December 21: Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes (This was so popular when I did it in June that we’re doing it again for the holidays! List the top 10 books you’d love to own and include a link to your wishlist so that Santa can grant your wish. Make sure you link your wishlist to your mailing address [here’s how to do it on Amazon] or include the email address associated with your ereader in the list description so people know how to get the book to you. After you post, jump around the Linky and grant a wish or two if you’d like. You can make your identity known or be someone’s secret Santa! Please don’t feel obligated to send anything to anyone! If you would rather not include your wish list, just share the books you hope you find under your tree on Christmas morning.)
I’m just sharing books I want. In many cases I’d like a physical copy for the reasons specified.
Fallen Angel by Kim Wilkins– This is also published under the title Angel of Ruin. I’ve seen this recommended very highly from Kate Forsyth, who is a pretty trusted source for me. But it doesn’t appear to be in print. I’ve got my Aussie book buddy on the lookout for a copy (the author is Australian) but if she can’t find it, I may have to just get a used copy from Amazon.
3. Heavens to Betsy/Betsy In Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace– This is volume two of the Betsy Tacy Treasury. I picked up volume one in a used bookshop in 2021 and found it wonderfully comforting. I somehow missed these when I was a child. It’s set in a time and place I’m never been, but it’s amazing that some of the games, performances, and plans reminded me very much of my own childhood. I look forward to spending more time with these characters in 2022.
4. The Dorothy Dunnett Companion by Elspeth Morrison – I’ve been trying to read though Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles series for several years now. It’s slow going because while they’re entertaining and interesting, the main character speaks several languages and regularly makes references that many readers won’t understand. Plus we’re not in his had much, so his plans are often a mystery until late in the game. I think having a guide would help me as I go.
6. The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody– This is the seventh and final book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles and I really want to read it. It’s hard to find in the US and I feel bad asking my Aussie book buddy for it since it’s 1068 pages so it’s a monster to ship across the entire planet. I may have to go for the ebook on this one.
7. The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss– This is one where I want a physical copy. It’s a love story from both perspectives. The story is based on an Arthurian tale. It has illustrations and accordion binding (held in a cardboard sleeve) so that you can read one view from one side and then turn it around and read the other one that way. It’s something I’d love to have both for the story (I’m a fan of Goss as a writer, and it sounds interesting) and for the format.
8. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd– I think I want my next Persephone read to be this one. It’s about a woman who’s shwrecked on a desert island for several years before returning to England, in the midst of WWII and rationing. I think it’s probably an appropriate pandemic read. Our daily lives suddenly have all kinds of rules and regulations that didn’t exist only a few years ago. It’s almost as if we left the world we knew and were dropped somewhere totally unfamiliar. Like most Persephone reads, I would like this as a physical book.
9. Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love Edited by Anne Fadiman – I’m a fan of Anne Fadiman, and I have a very complicated relationship with rereading books (What if I don’t like something as much the second time around? Plus there are all those books out there that I haven’t read at all yet…) so I’d love to see how some other readers and writers handle this dilemma (after all there are books I’d like to reread at some point!)
September 28: Freebie (Come up with your own topic or do a past TTT topic that you missed or would like to do again.)
I decided to do recent books I’ve read that made me want more this week. These might be books that made me want to seek out more by the author, or other books in the genre, or learn more about a topic.
1. The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons – I’ve mentioned this one before. I think it stands out for me because it was such a pleasant surprise. I’ve been about 50/50 on this author’s past work, and this didn’t have great reviews, so I wasn’t expecting much. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, and now I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.
2. March Sisters: On Life, Death and Little Women by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado and Jane Smiley – Each of the four essays in this book are written by a different contemporary author, and each focuses on a different March sister in Little Women. I don’t know what I was expecting from it really, but it made me think about some things in the book differently, and it definitely made me want to reread it soon.
3. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – This is another one that had been on my TBR for a while, but my expectations weren’t high. When I started reading it, the first chapter was beautiful, and I didn’t know if the rest of the book would live up to its promise. For the most part, it did. I’m looking forward to reading Once and Future Witches next. Harrow also has a series based on fairy tales that looks very tempting.
4. Masterpiece: America’s 50 Year Old Love Affair with British Television Drama by Nancy West – I feel kind of silly putting a book about a TV show on this list, but I’m a big fan British TV so I’ve always liked PBS’ Masterpiece! This book looks at the program’s 50 year history through major successes like “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey,” to adaptations (both faithful and unfaithful) of literary classics, to historical dramas, and the many detectives who have solved crimes on British TV. It also addresses criticism that the program has faced for celebrating oppressive social, racial and cultural structures. I added at least twenty shows to my watchlist while I was reading it so it counts for this list.
5. Weather by Jenny Offill – I picked this up because I saw it in the library and I remembered that some people I follow on Goodreads gave this book good reviews. I think it was just what I was in the mood for when I read it. I immediately went back to the library and picked up a copy of Offill’s Dept of Speculation, and enjoyed that too. Last Things is next on my list.
6. The Guest List by Lucy Foley- This was just a book I read in about two sittings. Nothing about it was unique or special really, but it was a fast moving mystery. The chapters were short, and most of them ended on a cliffhanger, so I was constantly thinking “just one more chapter…” Foley’s other books are now on my TBR. It also made me seek out other “locked room” mysteries.
7. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell – I read this because I really liked The Durrells In Corfu, a series (on Masterpiece!) about the author and his family moving to Greece in the 1930’s. The show was based on Durrell’s Corfu trilogy of which this was the first. It was delightful and the other two are now on my TBR.
8. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire- The October Daye series has been on my TBR for a long time. I finally got a chance to read the first one last year, and I’m looking forward to having fourteen more books to read in this series. Hopefully I’ll get to them soon!
9. Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss – This one reminded me of Theodora Goss, an author who hasn’t been on the forefront of my mind. I really liked this collection of poems and stories though, and it made me remember that I’d started Goss’ Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club trilogy and never finished it. So I definitely want to finish that one and check out some of her other work soon.
I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you’d like to do this, go ahead! Please let me know so I can see your answers (I’m very nosy!)
From which series are you reading or did you read the spin-off series?
I actually can’t think of many books series that have spin off series. The one that pops into my mind is the Lord John series which is a spin off of the Outlander series. Unlike Outlander, which has elements of SFF weirdness, these are for the most part historical mysteries. They feature a character, Lord John Grey, who is introduced in the third Outlander book and plays a significant role in several of the following books. But in the Lord John books, we learn that he had his own stuff going on too.
I actually just thought of a third. Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series eventually transitioned into her Will Trent series, but I won’t go into how that happened since it involves major spoilers!
With which series did the first book not sell you over from the start?
Does a trilogy count as a series? For my purposes I’m saying it does! I really enjoyed Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy, but the first book was probably my least favorite. Not that it was bad- it wasn’t! But I gave it 4/5 stars, whereas the second and third, I gave 5/5. I think it took some time for me to get really attached to the heroine, to the point where I was really invested in what happened to her and the people she cared about.
Which series hooked you from the start?
I think that I was captured by Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy after the first chapter of the first book. It opens in a market in 19th century India, and (without spoilers) the heroine witnesses something traumatic and life changing. The next chapter moves the story to a very different setting, and I was totally on board for the trip! I want to reread the series, because it’s been a long time since I originally read it, but I’m afraid it won’t live up won’t live up to my memory of it.
Which series do you have completed on your shelves?
A few, but one of the only ones I have as a set is the Anne of Green Gables series. I was given a volume that included Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne’s House of Dreams for a childhood birthday and I fell in love with Anne and company. It was a few years later that I learned that the series actually has 8 books, not 3! While Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea are the first two, Anne’s House of Dreams isn’t #3 it’s #5, so it always seemed kind of random that it was included in that volume. I actually still have the volume, because it’s a beautiful, hardcover, illustrated volume, but the choice of books is rather strange to me. So when I learned that there were other Anne books out there, I got the complete set so I’d have them all!
Which series have you read completely?
Many of the ones I’ve mentioned so far I’ve read completely. Others that jump to mind include:
Which series do you not own completely but would like to?
I’ve read the first two of Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles and I own the third book as well though I haven’t read it yet. I want to eventually read the whole series but they’re slow going and I don’t want to buy the rest before I’ve read the first few. They’re good, but they’re not easy reads because they have a lot of references to things with which I’m not familiar. We’re also not in the main character’s head much, so his thoughts and motivations are a mystery a lot of the time. That’s the way it’s supposed to be until all is revealed, but it can make it a challenge to get into the books if you’re not it in the right mood for it.
Which series do you not want to own completely but still read?
I recently discovered the October Daye series (I’ve only read the first book so far) and I definitely want to read more, but there are 14 books in all and I don’t have enough shelf space as it is! I’ll stick to the library and ebooks.
Another series is The Dresden Files. I think I’ve read the first six or so books, and really enjoyed them. But there are 17 in the series, so I run into the same shelf space issue. Plus some things on the author’s twitter make me question whether I want to support him financially, so I’m going to stick to library copies
I’ve also been enjoying Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series. But there are 15, and they’re probably not books I’ll want to revisit after I finish them.
Which series are you not continuing?
Most likely the Cormoran Strike series. It’s unfortunate, because I really enjoyed the first few, but ever since it came out that the most recent book in the series, Troubled Blood is a platform for a Rowling’s transphobia, I haven’t been looking forward to reading it. It’s not the first time some of transphobia seeped into the series (there was a questionable episode in The Silkworm) but it seems like the first time it’s really taken over a book.
Which series you haven’t started yet are you curious about?
MANY! The first one that came to mind is Leigh Bardugo’s Alex Stern series, which starts with Ninth House. I haven’t read Bardugo’s other work, but this appeals to me because of it’s collegiate setting. I’m really liking the whole “dark academia” genre lately.
Which series would you like to re-read?
There are a lot of series I’ve loved that I don’t want to reread either because I worry that they won’t live up to my memory or I suspect that they won’t. I try to only reread if I feel like I’ll get more out of it, because it always feels like a bit of a risk. I recently saw the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time and realized that while I remember that book well enough, I only have the vaguest memories of the sequels.
Which series did others love and you did not?
There are a few of those! One would probably be A Song of Ice and Fire. I read the first book (and watched the first few seasons of Game of Thrones) and while I enjoyed parts of it, it kept on killing off the characters I got attached to! It felt like every time I got invested in a character, it was a death sentence for him/her! I may give it another try at some point, but I got tired of having to find new characters/storylines to care about only to lose them in a few chapters.
Charlaine Harris‘ Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse novels are a series I really tried to like. It sounds like the kind of thing that would be right up my alley, and I read a few of them, but I just couldn’t warm up to the characters or invest in the world that she’d created. I’ve liked a few of her other series (see above) but this just didn’t work for me for some reason.
April 7: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… (Fill in the blank. You can do 10 books you bought for the same reason, i.e., pretty cover, recommended by a friend, blurbed by a favorite authors, etc. OR you could do a different reason for each pick.)
For this one, I decided to list the last ten books I read and why I read them.
1. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence– I’ve had this book sitting in my bookcase for a while, and I decided to read it at last. Really I think that’s as far as the decision went! I bought it at a thrift store for $1 because it looked OK. It was OK, but not much more than that.
2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton– I was going to go to a book club that was reading this. I’d read it in college but it deserved a reread. The book club was cancelled due to the situation with coronavirus, but I’m glad I had a chance to revisit this book.
3. Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss- I’m a fan of Goss and I got this as an ebook when it was on sale with a reduced price of $1.99. I think the sale was the reason I bought it, but I might like to buy a physical copy, which I often tend to do with ebooks I really live. They feel like they’re more mine when they’re physical books.
4. Normal People by Sally Rooney- I had heard a lot of good things about this one, and I saw it in the library and decided to give it a shot. It lived up to my expectations more or less.
5. The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman– I’ve been rereading Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and this is #2. In my memory it was a very “second in a trilogy” book, but on rereading it, I felt that in some ways it was stronger than The Golden Compass. I suppose that’s why it pays to reread sometimes!
6.The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter- I got this from the library because I often enjoy Slaughter’s work as an author of mystery/thriller/crime novels. However in this case I think the fact that I happened to read this as the coronavirus was starting to turn up impacted my enjoyment. The crime in question seemed a bit too close to home.
7.Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley– I read this one because Kearsley is one of the authors that I feel like I can turn to for a reliably good read. This is her latest, and it was no different in that respect.
8. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys– I got this one from the library because it looked interesting and it was set around and in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, which was a historical period that I know very little about. While I’m still interested in the period, I felt that the book was just OK.
July 24: Books with Sensory Reading Memories (These are the books that are linked to very specific memories for you: where you were, what time of year it was, who you were with, what you were eating, what you were feeling, what you were seeing, etc. Ideas include books you read while on vacation, books that you read while you were eating, books you read at work/at a family or social event/on the train or plane, books you’ve buddy read with loved ones, books you read during an emotional time in your life, books you read by the fire, etc.) (Submitted by Jessica @ A Cocoon of Books)
1. A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett– I read this book in high school when I was at home, sick. Even though I enjoyed the book, when I think about it, I remember a sore throat and an earache!
4. The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer– I read this one when I was in the hospital due to cellulitis from an infected spider bite. I was in the hospital for 2-3 days because the initial antibiotic that they gave for the infection didn’t work, so they had to use another one. Whenever I think about this book, I think about wanting to rip an IV tube from my arm and scream in pain and frustration. But the book itself was OK if memory serves me correctly.
5. Road to Paradise by Paullina Simons– It makes sense that I’d read a book about a road trip while traveling. But in this case, I was traveling by plane, not car. It was a long trip and I was squished between two rather large people. I didn’t particularly enjoy the book either.
6. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit– This is another book that I’ll always associate with travel and being cramped in uncomfortable spaces. I read this on a train when I was about ten. My family was going to Disneyworld, but there was a freight train on the track in front of us that derailed and we were stuck on the tracks somewhere in Georgia for an entire day waiting for them to clear the tracks so we could go. While I was waiting I read this.
7. A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle- Oddly this is a book that I associate with the sensation of dried, callused skin on the bottom of a foot. I think the reason for that is simply that at one point in the book, a character is described as having feet like that, and I really hate that feeling!
8. The Woman in the Window by AJ Flinn– This is a recent one that I read when I had insomnia one night. I think the insomnia was twofold: partially because I’d had a late nap that day, and partially because I wanted to know whodunnit! Nonetheless, I do associate it with the somewhat frustrating sensation of wanting to sleep and not being able to.
9. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer– This is another book I read while traveling. I remember I had to sleep in a really hard bed, and I was reading this because I wasn’t able to sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable. All I remember about the actual content of the book is that the heroine is disguised as a boy for the first portion.
10. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton– I remember that I started reading this after a horrible week at work. I don’t remember what happened that week that made it so bad, but by Friday afternoon I was screaming for something to take me away. Fortunately, I started reading this book, because it did just that!
Narrowing it down to only ten is the hardest part here! I also tried to go with at least a few books that I really want but might not think to buy for myself. Though obviously since I put them on this list, I did think of it!
1. Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis- I’ve been a fan of Samantha Ellis ever since I read her memoir How To Be A Heroine. I’ve always been a big fan of Anne Bronte, who is very much the overlooked Bronte sister. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey deserve a place on the shelf alongside Jane Eyre, Villette, and Wuthering Heights. She was as talented as Charlotte and Emily, but her work hasn’t been adapted to the same extent. It’s not written about as much. Considering the fact that the Bronte’s are a family about whom a lot has been written, it’s strange that so little has been said about Anne. I look forward to learning more about her and her work.
2. Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love by Anne Fadiman (ed)- I’m always intrigued by the idea of rereading things. Part of it is due to my own conflict: there are so many books that I want to revisit, now that I have more experience in life/ a different perspective. But there are also so many books that I haven’t read yet! Which is more worthy of my time? It’s an eternal question. In this book, Anne Fadiman collects essays from seventeen writers about the books that they return to. over and over again. Maybe it will inspire me to reread some old favorites.
3. Hat Box: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim by Stephen Sondheim- Most people know that I am a huge musical theatre geek. Huge. There is no one I have higher respect for than Stephen Sondheim, who has give the American musical so much. He’s the recipient of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammys, an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Sooner or Later” from Dick Tracy) and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Sunday in the Park With George) and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. At 87 years old, he is currently working on his next project! This box sets features Sondheim’s two volumes of his collected lyrics; Finishing the Hat and Look I Made A Hat (both titles refer to the lyrics of “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park With George). The lyrics in these books are like really clever poetry. Listening closely to a Sondheim lyric you’ll find internal rhyme, double (and triple) entendres, and complex word play. Not only do these volumes give the full libretto of Sondheim’s musicals, they also include anecdotes, reproductions from his notebooks with corrections and revisions, alternate/cut songs that didn’t make it into the final version of the show, as well as observations, and recollections.
4. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss- Theodora Goss is one of the unsung greats of today as far as I’m concerned. She’s a novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, and teacher. Her latest is a mash up of female characters from 19th century literature. The orphaned Mary Jekyll is curious about her father’s past. She comes across a clue that points her in the direction of Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend. The hunt for Hyde leads her to his daughter, Diana. Through her search, Mary comes into contact with a number of women, who were all created via scientific experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. Oh and if that wasn’t enough fun, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are also there.
5. Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions and Heretics by Jason Porath- This is for everyone who is sick of Disney’s princesses! This book, inspired by the blog of the same name features women for myth to history and back again, who broke the rules, and were a little to fierce to make the cut for animated children’s movies. It even features illustrations in a contemporary animation style, and turns the pretty pink princess stereotype upside down.
6. Introducing the Honourable Phryne Fisher by Kerry Greenwood- One of my “discoveries” of 2017 was the wonderful Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (murder is always more palatable when it takes place in a period setting!) . Set in Australia in the 1920’s, Phryne Fisher leaves high society for life as a private detective. She handles everything from kidnapping to murder with style and flair. The series is based on novels by Kerry Greenwood, none of which I’ve read yet. This volume contains the first three novels, so it seems like a good start for the series.
7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King- This past year I read one of the writing books that had been recommended to me many times; Bird by Bird. For some reason I resisted reading it, but it was very much worth the read. So now I’m thinking it’s time to explore the other writing book that can be described in much the same way. It’s been recommended many times and I’ve resisted reading it. When I think about it though it seems pretty silly. Stephen King has his strengths and weaknesses but it’s hard to deny that he’s one of our most prolific and popular writers. I’m certainly interested in his memoirs of his craft.
8. The Blythes Are Quoted by LM Montgomery- This book was intended to by LM Mongomery’s 9th book in her Anne series. It was delivered to her publisher on the day she died and has never been published in its entirety before. It’s been heavily abridged and published as The Road to Yesterday. This is supposedly Montgomery’s most experimental work. It’s divided into two sections; one taking place before WWI and one after. It features 15 short stories that are interspersed with “sketches” featuring Anne and Gilbert discussing poems that Anne wrote with their son, Walter. In this way she fuses prose, poetry, and dialogue. I’ve always loved the Anne series and have always felt like Rilla of Ingleside was an odd place to leave the family. So It’s nice to know there was intended to be something that comes after.
9. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes- This has been on my TBR for a long time, and I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I figure that having it staring at me on my shelf might help me get to reading it. In the book the author, a Jungian analyst, calls on fairy tales, folklore, and dream symbols to restore women’s instinctive and intuitive abilities. It looks at the Wild Woman archetype of a woman in touch with her instincts via tales from all over the world. I suppose the topic interests me, and I’d like to get around to it at some point.
10. Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton– Like many, I’m addicted to Humans of New York, a blog that talks to *wait for it* humans in New York. It features pictures that for the most part look like people you’d see on the street and not really give all that much thought to. But alongside the pictures are quotes and stories from the person’s life. It’s wonderful to see how everyone we see, even those we don’t register is a whole story. Some are sweet, some sad, and some funny. But it’s a reminder that we’re all stories in progress.