Down the TBR Hole #3

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 Second Position, which despite being at the end of my second go-round of this meme, is now #6 on the overall TBR. Woohoo, I’m reading books I wanted to read!

I pick back up with a real doozy.

#1 – 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami

1Q84The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

I’m pretty sure this made it on the TBR because it sounded interesting and I’ve read a lot of praise of Murakami’s works in general. Digging into the reviews of 1Q84 specifically, though, it seems like a bad place to start. First, it strikes me as a love-it-or-loathe-it book: very few middling reviews, tons of 1- or 5-stars.

Second, even people who like it themselves are repeatedly saying not to start here if you’re new to Murakami.

Third, it’s nearly a thousand pages, so if this might not be a keeper, it’s probably not worth investing the time or money in.

This one goes, with the caveat that I’ll look into his other works and pick one to try that’s better suited as an entry point.

#2 – The Penryn & the End of Days trilogy, by Susan Ee

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again. (Angelfall)

Booklr loved these books when I showed up there as a brand-new independent author, and Susan Ee was an indie who made good. I’m a sucker for post-apoc fiction (duh!) and these sound right up my alley, simple as that.

They stay, though if I don’t end up liking the first one, I’ll quit there and ditch the other two.

#3 – In Another Life, by Julie Christine Johnson

in another lifeHistorian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.

Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

I think this one came to me via a recommendation list on BookRiot…I think. Or possibly I spotted the giveaway on Goodreads when the book was published in 2016–the timeline is right for that.

Now that I’m reading the blurb again, I can see why it intrigued me (romance) but I’m less excited by murder and suspenseful. And the reviews mention time travel, which is not a thing I’ve been impressed with often enough to seek it out.

This one goes.

#4 – A Man of Character, by Margaret Locke

a man of characterWhat would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?

Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which—or whom—she wants more.

Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances.

I honestly don’t remember where I stumbled across this mostly-unknown title (just over 100 reviews on GR) but I’m glad I did, because it sounds adorable. And the ratings are good, especially for such a relatively small sample size.

Maybe it’s self-indulgent to want to read about a writer who gets to date her own creations, but I don’t care. This one stays.


petticoatsFrom an impressive sisterhood of YA writers comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

I undoubtedly saw this on Booklr when it was new, but honestly, I haven’t seen much of its presence since. I’m less inclined to collections of short stories than I might once have been, having had some bad luck and impatience with them in the past few years, and looking over the author list, there are only a few I’ve read before and liked, and one I actively want to avoid due to strongly problematic elements in her other works.

As much as I’d normally want to support such something with such clearly feminist goals, this one goes.

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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