Down the TBR Hole #2

Down the TBR Hole is a (very) bookish meme, originally created by Lia @ Lost In A Story. She has since combed through all of her TBR (very impressive) and diminished it by quite a bit, but the meme is still open to others! How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

I left off with Trick, which is no longer #10 on my list because I read some of the Sandman volumes since I did this last time!

Today I think I’ll tackle the next five in line.

#1 – Pointe, by Brandy Colbert

PointeTheo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

I was underwhelmed by the last YA-ballet book I read (Tiny Pretty Things) and this seems like it’s tackling heavy, angsty issues. I do want to read more PoC authors, but I think I’ll let this one go and look elsewhere.

#2 – Written in the Stars, by Aisha Saeed

Written in the StarsThis heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

The arranged-marriage trope is an old standard, and one I’m tired of, but this interests me because it seems the story is going to dive into the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced one. Plus this isn’t a fantasy world, it’s ours, where things like this are still happening. This one stays.

#3 – The Selected Poetry of Rainier Maria Rilke

RilkeThe influence and popularity of Rilke’s poetry in America have never been greater than they are today, more than fifty years after his death. Rilke is unquestionably the most significant and compelling poet of romantic transformation, of spiritual quest, that the twentieth century has known. His poems of ecstatic identification with the world exert a seemingly endless fascination for contemporary readers.

In Stephen Mitchell’s versions, many readers feel that they have discovered an English rendering that captures the lyric intensity, fluency, and reach of Rilke’s poetry more accurately and convincingly than has ever been done before.

Mr. Mitchell is impeccable in his adherence to Rilke’s text, to his formal music, and to the complexity of his thought; at the same time, his work has authority and power as poetry in its own right. Few translators of any poet have arrived at the delicate balance of fidelity and originality that Mr. Mitchell has brought off with seeming effortlessness.

This made it on to my TBR thanks to Rilke being Sam’s favorite poet in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. In a way, that seems like a juvenile reason to want to read something, but I’ve always loved poetry–I was writing it throughout my childhood right alongside my terrible prose, and I took a few classes on poetry in college.

Even if I’m not as enamored of the series as I was when I first started it (both because it got weaker as it went on, and because The Raven Cycle is simply better by any criteria I care about) I suppose it’s still a good reason to want to give a new-to-me poet a try. For the moment, this one stays.

#4 – The Bookstore, by Deborah Myler

The BookstoreA witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.

Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

I think this got added to the TBR list because it was featured in a BookRiot article around its release, or something similiar; it seemed interesting at the time, and it’s not a great leap for me to want to read about a bookstore or people who love books.

But now that I read the blurb again, some worrying buzzwords are jumping out at me. There’s nothing wrong with debut novels–every author has to have a first book published–but when I see the synopsis littered with words like witty, quirky, colorful, and motley, I worry that either the book is trying too hard, or the marketing for it is. A quick glimpse at the reviews didn’t help, either, as one-stars abounded on the first page.

This one definitely goes.

#5 – Second Position, by Katherine Locke

Second PositionFour years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight…

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had… or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

Another ballet novel? I seem to remember there was a list that I grabbed a few off of, which is probably why this is in close proximity to Pointe.

Second-chance romances always appeal to me, so it earns points there, and according to the many, many five-star reviews, the writing is gorgeous and the romance handled with a close-focus intimacy that sounds right up my alley. This one stays.

Have you read any of these and have an opinion you want to share? Let me know in the comments if you think I’ve made a mistake!

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