Posts

Ten Books I’ve Added to my To-Be-Read List Lately

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is  Ten Books I’ve Added to my To-Be-Read List Lately.  This was a pretty easy topic for me since I’m quite literally adding new books to my TBR list pretty much every day.  The ten I have selected made it on to my TBR for a variety of reasons – some are based on blogger reviews I’ve read, others because I’ve received ARCs to review, and still others for random reasons like maybe a gorgeous cover caught my eye.

Ten Books I’ve Added to my To-Be-Read List Lately

1. Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

01

This one made it onto my list because I’ve read several great reviews from bloggers who have read ARCs.  It sounds amazing!

Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

02

This one made it on to my list as part of my birthday haul (which I, note to self, really need to hurry up and do a post on since my birthday was last month).  I saw this on sale and gifted it to myself, mainly because I LOVE the cover.

Goodreads Synopsis:  I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.  I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. Timekeeper by Tara Sim

03

Another addition to the list based on some great blogger reviews.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

04

A friend from college was telling me about this book and it just sounded so good that I had to add it to my list.

Goodreads Synopsis:  High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

05

The beautiful cover is what caught my eye on this book, but I have been meaning to read more of Adichie’s books anyway because Americanah was so good.  I also added We Should All Be Feminists and Purple Hibiscus.

Goodreads Synopsis:  With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker

06

Don’t laugh but I added this one to my list after my last Gilmore Girls rewatch. 🙂

Goodsreads Synopsis:  This sublime collection ranges over the verse, stories, essays, and journalism of one of the twentieth century’s most quotable authors. (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Iceling by Sasha Stephenson

08

This book is on my list because I recently received an e-ARC from the First to Read program.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Lorna’s adopted sister, Callie, is part of a mysterious group of non-lingual teens, Icelings, born on a remote Arctic island, who may not be entirely human. Now Callie wants to go home.

Seventeen-year-old Lorna loves her adoptive sister, Callie. But Callie can’t say “I love you” back. In fact, Callie can’t say anything at all.

Because Callie is an Iceling—one of hundreds of teens who were discovered sixteen years ago on a remote Arctic island, all of them lacking the ability to speak or understand any known human language.

Mysterious and panicked events lead to the two sisters embarking on a journey to the north, and now Lorna starts to see that there’s a lot more to Callie’s origin story than she’d been led to believe. Little does she know what’s in store, and that she’s about to uncover the terrifying secret about who—and what—Callie really is.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

07

I recently received an e-ARC from Netgalley and this one also piqued my interest because of the praise from Anthony Doerr.

Goodreads Synopsis:  A captivating debut novel for readers of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth unleashes an unforgettable cast of characters into a realm known for its cruelty and peril: the American high school.

In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

09

I loved Orphan Train so when I saw Baker Kline had a new book coming out, it had to go on the list.

Goodreads Synopsis:  From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

10

That creepy cover is what got this book onto my list.

Goodreads Synopsis:  The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.  It wants the truth. (Read more…)

* * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these titles? What have you added to your TBR lately?

The Versatile Blogger Award Tag

the-versatile-blogger-award

 

I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.  It took me so long to complete the tag that I actually ended up nominated by three of my fellow bloggers, so huge thanks to A Blog Of One’s OwnPages Bound Together, and Swooning Over Fictional Men for the nominations! 🙂

 

Rules of the Tag:

 

-Show the award on your blog

-Thank the person who has nominated you

-Share 7 different facts about you

-Nominate 15 different blogs of your choice

-Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

 

7 Facts About Me:

 

1.  I’ve lived in the state of Virginia all my life.  Sometimes I think about moving elsewhere, but ultimately I really like the moderate climate and the proximity to both the ocean and the mountains.

Virginia in Autumn

Virginia in Autumn

2.  One of my favorite hobbies aside from reading is wine tasting. We have over 250 wineries here in Virginia and lots of wine trails, so I love to do girls’ weekends with my mom and sister and go and sample as many of the local wines as we can.  This past summer I enjoyed frozen wine slushies for the first time and became completely obsessed with them. Sooo good!

3.  Another hobby of mine is photography. I’m more into travel photography than anything else — I took well over 1,000 pics when I went to Europe last summer!  Even though I love photography, however, I haven’t tried Bookstagram yet and don’t know if I ever will. I can’t decide if it’s my thing or not. Sometimes it’s all I can do to get my books read and reviewed, so I fear that adding in another component to keep track of would be too much for me. I do enjoy other bloggers’ photography though 🙂

London, August 2015

London, August 2015

4.  I have quite an obsession with all things Disney. It started with Eeyore when I was a small child, but I honestly really can’t think of a single Disney movie or character that I don’t love. Even the Disney villains are awesome!

5. I’m not a morning person, but I’m not really a night owl either. I guess I’m more of a mid-afternoon/early evening kind of gal, haha.  Mornings are the worst for me though. Seriously. Don’t even think about speaking to me until I’ve had my coffee.  You’re taking your life into your own hands otherwise 😉

6. I’m a huge sports fan. I love football, baseball, and soccer. When it comes to professional sports, in football I root for the Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens and in baseball, I root for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals.  For soccer, although I do enjoy watching the English Premier League teams play, I primarily just root for my son’s soccer team 🙂

spring-soccer-2016-003

7.  I want to live a healthy lifestyle but have a hard time committing to any kind of diet or exercise routine that would help me to achieve this goal.  I’m constantly disappointed and frustrated by myself in this regard.

 

My Nominees:

(If you haven’t already done it)

1.  Angela at Musings of a Literary Wanderer

2. Grace at Rebel Mommy Book Blog

3. Verushka at pop.edit.lit

4. Greg at Book Haven

5. Eva at All Books Considered

6. Lindsey at Lindsey Reads

7. Megan at Bookslayer Reads

8. Melissa at Book Nerd Momo

9. Resh at The Book Satchel

10. Katie at Girl About Library

11. Olivia at The Candid Cover

12. Jordan at Forever Lost in Literature

13. Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

14. Loreen at Coffee and Cats

15. Alisia at 4thhouseontheleft

Top 10 Books to Read if your Book Club likes Strong Female Characters

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books To Read If Your Book Club Likes ______ (if your book club likes historical fiction, inspiring stories, YA books, non-fiction, controversial books to debate about, or pick a specific book)

Okay, so let me start out by saying that I have FAILED at every book club I have ever tried to join.  At least where I live, it seems that the main staple in every book club is Chick Lit and that’s just not an area of fiction that really interests me at all.  So, inevitably, I join a book club, get bored, and eventually stop showing up.

What does interest me regardless of genre, however, are strong female characters. If I ran a book club, literally every title I selected would feature a badass female protagonist.  Someone who is strong, complex, fierce, stubborn, and someone who is not caught up in love triangles or squares or whatever the latest trend is.  So my top ten list for this week focuses on ten books featuring badass female characters that I would choose for my own book club.  I chose from several different genres and tried to choose books about women who I considered strong for a variety of reasons and whose experiences differ greatly from one another.  There are tons more that I could easily choose, but for this list, I specifically tried to pick titles I imagined would generate interesting discussion at an actual book club meeting.  Enjoy!

Top Ten Book Club Reads Featuring Strong Female Characters

 

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

01

Goodreads Synopsis: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

04

Goodreads Synopsis: The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

05

Goodreads Synopsis:  The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa..   (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

06

Goodreads Synopsis:  It’s first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women — of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

08

Goodreads Synopsis:  The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

03

Goodsreads Synopsis:  When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

09

Goodreads Synopsis:  Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

07

Goodreads Synopsis:  Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. Room by Emma Donoghue

10

Goodreads Synopsis: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. Cinder by Marissa Myers

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

I realized when I got to the bottom of my list that I didn’t have any nonfiction titles, so I’m throwing in this bonus selection.  I chose Hillary’s autobiography, because love her or hate her, I think everyone will agree that she is the badass of all badasses in the political world!

11. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton

11

Goodreads Synopsis:  Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady.

Living History is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton, a thirty-year adventure in love and politics that survives personal betrayal, relentless partisan investigations and constant public scrutiny.

Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during a time of tumultuous social and political change in America. Like many women of her generation, she grew up with choices and opportunities unknown to her mother or grandmother. She charted her own course through unexplored terrain — responding to the changing times and her own internal compass — and became an emblem for some and a lightning rod for others. Wife, mother, lawyer, advocate and international icon, she has lived through America’s great political wars, from Watergate to Whitewater.

The only First Lady to play a major role in shaping domestic legislation, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled tirelessly around the country to champion health care, expand economic and educational opportunity and promote the needs of children and families, and she crisscrossed the globe on behalf of women’s rights, human rights and democracy. She redefined the position of First Lady and helped save the presidency from an unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment. Intimate, powerful and inspiring, Living History captures the essence of one of the most remarkable women of our time and the challenging process by which she came to define herself and find her own voice — as a woman and as a formidable figure in American politics.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these titles? What are your favorite reads that feature strong female characters?

Top 10 Books that have been on my TBR pile for way too long

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven’t Read Yet.

Oh boy, this one is embarrassing.  Not that I have been blogging for all that long, but I will confess now that some of these books have been in my TBR pile for a LONG time.  I’m talking years!  I actually keep looking at a few of them thinking I should just ditch them and thin out the TBR, but they have such great reviews that I don’t want to miss out.  I don’t really even have a good excuse as to why I haven’t tackled them yet except that I keep getting distracted by newer purchases and these just keep getting shifted further and further down the pile.

Now, on to my list…

Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf (Or TBR) From Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven’t Read Yet

 

1. Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Hall #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

10

Goodreads Synopsis:  For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.  Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.  Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R. R. Martin

03

Goodreads Synopsis:  Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami

01

Goodreads Synopsis:  The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.  A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.  As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.  Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.  Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master’s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master’s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today’s greatest writers.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

04

Goodreads Synopsis:  Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she’s been killed in a terrible accident.  Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible.  He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. The Giver by Lois Lowry

07
Goodreads Synopsis:  The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

05

Goodreads Synopsis:  “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, drama, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

09

Goodreads Synopsis: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

06

Goodreads Synopsis:  Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.  Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

08

Goodreads Synopsis: “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”  So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these aging titles in my TBR pile?  Are they worth hanging on to or should I purge the pile?  And what books have been in your TBR pile for way too long?    I’d love to hear from you 🙂