Reading Life Before Blogging

toptentuesday.jpgThis weeks Top Ten Tuesday is asking me to list the “Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger“.

As I worked on the list, I was surprised by the the fact that all of them are ones I read when I was younger. In fact, I think the most “modern” book on the list was originally published in the 1970’s. Oh my. That was, like (counts on fingers then grabs the calculator…) – I digress. Let’s get back to the list.

In trying to narrow it down to ten, I’ve decided to list the ones that I’ve read more than once and plan to re-read again. They are books that introduced me to the genres that fill the majority of my shelves today; books that make me laugh and cry, and every time I read them I am affected in a different way than I was the last time I read it. These are truly timeless classics – at least in my library.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Published in 1960, this Pulitzer winning novel became one of the best movie adaptations ever and a well-deserved Oscar winner. It’s a modern American classic as well as one of the most challenged books due to its language and sexual content. The opening paragraphs of the book are some of the most powerful I’ve ever read.
  2. Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
    Based on a true story, this Newbery Award winner made a huge impact on my reading as it was the first time I remember connecting so quickly, and deeply, with a character.
  3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
    Although published in 1938, Rebecca is a classic mystery that any reader will love and an opening line that has become one of the most famous in literature.
  4. The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart
    Up until reading Stewart’s novels, I was primarily a science fiction fan and read very little fantasy. But reading these stories of Merlin and the Arthurian legend introduced me to a genre that has turned out to be one of my favorites behind historical fiction and steampunk.
  5. Agatha Christie books
    From time to time I love reading a good mystery or detective fiction. And if I want a guaranteed excellent read, I trust the writer who created Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. My favorites are And Then There Were None, Murder At The Vicarage, and Murder On The Orient Express.
  6. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
    The Martian Chronicles, as the title implies, is not a novel but a collection of short stories. It’s because of writers like Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and Stephen King that I learned to appreciate short fiction.
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert
    Dune is the first book in a series that has become one of the most adapted in history. It is a Hugo Award winner and was the inaugural winner of the Nebula Award. It is one of those books that seems to be different every time I read it. I’m sure this is due to some elements of the book speaking louder than others because of where I am in my life and what is going on in our society.
  8. Shogun by James Clavell
    This was the first book I read that was over 1,000 pages. It also introduced me (as well as millions of others) to Japanese culture. It was because of Clavell and John Jakes that I became a fan of historical fiction, which continues to be the genre I read the most.
  9. Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
    One of the first books to make me bawl my eyes out. (The other was Old Yeller, another excellent book I like a lot). This is a coming-of-age novel that will touch the heart of anyone who reads it. It’s right up there with Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia, and To Kill A Mockingbird. These are all books for all time and for all ages.
  10. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    The Little Prince is one of the few books I’ve read in English and its original language (French). One of the most famous lines from the book is a quote I have written down and posted on my bulletin board: On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (One sees clearly with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.) Reading this book helps me in not allowing my “adultness” to stifle my creativity and the “childness” that is necessary to remain fearless in the face of a society that continually demands conformity.

Well, there it is. A bit more wordy than my usual lists, but these books mean more to me than simply being a “favorite”. They’ve taught me about reading and about life.

If you’d like a copy of any of these books (or any great book of literature for that matter), you can get them at Powell’s or at Amazon.


Serial Procrastinator


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a doozy. They ask what top ten series I’d like to start but haven’t yet.

I love reading series, but still have more on my TBR shelf than on the already read shelf, which can be problematic since series take up much more space than singles. So, if I were to tackle this eye-sore (a pleasant one, don’t get me wrong), I would go by the following list.

Yes, I know it’s more than ten. (Trust me, this is only the tip of the iceberg.)

  1. Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
  2. Inspector Lynley by Elizabeth George
  3. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  4. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro by Dennis Lehane
  5. The Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin
  6. Jackson Brodie by Kate Atkinson
  7. Pendragon’s Banner series by Helen Hollick
  8. Redwall Adventure series by Brian Jacque
  9. Quirke series by Benjamin Black (aka Jon Banville)
  10. Mary Russell Mysteries by Laurie R. King
  11. Jonathan Argyll series by Iain Pears
  12. The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
  13. Lady Julia Grey by Deanna Raybourn
  14. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
  15. Several series by Jean Plaidy: Queens of England, Plantagenet Saga, Stuart Saga, Tudor Saga
  16. Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox series by Tana French
  17. Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

For those of you who are series-aholics like I am, if you haven’t checked out, you should. Now.




Review: Temple of A Thousand Faces

Temple Of A Thousand Faces - S16272fTemple of A Thousand Faces by John Shors
Historical Fiction, 544 pages
ISBN: 9780451239174
New American Library a division of Penguin Group
Published: February, 2013

FTC Disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

In his international bestseller Beneath A Marble Sky, John Shors wrote about the ancient passion, beauty, and brilliance that inspired the building of the Taj Mahal. Now with Temple of A Thousand Faces, he brings to life the legendary temple of Angkor Wat, an unrivaled marvel of ornately carved towers and stone statues. There, in a story set nearly a thousand years ago, an empire is lost, a royal love is tested, and heroism is reborn. – Author’s website


It’s no secret I favor historical fiction, however this is written in a way that any fan of great story-telling will love. In fact there isn’t as much historical detail as one would expect because little is known of what actually happened. So instead of centering the story around the history, it’s about the people who would have lived it.

Shors’ previous work, Beneath A Marble Sky is about the trials and hardships of the people who struggled to create something wondrous and great. This story, however, takes a different tack.  It’s about the trials and hardships of defending and rebuilding what has already been created. Husbands, wives, children, and rulers equally suffer and strive to overcome overwhelming forces that seek to obliterate all they hold dear.

What I find refreshing is that each character whether great or low, male or female, have roles to play that are equally important to the story. As history has shown, any great civilization that has survived has done so because of it’s people and their resiliency.

This is not a novel of revenge, although it’s a powerful motivating factor, but of rebirth and regeneration – much like the religions of its characters and setting: Angkor Wat. Where the characters provide the heart of the story, Hindu and Buddhist concepts provide the soul.

In historical fiction, fact and fiction are interwoven to create a believable scenario. Many writers do this with researched detail that is offered to dress the tale as accurately as possible. But few facts survive regarding the time Shors writes about, so he does his best to fill in the gaps. The only structural problem comes with condensing the time frame. This causes some parts to not quite jive with me, but they are inconsequential to the story line overall.

Does love and faith conquer all? Not always. But many times it prevails because it is more powerful in the long run than greed and hatred. This is such a story. Not everything lost to Jayavar and his people are restored. The enemy is not vanquished completely. But they do win the day in many other and more important ways. (This is not so much a spoiler as an incentive to read this book and find out for yourself how the story and the lives of it’s characters plays out.)

I don’t think there is a book by this author I wouldn’t recommend, but this one I would definitely put at the top of the list.

Learn More:

About John Shors
Read the first two chapters of Temple of A Thousand Faces