Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I “Can’t Believe I’ve Met”


IMG_5998Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme sponsored by the good folks over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s assignment: “Top Ten Authors I’m Dying To Meet/Ten Authors I Can’t Believe I’ve Met (some other “meeting authors” type spin you want to do)” Okay, so I went with “can’t believe I’ve met” but it’s really my Top Ten Authors I’ve enjoyed meeting the most. Here goes, in ascending order:

10. Marlon James – Met him briefly just a couple months ago when he was a guest at (local) Butler University. My book club ‘targeted’ his award-winning book “A Brief History of Seven Killings” specifically with the idea of going to see him en masse when he visited here – a plan which we executed to near perfection. He seemed genuinely thrilled that “a whole book club” came to the event together and asked us what other books we’d been reading, etc. I was also intrigued to learn during his talk & reading that a series of stories he’s working on now has been touted as “A Black Game of Thrones” with potential television development, etc.  I will look forward to that.


9. Mike Mullin – A local YA author, most famous for his “Ashfall” series. I met him at Bookmama’s Bookstore (in my old Irvington Neighborhood on Indy’s East Side) Where he gave a great presentation and reading (see post about it here). I’ve also recommended the first book of that series for one of my current book clubs, which now plans to read it in October, and we will see if we can tempt him to join us for that meeting…


8. Francesca Zappia – Another local author, who wrote the very well-received YA novel “Made You Up,” which I read after it being recommended to me by my nephew who went to high school with her but “didn’t really know her.”  She attended a book club meeting (also at Bookmama’s) that I went to and I was very impressed with her, both as a speaker and a “thinker.”

made you up

7. Ben Winters – Writer of “The Last Policeman” series, who also lived briefly in the Indianapolis area before moving on to L.A.  I attended the book launch of the third novel of his series (which I blogged about here), and one of my current book clubs also read his newest novel “Underground Airlines.”


6. Malinda Lo – She was a guest at The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library a couple years back, so I went to hear her speak and was impressed enough to buy her book “Ash” – a “lesbian version of Cinderella” which I enjoyed, though I never blogged about. (I could’ve sworn I did, but a search turned up nothing – maybe it was another one of those ‘started but never finished’ blog posts I’m famous for…)


5. Dan Wakefield – A local literary treasure who’s attended a few meetings of the Vonnegut Library book club and who I’ve also seen at other public events at Indy Reads Books bookstore. His novel “Under the Apple Tree” was one of the favorites that I read last year.


4. Tim O’Brien – Author of the very famous “The Things They Carried,” which I have read several times now, once for myself, and later re-reading for a couple book clubs over the years. He has been the guest of the Vonnegut Library here in town a couple times, one of which I described in this blog post from last year.

obrien (1)

3. Ian Woollen – He ranks high on this list both on the strength of his novel “Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb” and because he graciously drove up from Bloomington to join one of my book club’s meetings (for the same book) last August at The Rathskeller restaurant downtown.  He and his book were a big hit with the book club, and he also had some kind things to say about us being “the best” group of the many meetings he’s gone to. I had also met him at a Vonnegut Library book club meeting and yet another one at Bookmama’s Bookstore.


2. Jon Eller – Jon is the seemingly tireless director of The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies here at IUPUI Indianapolis (please check out and like or follow their Facebook page!) and author of a three volume biography of that author. I initially meet him through the Vonnegut Library and later, when my short story reading group at work read Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” invited him to join us for that meeting. He and his wife did, and they’ve been regular members of our club ever since, adding much literary erudition to our group.

bradbury unbound

1. James Alexander Thom – I’ll put him at the top not because he is the best-selling author of all of these (though he is), but because of his graciousness at several book events I’ve met him at. He was also very nice to my Mom (Yes, the main reason he’s number 1 on this list!), who has read most of his books, especially “Follow the River” which is set partly in her home “New River Valley” of West Virginia. It was also once my pleasure to be the moderator at the Vonnegut Library Book Club’s discussion of Thom’s novel “Long Knife,” a fictionalized biography of William Clark, and before I knew it the library told me he was going to show up for our meeting(!)  No, that wasn’t intimidating at all. 🙂 Picture below from the author’s website.


Most of these meetings have been facilitated through local bookstores or libraries (big thanks to Bookmama’s Bookstore, The Vonnegut Library, and Indy Reads Books, just to name a few) I have a lot of honorable mentions for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday too, many of them local: Robert Rebein, Roxane Gay,  Hanna Yanagihara, Bill Polian(!), Kevin Getchell, Greg Sumner, and Rick Gunderman.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Authors Read for the First Time in 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a vastly popular weekly meme sponsored by the good folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s assignment: Top Ten “new to us” authors  we read for the first time in 2016.  I’m all about discovering new authors so this seemed like a perfect week to  participate. 🙂


I have a mix of old and new; in no particular order, here goes:


10. Ernie Pyle – famous *Hoosier* war correspondent in World War Two. I’ve read several entries in his book “Final Chapter” and also bought another book of his (Home Front) and have ordered a biography on him too. I must like him.


9. Susan Wallace – wife of General Lew Wallace, who you may have heard of, she wrote the book “The Storied Sea,” which I read and enjoyed in hopes of attending a book club meeting but sadly couldn’t make it when the date came around.


8. Paul Beatty – My awesomely named “Book Club II: Son of Book Club” read his book “The Sellout”this year. Confirming our gift for being trendsetters, it later was awarded the Man Booker Prize. 🙂

paul beatty.jpg

7. Lu Cixin – His “The Three Body Problem” was also read by the same Book Club as #8. This was our first book read after we reformed following a long hiatus. It was picked because I lost a bet on a football game to the person who was the instigator of our reforming. The winner of the bet got to impose a reading assignment to the loser, so he also made it our book club’s choice. It was one of my favorite books of the year! Almost sounds like I got off easy with that bet…

three body.jpg

6. Meredith Nicholson – a writer from “The Golden Age” of Indiana literature, I found his novel “The House of a Thousand Candles” a real delight. So much so that I bought and read a biography of him a month later.


5. Sarah Layden – Another local author who I’ve also had the good fortune of meeting a few times at local events. Her book “Trip Through Your Wires,” which I read back in February, is getting some great reviews.


4. Maurice Thompson – another author from Indiana’s “Golden Age” he may be my favorite discovery this year. I’m working my way through his collection of stories titled “Hoosier Mosaics”


3. James Baldwin – technically not totally new to me, as I had read a short story by him, but I finally got around to reading his famous “Go Tell it On the Mountain” and was quite impressed.


2. Lauren Ann Bolton – I read a story of hers from Butler University’s “Booth” literary journal and it (“The Man in Carnivorous Plants”) was one of the stories that made me think the most this year. Always a plus for me. Sorry, couldn’t find a pic in my cursory search.

1. Mark Haddon – I finally got around to his famous novel, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” last month for another book club. It led to one of my favorite discussions we’ve ever had with that group.

Well, those are some of my favorite new to me Authors discovered in 2016. What are yours? I’m working on my reading plans for 2017 now, so suggestions would be most welcome. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten “Indiana Books” Read in 2015



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Last week marked the 199th birthday of my home state, Indiana. With 2016 being the year of our bicentennial, I have been reading more and more Indiana-related material. Either books about Indiana or by Indiana authors or often both, so my twist on this week’s Top Ten Best _____ Books I Read in 2015 is to list my favorite reads of the year of that nature.  (I think I read a total of 14 books that would qualify and, since I liked all of the ten that made my list, I’m listing them in the order that I read them rather than “counting them down” to my favorite as I usually do.)

So here goes nothing…

1.Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas (read in February) I learned of – or at least was reminded of – this wildly popular novel from the early 20th century when reading Indiana author Dan Wakefield’s introduction to the “Indy Writes Books” anthology. (A volume that would certainly qualify for this list if I’d waited a few months to read it) I blogged in more depth about Magnificent Obsession earlier in the year.

2. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (February) Though not born in Indiana, Gay is now a professor at Purdue University in Lafayette. I read this one because a reading friend from one of my book clubs – who also works at a library – was starting a reading group at that library. I didn’t end up ’crashing’ that book club meeting after all, but I did read & like the book, which wasn’t the first thing I’ve read by the author. I never blogged about this one, but I’ve posted about a couple of her other stories here and here.

untamed state

3. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace (March) A HUGE best seller from the 19th century (it outsold pretty much everything all the way up until the time Gone With the Wind came along), this was a book I’d always wanted to read having – of course! – seen the movie many times. I recommended it for one of my book clubs and was rewarded with the lowest attendance of the year, with only three people showing, one of whom hadn’t finished. Though it was sometimes a tough slog, I did enjoy it and am glad I’ve added it to my list since Lew Wallace and I have a “connection“.

4.Long Knife by James Alexander Thom (April) I suggested this to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s book club, which is trying to branch out and read more “non-Vonnegut” books, yet ones that still have a connection to that author. Thom was a friend of Vonnegut’s and a supporter of the library. He even came to our meeting about this book, which I led (talk about intimidating!). The book is the story of George Rogers Clark, an early American frontier hero. One member of this book club still thanks me profusely (for recommending the book) every time I see him. He liked it so much, he’s pretty much bought up and read all the other works by this author. Yes, that makes me happy.  🙂

5. Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb by Ian Woollen (April) I met this author when he came to the aforementioned book club. He is a friend of Mr. Thom and an accomplished author in his own right, which I found out when I read this sprawling family epic centered around the Cold War and its intrigue. I always meant to write a blog post about it but sadly haven’t followed through yet. Mr. Woollen visited the book club at Bookmama’s bookstore in my old Indianapolis neighborhood when they read this book in April. I was there too and quite a pleasant time was had by all.

uncle anton

6. Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James H. Madison (May) I heard about and attended a “book launch event” for this and another book at The Indiana Historical Bureau located in downtown Indianapolis at the Indiana State Library. I feared that it might be a little dry like some non-fiction but what I found was a very readable and enjoyable book. I learned a lot too.

7. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (May)   The well-received debut novel of a young local writer. Zappia went to high school with my nephew (though he didn’t really know her), and it was through him that I first heard about this book. Kind of a “YA meets A Beautiful Mind” feel made this a refreshingly different read. And the author really “got me” with one of those plot twists at one point too, reminiscent of the horror movie where you think it’s over but… no, it’s not over.

made you up

8. Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut (June)This was a re-read for the June meeting of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s June meeting. As with many re-readings, I got so much more out of it the second time around. Though this book has one of Vonnegut’s more convoluted plots (and that’s really saying something considering his other books), my pleasure in reading it was not diminished.

9. The Mirrors by Nicole Cushing (November) What a pleasant surprise this book was! I picked it up at the author’s appearance at Indy Reads Books bookstore downtown last month. I still intend to post about it in detail at some point, but for now I’ll just say it was a powerful collection of dark short stories.


10. Winesburg, Indiana by Michael Martone and others (November) I can’t remember where I first heard about this wonderful collection of vignettes set in the fictional Indiana town of Winesburg (a nod to Sherwood Anderson’ famous Ohio town of the same name). Almost all the stories are told in the first person by the many and varied residents of the town. Reading this has made me seek out other works that Martone has had a hand in, one of which I’ll be using for next year’s edition of the Deal Me IN challenge.


That’s my list. Seems like I read a lot of “Indiana Books” in 2015, but that was “on purpose.”  Do you try to “read local” when you select what to read next? What were your criteria for today’s top ten list?

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Favorite Ghost Stories

It’s a “Hallowe’en Freebie” at Top Ten Tuesday, and one of the options was “Ghost” Stories, but I’m going to tweak it a little further and share my top ten favorite ghost – or just plain scary – stories from my five years of the Deal Me In short story reading challenge.

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by our blogging friends over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Here we go! (Years refer to the year I read the story as part of Deal Me In; links are to my post about the story)

10. The Slype House” by A.C. Benson (2011)

9. Is Anybody There?” by Kim Newman (2012)

8. The Two Sams” by Glen Hirshberg (2014)

7. City of Dreams” by Richard Christian Matheson (2012)

6. The Howling Man” by Charles Beaumont (2013)

5.Beyond the Wall” by Ambrose Bierce (2014)

4. Don’t Look Now” by Daphne DuMaurier (2015)

3. Phantoms” by Steven Millhauser (2013)

2. The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood (2013)

1. Smee” by A.M. Burrage (2011) Still my favorite. I got goosebumps just remembering it as I typed this up(!)

Honorable Mentions? There were more than I dare list, but here are five:

“The Ash Tree” M.R. James (2011); “A Tree of Night” by Truman Capote (2012); “William Wilson” by Edgar Allan Poe (2012); “The Autopsy” by Michael Shea (2014); “Dial Tone” by Benjamin Percy (2015)

What about you?  Do we share any favorite ‘ghost’ stories?  How many of my ten have YOU read? Inquiring minds want to know… 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun, weekly meme hosted by the good folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a great way to discover new book blog’s and even find common literary ground in the blogosphere. See here for other bloggers posts on this particular topic.

I only average about a book a week, so a top ten at this point of the year actually represents about 40% of my reading. Fortunately, I’ve read a lot of good books this year and didn’t have trouble coming up with ten favorites. I had a LOT of trouble however in ranking them, but I attempted to anyway. 🙂

I’m also happy to do this particular top ten list, since I can mention some of the books I’ve read but haven’t blogged about. Seems all I actually post about anymore are short stories! I keep meaning to write about BOOKS more often, but have failed thus far. Maybe that’s a worthy goal for the second half of the year? Hmm… Anyway, on to this week’s list, ranked in order with #1 being my “favorite” (if there can truly be such a thing)

10 Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Just read this one last month for my Book club that meets at Indy Reads Books bookstore. A really eye-opening non fiction work about the plight of the people in North Korea. Oppression, Economic collapse, starvation – it’s got it all.

9 Long Knife – by James Alexander Thom

The historical fiction biography of George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero who won most of his laurels in and around Indiana. I’d read this author’s (historical fiction) Tecumseh biography a few years ago and had no qualms about recommending this book as a ‘wild card’ pick for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. I was so gratified that it was a big hit with them, and that the author himself (who lives near Bloomington) visited our book club meeting with some friends.

8 Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris

I read a few books related to the TV game show “Jeoaprdy!” earlier this year in preparation for an in-person audition I had in Chicago (I was invited after passing the online test). This book was the best of the lot, both honest and funny AND useful for my “inevitable” (ha ha) future appearance on the show. Above: Jeopardy! champ Bob Harris – do you remember him?

7 Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

Yet another book club I’m in read this one back in April. The stories within this book are somewhat tough going at times, but some were also indisputably brilliant and have stuck with me even two months later. I’m sure that this is a book I’ll be revisiting over the years.

6 Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb by Ian Woollen

I learned of this book in a roundabout way, as the author was one of the friends that author James Alexander Thom brought with him to our book club meeting for #9 above. I then heard the author would be the guest of a reading group at Bookmama’s Bookstore (link on sidebar under “local interest”) so read it “at warp speed” in order to be finished in time to participate. A sweeping “family epic” spanning the Cold War, I still hope to write a more formal “review” of this one at some point. Who’s “Uncle Anton?” Why, Chekhov, of course!

5 Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

The only YA book on this list (and I think the only one I’ve read this year), it’s the debut novel of a young local author. Kind of a “A Beautiful Mind meets YA lit” book, with a great “unreliable narrator” who leaves you constantly wondering what’s real and what’s not.

4 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this one now, but I went through it again for a book club meeting, which featured one of the best discussions I’ve ever participated in. Shelley does not disappoint.

3 Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James Madison


I heard of a book signing at the local “Indiana Historical Bureau” (which I previously didn’t even know existed) and I popped downtown after work to check it out, finding a very nice event held at the Indiana State Library. I feared the book would be dry – as non-fiction sometimes can be – but it was really quite good, and I learned a lot about Indiana that I hadn’t known before, even though I’ve spent virtually my whole life here. Note: this book is not about basketball. 🙂

2 Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

The fourth (yea, Me!) non-fiction book on this list. I heard about this one via NPR, which was launching a kind of online book club with this work as the selection. It’s the story about the 33 trapped Chilean miners that was all over the news a few years ago. I actually DID blog about this one too. See here for details.

1 Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglass

Part of my “program” to read local, I learned from Dan Wakefield’s introduction to the Indy Writes Books anthology that this book was written by an Indiana author, so it went on my list. I also knew it was made into a very popular Rock Hudson film back in the day, but I still haven’t watched it. The book can be a little cheesy or naively sweet and optimistic at times, but I liked it anyway and make no apologies. 🙂 See my post about it here for details.

Well, those are my favorites (so far) for 2015. What are yours? Did YOU do a list for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

Okay, sure, I’ll do a Top Ten Tuesday two weeks in a row!


Hosted by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is a popular weekly meme with a different topic each week, asking participants to post their “top ten” in a particular category. This week, it’s Top Ten Books I Read in 2014. My slight amendment is that I am excluding re-reads (e.g. Cat’s Cradle) from this list. These are ranked in descending order, with #10 being my “least favorite” favorite and #1 being my most. See here to view others’ Top Ten Tuesday lists.

  1. Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Sure, it’s a lot like some of the other Murakami I’ve read, and the male character “feels” like the same guy, but I enjoy the author’s style, and the premise of this story really grabs you. When he was younger, Tsukuru was once part of a very close group of friends until one day they suddenly – for no reason he was aware of – cut off contact with him. This book joins him years later at the point where he is finally ready to investigate why.

  1. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Part of my intended “Summer of George” (I was also supposed to read The Mill on the Floss, but, uh, well, we won’t talk about what happened there) this was a great and epic read. Finally filled a gaping hole in my literary cultural literacy. 🙂

  1. The Frozen Deep by Wilkie Collins


This was really a pleasant surprise, as I hadn’t even heard of this novel until this year. I read it back in the winter, when it seemed appropriate based on the title. A great story, and one short enough that it can be read in just a few hours. Read my post about it here.

  1. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

Until this year, I hadn’t read any Orwell since college, when I read some of his essays about his harsh times spent as a student. This book was a fictionalized account of the authors time spent more or less as a vagrant in these two major cities.

  1. The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato


Another short and easy read, this book offers a glimpse into an unbalanced and obsessive mind. Narrated by that mind in such a matter-of-fact way it’s rather chilling…

  1. The Unpersuadables by Will Stohr


One of the most thought-provoking non-fiction books I’ve read in quite a while. Why do some people believe outlandish things that “cannot” be true (as you see it)? This book has some fascinating suggestions why, along with a lot of great case studies of ‘unpersuadables.’

  1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Read by me as part of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s book club schedule for “Banned Books Week”, this book – like Middlemarch above – finally filled an embarrassing void in my well-readness 🙂

  1. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Ever since I learned that our local university here is home to The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, I’ve become more and more interested in and enamored with this author. I’d never read this book, which is actually an after-the-fact assemblage of somewhat related stories not original written to be published together, until this year though. It left me in an odd but invigorated mood, contemplating how humanity really would treat a “new world” if we were able to colonize one. (Probably even worse than Bradbury’s imagined colonists did, I fear)

  1. Perfect Flaw by various (anthology of dystopian short stories)


In sports terms, this is a “huge upset” as this book comes from out of one of the myriad of small presses, and yet I really enjoyed the dystopias that the authors of these stories came up with. Not an uplifting book by any means, but imagination run rampant and great fun. Read my post about this one here.

1. We Live in Water by Jess Walter


Perhaps unfairly influenced by this author’s visit here last month, this was one of the better, single-author short story collections I’ve come across lately. Last year reads “Tunneling to the Center of the Earth” and “The Era of Not Quite” were of similar quality, but this was my favorite of the year 2014. Read my post about it here.

What were your favorite reads in 2014?

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Favorite “New to Me” Authors of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Pay them a visit, or check out everybody’s lists at the home post for this week.


Top Ten New to me Authors in 2014:

This is one of my favorite topics of the year. One of the best benefits of participating in the book blogging community is learning of new authors from your fellow bloggers. I’m happy to say that my reading the past five years has been greatly enriched by the addition of many authors who I only learned of through my fellow book bloggers. I heartily thank you all, and today I’ll share some of my favorite new-to-me authors of the year. The following are in a rough ascending order with my favorite being number 1…



  1. Katherine Vaz – I’ve been reading through her collection of short stories, “Fado and Other Stories” this year and have just been blown away. I’ve posted about a couple of her stories, “Undressing the Vanity Dolls” and “Fado” if you’d like to hear more about her.
  2. Ernesto Sabato – His book, “The Tunnel,” was recommended to me by a co-worker. It was great! I even recommended it for the book club at Indy Reads Books when they were looking for a ‘short’ book before reading a longer one (I think the longer one was Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” – HE didn’t make this list) and they liked it too.
  3. Ralph Ellison – One of those “I’m embarrassed that I’ve never read” books for me has always been Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” Fortunately, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library book club read it for Banned Books Month in September. Very deep and often brilliant.
  4. Jess Walter – Wow. His collection of short stories “We Live in Water” blew me away a couple months ago. It looks like another local book discussion group will also be reading his novel Beautiful Ruins next year, which I’m looking forward to. Top that off with an Indy visit by this author for “Vonnegut Fest” in November, and he’s certainly become one of my favorite new-to-me authors.
  5. Ben Winters – I read a couple short stories of his, then his Edgar Award-winning novel “The Last Policeman” as preparation for a launch party for the final book in that same trilogy. Met him in person at that event and have subsequently read another great short story of his (“Between the Lines”) in the hot-off-the-presses anthology of local writers, “Indy Writes Books”
  6. Roxane Gay – Her story “North Country” has been one of my favorites from my 2014 Deal Me In short story project. I read a couple others by her since – and have one on my radar for next year – and was looking forward to a scheduled visit of hers to the local Vonnegut Library, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to health reasons.
  7. Leonid AndreevHis story “Lazarus” may be my favorite short story read of the year. I had never even heard of this author before I made “stories by Russian writers” a suit in my annual Deal Me In challenge
  8. Ken Liu – I enjoyed his sci-fi flavored story “What I Assume You Shall Assume” in the “Weird Western” anthology “Dead Man’s Hand” which I completed recently. He’s an author I definitely want to explore further. I need to write a blog post about that anthology too. It was a lot of fun. 🙂
  9. Martin Amis – I just finished reading his book, “Time’s Arrow” and hope to write a blog post about it soon. Very enjoyable fresh narrative perspective – a novel written in reverse time. Now that’s ambitious.
  10. Salman Rushdie – I’d never read him until I read the exceptional short story “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” earlier this year. Of course I knew of him because of the infamous “fatwah” from back in the day, but this is the first I’ve read of him. I received some recommendations from others for subsequent reading which I hope to follow up on..

Okay, so those are ten of my favorite “New to Me” authors in 2014. Now I want to know who YOURS are… 🙂


Top Ten Tuesday – Characters You Wish Would get Their Own Book

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the talented bloggers at “The Broke and the Bookish” It’s a fun topic this week. Lets see what I can come up with…

10 & 9 “Literary Fathers Division”:
Tywin Lannister of A Song of Ice and Fire series
Perhaps too influenced by Charles Dance’s absolutely flawless portrayal in the HBO series, I still would like to read a book of his exploits. Actually there are any number of characters from that series that are whole book-worthy. 🙂 (Ygritte, The Hound, Brienne, etc., etc.)

(Below: Actor Charles Dance – the best on-screen scowls since Clint Eastwood)


Mr. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice
I’ve always wanted to know his history and how a seemingly sensible man like him could succumb to the charms of that vacuously
annoying Mrs. Bennett. Probably someone has already written a book about this.

8 thru 6 – “Hunger Games Division”:
Haymitch Abernathy
I want to read the story of HIS victory in the Hunger Games and his “fall” afterward – I guess his life follows the traditional “Behind The Music” story arc..,
Caesar Flickerman
Would love a satirical novel of his rise to the top of the entertainment industry in The Capital. Learning more about Effie Trinket old be a bonus too.
(below: Caesar Flickeman in the film version. I just googled “smarm” and found this image)


President Snow:
A “political biography” titled “Portrait of Evil” or something like that could document his career as a despot…

5. Ellen from Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth
Heck, that book is so long she almost has a full book about her already. Never mind. 🙂

4. The Witches from Shakespeare’s MacBeth
The weird sisters deserve to have their story told. Some work has been done on this front already. I recently picked up a short story anthology where the tales were based on Shakespeare plays or characters. One featured the witches in a darkly comic spoof of scavenger hunts.


3. Eowyn from The Lord for the Rings trilogy.
I want to read of her childhood, growing up into a kick-ass heroine, and I want to read that she finds happiness with Whatshisname. And I want to picture actress Miranda Otto in my mind’s eye as I’m reading. 🙂

2. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series
I think this would be a difficult book for someone to write, though. As much as I love her – and I absolutely love her – part of the success of a character such as she likely depends on her being sort of peripheral.


1. Clarisse McClellan from Fahrenheit 451
What happened to this girl? She disappears in the novel after she kindles the spark of doubt in Montag. Or, I’ve often wondered, does she maybe not exist at all outside of Montag’s mind? Did he hallucinate her to help bring his doubts about the dystopia to the surface? If she’s real, I want to know what happened to her. Did “they” take her away? Does she later escape?

Well, that’s me. Who did – or would – you put on your list of non main characters who deserve a book of their own? Click here to see what lists other Top Ten Tuesday participants have come up with.

Top Ten Tuesday – Who’s at Your Lunch Table?


Top Ten Tuesday is a popular meme hosted by the readers blog, “The Broke and the Bookish.” This week’s theme, in honor of it being ‘back to school season’ in most parts, is “Top ten book characters that would be sitting at my lunch table.” It’s an interesting list to ponder – who would be in your clique? For economy’s sake, I limited my choices to books I’ve read the past couple years. I’ve also kept it evenly distributed, gender-wise, and have a “boy-girl-boy-girl” format. I’ve also skewed my list to the relative outcasts, yet outcasts with great potential or of great inner strength. I’ve also imagined these characters as high-school aged, even if they weren’t so in the books where I met them. Here goes.


1. Diggory Venn (of Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy)
Bonus points if you recognize this name, one of the great underrated characters of classic literature. He would be a loyal table-mate and the rest of us could help him through his pining over some other girl in school that is unattainable (like he did for Thomasin Yeobright in Return of the Native)

(below: actor Steven Mackintosh as Diggory Venn (aka “The Reddleman”)  in the Hallmark Channel’s adaptation of “Return of the Native”)


2. Dellarobia Turnbow (from Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior”)
Dellarobia would add an edginess to our table, and I also suspect I would secretly like her but be afraid to tell her. She would also be a bridge between our table and cool kids’ tables. Some the cool boys would chase after her, but she would likely not give the the time of day.
3. John Eames (from Anthony Trollope’s “The Small House at Allington”
Bonus points again if you’ve heard of this character. A quintessential, good-hearted nerd (or “hobbledehoy” as Trollope describes him), we’d welcome him to our group.
4. Nao (from Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the a Time Being)
Nao and John would be a standard-bearers for the tables nerd quotient. I think Nao might occasionally bring cookies or some other treat from her Grandmother that she would share with the table. I hope she would, anyway.
5. Henry Tilney (from Jane Auaten’s Northanger Abbey”) We’ve got to have some popular kid representation at our table too. And he’s very well-read, so we’d have great discussions,
6. Cinder (from Marissa Myers’ “Lunar Chronicles”
Hey, our table is an equal opportunity table. Cyborgs are welcome too! (Although you quickly forget that she’s a cyborg when you get to know her)
7. Tyrion Lannister (from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series)
Duh! Tyrion would make an awesome table-mate, and would I’m sure add a healthy component of mischief to our group’s activities. Plus he would keep us in stitches with his sense of humor, and I suspect he would also know how to get us alcohol on the weekends. He’s a reader too!


8. Lettie Hempstock (from Neil Gaiman’s “Ocean at the End of the Lane”)
With so many “outcasts” at our table we’re sure to encounter an occasional “attempted bullying” or two. They’d be no match for Lettie and her “powers.”
9. Tertius Lydgate (from George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” which I’m currently reading)
“Mr. Lydgate” (I suspect even in high school we might call him this) would be the one in our group thinking about the future and helping us to keep our “eyes on the prize.”
10. Juliette (from Hugh Howey’s “Wool”)
I’m sure our cell-phones and other gadgets would occasionally go on the fritz. Thankfully, Juliette could probably fix any technical problems during the space of a forty-minute lunch period. 🙂

That’s my table. What about yours? Is it all the way on the other side of the cafeteria? Do any of table-mates share some of their time at your table? Who do we have in common?


Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Characters Who Have Perished in A Song of Ice and Fire


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (an popular meme hosted by the blog, The Broke and The Bookish) theme was “The Top Ten Characters Who _____” and we are left to fill in the blank. Naturally I went with Top Ten Characters who Died Memorably in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (and its television counterpart, Game of Thrones). My ground rules for inclusion: the death is significant to the story, shocking, gruesome, or involved a main character. As far as the George R.R. Martin books vs. the HBO Series, I guess I’m using both – mostly the series, though, as it’s fresher in my mind. (They’ve become hopelessly mixed together in my brain anyway) I will say all occur before where we are in the series now, and what the series reflects up to in book three, “A Storm of Swords.” I did notice in my research too that “Access Hollywood” kind if scooped me in this area, but there’s room for everyone on the GoT bandwagon, right? And – do I even need to say it? – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!

11-13 (Honorable mentions) Beric Dondarrion
How many times has “The Lord of Light” brought him back now? Maybe this should be 11th thru 14th?

10. John Arryn (poisoned)
This is “The Death that Starts it All” and leads to the calamitous events that are still befalling the Stark family and the rest of Westeros.

9. Sansa’s direwolf, Lady (put down)
If there was any doubt at the Lannisters being “The Bad Guys” (and there shouldn’t have been at this point), Cersei’s insisting that Ned kill Sansa’s direwolf should have removed them.

8. Ser Hugh of the Vale (jousting “accident”)
Setting the standard (and I’m talking more about the series here) for an incredible run of blood gushing, opened throats that will greatly shorten broadcast times when they are removed to make the series suitable for network television.

7. Doreah and Xaro Xhoan Daxos (entombing)
We gain further evidence that Daenerys is not to be trifled with. Man, I hated to see Doreah go, though (at least in the series, where she is portrayed by actress Roxanne McKee)

6. Kraznys (incinerated)
See sentence one of the previous entry.

5. Polliver (sword through the throat)
I wanted to rank this one higher, but it bothers me that I liked this scene where young Arya Stark avenges the death of her friend Lommy by using the same words his killer did.

4. Viserys (“crowning” with molten gold)
Yep. No one was sorry when this happened. Daenerys is free to be her own person (and is now the rightful heir to the Iron Throne) when Viserys suffers a Crassus-like fate at the hands of the Parthians, er, I mean Dothraki.

3. Robb & Catelyn Stark (crossbow bolts and knife wounds)
I still wonder what people who hadn’t already read the books thought about this episode. Roose Bolton’s “The Lannisters send their regards” line as he delivers the coup de grace to Robb was one of the most memorable in the series. And Catelyn? What was I saying about opened throats earlier? We get a two-fer with her death, and though Ser Hugh’s might have been best in gruesomeness, Catelyn wins the blood spurting distance category. Did she have high blood pressure?

2. Eddard “Ned” Stark  (beheading)
This was a shocker both in the book and the TV series. Appropriately, we first meet Ned when he is beheading a deserter from the Night’s Watch. What goes around comes around?


1. Joffrey (poisoning)
Maybe I’m ranking this number one because it “just happened” (in series broadcast time anyway) or because I hate Joffrey so much. I mean, who are viewers/readers going to focus their hate on now? As Joffrey choked and Cersei lamentingly wailed, I kept hearing Jerry Seinfeld’s “That’s a shame…” line in the back of my mind.

Are YOU a reader/watcher of these books/this series? Which are in your top ten character deaths? If you’re not, what kind of “top ten characters who ____” did you decide to do?


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