Top 5 Wednesday: Urban Fantasy

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Happy Hump Day Readers!

The topic for this week’s Top 5 Wednesday is Urban Fantasy.  Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes.  Check out the Goodreads group for more posts in this tag and for future topics.


Once again, I found this T5W topic difficult.  I am terrible at genres.  I haven’t paid too much attention to them before… I just pick up a book that seems like it would be a good fit for me or that I’ve heard lots about.  I didn’t even know that Fantasy had so many sub-genres until recently.  So with that in mind, I think that these would all classify as Urban Fantasy.

In no particular order, here are my top 5 picks for the week:

1. Shades of Magic Series by V. E. Schwab

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I love the parallel Londons we get in this series and the different levels of magic in each of them.  These books rocked my world last year.

2. Six of Crows Duology, by Leigh Bardugo

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A much as I would love to kick it with the cast of these novels.  I would die.  Quick.  I would not last a minute in Ketterdam, that’s for damn sure!

3. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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Does this count as urban fantasy?  It’s fantasy…(lordy do I fantasize about it, like all the time! Oh boy, but how I wish I was Alana…let’s be real though… I’d die.) and they keep finding war ravaged urban locations to hide out in.  So… counts?

4. Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris

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I love the idea of the world being aware of vampires and other supes and seeing how that plays out.

5.  The Gates, by John Connolly

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I really need to re-read this.  I think there are companion books I didn’t even know about.  I also think my October TBR has just been decided!  Read the description here… and then go read this book!

How’d I do? Do these count as Urban Fantasy? Definitely comment below and recommend some other titles in this genre to me.

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Book Haul

A goal of mine for the year was not to buy more books than I read. But in January I had a gift card my in-laws gave me for Christmas burning a hole in my pocket… and then there was a library sale… and how can anyone expect me to pass up a buy one get one free offer?

My next thought was: well, now I will have more than enough new (to me) books and I won’t have to buy any more. And I did well… I resisted the urge. Until Valentine’s day came around and I texted my husband “How about I order myself some books as a Valentine’s day gift and give you the credit for it?” and he said “Go ahead.”

Once that happened I found myself in Barnes and Noble buying a birthday present for a friend’s daughter… and a little something for myself. Now I’m jonesin’ really hard to do more book shopping.

Books. They’re an addiction I don’t want to kick. I mean, I already gave up soda… leave me alone with my books.

And with that background that you didn’t need… I bring to you: my January and February book hauls.

JANUARY (sorry for the crappy pictures)

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Boxed Set, by Leigh Bardugo

Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall, by Sarh E. Ladd

The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, by Philippa Gregory

The Fecund’s Melancholy Daughter, by Brent Hayward

Faithful, by Alice Hoffman

FEBRUARY

Many Waters, by Madeleine L’Engle (I grabbed this from the Little Free Library at the playground. Once upon a time I owned the entire Wrinkle in Time series and now I want to rebuild my collection for my kids to have when they are ready).

Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia A. McKillip

Stars Above and Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer

The Language of Thorns, by Leigh Bardugo

The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes, by Rick Riordan

Out of all that, I have read a single story each from Stars Above and Greek Heroes; and Scarlet I have already read but wanted my own copy.

And so you get an idea of how out of control I am (gee thanks Facebook and Booktube)… here is what I bought in December at Savers (and have read only one of):

Oh. Boy.

Stop buying and start reading, Alex. For real!

Remember reader friends: it’s not hoarding if it’s books!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I could Re-Read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week’s topic is books I could re-read forever.

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If you read my 2018 Reader Goals, you may remember that I don’t tend to re-read books.  I am more likely to listen to audiobooks over and over, and thats basically how I made this list.

In no particular order, here is my list:

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz

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Don’t get me started… you know I can go on and on…and on and on… about this book.  All. The. Feels.

 

2. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne (Full Cast Audio)

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My kids and I love this audiobook.  If I’m not mistaken this was our first ever audiobook.  We listen to it all the time and recite it often.  There is a Winnie the Pooh quote for just about any situation.

3. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

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Currently listening to this for the second time.  I may or may not be planning a long road trip so I can make my husband listen to it.

4. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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THIS SERIES! My introduction to graphic novels.  I can’t get enough.  The art! The Romance! I’ve read vols 1-6 and have flipped back through them while I wait for more.

5. Harry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling

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Harry Potter.   Obviously.

6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus Series, by Rick Riordan

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I love these.  They are easy audiobooks to listen to, so I turn to them as fillers when I need something in the moment, but can’t quite commit my attention to a new story.

7. The Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris

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Brain candy.  That’s what these are.  The books in this series are so quick and easy to read.  Not a fan of the show, though.

8. The Penderwicks Series, by Jeanne Birdsall

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I love all the Penderwicks books.  So far the third book, ‘The Penderwicks at Point Mouette,’ is my favorite.  But they are all great. I listened to these in the car with my kids and have since picked up used copies of the books as I come across them.  The release date for the fifth book, ‘Penderwicks At Last,’ is marked on our calendar… come on May 15th!

9.  The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly

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I love this dark, creepy, beautiful, emotional book.  I have to get my hands on more books by this author.

10. Shades of Magic Series, by V. E. Schwab

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I have not re-read these yet, but I am already excited to experience these again!

What’s on your top ten list? Comment or link your post below!

Currently Reading

Hello Readers, Happy Monday!  I wanted to drop in quick with an update on what I plan on reading this week.

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I recently ordered ‘Stars Above’ by Marissa Meyer as a Valentine’s gift for myself from my husband (along with a copy of ‘Scarlet’ and the Lunar Chronicles coloring book).  Love that guy.  It is a collection of shorts that fit into the Lunar Chronicles (which I absolutely love!).  Today I read the first story in the collection, ‘The Keeper,’ and will probably read it a story or two at a time throughout the week, as opposed to reading them all together at once.  I also picked up ‘Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes’ by Rick Riordan last week, and will probably read that one the same way.

I want to start reading ‘The Villagers’ by Jorge Icaza.  It is a novel translated from Spanish (the Spanish title is ‘Huasipungo’) and set in Ecuador.  I will go into more detail on why I have chosen to read this novel in a later post, but basically- I want to read novels set in, or written by authors, from the countries of my heritage.

I have a chunkster of a graphic novel I want to give a shot this week- ‘Blankets’ by Craig Thompson.  It looked familiar, so I want to say I saw a recommendation for it on Booktube, and it has a blurb on the back from Neil Gaiman, so I checked it out a few weeks ago from my library and have been meaning to get to it.

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I’ve been a bad girl in regards to my book club attendance of late, but I have been doing the reading… just not making it out the door to join the discussion.  This month the book is ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman.  I LOVE this book.  I listened to it two years ago and am listening to it again now.  I already know I will be changing my Goodreads rating from four to five stars.  The meetup is on Wednesday and I am about three quarters of the way through the audio already, so it should be no problem finishing before then.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments and have a great week!

Review: ‘He Forgot to Say Goodbye’ by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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I’ve decided that Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author I want to read absolutely all of. He is the author of ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ and ‘The Inexplicable Logic of My Life,’ two favorites of mine.

Before reading Aristotle and Dante I had never heard of this author, but there was just something about the way he used words to unwind the left over knots of teenage angst I didn’t know I was still carrying with me…oh boy! Benjamin! You have won my heart! But this isn’t about Ari and Dante, I will have to come back with a separate post dedicated solely to that book. Just know that because of how moved I was by that book, and by ‘The Inexplicable Logic of My Life,’ I trust that I will not only enjoy, but love, anything by Sáenz.

So… I took to Goodreads and added more of his books to my to-read list, and made sure to grab one of the books from my library. But then…’He Forgot to Say Goodbye’ sat on my shelf at home for way too long, about three weeks, before I finally decided to get it read before it was due back. Turns out I’ve been in a fantasy sort of reading mood. Well, after a sleepless night had me listen to… you guessed it… ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ for the thousandth time, I was ready to give this a go.

My doggies helped. Not really. But look how cute they are keeping me company while I read:

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In this story we get to hear from Jake- a rich white kid, and Ramiro (Remi)- a poor Mexican-American teenager. Their lives are very different, but they are both effected by the absences of their fathers, who walked away from their young sons and never really looked back. The boys attend neighboring schools and have seen each other around, but neither really knows anything at all about the other except that they seem pretty okay. Eventually their paths cross, they develop a friendship, and they support each other at particularly difficult times in their lives.

I was afraid I wasn’t going to fall in love with it at first. The format was strange in the way that it switched points of view, and that the two narratives didn’t really come together for most of the book. Every once in a while they would relate two sides of the same scene, and I’d have to pause and reconsider the timeline as it relates to both sides of the story. It’s something that is done in books often enough that it wasn’t too big of a turn off once I got a little ways into it.

For maybe a quarter of the book (maybe less, I don’t really know), I wasn’t sure I was going to fall in love with the protagonists they way I had with just about every single character in both of Sáenz other books that I’d read. Jake and Remi felt more like rough drafts of Ari and Sally. I would actually read something and smile to myself, thinking about how Ari was the same way… Salvador went through the same thing. I found myself thinking of this as a trial run. Eventually I was able to appreciate Jake and Remi as real characters, not shadows of future characters, and I grew to love them, too.

As much as I love the way Sáenz writes… as beautiful as I find his prose to be… there are some phrases he uses that just don’t flow well. In Aristotle and Dante, Dante says “Damn it, Ari. Damn it to hell,” on more than one occasion if I’m not mistaken, and I have to stop and think… what teenager says the phrase “Damn it to hell?” Well, in ‘He Forgot to Say Goodbye’ Jake says “Can you dig it?” so often that it drove me bananas! “Can you dig it?” “You can dig that, can’t you?” NO, JAKE. NO. Put the shovel down. No one is digging anything. Who says that? Just no.

But in the end, I forgive the cringe worthy phrase because of how well the rest is written. Like his more recent novels, this was a very character driven book in which your emotional connection to the protagonists takes precedence over the progression of the plot. I understand this is not for everyone, but Sáenz pulls it off in my opinion.

I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. I want to note that my star ratings are very subjective and emotionally biased. I will post about how I assign star ratings some other time, once I understand it a little better myself.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Decided I’m no Longer Interested in Reading

Happy Tuesday, Readers.

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Top Ten Tuesday is a tag hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  The topic this week: Ten books I’ve decided I’m no longer interested in reading.


This prompt has me feeling two things- proud of myself for not succumbing to the pressure to read things that are popular or classic; and annoyed at the idea of leaving a series unfinished.

1- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I’m sure it’s a great book, but I’ve gone this long without reading it so I think I’ll be ok.  Maybe I will watch the movie someday.  I bought this from the library for a dollar, only to unhaul it a few months later when I realized I only got it because I felt like I had to read it.  The hell? I mean, I’m not in high school anymore.  I don’t HAVE to read anything… and even in high school I faked my way through like 90% of the required reading anyway.

2- Emma by Jane Austen

I started this and did not make it far at all.  It’s obnoxious and there are so many other classics I’d rather read. Plus, I’ve seen Clueless countless times, so that should be good enough.

3- Pretty much anything by Cassandra Clare

I know right? Crazy.  I’m actually hiding right now from all the Mortal Instrument fanatics coming at me with their pitchforks.  I did read the first three books, oh so many years ago, and did not enjoy them as much as I was told I would.  And here I am today, discovering BookTube and reader blogs and realizing that these books are kind of a big deal.  Maybe I should give them another try.  Nah.

4- The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

This is the third book in the Red Pyramid trilogy, and I tried to listen to it, but the audiobook cds from the library were in such bad condition and skipped so terribly that I couldn’t.  And honestly, I didn’t care all that much.

5- The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

Maybe I’ll listen to this one, but (again) I kind of don’t care anymore.  The story is fun and entertaining, but the writing is not nearly good enough to sustain this series for so long.  I listened to the third book after much hemming and hawing over whether I cared, and only decided to go ahead with it because I thought it was the last of the series.  So when it ended on a cliffhanger and I had to commit to a fourth, I was actually kind of pissed.  But maybe I’ll go back to it when I need something I don’t have to put much effort into absorbing.

6- King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

I loved Red Queen, but I just really hated Glass Sword so much that I just can’t. Too many books, too little time to waste on something I feel so ambivalent toward.  You lost me Vicky, bye.

7- The Millenium Series by David Lagercrantz

Read that closely: by David Lagercrantz.  I do actually want to revisit the first three books in the series by Stieg Larsson, but  I have no interest in reading the series continued by anyone else.  I loved Lisbeth and Mikael, and was not satisfied with were Larsson left them before he passed away and could, obviously, no longer write their stories; but the idea of someone else continuing the series, just doesn’t feel canon to me.  I don’t know.  There’s plenty more to read… moving on.

8- Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

At this point, I’m just not going to get to it.  Probably.  Never say never.  But most likely.

9- The Daughter of Smoke and Bone- by Laini Taylor

Again, I’m sure it’s good.  The consensus seems to be that it’s a decent read.  But, meh.  It doesn’t excite me.

10- The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

This isn’t so much that I’m not interested in it anymore, but I’m being realistic.  Odds are I wouldn’t even understand it if I did read it.

Eye Candy- Beautiful Middle Grade Book Covers

I love when our library faces out books.  That is typically how I pick out picture books for my kids, or grab a middle grade novel for myself on my way to the children’s room with said kiddos.

That’s right, I judge books by their covers.  Don’t lie, you’ve done it, too.

Here are the middle grade books I added to my Goodreads to-read list on our most recent trip to the library because of their gorgeous covers.

The Lottery Plus One, by Emma Donoghue

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The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, by Karina Yan Glaser

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The Uncommoners (Crooked Sixpence #1), by Jennifer Bell

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The Secret of Nightingale Wood, by Lucy Strange

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The Glass Town Game, by Catherynne M Valente

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

My husband didn’t understand me when I said I accidentally started this book.  “How do you accidentally read a book?” he asked.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to bed after husband and feel bad about turning a light on (as opposed to him falling asleep with the light still on) so you can’t continue your hardcover book.

Step 2: Misplace headphones so you can’t audiobook yourself to sleep.

Step 3: Not have e-book version of the audiobook you’re 1/3 of the way through loaded on your tablet (I use Calibre to organize my e-books on my computer, then send them to my ancient tablet using the Calibre Companion app).

Step 4: Settle for an e-book you were once fairly excited to read, but feel pretty ‘meh’ about after watching mixed reviews on booktube.


Soooo… that’s how I ended up starting ‘An Enchantment of Ravens,’ by Margaret Rogerson. Read the synopsis here.

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The feeling I got from reviews of this book was that it was just okay- nothing amazing, but not bad either.  Well… I loved it.  And it didn’t take me long at all to fall in love with it.

First of all, it’s a stand alone fantasy novel.  How refreshing is that!? I really needed something that wasn’t 700 pages long and/or part of a series.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading series, but I was in the mood for a shorter ride that wouldn’t leave me hanging.  What I needed was a conclusion.  And this offered that.

HOWEVER…. I would totally be down to read a continuation of this.  While the ending wraps up rather nicely (not to mention easily… a little too easily?) I would be interested in knowing what happens next.

Another reason I enjoyed this is the romance.  Yup.  I’m a sucker for it.  I don’t read romance as a genre, but I love it in my fantasy reads.  I heard a complaint that the relationship in this novel comes across as “insta-love,” but I disagree.  It was definitely an instant attraction and flirtation… and what’s wrong with that? She’s young, he’s a Fair One… flirt away.  And, oh what flirtation! I’m happily married to my soulmate and very comfortable in our relationship, which is wonderful, BUT it means I don’t get that new crush induced heart tingle (you know what I mean?) EXCEPT for when I am reading (or watching terribly cheesy Christmas movies).  This book gave me the heart flutters right away and I looooved it.

There were elements of this book that reminded me of other books, specifically Stardust by Neil Gaiman (which happens to be what I’m currently listening to), and the relationship between Sookie and Eric in The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.

I loved that the fairies in this book were dark and menacing, and strange looking.  I loved that the main character had a rational head on her shoulders.  Yes she was young and in love, but she knew herself and what she wanted, and more importantly,  what she was willing/unwilling to sacrifice for it.

Sam’s review of this book on her channel, Thoughts on Tomes, basically sums up my reading experience of it.  In fact, after going back to watch this video after I finished it, I remembered that I added it to my TBR based off of one of her recommendation videos.

Have you read it?  What did you think? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Top 5 Wednesday- Favorite M/M Couples

Top Five Wednesday is hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes.  The Goodreads group with weekly prompts can be found here.


This week’s topic is:

Favorite M/M Couples Who are your favorite dudes loving other dudes? (Note: this isn’t specifically cis gay couples, but also applies to couples that include bi men, trans men, pan men, ace men, etc.)

Sadly, I did not have NEARLY enough examples to choose from!  I need to fix this.  So you KNOW I will be adding to my ever growing TBR from everyone else who has participated in this T5W tag.

***Obviously none of the pictures I include are mine.  They are Google Image results for fan art***

5. Rhy Maresh and Alucard Emery (Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab)

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I’m actually not a huge fan of Rhy, but I LOVE Alucard.  Oh I love him so much.  And he loves Rhy so much.  And I love love- the really real, through thick and thin kind of love. So, there’s that.

4. Jesper Fahey and Wylan Van Eck (Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo)

 

I just love the combination of flirty and shy with these two.  And I love how they both want to protect each other as best they can.

3. Sam Gamgee and Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien)

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So this isn’t actually a thing, and it’s been a long while since I’ve read LOTR, but I remember crying my eyes out as Sam carries Frodo to fulfill his quest.  This is an example of pure love.  True love.  Sam sees Frodo at his very lowest and weakest… the worst possible version of him… and never loses faith in his friend.  They can be soulmates without having a romantic type love relationship, right?  I’m counting it.

2.Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz)

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Oh these two.  I love these boys.  I cry with these boys… like, on the regular.  I have returned to them again and again because I love their story.  I love their friendship, I love their growth, I love their struggles, I love their families.  I LOVE THEM!

Ari and Dante were totally my #1 M/M couple…. until I remember this ship that never sailed:

1. MERTHUR

Merlin and Arthur Pendragon (BBC Series Merlin)

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I love this show.  So much.  But I’ve only ever watched the last episode once in the 3 times I’ve watched the series through.  I can’t handle it.  This was so much more than a bromance.  This was true love.  Just try and convince me otherwise.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This weeks topics is “Books that have been on my TBR the longest and I still haven’t read.”

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According to Goodreads, the books that have been on my to-read list the longest are:

  1. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, by Philip Pullman
  2. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
  3. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull
  6. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
  7. Nocturnes, by John Connolly
  8. The Eyre Afair, by Jasper Fforde
  9. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  10. Daphne, by Justine Picardie

I’m not even sure I still want to read all of these.  I can’t even for the life of me remember adding ‘Daphne’.  What is that? And honestly, I don’t know that I have much interest in ‘Farenheit 451’ anymore, except that it’s one of those books that EVERYONE reads.

If I were to have made this list without checking Goodreads I would have included:

  • The Child Thief, by Brom
  • The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers
  • The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
  • Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  • The Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

And of course, some classics that I always mean to get to, yet somehow never do:

  • Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  • Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes