Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 debuts

Top 10 TuesdayI must admit, I don’t normally seek out debut novels unless I hear a lot of good buzz about them; the 2017 releases I’m most excited about are from authors I already know I like. But this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic intrigued me enough to see what I could find, and sure enough, there are several upcoming debuts that look really interesting! Here they are, in publication order:

1. Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale (1/10/17, Del Rey) — This novel is a historical fantasy based on Russian folktales, and according to the cover blurb, it’s perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. In other words, the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s night! Find more info on Amazon here.

2. Kristen Orlando, You Don’t Know My Name (1/10/17, Swoon Reads) — I’m a sucker for books about spies, and this one is about a teenage spy-in-training who falls in love with the boy next door. Find more info on Amazon here.

3. Caroline Leech, Wait for Me (1/31/17, HarperTeen) — A World War II novel about the forbidden romance between a Scottish girl and a German POW? Yes, this is relevant to my interests. Find more info on Amazon here.

4. Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Todays (2/7/17, Dutton) — This book is set in an alternate universe where all those 1950s predictions about “the future” (flying cars, colonization of the moon, etc.) came true. But the main character somehow ends up in our universe instead and must figure out how to get home — or whether he actually wants to. Find more info on Amazon here.

5. Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi (5/30/17, Simon Pulse) — The Amazon summary says this is “a laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.” I find the tradition of arranged marriages to be fascinating, so I’m definitely interested in reading this one! Find more info on Amazon here.

6. Tiffany Pitcock, Just Friends (8/1/17, Swoon Reads) — I’m not quite sure I follow the plot of this book, but it seems to involve two teens who accidentally become friends and/or whose relationship begins as a ruse. I really enjoy both the “friends to lovers” and the “fake relationship becomes real” tropes, so this one looks very interesting. Find more info on Amazon here.

7. Katy Upperman, Kissing Max Holden (8/1/17, Swoon Reads) — Another teen romance about friends who fall in love. Okay, so my tastes are a bit predictable. Find more info on Amazon here.

What other 2017 debuts should be on my TBR list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2016

Top 10 TuesdayI realize I’m almost a week behind at this point, but I really wanted to do this Top Ten Tuesday topic and list my 10 favorite books of 2016. My list is not exclusively 2016 releases; any book I read this year is fair game. Here’s the list, in no particular order:

1. Helen Simonson, The Summer Before the War — A lovely, character-driven novel about romance and politics in an English village in the months leading up to World War I. My mini-review is here.

2. Alice Tilton, Beginning with a Bash — A Golden Age mystery that feels like a screwball comedy, complete with fast-talking dames and gangsters galore. My mini-review is here.

3. Lucy Parker, Act Like It — An utterly charming contemporary romance that has me impatiently awaiting Lucy Parker’s next novel (which fortunately comes out in February!). My review is here.

4. Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven King — A fitting conclusion to the wonderful and unique Raven Cycle, which contains a surprising number of Owen Glendower references for a young adult series. My mini-review is here.

5. V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic — A compelling fantasy novel with a fascinating premise (parallel universes with varying degrees of magic) and well-fleshed-out main characters. I can’t wait to read the sequels! My mini-review is here.

6. Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library — Another great fantasy premise: there are an infinite number of universes whose only point of connection is an invisible central library that collects and preserves the literature from each world. My review is here.

7. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom — A short but powerful work about letting go of anxiety and trusting in God. This was the book that most deeply affected me this year. My review is here.

8. Georgette Heyer, Envious Casca — One of Heyer’s best mysteries, combining her trademark wit and character development with a top-notch murder mystery. My mini-review is here.

9. Emma Mills, This Adventure Ends — An excellent YA contemporary that’s all about friendship, with a bonus adorable romance. My mini-review is here.

10. David D. Levine, Arabella of Mars — Jane Austen meets Horatio Hornblower in space! My mini-review is here.

Top Ten Tuesday: Santa baby…

Top 10 TuesdayMerry Christmas, everyone! I’ll be honest: I know that Christmas is not about the presents, but I still like to receive them, especially if they’re books! Most of my family and friends don’t buy me books, oddly enough…maybe they figure I’ve already read whatever they might pick out? Anyway, here are 10 books I’d like to get from Santa, in no particular order:

1. Melissa McShane, Burning Bright — I heard about this book from inge87 at LibraryThing, who always has amazing recommendations! Also, it’s Regency-era fantasy, which we all know is my kryptonite.

2. Stephanie Scott, Alterations — I may have mentioned this one on a previous TTT list; it’s a YA contemporary retelling of Sabrina! So I obviously need to read it immediately.

3. Julian Fellowes, Belgravia — As a Downton Abbey fan despite the its many flaws, I’m very interested in reading Fellowes’s novel, which is set in the early 19th century.

4. Jessica Cluess, A Shadow Bright and Burning — Fantasy set in a school of magic in Victorian London? Romance, banter, and subversion of the “chosen one” trope? Yes, please!

5. Emma Mills, This Adventure Ends — I’ve already read this one, so technically I can wait for the paperback. But this book was so charming and good that I’m definitely going to need a copy for my own shelves!

6. Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, My Lady Jane — When I first saw this book, I frankly thought it looked awful. But then I started reading all the rave reviews, the praise of the humor and fantasy elements, the comparisons to The Princess Bride. I’ve been converted — I need to read this book!

7. Lindsey Kelk, We Were on a Break — After reading and loving two books by Lindsey Kelk, she is officially on my auto-buy list! Fans of British chick lit should definitely check her out.

8. Jane Thynne, Black Roses — Earlier this year I bought another book by Jane Thynne, only to realize that it was the third in a series! Black Roses is the first book, and it’s about a woman who becomes a spy among the Nazis in 1930s and ’40s Germany. I’m eager to read the series but definitely need to start at the beginning!

9. Rachel Bach, Honor’s Knight and Heaven’s Queen — This author also wrote a fantasy series under the name Rachel Aaron, which I LOVED. So of course I want to read her sci-fi trilogy also! I have book one but have been stubbornly waiting until I own all three books to read it.

10. William Ritter, Beastly Bones — I really liked Jackaby, a clever YA historical mystery with more than a few nods to Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been meaning to pick up the sequels for a while, so if Santa wants to leave them under the tree, I’d be fine with it! 🙂

What books are you hoping to receive this Christmas?

Top Ten Tuesday: New to the queue

Top 10 TuesdayI really enjoyed coming up with my list for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, which is books that you’ve recently added to your TBR list. A ton of new and not-yet-published books have caught my eye recently, and apparently I can’t get enough of fantasy or romance (or both)!

1. Jessica Cluess, A Shadow Bright and BurningGillian at Writer of Wrongs loved this one, and from what she says, I think I will too! It’s magic plus Victorian London plus boarding school plus apparently a ton of banter and romance…this is relevant to my interests!

2. Jenn Bennett, Alex, Approximately — Hold onto your seats, because this book is a YA retelling of You’ve Got Mail! Obviously I am here for it…just bummed that I have to wait until April 2017!

3. Megan Whalen Turner, Thick as Thieves — The Queen’s Thief series may be marketed as middle grade, but it is, without qualification, some of the best fantasy I’ve ever read. There hasn’t been a new book in years, but book #5 is finally coming in 2017! They’ve changed the cover art, which is unfortunate, but I can’t wait to get swept up in the world of this series again.

4. Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale — This book was being offered as an Early Reviewer book on LibraryThing, and the premise intrigued me immediately. It’s a historical fantasy retelling of a Russian folktale, and it looks like exactly the type of dreamy, gorgeous fantasy that I like to sink my teeth into on a winter’s night.

5. Ashley Poston, Heart of Iron — Here’s the summary of this one, from the author’s Tumblr: “Pitched as Anastasia meets Firefly, it’s the story of an orphan girl raised by a band of space pirates who discovers the truth about her origins when she and her android best friend get wrapped up in a political conspiracy.” PITCHED AS ANASTASIA MEETS FIREFLY!

6. Stephanie Burgis, Congress of Secrets — A romantic fantasy novel set during the Congress of Vienna, you say? And it’s been blurbed by the likes of Zen Cho, Martha Wells, and Juliet Marillier? You better believe I already bought my own copy!

7. Stephanie Scott, Alterations — Another YA contemporary retelling of a beloved movie. In this case it’s Sabrina, the lovely romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and (of all people) Humphrey Bogart. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to! I’m intrigued to see how well the story will translate to a modern setting.

8. Lucy Parker, Pretty Face — All I know about this one is the very brief summary from Goodreads: “It stars a bombshell and a curmudgeonly—but deadly handsome—theater director.” You had me at curmudgeonly. But seriously, I enjoyed Parker’s previous book Act Like It so much that her follow-up would be on my autobuy list no matter what!

9. Kate Parker, Deadly Scandal — First in a mystery series set in 1930s London. It’s a formula I’m unable to resist!

10. Elizabeth Edmondson, A Man of Some Repute — Subtitled “A Very English Mystery,” which honestly was enough to sell me on this one. 🙂

So, what other books should I be adding to my TBR list? What’s new to your queue?

Top Ten Tuesday: All-time favorite historical fiction

Top 10 TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a tough one–we’re asked to list our all-time favorite books in a particular genre! Personally, it takes a lot for me to characterize a book as an all-time favorite. Then there’s the fact that I read in a variety of genres, so it’s hard for me to pick 10 books in just one genre that I’d consider all-time favorites. That said, here’s my list of top 10 all-time favorite works of historical fiction,* some of which can be classified in other genres as well! In no particular order:

1. Baroness Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel — It may not be the greatest novel from a literary standpoint, but it will always hold a special place in my heart! A French Revolution setting, spies disguised as dandies, swashbuckling heroes who rescue those in peril, and a wonderfully swoony romance all combine to make this one of my favorite books.

2. Sharon Kay Penman, Here Be Dragons — Sharon Kay Penman is one of my absolute favorite authors: She makes the Middle Ages come to life.  I’ve read and enjoyed most of her books, but my favorite is the Welsh trilogy, which starts with Here Be Dragons. It’s a fascinating blend of fact and fiction about a Welsh prince who strives to unite his people against the encroaching English barons. I’m making it sound dry, but it’s actually full of romance, action, and political machinations!

3. Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy — To be honest, I could populate this entire list with Georgette Heyer novels. She truly is the queen of Regency romance! The Grand Sophy is probably my favorite of her novels (although Cotillion and Sylvester are right up there as well!). It features a delightful cast of characters, a strong-willed heroine, and a tightly wound hero with a surprisingly kind heart. An utter delight from start to finish!

4. Kate Ross, Cut to the Quick — I don’t know why the Julian Kestrel mysteries aren’t more popular, but everyone who has read them will tell you they’re absolutely fantastic! The protagonist is a Regency dandy who solves crimes. If that doesn’t intrigue and excite you, I don’t know what will!

5. Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity — This is one of the more recent additions to my all-time favorites list. It’s an intense, compelling story of the friendship between two girls who are both “doing their bit” in World War II, one as a pilot and the other as a spy. Although I sobbed through the last 60 pages or so, I absolutely loved this book!

6. Robin McKinley, The Outlaws of Sherwood — I encountered Robin McKinley at an impressionable age, and I think I basically imprinted onto her books like a baby duckling. Her books are generally shelved as fantasy, but I think The Outlaws of Sherwood is more like historical fiction. There’s no magic or anything; the only fantasy element is that the main characters are Robin Hood and his merry men (and women!). For me, this book will always be the true Robin Hood story.

7. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecelia — Regency England + romance + magic = my personal recipe for a fantastic book! This novel has it all, AND it’s epistolary!

8. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society — I loved this epistolary novel set just after World War II, when a journalist strikes up a correspondence with several people who live on the island of Guernsey and learns about their wartime experiences. The voices of the various characters are wonderful, and I enjoyed their kindness toward one another, as well as their shared love of literature.

9. Mary Doria Russell, Doc — I haven’t read many Westerns and am not particularly interested in the genre. But when I read Doc, I immediately thought, “This is why I love historical fiction.” The novel completely immersed me in the dusty, lawless setting of the American West, and I found protagonist Doc Holliday as compelling as he was complex. I forced my mom (another reader who’s indifferent to Westerns) to read it also, and she was equally blown away!

10. Ellis Peters, One Corpse Too Many — I’ve often sung the praises of the Brother Cadfael novels, which feature a crime-solving Benedictine monk in 12th-century Shrewsbury. This novel (book #2 in the series) remains my favorite, probably because it introduces one of my literary crushes, Hugh Beringar!

*Note: My definition of historical fiction is novels that are set in an earlier time period than the one in which they were written. This means that Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities would be historical fiction (written in 1859, set during the French Revolution), but Bleak House would not (written and set in the mid-19th century). It also means that, much as I adore Jane Austen’s novels, none of them appear on this list!

Top Ten Tuesday: TV talk

Top 10 Tuesday Since the fall TV season is coming up, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about television! As someone who watches more than her fair share of TV, I had no problem coming up with a list of ten TV shows I’ll be watching this fall. I’ve even limited my list to shows that will be airing new content in the fall, not old shows that I plan to binge-watch on DVD or Netflix!

1. Conviction (season 1), September 19, ABC — To be honest, the trailer doesn’t do a lot for me, and I’m kind of over case-of-the-week procedurals in general. On the other hand, I loved Hayley Atwell so much in Agent Carter that I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to any show she’s starring in!

2. The Good Place (season 1), September 19, NBC — I’m super excited for this new half-hour comedy, and my reasons are threefold. First, it’s created by Mike Schur, who worked on The Office and co-created Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (ahem, see below!). Second, it stars Kristen Bell, who was Veronica Mars, nuff said. And third, one of the writers is Demi Adejuyigbe, who co-hosts the brilliant Gilmore Guys podcast. A show with this many awesome people involved is a show I need to watch!

3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (season 4), September 20, FOX — I mean, for this alone.

4. New Girl (season 6), September 20, FOX — I love the specific weirdness of the characters on this show. The individual episode plots are very hit-or-miss, and poor Winston is basically a grab bag full of crazy at this point…and yet, Nick Miller ranting will never not be funny.

5. This Is Us (season 1), September 20, NBC — I don’t really know what this one is about, but it stars Milo Ventimiglia, and I have a lot of Gilmore Girls nostalgia right now, so I’ll give it a try!

6. Pitch (season 1), September 22, FOX — The premise of this one caught my eye: the protagonist is the first female pitcher in major league baseball. I don’t care about sports, but I tend to love sports-related movies and TV shows (hello, Friday Night Lights!).

7. Poldark (season 2), September 25, PBS — I love a good costume drama, and the gorgeous footage of Cornwall makes Poldark especially pleasant to watch.

8. The Durrells in Corfu (season 1), October 16, PBS — Yup, I sure do love a good costume drama! 🙂 And this one looks quite funny and charming.

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (season 2), October 21, CW — I was skeptical of this show at first, but I’m so glad I decided to give it a try because it is BRILLIANT! I can never decide which musical number is my favorite: this boy band homage, this Fred-and-Ginger routine, or this up-tempo number about a…personal ailment.

10. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, November 25, Netflix — YOU GUYS, THE GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL IS COMING!!! Gilmore is my all-time favorite show, despite some rocky episodes (okay, seasons) near the end. I’m really excited that it’s coming back–helmed, as it should be, by Amy Sherman-Palladino–and can’t wait to see what all my beloved characters have been up to!

Top Ten Tuesday: Back-to-school freebie

Top 10 TuesdayAs usual, it’s been a while since I’ve participated in a Top Ten Tuesday topic, but I couldn’t resist this back-to-school freebie! The topic asks for anything school-related, so my list is going to be the top 10 books I’d put on the syllabus for a “Mystery Novel 101” course, in (roughly) chronological order:

1. Edgar Allan Poe, “The Purloined Letter” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” — Technically these are short stories, but Poe is, according to the Poe Museum website, “widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story.” Both of these stories are notable for their surprise endings, although the solution to “Rue Morgue” would be considered insulting by most contemporary mystery lovers!

2. Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone — This one is remarkable for its use of mutliple points of view to describe the crime, the theft of a valuable jewel. It also exemplifies the sensationalism (and, unfortunately, Orientalism) typical of some 19th-century British literature, but it’s still a very compelling and suspenseful story.

3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes — Obviously this list wouldn’t be complete without some Holmes and Watson on it! I picked Memoirs, even though it’s not the first collection of Sherlock stories, because it contains some of the canon’s most notable moments, including the introduction of Mycroft (“The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter”) and the dramatic confrontation with Moriarty (“The Final Problem”).

4-5. Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express — I may be a bit biased because I fell in love with Dame Agatha’s novels at an impressionable age, but I couldn’t resist including two of her most famous novels! Both of them have twist endings, and while they may not be very shocking now, that’s only because so many other authors have followed in her footsteps! Also, “30 Rock” did an amazing homage to Orient Express in episode 515, “It’s Never Too Late for Now.”

6. Anthony Berkeley, The Poisoned Chocolates Case — I don’t remember how I first came across this book, but I do remember my utter delight upon finishing it! This novel is a perfect example (and send-up) of the mystery tropes and conventions that, in 1929, had already become popular enough to satirize. Six armchair detectives each propose a solution to a murder, and each of them is amazingly plausible and clever (although, of course, only one is correct)!

7. Vera Caspary, Laura — I had to include a noir crime novel on the list, and while I could have gone with The Maltese Falcon or The Thin Man, I decided on Laura for the purely subjective reason that I really love the movie! But the novel is quite clever as well, and it uses the Wilkie Collins-esque technique of multiple narrators, some of whom are not exactly reliable.

8. Something by John Dickson Carr — Here I must admit with shame that I actually haven’t read anything by John Dickson Carr, despite his prolific career spanning the 1930s to the 1970s. But he is generally acknowledged to be the master of the “locked room” or impossible crime, a genre that has proved to be both popular and long-lasting.

9. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, The Laughing Policeman — Scandi-crime has become popular in recent years, but in the 1960s, Sjöwall and Wahlöö were among the first Scandinavian mystery writers to gain fame in the US. This novel, an installment in the Martin Beck series, deals with a mass shooting on a public bus where one of the victims is a policeman. It’s a wonderful procedural that realistically describes the routines, the tedium, and the false starts that plague real-life criminal investigations.

10. Luis Fernando Verissimo, Borges and the Eternal Orangutans — Possibly the strangest book on the list, this novel is an homage to Edgar Allan Poe by way of Jorge Luis Borges. It’s hard to describe without giving too much away, but it’s very clever and a very quick read!


Library Sale Score

library sale april 2016Oh, library sale, how I love thee! I actually went to the sale three times this weekend…the first two days were pretty disappointing, I thought, but I still managed to amass a pretty good haul! Here’s what I purchased, for a total of $14:

Mary Stewart, The Stormy Petrel — I really like her novels of romantic suspense, and I haven’t read this one yet.

Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn — I’ve heard nothing but great things about Brandon Sanderson, and I also really enjoy thief-heroes. 🙂

Robert Barnard, Corpse in a Gilded Cage — Give me ALL the English country house murder mysteries!

Malcolm Pryce, Aberystwyth Mon Amour — I’ve had the sequel, Last Tango in Aberystwyth, for a really long time, but I still haven’t read it because I needed to get my hands on this one first!

Charles Kingston, Murder in Piccadilly — I’m a bit bummed that this is an ARC rather than a finished copy, but I can’t pass up a mystery released by British Library Crime Classics!

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 — I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and it was only $1, so why not?

Anne de Courcy, The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj — I don’t know much about the British Raj, but what little I do know is fascinating! Can’t wait to learn a bit more about the “fishing fleet”!

Ruby Jackson, Churchill’s Angels — Obviously I am not going to pass up a book about female pilots during World War II!

Caroline Stevermer, A College of Magics — I think I’ve read this one before, and I honestly don’t remember too much about it. But the fact that Stevermer co-wrote Sorcery and Cecelia, one of my favorite historical fantasy novels, means that I have high hopes for it!

Stella Gibbons, Westwood — After Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons has my allegiance for life.

Erin Bow, The Scorpion Rules — I remember reading some good reviews of this one when it came out. The plot seems to involve a lot of political intrigue — the protagonist is a royal hostage — which is never a bad thing in my book (pun intended)!

Lauren Morrill, The Trouble with Destiny — I thought Meant to Be was really cute, and this book seems to center around a high school band. My dorky trombonist heart couldn’t resist!

Patricia C. Wrede, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles — How have I not read these yet? I don’t know, but I’ve really enjoyed Wrede’s other books, so I’m sure this series will be great as well!

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring forward

Top 10 TuesdayWith spring less than a week away (hooray!), it’s time to examine the TBR pile and decide what to read in the upcoming season. This topic came at the perfect time for me, since I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I’m working my way through the monolithic War and Peace, and the shorter books I’ve been reading on the side have generally not thrilled me. Luckily, I’m very excited about some of the books on this list! Here’s what I’m planning to read this spring:

1. Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea — I already have this one checked out from the library. I’ve only heard good things about it, and I love a good World War II novel!

2. Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven King — Obviously. I loved the first three books in the series and can’t wait to see how it ends! #SaveGansey (I do think he’s going to die, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has to STAY dead, right?)

3. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom — I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, and Lent seems like the perfect occasion. I really loved Fr. Philippe’s Time for God, so I’m confident that I will find this book equally edifying.

4. Cindy Anstey, Love, Lies and Spies — Regency romance plus “fake relationship becomes real” plus spies plus gorgeous cover? This book checks ALL my boxes, y’all!

5. Jen Chaney, As If!: The Oral History of “Clueless” As Told by Amy Heckerling, the Cast, and the Crew — “Clueless” is one of my all-time favorite movies, so obviously I need to read this! Luckily, a friend of mine owns it and was willing to lend it to me. I MAY even give it back to him at some point!

6. Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast Another book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and I think it would be nice to read it in April. Who doesn’t love Paris in the springtime?!

7. Morgan Matson, The Unexpected Everything -— After Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Since You’ve Been Gone, I think Morgan Matson is officially on auto-buy status. Can’t wait to read this May release!

8. V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic -— I’ve been seeing LOTS of buzz about this one, and it looks really good! I think this is one of the books I’m most eager to read right now.

9. Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate — This book has been on my radar for a while, but I was never really convinced to read it until I saw a review comparing it to Sarah Addison Allen. SOLD.

10. Kristan Higgins, If You Only Knew — I love Kristan Higgins, and this is her only book that I don’t yet own. I will be rectifying this situation soon!

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2015

Top 10 TuesdayWith only a few weeks left in 2015, ’tis the season to choose our favorite books of the year! So, even though I haven’t been blogging much these days, I figured this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the perfect excuse to jump back in! Here are my top 10 favorite books of the year:

1. Naomi Novik, Uprooted — Every once in a while, you come across a book that feels like it was written especially for you. For me, Uprooted is one of those books. From the plucky heroine to the gorgeous setting to the romance to the wonderfully nuanced depiction of female friendship, I loved basically everything about this book. My review is here.

2. Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown — It’s probably obvious by now that I will read anything that can be described as “Georgette Heyer plus magic.” This book is a fantastic addition to the genre and features two underdog protagonists: a Sorcerer Royal who is ostracized for his African descent and a woman whose magical abilities are much greater than is socially acceptable for young ladies. I haven’t gotten around to reviewing this one yet, but trust me, it is an utter delight!

3. Mary Doria Russell, Epitaph — Although I don’t usually read Westerns, I absolutely loved Doc when it came out, so naturally I had to check out the sequel as well. Russell has a gift for making the legendary figures of the Old West seem like living, breathing people. My review is here.

4. Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun — This is a stunningly written contemporary YA about art and guilt and family relationships. While there are multiple romances, the heart of the book is the relationship between twin siblings Noah and Jude and how it changes as they both grow up. My review is here.

5. Genevieve Valentine, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club — This is one of the most unique fairy tale retellings I’ve ever read, setting “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” in the jazz clubs and speakeasies of 1920s Manhattan. Lovers of historical fiction and/or fairy tales should definitely check it out! My review is here.

6. Jean Webster, Dear Enemy — If you enjoy epistolary novels and old-fashioned romance, you’ll be absolutely charmed by this book about frivolous Sallie McBride and how she comes into her own by becoming an orphanage administrator. My review is here.

7. Lauren Willig, The Other Daughter — I’m a big Lauren Willig fan, and this is my favorite of her standalone books, set in England in the 1920s. My review is here.

8. Heather Demetrios, I’ll Meet You There — Another excellent YA contemporary novel about a girl and a boy who are both trying to escape life in their dead-end small town. Additionally, the hero has lost a leg in Afghanistan and is struggling with both physical and emotional scars. My review is here.

9. Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost — Let’s face it: any Sarah Addison Allen book is probably going to end up on my best-of-the-year list. This wasn’t my favorite of hers — I don’t think Garden Spells particularly needed a sequel — but it was still a lovely, magical read. My review is here.

10. Ellie Marney, Every Breath — I couldn’t resist this Aussie take on Sherlock Holmes! James Mycroft is a volatile genius with a penchant for getting into trouble; Rachel Watts is his best friend (and maybe more), who becomes his voice of reason and his partner in solving a murder. I’ve already got the second book in the series on my shelves! My review is here.