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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I love lists.  Love them. That’s why the Top Ten Tuesday meme is one of my favorites.  But, realistically, while I have here ten books I would love to read this Spring…my reading time is fairly limited these days.  So here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m making this list out of my next ten reads.  Here’s hoping I get them done by the time Spring is through!

1. Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

I love novels that begin with a story set in the 1960′s and add into that a new place to read about for me (Bristol) and the praise for Hadley’s previous novel and this one has me very, very interested.

2. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Alice Sebold combined with Stephen King?  The cover alone had me interested but when I read that bit of the blub, combined with the story promised here, I knew this was a book I needed to check out.

3.  Beauty by Frederick Dillen

I love underdog stories and this one appealed to me.  My hometown is recently recovering from a major natural disaster and I love reading stories of small towns overcoming great odds.

4.  Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

I’m always on the lookout for a good psychological thriller so here is hoping this one pans out!

5. The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim

I’m trying to be intentional this year in reading books that expose me to ideas and places and things that I’ve never really been exposed to.  I think this book fits well into that category and I’m looking forward to it.

6. Cambridge by Susanna Kaysen

While I’ve never read Girl, Interrupted, I did love the movie so I’m excited to read a book by the author and I’ve always been fascinated by Cambridge and anything connected to it.

7. The Detainee by Peter Liney

The synopsis on this one reminded me of Lost.  So I picked it up.

8. The Antiquarian by Julian Sanchez

Another thriller for the list – and this one involves mythical objects!

9. Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

Interesting that I have two books connected to Iraq, one from each side on this list.  Still, I’m interested in this one because family portraits after a member has been to war have always interested me.

10. Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca

As the eldest of nine children, the following line from the summary here made me want to pick up this book: “The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter…”

What books are you looking forward to getting to read this Spring?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2014 Debuts I’m Excited For

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

2014 has been a great reading year for me.  So excited to see the titles coming out and, although this is a Debut Top Ten List – I’m also counting debuts by authors who have also had previous books out but their new books are making their debut.  I like to spread the love around.

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1. The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

I’m already reading this book and loving it immensely.  It is reminding me of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help, all rolled into one.  The setting is post-WW2 Mississippi and Alabama.  Loving it! Release date: January 2014.

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2. 2 a.m. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helen Berlino

I love everything about this book.  The premise, the cover, the TITLE! It sounds amazing and it’ll be so much fun to dive into.  Release date: August 2014.

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3.  The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

If you know anything about my blog, you know that I am a sucker for a good sci-fi tale.  I’m hoping this fits the bill (and initial reviews look great!).  Release date: February 2014.

 

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4.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

There’s something magical about Zevin’s writing and I’m excited to see what she does with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  Plus, awesome title, no?  Release date: April 2014.

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5. Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li

2014 is the year I am expanding my worldview through reading books that aren’t always written by white men or women.  This is one of the ones I am really looking forward to that fits that bill.  Release date: February 2014.

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6. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Mysteries and legends and disappearances?  McMahon has yet to disappoint me so very much looking forward to this 2014 release.  Release Date: February 2014.

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7. A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman

I love historical fiction and this book keeps popping up on my lists.  I love, love, love Penman’s writing and this one has been a long wait for me.  Release date: March 2014.

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8. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

I love when some of my favorite authors come out with a new book.  Allen won me over with her book, The Sugar Queen, and I anxiously look forward to every release of hers now.  Release date: January 2014.

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9. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I’m ready for a new dystopia trilogy and I’m hoping this is the first book in that trilogy.  Looking forward to this so much! Release date: January 2014.v

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10. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Another go-to author of mine and a book that keeps showing up.  I love, love, love Sanderson’s world building and pacing and cannot wait to get my hands on this one.  Release date: March 2014.

What are you looking forward to?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Folks, it’s almost Christmas!  My Christmas this year is going to be spent on planes and in airports – I have a 30 hour travel time trip home to Washington, Illinois (the hard-hit town that was smacked around by the tornado) from the beautiful paradise of Hawaii.  I’m looking forward to spending two weeks with family and doing my bit to chip in to the work around the town, but boy …. that travel time sucks.  At least I’ll get a lot of reading in!

Speaking of reading, here are the books that I would love to see this year for Christmas – chances are I’ll be buying a few of them myself with gift cards so I’m placing them in the order of most wanted to less…most…wanted (because they are all wanted!).

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1. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

I adore this series.  I love Marchetta’s writing and I think this is one of the best high fantasy, young adult, series that are out there right now.  I’m fairly picky about high fantasy so that’s really saying something.

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2. Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman

It’s Penman who taught me what an amazing thing historical writing can be.  I wept when I read her previous books and I loved Lionheart – but my advanced copy has fallen apart and now I really, really want a hardcover edition to replace it.

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3.  A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman

Okay, so there are two Penman books on this list – but A King’s Ransom is coming out next March and I would love a pre-order of it.  The story of King Richard is such an interesting one, as Penman even points out in her foreword of Lionheart.  So, yeah – this is on the list.

 

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4.  Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

So I mentioned before how much I love Marchetta’s high fantasy writing in the young adult genre?  Well, Sanderson is my go-to guy (well, after Tolkien) for the adult genre.  The Stormlight Archive is a fantastic new series and The Way of Kings (the first book in the series) is simply perfection.  This is another pre-order list item.

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5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This is one of those books that I’ve seen people talking about, I’ve read reviews on my favorite blogs, and now I really, really want to read it.  I had passed an advance copy by (something I kick myself for now) so it’s made its way to my wishlist.

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6. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Mmm. The 2013 Man Booker Prize Winner.  My only issue with having this on my wishlist is I don’t know if I want the e-book or the hard copy.  I would love to put it on my shelves with my other Booker Prize winners…but the size of this one is oh my!

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7. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Another pre-order wishlist.  I’ve been such a huge fan of Allen’s writing for years.  I love the mood her books put me in and I cannot wait for the release of this one.

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8. Palisades Park by Alan Brennart

I’m not gonna lie. This one is pure, unadulterated cover lust.  I adore the cover and the synopsis is just the icing on the cake.

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9. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I have a confession.  I just discovered Allie Brosh.  I think her blog has changed my life now.  I cannot see me buying this book for myself so I’m really hoping someone sees that I want it and just.. you know, gets it for me.  Psst. My wishlist is under my name.

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10. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

And finally, another book I passed on an advance copy of.  Who would have thought it would keep calling to me?  I’ve heard so many good things about this that now, yup, I just have to have it.

What books are you hoping for this year?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This is an interesting list for me, because there were many new authors I read in 2013 … some I loved, and some not so much.  I decided to veer toward the positive here, as much as I know people enjoy a little bit of drama, this really isn’t the place for it.  Still, I am debating on my Best Of/Worst Of 2013 post and will let you know probably next week if I decide to include the worst again this year.

Every book on this list merited a five star rating from me.  I’ve decided to focus less on my own thoughts (although in a few cases there was no biography readily available so I made do with my own thoughts on the author) and focus more on the author.  So, if you want my thoughts on the book click on the link in the title.  Otherwise, enjoy an introduction to the ten authors who made 2013 quite memorable for me.

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1. Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa by Lee Cataluna

Lee Cataluna is a local author of novels, short stories, and plays in addition to reporting news for the Honolulu Advertiser.  I was introduced to this author through a book club meeting and thoroughly enjoyed the look at island life – outside of the tourist zone.

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2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Biography: Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.

In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.

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3.  The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace

Daniel Wallace’s Biography: Daniel Wallace is author of five novels, including Big Fish (1998), Ray in Reverse (2000), The Watermelon King (2003), Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (2007), and most recently The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013).

He has written one book for children, Elynora, and in 2008 it was published in Italy, with illustrations by Daniela Tordi. O Great Rosenfeld!, the only book both written and illustrated by the author, has been released in France and Korea and is forthcoming in Italy, but there are not, at this writing, any plans for an American edition.

His work has been published in over two dozen languages, and his stories, novels and non-fiction essays are taught in high schools and colleges throughout this country. His illustrations have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Italian Vanity Fair, and many other magazines and books, including Pep Talks, Warnings, and Screeds: Indispensible Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers, by George Singleton, and Adventures in Pen Land: One Writer’s Journey from Inklings to Ink, by Marianne Gingher. Big Fish was made into a motion picture of the same name by Tim Burton in 2003, a film in which the author plays the part of a professor at Auburn University.

He is in fact the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English, and director of the Creative Writing Program, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater (Class of ’08). He lives with his wife, Laura Kellison Wallace, in Chapel Hill. More information about him, his writing, and his illustrations can be found at www.danielwallace.org and www.ogreatrosenfeld.org.

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4.  Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta’s Biography: Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, and was raised there as a Jehovah’s Witness. When she was ten, her family relocated to the United States. She received her BS from The Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the University of Iowa. She has worked as a middle and high school French and English Language teacher, and an undergraduate writing teacher. She is one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012 and has stories forthcoming from Conjunctions, Subtropics, and elsewhere.

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5. This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila

Kristiana Kahakauwila’s Biography: KRISTIANA KAHAKAUWILA, a native Hawaiian, was raised in Southern California. She earned a master’s in fine arts from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Princeton University.

She has worked as a writer and editor for Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, and Highlights for Children magazines and taught English at Chaminade University in Honolulu. An assistant professor of creative writing at Western Washington University, Kristiana splits her time between Bellingham, WA, and Hawai`i.

This is Paradise has been chosen as a Barnes & Noble Summer 2013 selection of the Discover Great New Writers program as well as for the Target Emerging Author program.

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6. Longbourn by Jo Baker

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire. She was educated at Oxford and at Queen’s University, Belfast, where she completed a PhD on the work of the Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen. Her first novel, Offcomer, was published by William Heinemann in 2001. Her second book, The Mermaid’s Child, is was published in August 2004. Jo Baker has also written for BBC Radio 4, and her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. From 2001-2003 she was the Artistic Director of the Belfast Literary Festival. She lives in Belfast with her husband, the playwright and screenwriter Daragh Carville, and their son Daniel.

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7. The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara really caught my attention with this anthropological novel that completely ensnared my attention from the first chapter through the last.  I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to her work and cannot wait to see what she does next.

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8. Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting

Alissa Nutting surprised me.  She shocked me too.  And while it makes sense that a lot of people would experience revulsion for her very strange, very different style of storytelling, I found myself enjoying the shock.  I love it when I’m made to see things from different angles because I’m always changing my perception about things that are real, as a result.  I find that my beliefs and values either become more rooted, or evolve with my changing worldview and Nutting’s writing made me have some serious thought-storms (you know.. brain-storming sessions) while reading and well-after I finished.

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9. Returning to the Lakota Way by Joseph M. Marshall, III

Joseph M. Marshall III was born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and holds a PhD from the reservation university, which he helped to establish. The award-winning author of ten books, including Hundred in the Hand, The Lakota Way, and The Journey of Crazy Horse, he has also contributed to various publications and written several screenplays. His first language is Lakota, he handcrafts primitive Lakota bows and arrows, and he is a specialist in wilderness survival. Marshall’s work as a cultural and historical consultant can be seen and heard in the Turner Network Television and Dreamworks epic television miniseries Into the West. “

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10. This House is Haunted by John Boyne

John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.  He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. But it was during his time at Trinity that he began to get published. To pay his way at that stage of his career, he worked at Waterstone’s, typing up his drafts by night.

John Boyne is the author of six novels, as well as a number of short stories which have been published in various anthologies and broadcast on radio and television. His novels are published in 39 languages. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which to date has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and a film adaptation was released in September 2008. Boyne resides in Dublin. He is represented by the literary agent Simon Trewin at United Agents in London, United Kingdom.

What authors were new to you this year?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Last week I talked about my most anticipated 2014 releases and this weeks list sort of coincides with those.  But, I’m taking the opportunity to talk about the books on my list that aren’t being published necessarily, in 2014 and, instead, am looking toward some books I’ve been saving.

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1. Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest

This is the last book of the Clockwork Century series and I am both looking forward to as well as dreading it.  I have loved every one of these books from Boneshaker on and while I will hate saying goodbye to Priest’s fantastic, steampunk, alternate history world I am so excited to see how she ends it all.

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2. S – or Ship of Theseus by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

This book caught my eye immediately.  I’ve seen interviews and blog posts and ordered a hard copy last week (and the delivery date was yesterday – guess what’s still not here?).  I am thinking, because of my sheer anticipation for this book, that it may be my first read of 2014.  That said, there is no way I’m going to wait to open it up…. it’s full of goodies that I want to touch now! =)

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3.  Divergent by Veronica Roth

I feel like I’m the last person in the world to read this series.  I have been avoiding reading books until the final installment is either released, or about to be released, just for my own sanity (I don’t have time to re-read like I used to).  So now that all three books (and a movie!) are out it’s time to dive in and see what all of the hullabaloo is about.

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4.  The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Every year, usually in January, when things are cold and I can snuggle under a blanket, I pick up a Kate Morton book.  I have yet to read her latest (waiting for the perfect time, as I always do with my favorite authors) so I think this January will be a good time for it.  I may have to only read at night when it dips into the 60s here on the island, but I am determined to keep with tradition and be snuggled up while I read.

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5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Here’s another one that I am planning to get to soon.  I picked up Tartt’s book for a birthday gift last October and am just waiting for the right time to dive in (mostly, I have to clear my January books first).  I am thinking this is one I’ll get to in February.

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6. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Every four years or so I re-read this magnificent trilogy by Tolkien.  2014 marks the start of the fourth year since my last re-read and I am definitely due.  This year I will be pulling my collectors copy that was my father’s off of my shelves and diving in.

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7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Speaking of re-reads, here is another I’ll be picking up.  I haven’t read Little Women in over ten years now, but with 2014 comes my vow to myself that the classics I grew up with won’t be neglected.  Even if that means a re-read every ten years, I’m determined to make it so.

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8. All Spell Breaks Loose by Lisa Shearin

This is another book that I cannot wait to dive into.  Lisa Shearin is one of my favorite guilty pleasure authors and this series is, by far, my favorite paranormal, kick-butt heroine, steamy romance series (and I don’t normally go for those, you know).

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9. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

I picked this one up with a B&N GiftCard for my e-reader and keep forgetting I have it!  I’ve been fascinated with the idea of those story for a while so I think it’s time to remember that it’s on my B&N reading app and get to it, finally.

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10. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

First, I love Rainbow Rowell’s name. Second, she lives in Omaha, NE – where I spent the first 17 years of my life. Third, I want to read this book and I’ve had it since its release.  This winter will be the time.

What books are you planning to read throughout the winter?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2014 Releases I’m Dying to Read

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving – I had  a fun one filled with lots of good food, wine, laughter, and joy.  I really enjoyed putting together my list of books that I am thankful for last week and feel ready and prepared to pull together this list for 2014 – the problem is…there are so many great releases to choose from!  So in my explanation about the book I’ll be including a bit of why I am looking forward to the title so much.

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1. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

I love Sarah Addison Allen so much – magical realism plus a dose of southern comfort resides in each of her books and I absolutely cannot wait to read Lost Lake.  This title has been on my highly anticipated list for quite some time now.

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2. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

I loved Loving Frank by Nancy Horan and until this title was released, she was on a short list of the authors I watch religiously to see when the newest title is being released.  I’m very excited to read about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny, and this title cannot come soon enough.

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3.  The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

I love, love, love Patrick Ness’s young adult novels, so when I saw that he was branching out into the adult world I put the book on my TBR list immediately.  So looking forward to reading this title and getting a review up!

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4.  The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

I fell in love with Brigid Pasulka’s first novel, A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True several years ago, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the announcement of a new novel.  The cover for this book is absolutely gorgeous and I am sure the story will be just as perfect.

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5. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

My younger sister introduced me to Gabrielle Zevin and I have been obsessed ever since.  The premise of A.J. Fikry intrigues me and I cannot wait to crack this one open.

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6. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

I have read almost everything Sanderson has written (I have to space them out or I gorge myself on the titles and then I have nothing left to read by him when I am feeling the mood hit).  I loved The Way of Kings – I even saw Sanderson talk about his creative process at DragonCon one year.  So I am beyond thrilled to see Book 2 being released early in 2014.

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7. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon is one of those authors that I love reading just because every book ends with a sucker punch.  I love that she can surprise me, and that her stories are so interesting that they are basically one-sit reads.

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8. The Martian by Andy Weir

Andy Weir is a new author for me – but the premise of this book gives me little giddy feelings inside.  I love the idea of being stranded on a planet and what adventures that could lead to – even with the idea of death staring me in the face.  This is an ultimate survival tale that I am looking forward to so much.

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9. The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert

Timothy Schaffert is another new author for me – but the choice of this book as an anticipated stems from the settling.  I grew up in Omaha and left when I turned 17 so I cannot wait to learn a bit more about its history in addition to reading what appears to be a beautiful concept of a story.

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10. Children of Paradise by Fred D’Aguiar

And finally, to end the list – a utopia society.  This book immediately caught my attention and I figure 2014 is gonna be the year that I read some great speculative fiction (so much good will be released – I hope!)  Perhaps I’ll start with this one, as I have an eARC currently sitting in my files! =)

What books are you looking forward to next year?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things (Books) I Am Thankful For

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I have a lot of things to be thankful for.  I am thankful that my parents home was spared when the destructive EF-4 Tornado ripped through Washington.  I am thankful that my family and friends all lived through the experience.  I am thankful that, in spite of close friends and community members losing their homes, that the community has pulled together – really, that the country has come together in a way that is awesome and inspiring to watch.  I am thankful that I am in a position to make a monetary donation, even though I would much rather be there to lend my back, hands, and feet to the recovery effort.  I am thankful, most of all, for living in a world where people are capable of putting themselves second and the needs of the community first.  And so, in that light, I’d like to present the list of books that I am thankful for: because they have taught me lessons of peace, faith, community, love, the importance of stories, friendship, grief, the value of our elders, and heroism.

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1. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

This book taught me mostly about miracles. About how we view them and how we take away from their awesome power by flinging the word around.  It also contains one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.  I just think about this book, sometimes I look at it, and I’m overwhelmed by a sense of peace.  It doesn’t hurt that I also start singing the old hymn,

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

 - It is Well with my Soul by Horatio Spafford/Phillip Bliss

I’m an evangelist for Peace Like a River and think it would be a perfect gift to give any reader this holiday season.

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2. Returning to the Lakota Way by James M. Marshall III

This book of stories and insights by James Marshall really spoke to me about the value of faith.  In a time where it would be easy to lose faith, I watch as my hometown of Washington, IL rallies around one another and, like Iktomi, believes they can fly.  I am so proud of them and I have every ounce of faith that they will pull through this.

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3. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This heartbreakingly beautiful book taught me about the importance of community.  As with another book on this list, that lesson on the importance of community is something I’m seeing back home right now.  I am thankful that we, as human beings, are capable of forming and nuturing bonds of community, much like the ones that were evidenced in Saenz’s story – even during some of the most difficult times that we, as humans, face.

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4.  Every Day by David Levithan

I really struggled to pick the perfect book for this one.  It’s a word that’s used so often to describe actions, emotions, and thoughts that can also be anything but – so I finally settled on David Levithan’s Every Day because it’s a great example for me.  I’m thankful for love.  Love that surpasses all, love that can look beyond skin, gender, sexuality, actions, pasts, futures, and words.  Love that is unconditional in every way.

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5. The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney

I can’t think of a better title for this part of my list.  I’m a book lover – I have been reading since I’ve been big enough to hold a book open.  There is absolutely nothing that I love more than a good story and I grew up with storytellers in the form of my father and grandfather.   So I am thankful for this book that not only celebrates storytelling in its story, but also in the title (and was a big reason I picked it up).

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6. The Fault in our Stars by John Green

One of the biggest messages I took away from John Green’s most recent novel was the importance of friendship.  While this could tie into the idea of community, I think it’s something that is much more intimate.  A close friend is that person who will do anything for you, who will be there with you through thick and thin.  It’s often said that the person you marry should be your best friend, and for good reason.  The bonds of friendship are to be so secure they can weather anything that’s thrown at them.  I think this book portrays those bonds extremely well.

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7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

It’s a strange thing to be thankful for, but A Monster Calls reminded me, as I sobbed my way through it, of the importance of grief.  It’s part of living through the cycle of life and it’s often looked at as something to be dreaded or feared – but, in reality, I am thankful for this phase because it gives me a way to mourn events, things, and most importantly, people who deserve to be mourned.  Think about what life would be like without grief?  Would we just pass by important, tragic events without giving them a second thought?  It’s a frightening thought and something I was considering while I was creating this list.

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8. The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

Harold Bell Wright wrote quite a few books and The Shepherd of the Hills is one of his most famous.  In this story, an older man moves to a place in the Ozarks and the stories of the folk there come to light as a result.  This book makes me thankful for the lessons we can learn from those older than us.  In a culture where we are constantly looking for shiny and new things, I think it’s important to be thankful for the wisdom, grace, generosity, and love of our parents, aunts,  uncles, grandparents and more.

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9. 8th Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

It’s pretty easy to see talk about heroes these days.  We have a military that day in and day out place their lives on the line, who separate from families to heed the call of the country.  We have people who drop everything to help stricken cities, towns, and countries in distress. We have people who campaign tirelessly for food and clothing and medicine for those who live in complete poverty.  So what I love about 8th Grade Super Zero is that Rhuday-Perkovich shows us how being a hero isn’t always about the huge, grand gestures.  While the world absolutely needs those people it also needs the boy who is willing to wear a pair of shoes that is.. well, embarrassing.

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10. A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka

And finally, I’m thankful for a culmination of everything I’ve talked about.  I’m thankful that there are books out there like this one who sum everything up – from history to love, grief and community, friendship, faith, and peace.  This is one of my favorite books – hands down, because it embodies everything that I am thankful for.

 

What books remind you of things to be thankful for?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to a Music Lover

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I’m fairly picky when it comes to books about music.  I’ve been playing piano for 33 years now, have a degree in Piano Performance, and consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable on the subject.   There is nothing that I hate more than picking up a book that centers its theme around music only to read that a 4 year old was able to play Liszt with amazing skill or that the main character can sit down and just doodle away at the piano, playing a famous symphony.

With that all in mind, here are some of the most proficient books with music as a theme that you should check out (fiction and non-fiction).

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1. The Bells by Richard Harvell

This historical fiction book is not for the faint of heart, but it contains a story about the castrati that is utterly brilliant.  It’s not a subject often spoken of in books, let alone an entire story based on it, but the story here is a fantastic one that is not only educational, but extremely interesting as well.

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2. The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

Gothic, mysterious, and shiver-inducing, this story had me on the edge of my seat all the way through it.  If you are a fan of Donna Tartt, then this is a must read for you.

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3. A Romance on Three Legs by Katie Hafner

Part biography of Glenn Gould, part biography of his Steinway, this non-fiction book is a fantastic read that provides insights into one of the most brilliant pianists ever recorded.

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4.  La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith

I am such a fan of Alexander McCall Smith – his writing just gives me such peace.  La’s Orchestra was the perfect read for me at the perfect time.  It’s a great introduction to his writing if you are not wanting to take on a big series right now.

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5. The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson

A fantastic story about a young girl in Georgia around the time period of the American Revolution.  The theme of music takes the background in this one, but still… it’s a worthy title to be on the list.

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6. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett studied for this book, and it’s visible.  So much not only about music, but also about Stockholm Syndrom – this book is a treasure and one of my favorites written by Patchett.

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7. Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

I always love it when a short story collection falls into one of these lists.  This collection by Kazuo Ishiguro is not just themed around music, but the writing is beyond lyrical.  Such a treasure.

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8. The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

I would like to say that I am not a science-minded person, at all. But this book not only caught my interest, but completely blew me away with its accessibility.  Plus, he talks about Paganini, and who wouldn’t love stories about Paganini?

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9. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart

This is a beautiful memoir about the power of music as well as the details about restoring and rebuilding pianos.  Such a beautiful story and, paired with A Romance on Three Legs, would make a beautiful set of books to give to a music lover.

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10. Listening to Brahms by Rosemary Allen

I have yet to write a review on this one, and I’m kicking myself for it.  But I read Listening to Brahms fairly recently and was impressed by the knowledge the writer had about music and playing the piano.  It is a worthy addition to this list and I will get a review up soon, I promise!

 

 Did I miss anything obvious?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten (Seven) Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I laughed out loud when I saw the topic for Top Ten Tuesday this week.  Like, literally laughed out loud and then thought of all of the horrible fantasy/science fiction novels I’ve read over the years that could do with a serious cover makeover.  I wish I could have come up with a total of ten – but I have a habit of picking books with great covers.  I went through so many books, grasping at straws but this is all I could come up with!  So, let’s get started.

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1. A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith

No person in their right mind would pick up this book with this cover.  I picked it up only because I know the author and was positive it would be good in spite of the cover.  I would love to be able to design a cover that did this story justice.

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2. The Healer of Fox Hollow by Joann Rose Leonard

I really loved this book, but the cover made me not want to pick it up to start it.  I began to read and was hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed, because it looked so amateur. I think that the designers who did Beth Hoffman’s books would do a fantastic job complimenting Leonard’s story with a beautiful cover.

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3. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

Another sad product of the fantasy genre – this beautiful, rich, literary tale that re-imagines the legend of Tam Lin is.. just horrible.  I would love to see an updated, more beautiful rendition.

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4.  Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Usually Sanderson’s books are spot on… but not the Mistborn series. In serious need of some prettying up – because again, this was a case where the covers actually put me off of the book.

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5. Warchild by Karin Lowachee

And here’s a science-fiction example.  Like Ender’s Game? This series blows it out of the water and is not nearly as appreciated.  But the covers don’t even do it justice.

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6. Selkie Dreams by Kristin Gleeson

I really enjoyed Selkie Dreams by Kristin Gleeson, but I thought from the very start that the cover looked a bit amateurish.  This also caused me to pick up the book much later than I normally would have, as the Selkie myth is one of my favorites.

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7. Progeny by R.T. Kaelin

One of the best self-published fantasy books I’ve read – but the cover constantly reminds me of Narnia.  I would love to see a beautiful, professional cover on this one.

Only made it to 7 this week! Did I miss anything obvious?  Chime in!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten (Nine) Sequels I can’t wait to get my hands on

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Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Oh boy have I been busy.  I have hardly been able to read as I’ve been busy getting my piano studio website up and running and preparing to take on… distance piano students! Yup – you heard that right.  Lessons from a quality teacher in Hawaii – no problem, just sign up with Skype or Facetime (okay, okay, plug done.. but seriously, can you tell I’m excited?)

I am not sticking to straight sequels here. Rather, I’m sticking to upcoming books in the series so bear with me if you would.

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1. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

I can’t even express.. I can’t… how much I want to get my hands on this book.

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2. The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin

I know it’ll probably be about five years… but still, I cannot wait.

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3. A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman

Sharon Kay Penman is the queen of historical fiction.  The first book in this series, Lionheart, blew me away.  I cannot wait to re-read Lionheart and get ready for this release in 2014.

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4.  Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Mostly I can’t wait for this book to be released so that my mom stops asking me about it! =)

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5. Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest

If you haven’t experienced Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series, you should check it out as soon as possible.  It’s steampunk-history-licious.

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6. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Okay, so it’s not really a sequel but I kind of consider it to be because Sarah Addison Allen’s books all tend to take place in the same world for me.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aged well for me.  I think fondly back on reading it and so I am really looking forward to a re-read before this sequel comes out.

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8. Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn is a mastery at the craft of fantasy and I cannot wait for her next installment of this young adult series.

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9. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

The follow up to Steelheart is bound to be great – and I am already itching to get my hands on it and it’s so far away it doesn’t even have a cover yet!

Only made it to 9 this week! Did I miss anything obvious?  Chime in!

 

Bear