Category Archives: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer TBR

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten list is of ‘Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR’. I’m hoping to fit some good books in this summer despite the fact that we’ll be in the midst of an international move. For that reason, I’ll most likely pick some lighter fare and more ‘comfort’ reads, as I tend to use my reading as an escape when I’m stressed out.

1. Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

I’ve had my eye on this debut novel for a while, so long in fact that Netzer is about to release her second novel (oops). When I saw that Shine, Shine, Shine was on sale recently, I scooped it up.

2. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Anybody who is a fan of this series knows that the long-awaited 8th book has just been published. Unfortunately, I got bogged down in the length of the last few books and I actually haven’t managed to read this (the 7th) one yet.

3. Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Slaughter’s books are perfect reading for when I’m in need of a little escape, as I get caught up in her compelling writing and tend to forget everything else. This upcoming release is about a female police officer in 1970’s Atlanta, and I cannot wait to read it.

4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve been working my way through Adichie’s backlist and I’m planning to read this one (her latest) this summer.

5. Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow

I was given this recently for a potential review, and although I had never heard of Bristow before it looks like something I might enjoy. A historical romance set in the deep South, Deep Summer is the first in a trilogy.

6. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I bought this one a while back and I’m looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about.

7. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

Andrews writes contemporary novels set in the South, and they usually have some kind of romantic subplot. This should be a perfect mental beach book, even if I’m not planning to go to the actual beach.

8. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Summertime means baseball, and I’ve had this one on my shelf for far too long. Plus I need to read it so that I can return it to the person who lent it to me in the U.S.

9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Several people have recommended this book to me, so I’m going to try and get my hands on it after we move. It sounds like a perfect, feel-good summer read.

10. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

One of my favorite summer reading events is Paris in July, and I’m planning on reading this one that has been on my TBR for ages.

Which books are on your summer TBR list?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors On My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten list is of ‘Top Ten Authors That I’d Put On My Auto-Buy List’. These are basically authors that I love so much that no matter what they wrote next I would buy it, regardless of genre or subject matter.

1. Joshilyn Jackson – I am very, very picky about Southern writers and let me tell you, JJ is the real deal. Great stories with memorable characters and a lot of fun and heart. Love her!

2. Kate Atkinson – Quirky, funny, clever, and touching. All of her books make me think and feel–usually in a good way. There is no other writer quite like her.

3. Barbara Kingsolver – I love the way Kingsolver is able to combine plot-driven novels with social commentary. I learn a lot from her books and admire her intellect.

4. Julia Spencer-Fleming – I am obsessed with her mystery series set in a small town in the Adirondack mountains and its love story between an old cop and a young priest.

5. Ann Patchett – I haven’t loved everything that Patchett has written, but she’s enormously talented and when she gets it right she REALLY gets it right. My favorite is her non-fiction book Truth and Beauty, so I’m excited that she has a new non-fiction work coming out soon.

6. Laura Hillenbrand – And speaking of non-fiction, her books are amazing. Seabiscuit is my favorite, but Unbroken was great, too. Brilliant writer.

7. Rosina Lippi/Sara Donati – Although she’s written works across several different genres, her talent shines through in every book. Literary fiction, historical fiction, or contemporary southern fiction–there’s something for everyone.

8. Marian Keyes – I haven’t loved all her books equally, but they are always entertaining, and at her best Keyes is able to combine humor and serious issues in a way that few writers can manage. Anyone Out There? is my favorite.

9. Curtis Sittenfeld – I loved Sittenfeld’s debut novel Prep, and I’ve enjoyed everything she’s written since (she has a new one coming out soon, too!) She somehow manages to make me enjoy books even when I don’t really like the main character, and that is rare.

10. Andrea Barrett – For the sheer beauty of the language she uses, Barrett is one of those writers whose books you want to read slowly just to savor them. She has a new collection of short stories coming out soon.

Which authors are on your auto-buy list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Bookish Memories

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember, so I have a lot of great memories associated with books. Here are some of my favorites, more or less in chronological order.

1. Winning the Book It! award in the 1st grade for reading 216 books. I kicked that contest’s butt, and I got the personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut to prove it. My best friend Mary Ellen and I actually tied for the win, so we rode our bikes to the Hut and celebrated by eating our pizzas together. Good times.

2. Dressing up like Laura Ingalls Wilder for Pioneer Day at school. I was obsessed with these books as a kid, and I thought I was Laura. My mom made me a dress and bonnet to wear, and I loved that costume so much.

3. Getting a personal letter from a favorite author. I fell in love with the books of Anne Rivers Siddons as an early teen, and I wrote to her to tell her how much I enjoyed her books and that I would love to write something myself one day. She wrote me back the nicest, most encouraging letter–so classy and thoughtful.

4. Receiving a signed copy of Rich in Love by Josphine Humphries as a gift. I’ve talked about how much this book means to me before, and this was such a special gift from my sweet older brother.

5. Becoming friends with a favorite author and meeting my FB girls (ya’ll know who you are!). I read Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati when I was in my 20’s, and I loved the story so much that I joined a group of fans of the author and series. Through this group I was able to get to know Sara (aka Rosina Lippi) and I also met an amazing circle of women with whom I’ve been close for going on to ten years now. We’re more like a support group than a book club, and although we have never met in person I love them dearly!

6. Starting my book blog. I’ve said it before, but starting this blog was such a good move. It completely revamped my reading life and has introduced me to such a great community of people with similar passions.

7. Getting my first real, printed ARC–of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve read plenty of galley copies via NetGalley and Edelweiss, but I actually have only received one print ARC in the mail, and it happened only a few months ago. I was so completely thrilled, and it’s another great read by one of my favorite authors. (And psst…my review will be up on the 11th!)

8. Watching my daughter become a bookworm.  I’ll never forget the moment reading really clicked for her, and when she started gulping down chapter books in one sitting. A new bookworm was born! I love talking about books with her, and I hope this is something we’ll always be able to share.

Okay, that’s only eight but they’re eight memorable ones! Now we need to have a chance to write about our Top Ten Bookish Wishes, including bookish places we’d like to visit and authors we’d like to meet. I have plenty of ideas for that one.

What are your favorite bookish memories?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten list is of my ‘Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines’. As soon as I saw this topic I jumped on it, as I love nothing more than a strong female heroine.  Some of these women are physically strong, while others have an inner strength that defines them and, in my opinion, makes them equally impressive.

1. Nadia Stafford – Most people know about the popular Otherworld series by Kelly Armstrong (see #2), but less well-known is her short-lived series featuring hit woman Nadia Stafford. I actually prefer these two books, and I have always hoped that Armstrong would have the chance to write more of them. A girl can dream, right?

2. The Women of the Otherworld – This series of 13 books, finally completed this past year, is full of kick-ass heroines. There are amazing female characters in each book, including Elena, Paige, Savannah, Jamie, and Eve. I’m grouping them together because individually they would take up most of my list!

3. Amaranthe Lokdon – I’ve only read the first book in this series by self-pubbed author Lindsay Buroker, but I love her portrayal of Amaranthe, an honorable and kind woman who also manages to kick a lot of ass. Amaranthe is an amazing leader, a quality that I think is often missing in even the strongest heroines.

4. Thursday Next – I’m several books behind on this series by Jasper Fforde, but Thursday is a great heroine. As a “renowned special operative in literary detection”, she works tirelessly to prevent acts of literary crime, and she is always ready to jump into a book to protect those she loves–even if they’re only characters.

5. Clare Fergusson – Julia Spencer-Fleming has written what is hands-down my favorite contemporary mystery series, and the character of Clare, a former army helicopter pilot turned Episcopalian priest, is a complex one. Clare is real–she is not a saint, and she struggles with personal demons–while at the same time she is willing to do almost anything to help out someone in need, including putting herself in danger. She is also just incredibly tough.  Can you tell I love Clare?

6. Katniss Everdeen – With the recent spate of YA dystopian and paranormal novels, there are lots of strong, young female characters. Still, I think Katniss stands apart. The thing that I really like about this trilogy is how it explores the reality behind revolution and that there is no clear black and white when it comes to social and political control systems. I think Katniss is a perfect example of how strong personal character can rise above the shifting moralities of war.

7. Amelia Emerson – For something on the lighter side, Elizabeth Peter’s series about a married couple of Egyptologists turned detectives features Amelia Peabody/Emerson, an umbrella-wielding English lady with a no-nonsense personality and a handy ability to capture bad guys. And if one happens to fall in love with her along the way…well, who wouldn’t love a woman like Amelia?

8. Mercedes Thompson – I’ve only read the first book in Patricia Brigg’s series, but Mercedes is a heroine to remember. She’s a tattooed mechanic who runs her own garage, and she also happens to be a shapeshifter. She’s strong, loyal, and definitely kick-ass.

9. Adelia Aguilar – Adelia is one of the most unusual heroines I’ve ever come across. She is the medieval equivalent of a forensic anthropologist, the “mistress of the art of death” of Ariana Franklin’s series. Although she is trained and accepted as a doctor in her native Sicily, she is a complete anomaly in England. In fact, she has to pretend to be a mere assistant to her companion, a eunuch, even while it is she who solves all of the mysteries. She falls in love and yet refuses to settle down and marry the father of her child, choosing a single life in which she will have more freedom.

10. Lisbeth Salander – Can a traumatized young woman with Asperger’s syndrome be a kick-ass heroine? If you’ve ever read Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, you know the answer to that question is definitely yes. Lisbeth is not an easy person to know (or like), but she is brilliant, strong, and willing to do what it takes to save herself and her friends.

It wasn’t easy to narrow down this list to just ten heroines. Who do you think I’ve left out? Who’s on your list of kick-ass heroines?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Authors in Historical Fiction

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten list is of my ‘Top Ten Favorite Authors in X Genre’, with my choice of X being Historical Fiction. I had to think about this one for a while because while I love historical fiction, I tend to love it in terms of individual titles more than authors who write only historical fiction. So this list is a mix of the two.

1. Elizabeth Chadwick – I discovered Chadwick several years ago and proceeded to read through everything she had written in a short period of time. I like her books because they’re historical but they are also just good stories, which often feel more like fiction even though they’re based historical events. I need to catch up on her more recent books soon, particularly the ones that center on William Marshall.

2. Sharon Kay Penman – Penman is one of those writers that I know I would love if I took the time to really dig into her books. Unfortunately, although I have several of them on my shelf, I never seem to find the time to read them because they are really long. But what I have read I’ve really enjoyed, and she deserves a place on this list.

3. Kate Grenville – Grenville has written a trilogy of books about early Australian history, two of which I’ve read and loved. The first in the trilogy, The Secret River, is an amazing book that brings to life this period in history and taught me so much that I didn’t know about Australia’s beginnings.

4. Diana Norman – I love books about early American history, and three of the writers on this list set their works during that period, including Diana Norman. The action of her Makepeace Burke trilogy shifts between the U.S. and England, but through the heroine’s unique perspective the reader gets a glimpse at life during the turbulent colonial period. This reminds me that I still need to read the third book in this series!

5. Sara Donati – The second writer on the list whose books are set in the early U.S., this time after the revolutionary war, Sara Donati picks up (loosely) on the story of James Fennimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans as she introduces the fictional village of Paradise in upstate New York, where English expat Elizabeth Middleton makes a new life for herself. I fell in love with the characters in these books, and the series explores many of the pivotal events and issues during a time period that spans several generations.

6. Beverly Swerling – The last of the American-setting novelists, Swerling has written a four-book series about early New York which covers from its earliest beginnings as a colony to the outbreak of the American Civil War. I’ve only read the first three books and should probably do a re-read of them all at some point.

7. Michel Faber – The next two writers on the list are ones from whom I must admit I’ve only read one novel each, but in each case they were works of historical fiction that really impressed me, so I have to include them. Faber’s book The Crimson Petal and the White tells the story of a Victorian-era prostitute, and it is a wonderful piece of writing. The beginning of that book is probably my favorite ever. Amazing.

8. Emma Donaghue Slammerkin is an absolute tour de force of a novel, gripping and horrifying by turns. Again, it’s the story of an English girl who turns to prostitution at an early age, and what follows is..well, you have to read it for yourself to believe it. It’s a very affecting story that illustrates the limited choices available to women in those times, and it’s one that has stayed with me in the years since I read it.

And, finally the last two are writers who write historical fiction but more genre-based works. Still, I love how evocative their writing is of the time and place in which it is set.

9. Jacqueline Winspear – Her Maisie Dobbs series of detective novels take place in England after the first World War. I love this time period as well, and the themes of post-war society are explored in depth through the adventures and relationships of Maisie, a brilliant young woman who works her way up from the servant class and serves as a nurse during the war.

10. Georgette Heyer – Reading Georgette Heyer is like reading Jane Austen with a more wicked sense of humor and social skewering, if such a thing is possible. Her portrayal of upper-class Regency England is hilarious, and it’s hard to remember at times that she was writing from the distance of a hundred or more years, as she began her writing career in the 1920s. My favorite book of hers (so far) is Cotillon, but I recently won several more in a prize pack from Dewey’s Readathon, and I can’t wait to read them.

There you have it–my favorite authors writing historical fiction. I realize as I’m writing this that there aren’t many men on this list. I’ll have to remedy that soon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Haven’t Finished

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten list is of the ‘Top Ten Series I Haven’t Finished’. This is a perfect topic for me because I am a big series reader, and I generally will keep reading a series once I’ve started it, even when I think the quality of the individual books has decreased over time. I guess once I’m invested in the characters, I just have to know how it all turns out for them. But, for one reason or another, here are the series I haven’t finished…

1. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I really enjoyed the first few books in this series. Unfortunately, over time I started to have less and less patience with Gabaldon’s wordiness, and as I’ve gotten older I’m much less willing to make the time investment in reading a chunkster. I did buy the latest in the series, An Echo in the Bone, but I haven’t read it yet.

2. The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin. I read the first book in this series on the recommendation of my husband, and I did like it. However, I haven’t had the courage to pick up the second one yet. Those bad boys are looooong.

3. The Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin. I’ve read all of this series except the last book, which I checked out of the library this summer but didn’t have time to finish. I do want to read it, but that fact that I know the series ended rather abruptly because of Franklin’s (aka Diana Norman) untimely death makes me less likely to rush to read it. I like my series to be wrapped up properly.

4. The Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. I was into this series a few years ago, but after a while I got a bit bored by it. I read another one over the summer and enjoyed it more, so I may pick up the rest at some point, but I’m not in a hurry.

5. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I read and reviewed the first book in this series not too long ago, and it was at this point that I made a vow to myself not to finish a series just for the sake of finding out what happens to the characters. I didn’t really like the first book, so I won’t be picking up the rest.

6. The Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourne. I loved, loved the first few books in this series. Not only that, I think I fell in love with Brisbane right along with Lady Julia–he’s a great character, and I got caught up in their romantic outcome more than the mysteries themselves. Once that was resolved, I didn’t have as much of an interest in the books, and I haven’t read the latest one.

7. The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. This is probably the longest series I have ever read. Honestly, there are like 20 of these books now, and I’ve read them spread out over such a long period of time that I can no longer remember which books I’ve read and which ones I haven’t. I give up.

8. The Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George. Although this list may convince you otherwise, I don’t generally read a lot of mysteries. Elizabeth George is an exception to that, and I’ve enjoyed her books for years. Unfortunately, the last one I read just bored me to tears, and I’m reluctant to pick up another one.

9. The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I really like this series of detective stories/mysteries set in post-WWI England. The only problem is that I can’t find them at my library, and I’m not addicted enough to buy them. But I would really like to continue reading the rest of the books in the series at some point.

10. And finally….drumroll, please…every series by Alexander McCall Smith ever! Well, almost every series, as I’m currently behind on the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the Sunday Philosophy Club series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. I do enjoy his books, but I don’t rush out to buy the latest one right away, either. Rather I’m working my way through them slowly, as they are the kind of books that are best appreciated that way. Especially the Scotland Street books–I think they’re wonderful, but I prefer to savor the cleverness and humor in small doses.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Fever

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s top ten list is of the Top Ten Books I’d Play Hooky With.  As the weather has been beautiful around here lately, I haven’t been very motivated to be stuck inside an office building all day.  I’d love to take a day off and dive into one of these books…

1. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson.  I downloaded this book on audio recently, but I haven’t had time to listen to more than a chapter or two.  I’d like nothing better than to put on my headphones, lie back in a sunny spot, and spend the day lost in this story by one of my favorite writers.

2. The Sparks Fly Upward by Diana Norman.  I’ve read the first two books in this series, but I haven’t had time to get to the third yet.  The historical aspect of the novel makes it a perfect “escape” book for a day of reading hooky.

3. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  Everyone is talking about this book, and I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on it yet.  Patchett is also another of my favorite writers.

4.  Austenland by Shannon Hale.  Speaking of escapism…how about a day in Austenland?

5.  Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  I’ve had my eye on this one for several weeks now, and I would love to spend the day being transported on someone else’s adventure in the wild.

6.  To Darkness and To Death by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  I’m making myself be patient and not read all of this series at once, but I’m up to number four and would love to splurge on it and spend the day reading the next installment of the Clare & Russ saga.

7.  The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.  This is the only book by her that I’ve yet to read (I think), and it would be a great hooky book.

8.  Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.  I read the latest Kinsella recently and loved it, but I’ve never read this standalone book by her.  Sounds like a fun way to pass the day.

9.  Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear.  This is the next book for me in the Maisie Dobbs series, which has it all–a likeable heroine, a little romance, a lot of mystery, and a great setting in post WWI England.

10. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  I started listening to this book on audio sometime last year, but I never got a chance to finish it.  I’d like to try reading it again, this time maybe in print form.

I think I could have included a lot more than 10 books on this list!  What about you?  What books would you play hooky for?