Wednesday, March 7, 2018

TTT: Favorite Book Quotes

One of the best things about reading a lot is coming across some passage or turn of phrase that sums things up in a way that hadn’t occurred to you before. Some of them, like the quote from Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky, are the kind of thing that really turn your world upside down. Others, like the passage from Amis’s Lucky Jim sum up little moments in life in a way that I wish I only wish I could. Each comes from a work that I think is worth reading as a whole, since it’s rare that someone comes up with one good line without a bunch of others to set it up. And so, in no particular order…

Top Ten Tuesday is a theme from That Artsy Reader Girl's blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

1. Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely
This is, as far as I am concerned, the absolute finest line in the history of hardboiled detective fiction:
The eighty-five-cent dinner tasted like a discarded mail bag and was served to me by a waiter who looked as if he would slug me for a quarter, cut my throat for six bits, and bury me at sea in a barrel of concrete for a dollar and a half, plus sales tax.

My mom sent me a copy of this book when I was working as a bike messenger and living on day old bread. I really found this passage comforting.

It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.
3. Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
A friend lent me a copy of this a couple of years ago and I just couldn’t put it down. Lahiri is an absolute master of taking the little details of life and making them strange and beautiful.
Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.
4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I find I’m always sharing this quote with friends, especially in periods when things are going badly. I usually try to disguise the source, since people tend to be a bit hesitant about taking life advice from a book about hobbits.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
I know it’s sort of bad form to include two quotes from the same series, but I love this particular line. It comes when Aragorn is deciding that he and two of his comrades are going to try to chase down about 200 orcs in order to save their friends. It’s a great one line statement of what the character is all about: this is something we’ve got to do, and if we catch up to these guys we are going to seriously light them up no matter what the odds.
With hope or without hope we will follow the trail of our enemies. And woe to them, if we prove the swifter!

6. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
There’s a moment in Moby Dick when the main character, left alone on a night watch, falls into a dream in which all the other denizens of the ship are transformed into demons. He becomes so caught up in this that he nearly capsizes the ship because he has accidentally turned around to face the stern. Having righted himself and the Pequod, he then meditates on the human condition in a passage that is one of the most lyrical and moving ever written, and which culminates in the lines below. This, in a nutshell, is the wisdom of Melville’s greatest book. You have to look at the bad things in the world, but you can’t let them devour you.
There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
7. Albert Camus, The Plague
The Plague was Camus’s attempt to come to terms with totalitarianism and the ways people coped with it. This line is one of those “here I stand, I can do no other” moments that I find really moving. It’s as if the character is saying, “Well, I can’t fix the big problems of the world, but I can live by a moral principle that I choose.” This is a perfect example of why Camus was one of the most humane and brilliant writers of the 20th century.
I have decided to reject everything that, directly or indirectly, makes people die or justifies others in making them die.
8. Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
The Sheltering Sky, is just one of the most stunningly beautiful novels ever written. Paul Bowles’s writing is rich and compelling throughout, but there are moments when he puts his finger on something fundamental about the human condition. I remember reading this for the first time and it absolutely took my breath away.
How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
9. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Austen gets my vote for the patron author of librarians. It’s not just this quote, although when I read it in college I immediately thought, “Yeah, that’s the kind of life that I want to live.” There’s just something about the style of life in Austen novels that is fundamentally attractive and I think that this is one of the things that gives them their continuing appeal.
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
10. Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
No one has ever summed up the lifestyle of a person in a dead end career as successfully (and poignantly) as Amis did in Lucky Jim. Jim Dixon is a university lecturer in 1950s Britain, locked in competition with his fellows and paralyzed by the feeling that his life’s work is trivial. This line, which comes at the end of a passage in which Dixon’s supervisor has nearly involved them in a horrific car crash while nattering on about something trivial, is the perfect expression of the combination of boredom and terror of being stuck in a life that’s going nowhere.
Dixon, thought on the whole glad at this escape, felt at the same time that the conversation would have been appropriately rounded off by Welch’s death.

What is your favorite quote?

~John F.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Love Stories

For today's Valentine's Freebie topic, we've chose to talk about Young Adult Love Stories. There is certainly no shortage of these, because so much YA features love stories. These are our top ten picks.
Top Ten Tuesday is a theme from That Artsy Reader Girl's blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

Eleanor is new in town and she’s not made to be popular. Overweight and into weird music, she doesn’t fit in. When she sits next to Park on the bus, their lives both change forever. The book is set in 1986, and has some pretty awesome music references throughout. (Meredith loves this one too!) 

This has to be on the list because it is one of those tragic love stories and it totally breaks your heart. Two cancer patient teenagers fall in love through the ups and downs of their illnesses. If you somehow haven’t managed to read this one yet, you need to.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is basically a poet. His writing is naturally gorgeous and this book about two teenage boys discovering love is wonderful. Ari and Dante are unlikely friends who meet at the local swimming pool. After that, they are inseparable, even as everything around them changes. Oh, and this was an AMAZING audiobook--read by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I have a thing for heartbreaking love stories. A teenage boy and girl meet when one of them is about to jump to their death. These two discover they have a lot in common; both are depressed and anxiety-riddled. Their bond tests both of them, making them stronger together.

I adore Sarah Dessen and could have added several of her books to this list, but I chose this one in particular because it’s the one that really stuck with me. A teenage model is in a rut, not feeling anything about her life and keeping a lot of her anger inside. She has a secret, something that happened to her that changed her. She meets Owen, a guy on the fringes of everything, super intimidating to her, but he’s everything she needs.

A non-traditional love story: Jen and Wes don’t have any sort of lightning bolt attraction. The two are friends who sort of dance around each other and wind up in an unlikely romance. It’s a sweet, funny tale. 

Meredith's picks (that Cailey hadn't already stolen)

People who know Pen wouldn't describe her as a girlie-girl. She doesn't act or dress like other girls, but she doesn't see anything wrong with that. However, she's stuck dealing with parents and friends to have certain expectations about how she's supposed to behave. Pen's friend Colby often makes her chat up girls for him, but when he moves his sights on Blake, the girl Pen has a crush on, Pen decides she won't be a part of his games anymore. It's time for Pen to stand up and take charge of her life.

An anthology of romantic short stories all about couple's first meetings. This collection includes some of the most talked about YA authors including Nicola Yoon, Sara Shepard, and Meredith Russo. The settings of the stories vary from contemporary to sci-fi. My top pick: "Print Shop" by Nina LaCour, an incredibly lyrical tale of a girl dealing with a disgruntled customer. LaCour's newest novel, We Are Okay​ was just announced as the 2018 Printz Award winner.

Fandom is a powerful force. Eliza Mirk, the author of one of the internet's most popular webcomics, knows this. Uninterested in engaging with the real world, Eliza spends almost all of her time online or drawing. Her life is upended when Wallace Warland, one of her comic's biggest fans, transfers to her school, although he may help her discover life in the real world is worth living.

​Molly of the twenty-six crushes is nothing like her outgoing twin, Cassie, who never has a problem getting dates. But when Cassie gets her first girlfriend, Mina, she thinks its time for Molly to finally act on her crushes. She introduces Molly to Will, crush twenty-seven and one of Mina's way-too-cool hipster friends. While Molly is dealing with what she assumes will be rejection, she may not see crush twenty-eight sneak up on her in the form of Reid, her nerdy co-worker.

~Cailey and Meredith

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that have been on my to-read list for awhile

Today's topic tackles books that we've been reading to mean for far too long. Meredith's list of books she will read (really, she totally will read these someday) is listed below. Which books have been on your list for a long time?

Top Ten Tuesday is a theme from That Artsy Reader Girl's blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami– This, like a few books on my to-read list, is actually a book I need to finish. My thesis partner wrote her paper on this Murakami novel, so at the time I read some of it to get a sense of what she was writing about. But I also had way too much of my own work to do which prevented me from reading the entire thing book. It’s always been one I’ve wanted to go back to.

2. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley– I think I got this book for Christmas one year when I was in high school, back when I was way more ambitious. I was intrigued by the idea of the King Arthur legend told from a female point of view, but eventually was put off by the almost 900 page length. I still have that copy, thinking that maybe I’ll get to it.

3. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin– My dad and I watched the not very good miniseries adaptation of this book back in 2004. Earthsea is one of his favorite science fiction/fantasy novels and always suggested I should read it. It skipped to the front of my mind with the recent passing of author Ursula K. Le Guin.

4. A Confederacy of Dunces – Another pick from my dad, I could not count the number of times he’s told me to read, what he considers, the funniest book ever written. In fact, he literally gifted me a copy of it this Christmas, so I guess I have to read it now.

5. Deerskin – I read Robin McKinley’s Beauty and I really liked her retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve often considered reading another of her fairytale adaptations, although given the mixed reviews of Deerskin on Goodreads, I’m not exactly sure why I decided to put this on my to-read list.

6. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis– This is one of the more frustrating entries on my list because I’ve read about half of Connie Willis’ book, but put it down at some point. When I went back to it, I had forgotten some characters names and couldn’t manage to get back in. What I had read, I thought was really excellent, so I hope I eventually return to it.

7. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers– I snagged this book from a guest room I was staying in when I was visiting a friend’s family. I cannot figure out why I’ve had such a hard time generating the necessary enthusiasm to start reading this book. It’s a modern American classic written by a female author, there’s nothing about that I don’t like.

8. The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende– Back in 2014, I mentioned having only read Daughter of Fortune from author Isabel Allende after she visited Washington, DC when I was a senior in college. My roommate mentioned The Stories of Eva Luna as her favorite Allende book and guess what, I still haven’t read it.

9. I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed by Kyria Abrahams– I was trying to read memoirs written by people who grew up in various types of religious households, but I appear to have petered out at this book about girl who was raised Jehovah’s Witness.

10. The Sweet Trade by Elizabeth Garrett– Probably the most recent entry on my to-read list, I’ve included it for the sheer number of times I’ve checked this book about female pirates out of the library and never started it.

~Meredith T.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Cross Stitch Queen

from Edgy Embroidery
Recently, cross stitching has made a bit of a comeback in crafting pop culture. I’m always up to take on a new project, so after seeing lots of cool patterns online I figured I would give it a try. I could not have imagined how calming cross stitching would turn out to be, so I figured I would recommend it to all of you. It’s a great way to relieve stress and make something crafty at the same time. I also like to sew, but at least for me that requires a lot of time and focus. Cross stitch allows me to follow a pattern while still being able to focus on an audiobook or podcast.

So I’ve gone through our collection and pulled out some of my favorite titles relating to cross stitch. These books will help beginners find a starting point, and give any of you veteran cross stitchers out there some pattern recommendations. To the list!

I’ll start out by saying that this is the least flashy book on my list, but that’s ok! I would pick this one up first because it gives you a detailed overview of cross stitch basics. It starts you at the very beginning with a supply list and pattern, explaining exactly the differences in floss and fabrics, and (most importantly) how to read the pattern. It also covers all different types of stitches and knots. My favorite part is the pictures of the stitches, because you get to see the front and back of the fabric which I have personally found to be a big help.

A-Z of Needlepoint
Alright, so now we’ve seen the basics, let’s move on to the next level of stitches. If you need a stitch or a stitch pattern, it’s got you covered. It features an alphabetical list of step-by-step guides to dozen of stitches. Each stitch is shown on a large open weave grid, making it much easier follow. While it doesn’t have any full patterns, I’ve still found it to be a fantastic resource if you want to hone your stitch skills.

Ok, so here’s the start of the more modern cross stitch. One of the big “trends” in modern cross stitch is subversive cross stitch. Got a little rage you want to work out in a creative manner? Want a little social activism in your cross stitch? Yeah you do, so check out these patterns! Each pattern overview outlines the design, number of stitches, and floss color. There is a brief overview of how to cross stitch at the beginning, but to be honest it’s very short and wouldn’t help anyone just getting into the craft. Just a warning, due to some colorful language I wouldn’t recommend handing this one off to a little one who wants to learn cross stitch.

Edgy Embroidery: Transform Conventional Stitches Into 25 Unconventional Designs by Renee Rominger
So this one is by far the trendiest book on my list. While my other selections have house and cat patterns, this book features more modern looks, like floral sharks and cute succulents. The chapters cover six different types of basic stitches and knots with plenty of fun patterns to go along with each stitch. There’s a reason that I put this last on my list. While it is my favorite of these titles, I wouldn’t recommend this as your very first cross stitch book. The patterns are certainly a draw, but I would suggest working your way up to this point. The patterns provided in this book work best on a plain weave fabric and don’t follow the grid of an open weave. Think a waffled grid pattern versus just a plain cotton fabric. In my personal experience it was easier for me to start learning on an open weave and move along to a plain weave. But plain weave gives you a sleeker, less boxy look, so it’s all up to your preference. 

~Marilyn W.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Librarians' Line-Up: Top Books of 2017

As librarians, we read more than your average bear. So if we say something was our favorite, you know it's up against a lot of competition. Check out our favorites and let us know what yours were in the comments below!

I have mentioned Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor multiple times on the blog now (here, here, and mentioned by Mary here and here). It was definitely my favorite book of 2017 and I would even put it in my top five favorite books in general. I have given a blurb for this book before, so instead I will just say Laini Taylor writes beautifully and pulls you into a world that you want don't want to leave. It has magic, mythical cities, and adventure; there isn't much more you can ask for! I am already thinking about rereading this one soon.

I really enjoyed The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid. Sure, it’s long, but it’s beautifully written with an eye for subtle detail and descriptions that bring the various historical figures (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, and a host of others). By the end I felt like I knew all the characters personally, and that’s a real win for a biography.

One of few books I gave five stars to in 2017 was The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. I read a lot of historical fiction, but this one caught me off-guard. Half of the book takes place during WWI in occupied France, and the other half takes place in the early 2000s in London. These seemingly unconnected storylines merge over the history of a painting. This book got to me in a big way and I haven't been able to forget it. Curse you and your knives to my heart, Jojo Moyes!

Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the best book I read in 2017. It has everything I love in a good story: a fast-paced plot that keeps you eagerly turning pages, wonderfully descriptive writing that is both suspenseful and atmospheric, and a beautiful love story that defies the tired and clichéd romance tropes. It is the first book in a trilogy, but I am seriously apprehensive to read the sequel—I don’t want to somehow retroactively tarnish my experience of this fantastic book! Maybe I’ll muster up enough courage in 2018….

My best book of 2017 is The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn.
I lived in Washington, DC for one summer during college and my coworkers and I would often go to the Good Stuff restaurant for our lunch breaks. Everything on the menu was great, but my favorite item was the rosemary French fries with all of the different dipping sauce options. I always checked online for a copycat recipe for the different sauces but never found anything that tasted as good.
Turns out the answer was right in front of me in The Good Stuff Cookbook. Check it out, and take your fry dipping to the next level!

Full admission - I didn't really read that many books in 2017, so my pick for "best book" will just be the one I managed to get through. That would be Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray, which I will admit, I did enjoy. This book explores Leia as she faces the challenges of becoming the princess of her planet while also uncovering secrets her parents are attempting to hide from her about their involvement with the rebellion against the Empire. This book also offers a little background on my new favorite Star Wars character, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo from The Last Jedi who makes an appearance as one of Leia's classmates and eventual close friend.

Warcross – Marie Lu. Set in the near future, Warcross is about a destitute hacker girl who gets pulled into the worldwide Warcross (a virtual reality video game) Gaming Championships. She is tasked by the game's creator to find the terrorists trying to destroy the championships, the game, and the game's designers. This book has mystery, adventure, virtual reality, hacking, gaming, and great characters. I loved this book. It was my favorite of the year.

And please share! What was your favorite read of 2017?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

 As a librarian, I try to keep my book purchases to a minimum and check out most of my reading material from the library. But I won’t lie; I do still buy the occasional book. Normally, it’s a book that I have read and loved and will read again, a book by a favorite author, or a practical book that makes sense to own, like a really good cookbook or a self-help book. My husband and I also collect graphic novel series that we have both read and really enjoyed. So here are a few books I would like to see under the tree this year.

Descender Vol 1-4 by Jeff Lemire 
Graphic novels are still a relatively new medium to me but over the last year I have read quite a few and I have to say, they have grown on me. The Descender series is one that I picked up on a whim, read through very quickly, then immediately starting recommending to everyone I thought might enjoy it.  The watercolor-style artwork is beautiful and lends perfectly to the story.

Tales from the Darkside by Joe Hill
I have mentioned on this blog a few times that I am a fan of Joe Hill so it should come as no surprise that I own most of his published work. Last year a collection of 3 scripts by Hill, for a reimagining of the 1980’s TV show Tales from the Darkside, was published after being turned down by several production companies. I have read and own the comic adaptations but have yet to purchase these scripts.

It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook by Gwyneth Paltrow 
I kind of want to be Gwyneth Paltrow when I grow up. I have checked out her cookbooks from the library several times so I think it’s time I owned one. On the surface her recipes seem “fancy” with organic ingredients and such, but they are actually pretty simple, healthy and tasty.

Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell 
Cooking is something that I have always enjoyed, but the world of baking is one I have only recently ventured into. I have to say I’m not half bad. It can be daunting but it is really a lot of fun. I haven’t actually flipped through this cookbook but “fearless” is something I would like to be when it comes to baking and based on the description, this book could be a good challenge.

The Home Cook by Alex Guarnaschelli 
For those of you who have never heard of Alex Guarnaschelli, she is a Food Network chef with a feisty attitude. Along with many other things, she is a judge on the show Chopped and I love her snarky responses and harsh criticisms. Her new cookbook has 300 recipes that seem to be home-style food with international twists. I have a feeling her recipes would be challenging but delicious.

Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley 
If you like, love or are even remotely interested in yoga and you haven’t heard of Jessamyn Stanley, look her up. She started out on Instagram where she documented her yoga journey from the beginning. She is all about making yoga approachable for EVERYONE. Her book is funny and very informational and although I have read it all the way through, her section of basic yoga poses and sequences is something I could use over and over again.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World
by Haemin Sunim, Chi-Young Kim
This little book is full of tidbits of knowledge and insights by a Buddhist Monk that are meant to act as a guide to mindfulness. He did not intend for the book to be read thorough from beginning to end, but rather kept close by for times of stress or uncertainty. I kept this book checked out for quite some time and would love to own it.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and her book Strange the Dreamer is the best book I read this year. Lazlo Strange is a librarian on a journey to the forbidden city of Weep. He is in search of forgotten secrets about the city’s past as well as his own. Taylor is an amazing storyteller and world builder. This is definitely a book I will read again and again.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
For my birthday this year my husband gifted me a Barnes & Noble collectable edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I love the film adaptations of this story but (shame on me) had not read the book. Although it took some time to get use to the language, I loved the book and was surprised at the humor and it doesn’t hurt that the covers of these collectable editions are beautiful. I have also enjoyed several Jane Eyre film adaptations so I think that’s the classic I would like to tackle next.

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) by J.K. Rowling
Between my husband and I we almost own the complete set of Harry Potter books but somehow neither of us brought the second book of the series into the marriage. Because we both love these books and I am already thinking about my 2 year-old’s future library, I would love to own a shiny new set of this amazing series.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mary P’s Top Ten books of 2017

We're getting to the end of 2017! Where did the time go? Today, Mary counts down her top ten reads of the year (and she read well over 100 books this year, so this wasn't easy!). 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

1. Warcross – Marie Lu. Set in the near future, Warcross is about a destitute hacker girl who gets pulled into the worldwide Warcross (a virtual reality video game) Gaming Championships. She is tasked by the game’s creator to find the terrorists trying to destroy the championships, the game, and the game’s designers. This book has mystery, adventure, virtual reality, hacking, gaming, and great characters. I loved this book. It was my favorite of the year. 

2. Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor. Lazlo Strange, orphan and junior librarian, has always been obsessed with the city of Weep, which one day just stopped interacting with the world… and then its name disappeared… from minds, books, and song… everywhere. When a caravan comes from Weep, Lazlo is finally able to visit the fabled city and try to figure out the mystery. This is a very slow starting book, but... definitely give it a chance, because.... WOW, what a book. What a wonderful story. This was my second favorite of the year.

3. All the Crooked Saints - Maggie Stiefvater. Stiefvater is known for writing “different” books. Her books are never what you expect and often have strange twisting plots, but they always give you something to think about. All the Crooked Saints is a modern fairy tale set in the 60's. It’s about a family of reluctant saints who can perform “miracles” on people who ask, but then those people have to figure out how to accept the consequences of that miracle and heal from it. I loved this story. It was just odd enough, fantastical enough, and heartbreakingly lovely enough to catch your heart strings. It will leave you thinking about the provenance of miracles... and what one must do to deserve them.

4. Breath of Fire - Amanda Bouchet. This is the second book in the Kingmaker Chronicles. In this epic fantasy (with a hint of romance), the gods, their descendants, and two kingdoms are in desperate need of a leadership change; Cat, a clairvoyant Kingmaker, and Griffin, a barbarian warlord, are the change the world needs… if only they can set aside their differences and embrace their destiny. Great characters, interesting plot, with a helping of romance thrown in makes for a fun, engaging read. 

5. Etched in Bone – Anne Bishop. The fifth book in The Others series. In a world where the Others control most areas of Earth and uppity humans are sometimes hunted down as prey, the Others are trying to decide if Humans are worth keeping, just how much humanity they want to keep, and why one tiny human female prophet has made such a huge impact on their world. This is one of my all-time favorite series. I wait with bated-breath for each new installment. Every book in The Others series is a tightly plotted story with engaging characters, monsters who are not so monstrous, and a slow burning romance destined to keep the reader’s interest. 

6. Volatile Bonds – Jaye Wells. This is the fourth book in the Prospero's War series. This series is an urban fantasy police procedural with its own take on magic. When a dirty magic explosion and dead body appear on Kath Prospero’s beat, she and her partner Morales need to look at the relationships between the dirty magic covens (mob/gangs), try to figure out who the new players are, and what exactly is going on. I really like the characters in this series and recommend starting at the first book Dirty Magic to get a good feel of what is going on.

7. Empty Grave – Jonathan Stroud. This is the fifth (and possibly final) book in the mid-grade series Lockwood & Co. Since only children can see ghosts, they are tasked with protecting the world from the violent spirits and Lockwood and his companions are very good at their job. But now they are on the hunt for where the ghost problem originated, and how Marissa Fittes (the first real ghost hunter) fits into the mystery. So they open up her tomb… only to find something they really did not expect. A fun horror story intended for preteens that can hold the interest of adults.

8. Shattered Court - M.J. Scott. The first book in the Four Arts series. This book came out in 2015 (which I missed), but popped onto my radar when the second book came out this year. Lady Sophia Kendall is thirty-second in line to the Anglion throne, a lady-in-waiting, and a potential royal witch. When the Anglion court is attacked, Sophia escapes with a royal guard trying to find a safe haven. This book is a super easy, quick, no-brainer, fun paranormal romance read with good characters and a location that is almost, but not quite, familiar. 

9. Hardcore Twenty-Four – Janet Evanovich. The 24th book in the Stephanie Plum series. The Stephanie Plum series is my guilty-read mystery series. I’m not sure why I keep reading it, but I can’t keep my hands off of the series when a new one comes out. In Hardcore Twenty-Four, when inept bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, encounters zombies in New Jersey, inane acts, funny scenes, and car destruction ensues. If you are looking for a quick read – something short, fun, with moments of hysterical laughter (and, in book 24, it is literal potty/outhouse humor), then this series is for you.  

10. Cuckoo’s Calling - Robert Galbraith (which is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling). This adult mystery was written in 2013, but I read it for the first time this year. Private detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide at the behest of her brother. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book and the two books that came after it. And, while there may have been too many characters, they were well written and engaging characters embroiled in an interesting and intriguing mystery. I really enjoyed it.

That’s it. Those are my top ten reads of the year. So, tell me what you’ve read this year or comment on how you liked my top ten of the year. Happy Holidays!

Mary P.