Top Ten Tuesday: Numbers in the title

TTT-NEW

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is an interesting one: ten of your favorite books with a number in the title. It’s always fun to find new ways to categorize books! Here are the ten books that immediately sprang to mind for me, in no particular order:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers — The Lord of the Rings is one of my all-time favorite books, and The Two Towers just might be my favorite volume. I find the culture of Rohan fascinating and really love all the scenes involving the Rohirrim. And even the Frodo/Sam plot, though much less eventful, is fascinating on a character level.

2. Ellis Peters, One Corpse Too Many — I adore the Cadfael series, which is about a 12th-century crime-solving monk. The setting is so well rendered, and justice is always served in the end. This book is second in the series and also my favorite, focusing on a missing treasure and the mysterious newcomer Hugh Beringar.

3. B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories — I’m not a big fan of short stories generally, but I like Novak’s voice and his TV writer’s sensibility. Most of the stories are more like comedy sketches, focusing sharply on a single (often humorous) idea. Favorite stories include “The Ghost of Mark Twain,” “The Something by John Grisham,” and “J. C. Audetat, Translator of Don Quixote.”

4. Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat — This slim book perfectly encapsulates a specific type of British silliness, which I think you either like or you don’t. Fortunately, I fall into the former category, because I found it delightful! Not to mention, it inspired one of my favorite novels, Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog.

5. Leo Bruce, Case for Three Detectives — As a fan of Golden Age mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which parodies three of the most beloved detectives of that era: Lord Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, and Father Brown. I love all three of them, and Bruce perfectly (and hilariously) captures their specific voices.

6. Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows — This YA fantasy novel combines two of my favorite things, found families and heists. Kaz Brekker and his crack team of ne’er-do-wells are hired for a complicated job with a huge payoff, but they stand to lose a lot more than money if things go wrong. And of course, it’s not really a matter of if, but when. . . .

7. Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale — It’s been a long time since I actually read this book, but I remember loving its gothic atmosphere and its belief in the value of stories:

What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don’t expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.

8. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves — This just might be my favorite Lewis book, in which he examines the concept of love and describes four different types of love that humans experience: affection, friendship, romantic love, and the love of God. The first time I read this book, it made me think about human relationships in entirely new ways, and even on rereading it gives me a lot to think about.

9. Agatha Christie, The Seven Dials Mystery — I could have picked any number of Christie mysteries, since I’m a huge fan of hers. But I wanted to highlight this mystery because it’s a bit different from her usual work, involving political machinations and a secret society. It’s all a little bit silly, but I find the silliness endearing. Plus, there’s a very sweet romantic angle to the story!

10. Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting — This was my first Mary Stewart novel, and it remains one of my favorites. It has definite Jane Eyre vibes, with a touch more danger to the heroine (and, if I’m recalling correctly, a less problematic hero!). Her novels of romantic suspense make perfect fall reads, if anyone’s looking for something subtly atmospheric rather than terrifying.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall into books!

TTT-NEW

Y’all, I am so excited that it’s officially autumn! Fall is unquestionably my favorite season: I can finally turn off my air conditioning, put on a jacket, and breathe in that cool, crisp autumn air! Plus, cooler temps make it the perfect time to snuggle up on my couch with a blanket and a good book. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is 10 books on your fall TBR list, and I’m really excited about the books on my list! Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Jenn Bennett, The Lady Rogue — I saw a review for this book at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and it looks like a ton of fun! It’s described as a romp through 1930s Romania as the heroine searches for a cursed ring that belonged to Vlad the Impaler. So basically, it sounds like Indiana Jones meets Dracula, and I am here for it!

2. Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January — I think the beautiful cover is what drew me to this book, which appears to be a portal fantasy with gothic vibes. In other words, a perfect fall read!

3. Sarah M. Eden, The Lady and the Highwayman — This one is a romance between two rival authors of “penny dreadfuls” in Victorian London. The heroine writes under a pseudonym, and the hero, not knowing her true identity, asks for her help in discovering the identity of his rival. I adore the premise and can’t wait to see how it plays out.

4. Rainbow Rowell, Pumpkinheads —  As a huge Rainbow Rowell fan, I’ve been dying to read this graphic novel ever since I found out about it more than a year ago! I don’t read many graphic novels, but I’m desperately hoping for one of Rowell’s signature swoonworthy romances. And the pumpkin patch setting is perfect for fall!

5. Jessie Mihalik, Aurora Blazing — I enjoyed the first book in this sci-fi romance series, Polaris Rising, so I’m excited to read this sequel, which comes out in the US on October 1. It’s a bodyguard romance, which I find to be a fun trope.

6. Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea — The long-awaited follow-up to Morgenstern’s hit debut novel, The Night Circus. I had mixed feelings about The Night Circus, but I’m definitely interested to read more of Morgenstern’s work. (Also, where is my The Night Circus movie directed by Baz Luhrmann? Get on it, Hollywood!)

7. Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk — Much as I loved the Raven Cycle, and especially the character of Ronan Lynch, I’m undecided as to whether I need another whole trilogy about him. Nevertheless, I’ve already placed a hold at my library for this book and hope that it exceeds my expectations.

8. Amanda Grange, Henry Tilney’s Diary — Of all the Austen heroes, Henry Tilney might just be the one I’d most like to date in real life. (Sure, Darcy is great, but Tilney is indisputably more fun!) I’ve had this book on my shelves for ages, and I think it’s finally time to pick it up.

9. Francis Duncan, Murder Has a Motive — For some reason, autumn always makes me crave vintage British mysteries. I previously enjoyed Duncan’s Murder for Christmas, so it’s time to check out more of his books!

10. Tessa Dare, Do You Want to Start a Scandal — Sometimes I just need some romantic Regency silliness, and the plot description of this book sounds an awful lot like Clue (except, you know, less murder-y). I’ve only read one other book by Tessa Dare, but I remember enjoying it, so I have high hopes!

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer reading list

TTT-NEW

Now that summer is officially here, it’s time to focus on one of my favorite aspects of the season: summer reading! Let’s face it, I’m not outdoorsy at the best of times, but it’s especially true in summer’s heat and humidity. So any activity that allows me to stay indoors, sipping a cold beverage and enjoying the air conditioning, is a good thing in my book (see what I did there?). Here, in no particular order, are 10 books I’m excited to read in the next couple of months. What’s on your summer TBR?

1. J. Kathleen Cheney, The Golden City — This may be cheating a bit because I’m actually reading it now! It’s the first book in a historical fantasy series set in 1902 Portugal, and so far it’s very interesting, although a bit slow to start.

2. Ellis Peters, The Heretic’s Apprentice — It’s been a while since I’ve visited the world of Brother Cadfael!

3. Margaret Rogerson, Sorcery of Thorns — Despite the fact that I haven’t enjoyed much YA fantasy recently, the premise of this one really appeals to me. Apparently it combines magic with a slow-burn romance, and there’s a library!

4. Abby Jimenez, The Friend Zone — I think I read about this romance on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and it sounds like fun!

5. Linda Holmes, Evvie Drake Starts Over — I mentioned this one last week, and I’m super excited to read it when my library hold comes in.

6. Abbi Waxman, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill — Another new release I’m very excited for. The cover alone! *heart eyes*

7. Kristan Higgins, Life and Other Inconveniences — I’m always up for the latest Kristan Higgins release, even though I wish she’d go back to writing straight-up romance rather than “women’s fiction.”

8. Mary Stewart, The Stormy Petrel — Stewart’s books tend to follow the same formula: innocent young woman travels to foreign destination, meets one or more mysterious men, and becomes involved in a dangerous situation. But it’s a formula I really enjoy, so I don’t mind one bit!

9. John Bude, The Cornish Coast Murder — So I actually own two books by John Bude, but I’ve never read anything he’s written! I blame the lovely new British Library Crime Classic editions of vintage mysteries. Time to see if this is an author I want to keep on my shelves.

10. Patricia C. Wrede, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles — I think I read the first book in this series, Dealing with Dragons, as a kid, but I don’t remember a thing about it. But I’m a huge fan of Wrede’s, and I’ve been wanting to read the whole series for a long time. Now is my chance!

Top Ten Tuesday: New and noteworthy

TTT-NEW

We’re almost halfway through 2019, which means it’s time to start looking ahead to the second half of the year. Below are my top ten nine upcoming releases in publication order. They range from graphic novels to romance, new-to-me authors to old favorites, but what they have in common is that I’m excited to read them all!

* * *

1. Linda Holmes, Evvie Drake Starts Over (6/25) — Right out of the gate I’m cheating, because the book comes out on June 25, which is technically in the first half of the year. But it hasn’t come out yet, so I’m still counting it! This romance has been blurbed by the likes of Rainbow Rowell, and it’s been described as “quirky,” “warm,” and “hilarious.” Sounds like my cup of tea, for sure.

2. Abbi Waxman, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (7/9) — This book is about an introverted heroine who works in a bookstore and is being romantically pursued by her bar trivia nemesis. Yes, this is relevant to my interests!

3. Kristan Higgins, Life and Other Inconveniences (8/6) — I’m a big Kristan Higgins fan, although I’ve been a little wary of her switch from the romance genre to straight-up women’s fiction. The synopsis of this latest novel doesn’t mention a love story at all, which is somewhat disappointing, but I’m still going to give it a try.

4. Rainbow Rowell, Pumpkinheads (8/27) — I’ve had this one on my wishlist for at least a year. I love Rainbow Rowell and am really eager for this graphic novel about two high schoolers who work in a pumpkin patch every fall. Maybe I’ll save it for a crisp autumnal day…or maybe I’ll devour it as soon as it comes out!

5. Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January (9/10) — This one just sounds really cool: it involves a neglected girl and a magical book, and it sounds like it might have a creepy gothic feel. In other words, perfect fall reading!

6. Mhairi McFarlane, Don’t You Forget about Me (9/10) — McFarlane is one of my favorite chick-lit authors, and I know I can expect humor, romance, and a charming narrative voice from all her books. This one appears to feature a second-chance romance, which isn’t my favorite trope, but I remain optimistic.

7. Jessie Mihalik, Aurora Blazing (10/1) — The sequel to Polaris Rising, which I read and enjoyed earlier this year. And based on the few glimpses we got of this couple in the first book, I’m excited to read their story! If you like a few spaceships and some intergalactic politicking in your romance novels, this series may be for you.

8. Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea (11/5) — So, I’m one of those strange people who didn’t absolutely love The Night Circus, but I’m still very intrigued by Morgenstern’s second novel! The marketing blurb on Amazon calls it “a timeless love story set in a secret underground world — a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.” Sounds good to me!

9. Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk (11/5) — I’m a little nervous about this book, because I really liked the Raven Cycle and thought Stiefvater concluded the story in a fitting and satisfying way. But if she’s going to continue to follow the fortunes of Ronan Lynch and his family, I’m certainly going along for the ride, at least for the time being.

* * *

Are you also looking forward to any of these books? What other upcoming releases should I add to my to-read list?

Top Ten Tuesday: What draws me to a book

TTT-NEW

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is one of my all-time favorites: the top 10 things that make me want to read a book. Why do we love the books we love? What makes us add some books to our TBR list and not others? What plots, tropes, and topics appeal to us so strongly that, when we encounter them in a book, we feel like that book has been written just for us? These are questions I love to think about, although I’m far from having answers to them! Still, here are 10 things that always excite me about a book and compel me to learn more, in no particular order.

1. Anything related to Jane Austen — This one is obvious, but I’m always going to be drawn to Austen-related books! Whether it’s a retelling, a new biography, or a piece of literary criticism, I’m definitely going to at least learn more about it — that is, if I don’t buy it right away!

2. Epistolary novels — I love a good epistolary novel, and I think it’s because I enjoy character-driven books and don’t really care about setting. Novels in letters (or emails, texts, etc.) naturally don’t spend a lot of time on descriptions of scenery; everything is dialogue and character development.

3. Fake relationships — This is probably my very favorite romance trope, although I’m not sure I can explain why! I think it’s a great way to set up romantic tension in which the conflict is mostly internal. It all comes down to whether the characters will be brave enough to reveal their true feelings.

4. Thieves and con artists — There’s just something about protagonists who cheerfully bend or break the rules for the sake of a greater good. They’re super charming and compelling to me, even if I wouldn’t necessarily agree with them in real life.

5. Magical Regency — As a diehard Austen fan (see #1), the day I learned that there are books that combine an Austen-esque world with magic was one of the greatest days of my life!

6. Historical mysteries — I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan since I was about 12, and I love mystery novels that aren’t too gory but instead focus on the puzzle of whodunit and why. Combine that type of mystery with an interesting historical setting — especially the 19th century or the Golden Age of detective fiction — and my interest is definitely piqued.

7. Spies — Give me all the twists and turns of a plot filled with espionage, double-crosses, and people keeping secrets!

8. World War II — The past few years have seen a real boom in the number of books set during World War II, especially from the Allied perspective in Europe. While part of me wants to shun anything too trendy, a larger part of me just wants to keep ’em coming!

9. Music and musicians — As an amateur musician myself, I’m always intrigued when I learn about characters who play music, either professionally or as a hobby. It’s especially satisfying when an author describes the experience of playing (or hearing) music in a way that rings true to me.

10. Happy endings — This is a bit simplistic, since I have also really loved some books with sad endings. But in general, I read for pleasure, so I prefer endings that are emotionally satisfying: the murderer is caught, the lovers end up together, the quest is fulfilled. I do see the value in reading difficult books that make you think and engage with the hard aspects of reality; but given the choice, I’ll go for the happy ending almost every time.

In creating this list, it was fun for me to refer back to the last time this topic came up . . . turns out, my list hasn’t changed all that much! What are some of your favorite topics or tropes in books? Do you agree or disagree with anything on my list?

Top 10 Tuesday: Spring TBR

TTT-NEW

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is 10 books on our spring TBR lists. These days, I’m trying not to plan out my reading in advance; I’ve been choosing books by whim, and I’m really liking it! But here are 10 books that I’ve bought recently, have put on hold at the library, or intend to buy and read as soon as possible:

1. Jasmine Guillory, The Proposal — I didn’t fall in love with The Wedding Date like so many others did, but I enjoyed it enough that I’m intrigued for this follow-up novel featuring one of its supporting characters.

2. Soniah Kamal, Unmarriageable — A Pride and Prejudice retelling set in modern-day Pakistan = sold!

3. Elinor Lipman, Good Riddance — I haven’t read any Elinor Lipman before, and I was honestly drawn to this book because of the cute cover. But I do like a good romantic comedy, so I’m excited to try this one.

4. Sophie Kinsella, I Owe You One — I’ve found Kinsella to be hit or miss, but the synopsis of this one sounds intriguingly similar to I’ve Got Your Number, my favorite of her books to date.

5. Jessica Khoury, Last of Her Name — If a novel is marketed as some sort of Anastasia retelling, I’m obviously going to read it!

6. Zen Cho, The True Queen — I loved Sorcerer to the Crown and have been waiting for this sequel for what feels like forever!

7. Tracey Garvis Graves, The Girl He Used to Know — I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this book, which is about a second-chance romance featuring a neurodiverse heroine. The publication date is April 2.

8. Lucy Parker, The Austen Playbook — This one doesn’t come out via e-book until April 22 (or April 30, if you wait for the mass market paperback), but I NEED IT NOW OMG. I adore this series of contemporary romance novels, and this one features a grumpy hero and an Austen-related plot!

9. Jennifer E. Smith, Field Notes on Love — I’m so intrigued by the premise of this one, which is that a guy and girl who are complete strangers take a cross-country train trip together. Pub date is May 5.

10. Beth O’Leary, The Flatshare — Another adorable premise: a man and a woman share an apartment but are never there at the same time (she works during the day, he works nights and weekends). Yet they forge a relationship by leaving each other notes — how cute is that?! Sadly, the release date isn’t until May 28, so I have to wait.

Well, that’s a nice long list of romance and “fun” books! Did anyone else notice a theme (intentional or otherwise) with their picks? What are you reading this spring, and what should I be adding to my list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Wallflowers

TTT-NEW

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is an interesting one: 10 books you love that have fewer than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. I tend to read a lot of backlist and otherwise unpopular books, and it was still hard for me to come up with 10 titles! But I’m glad to have the opportunity to praise some lesser-known books that I really enjoyed. So without further ado, my list is below; the number of Goodreads ratings (as of February 13) is in parentheses after each title.

1. Aline, Countess of Romanones, The Spy Wore Red (1,666) — A delightful memoir that reads like a spy thriller! My review is here.

2. Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome (1,599) — Probably my favorite novel by this author. It’s about a contaminated water supply, a modern-day hermit, and an extremely nasty conspiracy. Fans of Southern literature should definitely check this one out.

3. Loretta Chase, Knaves’ Wager (1,508) — If you’re looking for the next Georgette Heyer…well, nothing is going to quite measure up, but Loretta Chase’s traditional Regencies come pretty close! This is my favorite so far, about a rake who tries to seduce a prim and proper bluestocking, only to find himself (of course) falling in love.

4. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom (1,136) — A very short book that explores how people can obtain interior freedom, from the perspective of a Catholic priest. This book made a huge impact on me; my review is here.

5. McKelle George, Speak Easy, Speak Love (773) — Does the idea of a Much Ado about Nothing retelling set in the 1920s appeal to you? If so, you need to pick this one up! I enjoyed it SO much more than I thought I would. My review is here.

6. Emily Gee, The Laurentine Spy (771) — Fans of fantasy and political intrigue will enjoy this book about courtiers (who hate each other) with double lives as spies (who…don’t hate each other). My review is here.

7. Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon, No Bed for Bacon (180) — The movie Shakespeare in Love is actually based on this hilarious sendup of the Elizabethan era. My review is here.

8. Stephanie Burgis, Congress of Secrets (172) — Historical fiction plus fantasy plus con artists plus romance is totally my catnip. If it’s yours too, check out this book (and author) immediately! My review is here.

9. Leo Bruce, Case for Three Detectives (151) — This ingenious detective novel parodies three of the most famous fictional detectives: Lord Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, and Father Brown. The book really only works if you’re familiar with these three characters, but if you are, the spoof is absolutely spot-on! My review is here.

10. Patricia Wynn, The Birth of Blue Satan (82) — I really enjoyed this historical mystery set in an unusual time period: the Jacobite rebellions of the early 18th century. It’s the first in a series, and I’m eager to read the rest! My review is here.

Top Ten Tuesday: Love is in the air

TTT-NEW

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is favorite couples in books. I’m a sucker for a good romance, so the hardest thing for me was narrowing my list down! But here are 10 of my favorite romances in books:

1. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) — Obviously these two are my absolute top OTP. The greatest thing about their romance is that love makes both of them better people. Darcy learns that he needs to get over himself and be a kinder, more generous person, while Lizzy realizes that she needs to be less judgmental.

2. Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley (Emma) — I don’t want to fill this entire list with Austen couples (although I could!), but I had to include Emma and Mr. Knightley. My favorite thing about their friends-to-lovers romance is that Emma subconsciously reveals her feelings for Mr. Knightley long before she actually recognizes them herself.

3. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables series) — Looking back, I’m pretty sure this was my first OTP; I shipped them before shipping was even a thing! Gilbert is the perfect “boy next door” type, and I love that he and Anne are both so smart and competitive (especially with each other!).

4. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) — These two are just so adorable together! I know some people think Ron’s not good enough for Hermione, but I think he’s exactly the right person to balance out all her type-A neuroticism. She’s obviously going to be the alpha in their relationship, so it’s a good thing that Ron is excellent at taking a backseat and supporting her.

5. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane (Lord Peter Wimsey series) — I adore watching these two banter and bicker their way into true love. I also love how Sayers examines some of the difficulties facing women of her era through Harriet’s eyes; though Harriet is attracted to Peter, she really struggles with the idea of giving up her independence and autonomy as a single woman with a career.

6. Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado about Nothing) — Speaking of banter, this couple is the quintessential example of the hate-to-love trope, wrapped in an incredibly fun and witty package. When Benedick says, “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably,” that really says it all!

7. Anna and Rupert (A Countess below Stairs) — If there were an award for Sweetest Book Ever, I’m pretty sure I’d give it to this one. The story contains elements of forbidden love — Anna is a maid, while Rupert is an earl (and an engaged one, at that) — and it’s just a delight to watch them struggle to suppress their feelings. I let out the happiest sigh every time I finish this book.

8. Gen and [spoilers] (Queen’s Thief series) — Sadly I can’t talk too much about this couple without revealing spoilers. But I will say that Gen is a wonderful hero: he’s a thief (and I love a good thief hero!) who is super smart and witty and always a step ahead. And his love interest is more than a match for him. Their relationship starts in a pretty dark place, so it’s amazing to see how their complex feelings for one another grow.

9. Sean and Puck (The Scorpio Races) — This is one of my favorite books, and I love Maggie Stiefvater’s subtle, magical writing style. This romance is so delightfully understated; it’s all about what isn’t said.

10. Lincoln and Beth (Attachments) — This book has such an adorable rom-com plot: Lincoln’s job is to monitor workplace email, and he ends up falling in love with Beth through reading her correspondence with her friend Jennifer. I can absolutely see why this storyline doesn’t work for some people, but Lincoln is such a sweet and likable character that I was totally along for the ride. And I adored Beth’s snarky voice . . . I really believed that she and Lincoln were well matched.

What are your favorite literary love stories? Please share your recs, because I’m in the mood for all the romance!

Top Ten Tuesday: First half of 2019

TTT-NEW

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the 10 books you’re most excited for in the first half of 2019. I’ve got a lot of long-awaited sequels and follow-ups on my list, as well as a few books that just sound really cool! So without further ado, here’s my list of ten eight books I’m really looking forward to in the first half of this year:

  1. Katherine Arden, The Winter of the Witch (1/8) — After loving both The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, of course I can’t wait to read the final book in this trilogy! If you like lush, descriptive fantasy and/or Russian folktales, I highly recommend these books.
  2. Alan Bradley, The Golden Tresses of the Dead (1/22) — More Flavia is always fun, and I’m especially optimistic because I thought the last book was a return to form for the series.
  3. Sally Thorne, 99 Percent Mine (1/29) — I adored The Hating Game so much that I put Sally Thorne on my list of auto-buy authors immediately. I’ve already preordered my copy of 99 Percent Mine, and I’m really hoping it will meet my high expectations!
  4. Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars (1/29) — When I read the original Grisha trilogy, I mentioned that I’d love a book featuring the secondary character of Nikolai…and the book gods must have been listening, because now it’s here!
  5. Jessica Khoury, Last of Her Name (2/26) — Look, if there’s a retelling of Anastasia set in space, I’m going to read it!
  6. Zen Cho, The True Queen (3/12) — Ever since I read and loved Sorcerer to the Crown, I’ve been dying for the sequel. I’m so excited that it’s finally (almost) here!
  7. Megan Whalen Turner, Return of the Thief (3/19) — Apparently this is the last book in one of my very favorite series. I can’t wait to see how it all ends, and I’m excited to go back and reread the previous books in preparation for the finale.
  8. Lucy Parker, The Austen Playbook (4/22) — I’ve loved all Lucy Parker’s books so far, so I’m super excited for this one…it involves a very grumpy hero and a Jane Austen connection, which is basically all my catnip!

Are you also looking forward to any of these books? What should I be adding to my list?

Top 10 Shows to Binge-Watch

TTT-NEW

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday list! But since I love to binge-watch shows, this week’s topic is perfect for me. Below is a list of 10 shows that I really enjoy and that I think would be great for bingeing. I’ve tried to pick shows that are (1) available on a streaming service and (2) not a huge time commitment.

1. Agent Carter (Hulu, 18 hour-long episodes) — This show is the only thing I care about in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has a kickass female protagonist who fights Nazis and sexism and looks great doing it! It somehow manages to be both dark and funny, and the Peggy/Jarvis friendship is honestly one of my favorite fictional relationships.

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime, 8 hour-long episodes) — If you love Gilmore Girls, certain aspects of this show may seem familiar: they both star funny, fast-talking brunettes who fight to maintain their independence in the face of familial and societal pressure. But with this show, Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is fully unleashed. There’s swearing and partial nudity and a production budget that allows for an amazing soundtrack, costumes to die for, and gorgeous shots of 1950s New York. It looks like season 2 will drop sometime this fall, so make sure you’re ready!

3. Firefly (Hulu, 14 hour-long episodes) — It has a cult following for a reason! Science fiction meets Westerns in this show about a renegade spaceship captain and his ragtag crew, who are just trying to survive in a world full of obstacles, including the murderous Reavers and the sinister galactic governing body known as the Alliance. Plus, there is Joss Whedon’s trademark banter and some truly iconic, lovable characters!

4. Lovesick (Netflix, 22 half-hour episodes) — This show was originally titled Scrotal Recall, and I remember being somewhat appalled when Netflix suggested it to me. But I gave it a try at my friend’s urging, and I’m so glad I did! The premise is that the main character (Dylan) has chlamydia, so he needs to contact all of his past sexual partners. The show moves backward and forward in time to show what happened in those relationships, and it also follows Dylan’s fumbling quest for love in the present. For me, the secondary characters steal the show, particularly Dylan’s BFF Luke.

5. Galavant (Netflix, 18 half-hour episodes) — Imagine a show that’s The Princess Bride meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail . . . and it’s a musical! If that premise appeals to you, you’ll love Galavant. It’s delightfully silly (the peasants are AMAZING), the songs are extremely catchy, and the whole thing is an instant mood-lifter. Also, Vinnie Jones is in it, and he sings, and it’s glorious.

6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Netflix, 44 hour-long episodes) — Okay, so three seasons of an hour-long show is a pretty long binge, but trust me, it’s worth it! It has become one of my all-time favorite shows, and it’s totally unique: a musical romantic comedy that gleefully demolishes rom-com tropes, all while exploring issues of feminism and mental illness.

I feel like I need to give a couple caveats, though . . . first, the show does go to some pretty dark places, especially around the middle of the third season, which might be triggering for some. Second, one of the main actors leaves the show at the beginning of season 2, which means that character makes a fairly abrupt exit. You may be tempted to stop watching, but resist the temptation! There are better days ahead!

7. The Good Place (Netflix, 25 half-hour episodes) — Season three premieres this month, so you need to binge this one ASAP if you’re not caught up! It’s highly serialized, so you really do need to see it from the beginning. The premise is that Eleanor Shellstrop has died and gone to “the good place,” but she’s there by mistake. She has to hide the fact that she doesn’t belong in the good place, while also trying to become a better person by studying ethics. It’s a very clever show that’s perfectly cast; Ted Danson in particular is a delight.

8. Happy Endings (Hulu, 57 half-hour episodes) — Another fairly long binge, but I had to mention it because I’m actually binge-watching it right now! It’s a hangout comedy in the vein of Friends or How I Met Your Mother, but it focuses almost exclusively on jokes and banter rather than getting into heavier romantic storylines like Ross/Rachel or Ted/Robin. Which, as someone who basically wanted to murder Ted Mosby by the end of HIMYM, I appreciate!

9. Cougar Town (Hulu, 102 half-hour episodes) — Yes, this is a very long binge, but I think I did it it less than a month because I found the show so entertaining! It’s similar in tone to Scrubs, another show I love — which makes sense, because it has the same showrunner and some of the same actors. The show quickly veers away from its terrible “Courteney Cox is a cougar” premise and becomes a fun hangout comedy that explores adult friendships. Also: penny can!

10. Great News (Netflix, 23 half-hour episodes) — If you loved 30 Rock, you should give this show a try! Briga Heelan (whom I like and would enjoy seeing in more things) stars as a young TV producer trying to move up in her career. But hijinks ensue when her helicopter mom gets a job as an intern on the show. The premise is a bit of a throwback, but the show’s bizarre sense of humor keeps it from feeling dated.

***

So, have you binged any of these shows? Are there any you would disagree with? What’s on your must-binge list?