyde is poisoned… Solving this mystery might drag some demons from  Clyde’s past back into her present, and put everything that she values at risk; including her job and her life. This book is called “A Clyde Shaw Mystery #1” but despite the fact that it was released in 2014,  no other Clyde Shaw mysteries are listed on Amazon.

51ggyuhu4l-_ac_us218_7. The Photo Traveller by Arthur Gonzalez– Gavin Hillstone was put into foster care when he was orphaned at the age of four.  His only escape from his abusive foster family is photography. But when he learns that he’s not alone in the world, after all, he goes to Washington DC, to find his paternal grandparents.  From them, he learns that he’s a Photo Traveller, someone who can travel through time and space via images. But someone wants something that Gavin has, and is willing to track him around the globe and through time to get it.  Many, many years ago (like 5 years ago) I reviewed this book for Synchronized Chaos magazine and I also interviewed the author. At the time, he mentioned he was working on a sequel. That sequel, The Peace Hunter is now available.

51uywe9mfql-_ac_us218_8. The Mask of Duplicity by Julia Brannan–  After their father dies, Beth’s half-brother, Richard arrives to claim his inheritance. However, the family estate doesn’t live up to Richard’s expectations. He wants to reconcile with his father’s extended family (who disowned him, when he married Beth’s mother) and he wants Beth to marry well. Beth finds herself lost in a social whirlwind of suitors after her substantial dowry, and confused by the effeminate Sir Anthony Peters, who has taken an interest in Beth but has secrets of his own. This is also the beginning of a series and is followed by The Mask Revealed (book 2),  The Gathering Storm (book 3) The Storm Breaks (book 4), Pursuit of Princes (book 5) and Tides of Fortune (book 6). I’ve only read the first one so far, but I’m looking forward to the rest!

51xz5nvwval-_ac_us200_9. Tsura by Heather Anastasiu – Tsura is a Roma or gypsy, living in WWII Romania. A local family hides her away along with Andrei, a Jewish man, with whom Tsura falls in love. When one careless night out risks everything, Mihai, the grandson of the man hiding Tsura, covers for her by pretending that she’s his fiance. One thing leads to another, and Tsura ends up having to marry Mihai for real in order to protect Andrei and the others hiding in Mihai’s grandfather’s basement. It’s to be a marriage in name only, and when the war ends, he’ll divorce her, and she’ll marry Andrei. In the meantime, Tsura must pose as Mihai’s wife, even though she sees him as an apathetic Nazi collaborator. Of course, there’s more to Mihai and Andrei than meets the eye… The story is continued in the sequel House of Stone. Each book is about 300 pages so there’s really no reason why the story couldn’t have been told in one long book, other than that this way the author sells more.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tueday: Books I Didn’t Read in 2017 But Meant To

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

January 9: Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)

51uehkb-x4l-_ac_us218_1. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien– I know. I can’t really call myself a fantasy reader (let alone writer) and not have read these! I will, I swear! They’re sitting on my shelf waiting for me. I think part of the reason I haven’t read them yet is that I want to have a nice chunk of time to really get lost in them. But I did make some progress already. I decided to get started and I’m about 100 pages into The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

51dyrlatcxl-_ac_us218_2. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey– This one starts off a series has been recommended to me for years. I have it sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me. But again I feel like I’m waiting for a point where I can just read, and lose myself in the world of the books.  That time may never come though!  I do want to get through some of these books before I’m a senior citizen.

 

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3. Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson– I’m not usually a fan of “westerns” but this was very highly recommended by a coworker, who isn’t usually a big “reader” so I feel like I should give it a chance. Actually plot-wise it does sound interesting. It’s about Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped by the Comanche Indians at the age of nine and grew up to be a Comanche woman. It’s based on a true story and is supposedly very well researched.

 

51q4v7d1rl-_ac_us218_4. Trinity by Leon Uris– I’m a fan of author Cindy Brandner’s Exit Unicorns series and she cites this as a book that book that was hugely influential to her. She says “Long ago I read the book Trinity by Leon Uris. It changed everything for me. I was thirteen at the time and I remember reading that last page, closing the book with a sense of profound loss and just knowing that this is what I wanted to do, tell stories that made people think, cry, laugh and create characters that would live for others as vividly as they lived for me. People that readers would consider personal friends and that they would wonder about long after the last page was turned.” I certainly want that experience as a reader!

5191u-sptxl-_ss135_5. After Anatevka by Alexandra Silber– In 2007 Alexandra Silber played Hodel in the London revival of The Fiddler on the Roof. In 2015 she played Hodel’s older sister Tzeitzel in the Broadway revival of the show. She’s obviously spent a lot of creative time and space with these characters. In this book, she imagines what Hodel’s life would be like after the curtain falls. We leave Hodel on the way to join her lover, Perchick in a Siberian labor camp.  This book picks up at that point. Often actors imagine a backstory for their characters, but I like the idea of imagining a “forward story” for one. I think that when you’ve spent a lot of time and energy in a creative world, it’s can be hard to let go of. This is an interesting way of keeping it alive. Plus, a historical love story against a turn of the century Russian backdrop? Yes, please!

41oulsn7jul-_ac_us218_6. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn– This was written in 1966 and has been in print ever since its publication, yet for some reason, it doesn’t get talked about all that much. Learning that made me curious. It’s about a black man and a white woman who fall in love in Depression-era New Orleans. I bought it in 2017 and haven’t started it yet because it’s 750+ pages about a pretty heavy subject (race in America). Hopefully, in 2018 I’ll be able to give it time/attention/thought.

51qkdj8lpel-_ac_us218_7.  The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss- I loved The Name of the Wind, the first in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. This is the follow-up. It’s sitting on my shelf and I’ve been putting off starting it because I want to know that the trilogy will have a conclusion. This book came out in 2011. No word on a release date for number three yet. Hopefully, we’ll hear something about a release date for it in 2018 so that I can start this one!

51mmdwir-zl-_ac_us218_8. The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett– This is book three of Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. They follow the adventures of the main character (sometimes he’s a hero, sometimes he’s more anti-hero), a sixteenth-century Scotsman with a talent for getting into and out of trouble. The first two books in this series can work as stand-alones, but supposedly with this one, it becomes more of a series where each book is dependent on the books that came before. These books can be a lot of fun but they’re dense. We hardly ever get inside the main character’s head, so his motives are often a mystery. Sometimes it’s only in seeing the result of an action that we understand why the character did it. They’re also loaded with allusions to classical literature and words and phrases that you need several dictionaries to understand. That means that reading them when you have other stuff on your mind can be a challenge. I really hope I get to make some progress on this series in 2018 though.

51bzo0tnhl-_ac_us218_9. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset– This is another series that I’d intended to start in 2017. It’s the story of a woman’s life in 14th century Norway, and it hasn’t been out of print since it was initially published in 1927. The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the 1930s and at the time, this trilogy was her only published work. I had intended to begin this year, but the translation that I had felt very laborious. I’ve since learned that the translation by Tiina Nunnally (linked) is the way to go.

51saga5aeml-_ac_us218_10. Nor Gold: The Pirate Captain, Chronicles of A Legend by Kerry Lynne– I read The Pirate Captain, the first book in what is intended to be a trilogy in 2017. I enjoyed it a lot in spite of the fact that there was some serious “borrowing” from Outlander and Pirates of the Carribean in terms of plot and characters! It’s not literary greatness by any means, but it’s a fun historical romantic adventure. I wanted to wait until book 3 is out (projected release is sometime in 2018) before reading this one because it supposedly ends with a cliffhanger, and I have no patience to wait and see what happens!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Book Recommendations for Outlander Fans

For the Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday:

August 15:  Ten book recommendations for ______________: (Skies the limit here…examples: for Hufflepuffs, for fans of Game of Thrones, for people who don’t normally read YA, for animal lovers, for video game lovers, etc.

Maybe it’s the fact that the 3rd season of the TV series is coming up, but lately I’ve been looking for read alikes to the Outlander series. If you haven’t read Outlander, the series is 8 books in at the moment with a ninth in progress (the author says she expects it to be 10 in all) and it follows the adventures of Claire, a WWII combat nurse who falls through time, and her 18th century husband, Jamie Fraser.  Even though the premise is fantastical, these books are really well researched from a historical perspective. Jamie and Claire find themselves caught up in the Jacobite rebellion of 1845 and later in the Revolutionary war. They interact with actual historical figures and at real events. After eight books, the characters start to feel like old friends. So once you finish the series it can be hard to jump into something else. Here are some suggestions:

51byrmqnal-_ac_us218_1. Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati (the Wilderness Series) In 1792, Elizabeth Middleton, a 29 year old spinster, arrives in upstate New York. Her father brought her there with promises that she could be a school teacher, but the real motive was to marry her off to Richard Todd, a physician who is more interested in her inheritance than her. Elizabeth finds her attention drawn to Nathaniel Bonner (son of “Hawkeye” Bonner, hero of James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans). Nathaniel has a strong connection to the Mohican (Mahican) people. His wife was a Mahican woman who died years earlier. The Mahican want to buy part of their land back from Elizabeth’s father. Richard Todd wants it for his own purposes and Elizabeth finds herself sympathizing with the Mahican claim. Meanwhile, her relationship with Nathaniel leads to more conflict between the Mahican and the European settlers.  This kicks off the start of a six book series (it’s followed by Dawn on a Distant Shore, Lake in the Clouds, Fire Along the Sky, Queen of Swords, and The Endless Forest) that follows Elizabeth, Nathaniel and their family.  Outlander fans should be on the look out for a cameo from some Outlander characters in the first book.

“Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, overly educated and excessively rational, knowing right from wrong and fancy from fact, woke in a nest of marten and fox pelts to the sight of an eagle circling overhead, and saw at once that it could not be far to Paradise.”

51omzinvtpl-_ac_us218_2. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (the Bronze Horseman trilogy) -On the day that WWII begins, Russian, Tatiana Metanova goes out to buy some food. On the bus, she meets Alexander Belov, a young soldier in the Red Army. Alexander and Tatiana are drawn to one another immediately, and he helps her bring her packages back to her family’s apartment. That’s when Tatiana discovers that Alexander is the same man that her sister, Dasha, had been talking about falling in love with. Tatiana is very devoted to her sister and refuses to steal her boyfriend. So she tells Alexander that nothing can happen between them. Complicating matters further is the fact that another soldier, Dmitri, has information that could destroy Alexander. And Dmitiri is romantically interested in Tatiana. In order to protect Dasha’s feelings and Alexander’s life, Tatiana and Alexander find themselves draw into a romantic quadrangle, as German forces siege Leningrad.  As the brutal Russian winter begins, Tatiana, Dasha, Alexander, and Dmitiri face starvation, deception and danger. This is the first in a trilogy (it’s followed by Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden). There are also two prequel books that tell the story of Alexander’s parents; Children of Liberty and Bellagrand.

“Tatiana lived for that evening hour with him that propelled her into her future and into the barely formed, painful feelings that she could neither express nor understand. Friends walking in the lucent dusk. There was nothing more she could have from him, and there was nothing more she wanted from him but that one hour at the end of her long day when her heart beat and her breath was short and she was happy.”

515yocsadl-_ac_us218_3. Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon (The Lord John series)- Maybe this is cheating, because it’s technically an Outlander spinoff series, but I’m counting it anyway. We meet Lord John briefly in Dragonfly in Amber, and start getting to know him better in Voyager. The events of this series take place during the events of Voyager, usually while the main Outlander characters are doing other things. Lord John is an interesting character. He’s a good man, and honest by nature, but the reality of the world he lives in forces him to live a lie every day. He’s involved in several mysterious events in this series. There are a few full length novels in addition to this one; Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and The Scottish Prisoner (Jamie from Outlander is the title character, and a co-narrator in this one) as well as a number of novellas. You find find some information about the books and the suggested reading order here and here.

Tom gave him a look of mingled bewilderment and suspicion, obviously suspecting that Grey had made up the word upon the moment for the express purpose of tormenting him.

51fbqr8a2jl-_ac_us218_4. The Pirate Captain: Chronicles of A Legend by Kerry Lynne (The Pirate Captain series)– This series has faced accusations of being an Outlander rip off (with no time travel) mixed with a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean, but it’s still a fun read in it’s own right. It takes place in the years after the battle of Culloden. Catherine MacKenzie is the widow of a Scottish rebel. She has survived for several years living secretly London. She gets passage on a ship away only, to be kidnapped in a pirate raid. Captain Nathanael J. E. Blackthorne wanted revenge against the men who destroyed his life. He ended up with Cate MacKenzie as a rather inconvenient hostage. They fall in love but have both been hurt in the past, and are both hesitant to trust. They’re also facing several external threats. This series continues in Nor Gold, and Treasured Treasures (coming in late 2017).

Beset by a chill reminiscent of the more sour days in the Highlands, Cate hunched on the trunk, listening to the gale tear at the windows and doors, clawing to violate her solitary bastion. The ship lurched to dizzying heights, and then sickeningly pitched downward, disorienting one to the point of doubting which way was up. The rain a hammering drone, the wind screaming through every crevice, and the grind of planking combined into a din that battered one to numbness.

31mezqr7t8l-_ac_us218_5. Exit Unicorns by Cindy Brandner (the Exit Unicorns series) – In 1968 Belfast, Northern Ireland, the lives of three very different characters intersect. Pamela O’Flaherty just arrived in Ireland, after the death of her father, looking for the man that she fell in love with as a child. James Kirkpatrick is a wealthy industrialist who has lost everything he cares about. Casey Riordan is a member of the IRA who just been released after five years in prison. As the lives of these characters intersect, love for people comes into conflict with love for country. Ireland itself is on the brink of revolution. A civil rights movement is building. The changes threaten the lives of these characters and extend them possibilities  they never imagined. There is also a connection to Ireland’s mythical past that skirts the edges of this story; a sense of a lost magic. The series is continued with Mermaid in A Bowl of Tears,  Flights of Angels, and In the Country of Shadows. Brander is working on the next book in the series.

“From the time I was born, I’ve been surrounded by people who had to be strong everyday just to survive. They had to be hard in mind an’ in heart to get from one year to the next. An’ ye’ve seen my back, I’ve known hatred, come to understand it well an’ promised myself I’d never be vulnerable to it again. But I’d no idea that love could make ye ten times more open to destruction. I’ve had men beat me until I was certain there was only a minute or two left between me an’ the grave an’ yet the fists an’ the knives never hurt the way it does when I think of losin’ ye.”

51f5bryehbl-_ac_us218_6. Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson- In 1682, Catriona (Cat) Campbell first meets Alasdair (Dair)  Og MacDonald. They’re little more than children at the time and even though they know they’re supposed to be enemies, they like each other. As they get older that turns into something more. By 1691, King William offers the Highland clans a pardon for their part in the Jacobite Rebellion, as long as they take an oath of allegiance. The Chieftain of the MacDonald takes the oath. Later, when a regiment of soldiers led by the Campbell clan arrives at the MacDonald  household, Highland hospitality demands that they offer them a place to stay. They believe it’s safe, since both clans took the same pledge.  But the Campbells were under orders from Captain Campbell, to slaughter the MacDonalds,  supposedly to show what happens to those who only took the oath under duress. What followed, became known as the brutal Massacre of Glencoe. The longstanding feud between the two clans threatens to tear Cat and Dair apart as they become pawns in the fight. There are times when it feels a bit like a Scottish Romeo and Juliet plotwise but it’s actually very rooted in real history. Alasdair Og MacDonald was a real person, and he did marry a Campbell (though her name was Mary, not Cat).  It’s good for readers who want a well researched historical romance in Scotland with very little bodice ripping!

Such plain, simple words, and so eloquent a declaration. In that moment he shared all the pain, all the insecurities of an awkward lass made to believe she was worthless to any man but a feckless father who preferred whisky and wagers to pride in himself and his daughter.

51em7j9uqel-_ac_us218_7. A Knight in Shining Armour by Jude Devereaux- Dougless Montgomery had been on vacation in England with her boyfriend, when he ditched her in a churchyard with no money, no car, and no passport. She sits down near the grave of Nicholas Stafford, an earl who died in 1564, to have a good cry. When the earl himself shows up Dougless is shocked to say the least! He says that he’s been falsely accused of treason, and he wants to clear his name. Dougless agrees to help. As he falls in love with Dougless, Nicholas realizes he doesn’t want to leave her and go back to his own time. But when he’s pulled back into his own time anyway, Dougless heads back to the 16th century to find him. I’m not usually a “romance” genre reader but I do make exceptions. This was highly recommended and I enjoyed it. Another book by Deveraux that Outlander fans may like is Remembrance.

My soul will find yours.

51dpf3jtk7l-_ac_us218_8.  Green Darkness by Anya Seton– I think many Outlander fans would like most of Seton’s work. It’s well researched historical fiction with a strong focus on human relationships. I would also recommend Devil Water, which deals with a Jacobite rebellion about 30 years prior to Culloden.  This one is a bit different from Seton’s other work though because there’s a supernatural element. In the 1960’s, Richard brings his new wife, Celia to his ancestral lands. Almost immediately the couple begins to act differently. Richard begins to be cruel and Celia has strange fits and visions. It’s a Hindu guru who eventually figures out what’s wrong with the couple. As things begin to get dangerous, it’s obvious that Richard and Celia need to resolve something that happened in their previous lives in order to be happy in this one. Celia goes back to her past life in Tudor England, where she was a young woman in a forbidden love affair with a monk.  Only by resolving this couple’s tragic end can Celia and Richard find peace in their 20th century lives.

“As there were no real answers in her life. She was in abeyance. Stuck in a pattern of waiting for a future she could not guess.”

51kvyusq41l-_ac_us218_9. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley– Once again I think Outlander fans would enjoy a lot of Kearsley’s books. I also recommend Mariana, The Firebird, The Shadowy Horses, and A Desperate Fortune. I chose this one for the list because it’s features time travel in a more prominent way than some of the others. Eva Ward returns to Cornwall following the death of her sister Katrina. It’s the place that Eva remembers being Katrina being happiest, and where she wants to spread Katrina’s ashes. She renews some friendships, but the Cornwall house just isn’t the same without her sister. When she slips into 1715, and then back to her own time, she worries for her sanity. Eventually her trips to the past get longer. But no matter how long she stays in 1715, no time passes in the 21st century. She returns to the same moment she left.  Eva bonds with Daniel, the 1715 owner of the house where she’s staying, and Daniel’s friend Fergal. Daniel is a widower, a smuggler and a Jacobite. As she falls in love with Daniel, Eva begins to question where, and when she belongs. But even if she chooses to stay with Daniel, how is she supposed to handle her knowledge of the future? And how does she avoid getting pulled back to her own time?

“Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”

61wblmzijl-_ac_us218_10. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Kingsbridge trilogy)- In the 12th century, Prior Phillip of Kingsbridge decides to build a cathedral. He hires Tom Builder to accomplish the task, which eventually falls into the hands of Tom’s stepson, Jack.  Meanwhile, Aliena, the daughter of the Earl of Shiring promises her dying father that she’ll see her brother, Richard, installed in his rightful position as Earl. But she and Richard are soon cast out of their own when their castle is seized. They end up in Kingsbridge, where Jack falls in love with Aliena. But pursuing a future with Jack might mean abandoning her promise to her father.  The “sequel” World Without End takes place about 200 years later. The cathedral is still in the process of being built, though the characters and events of the first book have become the realm of legend. The third, A Column of Fire, will be released in September. It takes place in Kingsbridge Cathedral in 1558. Just a note, Outlander fans may also enjoy Follett’s A Place Called Freedom, which is a love story that begins in Scotland in the 1760’s and eventually moves to the American colonies.

She looked at his young face, so full of concern and tenderness; and she remembered why she had run away from everyone else and sought solitude here. She yearned to kiss him, and she saw the answering longing in his eyes. Every fiber of her body told her to throw herself into his arms, but she knew what she had to do. She wanted to say, I love you like a thunderstorm, like a lion, like a helpless rage; but instead she said: “I think I’m going to marry Alfred.”

Honorable Mention

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel (Earth’s Children series) I was hesitant to include this series in the list, because while the first book (Clan of the Cave Bear) was great, and the second, The Valley of Horses was very good, and the third, The Mammoth Hunters was pretty decent, the second half of the series showed a steady decline in quality. The Plains of Passage (book 4) was alright, but a bit redundant. The fifth, The Shelters of Stone was fairly dull and the sixth, The Land of Painted Caves, was hard to finish. So I would suggest that Outlander fans read the first four books which brings the characters to a decent leaving off place. Then ignore the last two books.

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books for the Rest of the Year

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

May 30: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017.

This crosses over a bit into what I did last week, but I’ll try to go with different books. These are books I want to read that are being released between now and the end of the year.

  1. The Revolution of Marina M by Janet Fitch- I’m a fan of Janet Fitch- I thought White Oleander was beautiful.  This is her historical fiction debut. And that’s one of my favorite genres.
  2. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman- Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. This is a prequel to Practical Magic. Nuff said.
  3. Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth- I love fairy tale retellings. I love historical fiction. Kate Forsyth is amazing (check out Bitter Greens or The Wild Girl).
  4. Treasured Treasures by Kerry Lynne- The upcoming third book in The Pirate Captain series. It’s a bit trashy but fun (think Outlander meets Pirates of the Caribbean).
  5.  The Lying Game by Ruth Ware- I like In A Dark, Dark, Wood, and The Woman in Cabin 10, so I look forward to checking out her latest.
  6. The Good Daughter by Karen Slaughter- Another author that I often enjoy.
  7. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore- The premise of this one intrigued me: a man is reincarnated over and over again, so that he can be with his one true love, Death.  It sounds a bit like the premise of Keturah and Lord Death but with reincarnation and a gender reversal.
  8. The Changeling by Victor Lavalle- A fairy tale retelling that sounds like it embraces the dark elements. Advance reviews compare it to Maurice Sendak and Stephen King.
  9. The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M Valente- I love the premise of this book. It’s a series of interconnected short stories about the wives and girlfriends of superheroes.
  10. The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M Valente- Hopefully I’m not cheating by including two Valente books, but this one is a fantasy that imagines a young Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Bronte being transported to the fantasy world that they created. As a big fantasy buff and a big Bronte buff this seems made for me!