Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Love

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Today’s topic is a cover freebie- so I’m going to go with books I was initially attracted to based on the cover.  I know we all do this sometimes, but I feel particularly guilty of it quite frequently lately.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn – It’s impossible not to notice this cover when you’re walking past it. Look at the bright colors? And why is that shark upside down? Is it dead? I’m about eight chapters into this and loving it so far. A wonderful sort of magical realism story.

Oil and Marble: A novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo by Stephanie Storey – I love that the cover goes along with the title here. I originally thought this would be non-fiction but it turns out it’s historical fiction. I have high hopes but reviews seem mixed.

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter – Truth be told, I’m still unsure on this book. But I adore this cover- it’s busy and my eye keeps catching on something new every time I look at it.

Crossings by Alex Landragin – I snatched this up from NetGalley because I couldn’t say no to this cover. I read the blurb and deflated a little bit but then I looked at the cover and said “oh well.” It’s pretty enough that if I like it I may just buy it to look at (it’s even prettier in person).

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi – This is another book that’s hard not to notice with it’s bright red and pink against a backdrop of gray.  I’ve also heard great things about the author though I’m still unsure if it’s right for me.

The Book of Hidden Wonders by Polly Crosby – This one has been floating around recently and it catches my eye everytime.  Something about the cover just feels mysterious and inviting.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – So this is an interesting one because I actually don’t like this cover. I don’t like the style, I don’t like the feather across the eyes.  It makes me want to squirm in my seat. I’m also weirdly drawn to it because it makes me so uncomfortable.

City of Strife (City of Spires #1) by Claudie Arsenault – I wish this was a picture of a real city in real life so I could really go there.

West by Carys Davies – I like the weird mesh of styles here and the big bold letters.  I think I’ve added this and taken it off several times because I don’t love the blurb but I do love the cover.

Beyond Redemption (Manifest Delusions #1) by Michael R. Fletcher – I love the western feel of this cover and the bold blocky art work. I’m reasonably sure this book is too heavy on the magic for me to ever get around to reading it, but I keep it on the TBR because why not.  

And that’s it from me! Have you read any of these? Do you like any of these covers? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that made me hungry

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Happy Tuesday friends!  I meant to do more TTTs in August but the topics weren’t speaking to me much.  If I’m being honest- I don’t know that I’m going to make out any better with this topic- but I thought it would be fun to try.

Beyond the El by John Chu

Beyond the El by John Chu – This is a short story, and probably doesn’t count, but it’s definitely the first one that came to mind.  The MC is what is known as a food crafter (someone who cooks with magic?) and he spends the whole story trying to recreate his mother’s dumplings. Dumplings are pretty much my favorite food group… so, yeah. Had to mention it here. (As a bonus, this one is free on Tor.com.)

How Long Til Black Future Month by NK Jemisin

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin – This is a collection of short fiction by N.K. Jemisin. There are two food related stories that made my mouth water: “L’alchemista,” where a chef is challenged to cook magical recipes by a mysterious stranger, and “Cuisine des Memoires,” where a strange kitchen can recreate any historical meal, the last supper, or Queen Elizabeth’s coronation dinner, or even a meal whose only significance is personal.

Fallout The Vault Dwellers Official Cookbook by Victoria Rosenthal

Fallout: The Vault Dweller’s Official Cookbook by Victoria Rosenthal – Okay. If you’ve ever played Fallout, you know that none of the food items you pick up ever sound appealing.  But still… aren’t you just a little curious to know what Deathclaw Wellingham tastes like? Or Radstag Stew?  Come on. You know you want it.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Because Waffles.

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews – I didn’t actually like this book that much. In fact, I disliked it so much I never saw the movie even though I really wanted to.  But.  For some reason the author included a bunch of recipes throughout the book and many of them actually sounded really good.  I never got around to trying them because the book was borrowed, but I wanted to.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich – Evanovich’s novels always make me hungry.  Lizzie is a baker of most excellent cupcakes, and Stephanie Plum seems to frequent Chick-fil-A quite often.  Although I will add it’s totally unfair that Diesel can eat as many cupcakes as he wants without having to worry about his figure.

Yes Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson – Samuelsson is probably one of my favorite TV chefs. In this memoir he recounts how he learned to cook from his Swedish grandmother, and went on to study in some of the most renowned kitchens in the world.  The hunger is just part of the experience.

Luna New Moon by Ian McDonald

New Moon (Luna #1) by Ian McDonald – One of the main characters in this story is a teenager, Lucasinho, who likes to bake cakes.  He seems to have a talent for it too.  IIRC – there are also some killer descriptions of Brazilian coffee which is my other favorite food group.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Carnival food is my guilty pleasure. I don’t care that it’s terrible for you. Or that most of it is deep fried.  We get one big carnival in New England a year and it is my mission to taste it all.  Granted- the food I’m referring to isn’t exactly the candy apples and popcorn of The Night Circus, but it was hard not to be reminded.  (I’d give my left arm for a giant bag of hot kettle corn right now… Probably won’t happen this year.  Damn you 2020.)

So I made it to nine.  I tried.  (Who knew books that make you hungry were so hard to remember?)  Do you have any favorite foodie novels? Let me know so I can check them out!

Book Haul

Even though I wasn’t reading this summer- it didn’t stop me from buying books. What can I say? I have a problem. Barnes & Noble had a great sale a couple weeks ago so I picked up a few things.

Afterland by Lauren Beukes

In a world where most of the men are dead (after an event known as Manfall) a mother and son flee across the country in search of a safer place, encountering anarchist communes and crazed cults. I’ve read a couple books by Beukes now and while they each left something to be desired – the blurb on this one is too good to ignore.

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

Historical Fiction has always kind of been my first love, especially anything relating to Greeks, Romans and Vikings. So of course, when this was released a couple years ago, it caught my attention. This is a different look at one of Rome’s most famous Emperors, that one that fiddled while Rome burned.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I’ve already seen the movie- but this seemed perfect to keep away one of my longest reading slumps. It’s relatively short, the chapters are quick and suspenseful. Malerman has a sequel out to this now called Malorie that I’d also like to read, but I knew I couldn’t pick it up until I’d actually read this one.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key is about a nanny who takes a job in a smart home in the Scottish Highlands. What she doesn’t know is the children are a nightmare, the parents are absent, and the “smart” home has it’s own ideas about how to operate. This was another book that seemed perfect for my current reading mood so I picked it up on a whim.

That was it for this haul- but I’m excited to share some of my other summer purchases too! I’ve already made it through two of these books and loved them. Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

On a side note- this is my first time using WordPress’s new Block Editor. It’s okay but also kind of weird? So I apologize if the formatting is wonky. Might take some getting used to.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I missed this topic a few weeks back, but there are SO MANY amazing books to be released this year.  I keep finding new ones to gawk at and feeling overwhelmed at the amount of reading I have to do to catch up.

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett (Sept 15, 2020)- This is the prequel I never knew I needed.  It’s a Kingsbridge novel set during the Viking Age.  A KINGSBRIDGE NOVEL SET IN THE VIKING AGE!!!  A favorite series by a beloved author during my favorite time period.  It’s like Follett wrote it just for me.

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell (Nov 24, 2020) – I’m sorry to start this list with two pieces mostly unrelated to my blog content- but when I found out about this title just a couple weeks after Follett’s, it felt like Christmas was coming early. I’ll probably sob my whole way through this book because I know it’s the last but I have never loved any fictional character as much as I love Uhtred.  I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Oct 13, 2020) – I’ve been eager for this too, since I first heard about it in spring.  Although her Sixth World series (that starts with Trail of Lightning) wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I loved her short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience and I’m hoping to see more of what drew me in about that story here.

The Trials of Koli by MR Carey

The Trials of Koli by M.R. Carey (Sept. 15, 2020) – The Book of Koli has undoubtedly been my favorite read so far this year, so I can’t leave it’s sequel off the list.

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski (Oct 27, 2020) – I can’t tell if this is set in the same world as The Witcher, but regardless I’m thrilled to see this.  It’s been around for quite some time, but it’s never been translated before. I’ve seen some reviews that said this is Sapkowski’s best, so even though there’s no Geralt, I’ll be there with bells on.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (Oct 6, 2020) – We all know how much I love horror, and while I still haven’t had a chance to try Kingfisher, I’m super excited for this.  The blurb reminded me of House of Leaves and also like the Horror version of Ten Thousand Doors of January.  No idea how that would work exactly but I’m there for it.

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones (Sep 1, 2020) – After the most excellent Mapping the Interior, and the even more excellent The Only Good Indians (RTC), consider me an official fan of Stephen Graham Jones.  This is what I think of when I hear the term literary horror and it’s brilliant.

Beowulf A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley (Aug 25, 2020) – According to the author’s twitter, the first word of this book is “Bro” and Grendel’s mother “is a warrior woman, not an ugly troll woman”.  I was thrilled with her modern contemporary retelling- The Mere Wife, and I am so excited for this modern feminist translation of Beowulf.

Confessions on the 745 by Lisa Unger

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger (Oct 6, 2020) – I’m in love with the premise of this – two strangers confess their problems to each other on a train. A few days later, one of those problems mysteriously disappears…

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Relentless Moon (The Lady Astronaut #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal (Jul 14, 2020) – Okay, so this one is cheating, since it’s already been released, but I haven’t read it yet. It is on hold at my library though!  If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend checking it out (starting with the short story The Lady Astronaut of Mars).

I’ve been out of the loop – so I’m curious, which new releases are you most looking forward to?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Borrowed For The Sake Of A Buddy

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Today’s topic is “Books I borrowed/bought because…”  The truth is, I am hugely influenced by what my friends and family are reading.  I enjoy being part of the discussion, of the book afterward.  It’s part of why I’m a blogger.  I appreciate having that additional insight and receiving recommendations for books I might not have otherwise found.

Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota) by Ada Palmer

Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota #1) by Ada Palmer – I would never ever have picked this up without being prompted both by the Science Fiction Fantasy Book Club on GoodReads and a very timely Kindle sale.  The blurb is super vague and a confusing mess that seems like it focuses mostly on world building.  It’s turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time, and if it hadn’t been for the book club pick, I’d never have discovered it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Back before I started really getting back into reading, circa 2015 or so, I wasn’t very active on GoodReads and I wasn’t frequenting the bookstore.  The movie wasn’t out yet, so I’d honestly never heard of this.  Thanks to a coworker, who let me borrow it, I flew this book and it succeeded in making me love reading again.  I don’t talk about this one much, because it’s since faded to the background, tainted by that terrible movie I was so looking forward to, but I still hold this up as my Nerd Bible every once in awhile.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – Same workplace, different co-worker.  He went ON AND ON AND ON about this book.  Probably like I do with many of my favorite things.  I didn’t end up reading it until later, but I thought of him the whole time (in a totally not creepy way).  I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as he did, but I could see why he was talking about it so much.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor – This one was prompted by a reading challenge I was doing called “Inclusive Book Bingo”.  And it seemed very YA/MG to me which was sort of a turn off right from the start.  I participated because I didn’t have any better alternatives, and reading together is better than reading alone.  What I discovered was a story worthy of adults and younger audiences.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – This is kind of a weird story.  The short of it is, one reader objected to the inclusion of a gay couple in Renegades, so the rest of us rounded ourselves up and initiated a buddy-read-sit-in.  I made a couple wonderful reader friends that I still message with regularly.  Renegades turned out to be pretty enjoyable, even though I haven’t gone on to continue the series.  (I’m not opposed to it, it simply isn’t a priority.)

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

The Mere Wife by  Maria Dahvana Headley – This was a book I’d never heard of, on a subject I knew nothing about, because for some reason I never had to read Beowulf in high school.  But I really admire the literary tastes of the person who proposed the buddy read in the first place so I decided to give it a go, even though it didn’t seem like my sort of thing.  And I am so glad I did.  Because truly this was one of the best books I read last year.

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James – The same person who prompted me to borrow The Mere Wife, prompted me to borrow this.  Unfortunately I didn’t love this one as much as I loved the other, but there was still a lot to appreciate about it, and I’m not sorry I read it.

Carnival by Elizabeth Bear

Carnival by Elizabeth Bear – Another one I can attribute to the Inclusive Book Bingo Challenge.  This was my first experience with Bear.  I still want me some carpet plant, and a House… and a Khir… so many cool things.  I likely never would have discovered this book if it hadn’t been elected as the Book Bingo group read.

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning – I have my momma to thank for this one!  She has lots of good recommendations and I think we’ve read through most of this series together.  I doubt I’d ever have found it on my own.

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel – Another great recommendation from my mom!  This is way outside my comfort zone- but when my mom recounted the story to me I was sort of in disbelief.  I’ve seen a Maine winter.  Surviving 20 of them with no roof over your head?  I read the book and I still can’t imagine.
And that’s it!  Have you ever picked up a book or read something you might not have otherwise because someone you trusted recommended it?

 

 

Month in Review: March 2020

Hello friends!  I’m back after a short hiatus.  I needed to catch up on my reading.  It’s hard to be a book blogger when you aren’t getting any reading done afterall.

So this post is a little late, and to boot it’s a little sad.  I really didn’t get much done in March, adjusting to my new life as stay-at-home mom, educator, and recruiter.

Novels/Novellas Read: 4

Short Stories: 0

Pages Read: 1,373

Average Rating: 3.5

Female Authors: 3

Favorite Read:

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Other Reads Completed:

 

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn

A Time Of Dread by John Gwynne

The Deep by Alma Katsu (RTC)

ARCs Received:

Whelp.  There goes my ARC requesting ban.  I’m sorry.  I was doing good, for a little while anyway.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

The Mirror Man by Jane Gilmartin

The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

PopSugar Challenge 2020 Prompts Completed:

A book on a subject you know nothing about: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

A book with a map: A Time of Dread by John Gwynne

Other Posts for March:

Discussion: The Dreaded Slump

Top Ten Tuesday: Pandemic Fiction

Ideas for Staying Sane While Social Distancing

Coming Up:

A couple of these I’ve already read through, and am super excited to share!  I also fell behind in March ARCs, so I’ll be catching up with those.

What have you got planned for April?  Anything exciting?

Top Ten Tuesday: Pandemic Fiction

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

For some I know this topic will hit too close to home right now, and I don’t blame you.  Feel free to skip this and go on to the next link.  But if you’re like me, with a black, and often inappropriate sense of humor, you might be craving every pandemic book you can get your hands on right now.  Some of these I’ve read, some of them I haven’t, but I hope everyone finds something interesting.

And if speculative plagues are less your thing, here are a few historical and nonfiction plague books:

 

I realize this list is far from comprehensive – have I missed any of your favorites?  Are you reading pandemic fiction now or avoiding it?

 

Book Review: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Rating:  ★★★★

I am not going to give you either a blurb or a summary of events here.  I think the blurb is super spoilerific – so if you can go in blind, please go in blind.  I’m going to avoid spoilers here as much as possible.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Glass Hotel.  I read Station Eleven last year via audiobook and it was one of the few audiobooks that managed to capture my attention for the full eleven hours.  For an untrained audiobook listener, that was a big deal. I was even more amazed that I could so completely enjoy a book that lacked any serious plot direction.  It was the characters and the snapshots of their lives driving me onward, and I’m happy to report The Glass Hotel is structured similarly.

The book meanders from one POV to the next and back again.  For the most part, I enjoyed all the perspectives, even if I enjoyed some a smidge more.  These are fully realized characters.  We follow them through the high and low points of their lives.  We bear witness to all their ugly sins and fatal flaws.

Reading print instead of listening, I had the opportunity to appreciate Mandel’s writing in a way I previously hadn’t.  It is compulsive. It flows beautifully.  It’s accessible and literary all at the same time.  It convinced me that I need to read pretty much everything she has ever written.

As for the story, well, I found it to be a good bit darker than I remembered Station Eleven being, despite the fact that this contains no apocalypse inducing pandemics.  Most of the characters aren’t the sort you’d want to be friends with, and they leave other characters devastated in their wake.  Especially haunting considering parts of this were based on a true story.

The are some speculative, supernatural elements to this story – but ultimately I’d categorize it under contemporary literature.  It’s not a significant part of the book.  In retrospect, I wish she’d done a little more with that piece, fleshed it out just a bit, given us more of a reason for it’s inclusion.

The ending for some characters is slightly ambiguous. Not so much that it annoyed me but it just felt a little anticlimactic.  Despite the darkness of some events, Mandel still manages to end it on what feels like a hopeful note. Ultimately, my complaints are minor  and I found most of the novel completely engrossing, and ultimately difficult to put down.

Despite my numerous comparisons to Station Eleven, The Glass Hotel stands on its own, and I highly recommend picking up if you enjoy Mandel’s writing.   It releases on tomorrow, March 24, 2020, and can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Phoenix Extravagant  Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Author:  Yoon Ha Lee

Publisher: Rebellion / Solaris

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 416 Pages

Release Date: June 9, 2020

Blurb: For generations the empire has spread across the world, nigh-unstoppable in their advance. Its power depends on its automata, magically animated and programmed with sigils and patterns painted in mystical pigments.

A symbol-painter – themselves a colonial subject – is frustrated in their work when their supply of Phoenix Extravagant dries up, and sets out to find the source. What they’ll discover is darker than anything they could have imagined…

Why I’m Excited for it:  Despite the difficult learning curve in Ninefox Gambit, I absolutely fell in love with the unique and complex world building and the flawed and yet weirdly lovable characters.  Though I am also eager to return to The Machineries of the Empire, I’m also excited to see what Lee does with a new world and new characters.

It also sounds like another fantastic blend of science fiction and fantasy with magic powered robot (dragons?).  Either way- I absolutely can’t wait for this!

Which new releases are you looking forward to?

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Someday, when I bust out of this reading slump, or conquer all these ARCS, I’m going to read whatever strikes my fancy for a month.  So there’s likely no sticking to this list.  Here’s what I’m excited about, ARCs or No.

11-22-63 Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King – Planned buddy read with the fabulous Nicole @ Book-Wyrm-Knits!  I’m holding you to it. End of May.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi – This was gifted to me by the equally fabulous Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy!  Thank you!  I can’t wait to read it.

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway – Gnomon was a mind bender that made me work for it.  While I think I’ll put this off until my reading slump is definitely over- I’m eager to get back to his work.

Full Throttle by Joe Hill

Full Throttle by Joe Hill – Now that I’m thinking about it, a Joe Hill anthology is probably exactly what I need to dump the slump.  Short attention spans aren’t really an issue in a book of short stories.

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee The Machineries of Empire

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee – I want to get this read before I forget what happened in Nine Fox Gambit!  (For a review that explains the Machineries of the Empire better than I ever could, please check out Ola’s review at Re-enchantment of the World.)

Killing Gravity by Corey J White

Killing Gravity by Corey J. White – This was a Tor Freebie not too long ago.  It’s a novella so perfect for the amount of attention I seem willing to give books lately, and one that’s been on my radar for awhile.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – This is one of the few ARCs I have that I am still super excited for!  It also is neither fantasy or sci-fi, so it will give me a much needed break from the genre.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon – This is another that falls outside my usual genre, but I’m eager to get to it.  I’ve heard great things about Lawhon and historical fiction usually makes me all happy inside.

The Last Kingdom Saxon Stories 1 by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell – Keeping with the theme of Historical Fiction (and in my desperation to seek out comforting reads in turbulent times) I’m eager to reread this.  Especially since the final book in the Saxon Stories was recently announced.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones – Because Horror.  That’s it.

 

We all know I’m not likely to stick to this TBR… and there are probably 30 other books I could put here.  What have you got planned for the spring?