Down the TBR Hole #4

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?

In my last run at this meme I ditched more than half the books I covered, and I feel good about cleaning out some dead weight from my massive TBR. What will happen this time?

#1 – Craving Flight, by Tamsen Parker

craving flightTzipporah Berger is thirty-seven and single, which is practically unheard of in the Orthodox Jewish community she now calls home. Her increasing religiosity and need for kink may have broken up her first marriage, but she’s decided it’s time to try again. And the rabbi’s wife has just the man in mind.

Elan Klein is the neighborhood butcher whose intimidating size and gruff manner hint at a deliciously forceful personality. But BDSM isn’t exactly something you discuss during an Orthodox courtship. Will a marriage to Elan solidify her place in the community that she loves and provide the domination and pain Tzipporah craves or will she forever have to rely on flights of fancy to satisfy her needs?

So, Tamsen Parker is one of my favorite authors of contemporary romance, which, coupled with the unusual premise, was enough to get this on my TBR in the first place, and both compelling reasons to keep it there.

I am leery of paying $2.99 for a novella of less than 150 pages, when I only charge a dollar more for each of my three full-length novels. I’m much more used to seeing novellas priced at $0.99.

But, then, she is one of my favorite authors, and deserves my monetary support, even if I feel like this is a little pricey. It stays.

#2 – The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin

forestWhen the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters.

Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate against their captors, abandoning their strictures against violence. But in defending their lives, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.

 

It stays. No question here, I intend to read the entire Hainish Cycle (of which this is #2) in 2018.

#3 – Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey

leviathanHumanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

If this sounds at all familiar, maybe that’s because it became the hugely popular Syfy show The Expanse? Which I absolutely adore from top to bottom, the writing is tight, the characters well-developed and interesting, the production value quite ludicrously high, and the cast, well, they’re amazing.

Of course I want to read the damn books! So it stays. Especially since I already own it!

#4 – The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch

locke lamoraThe Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right.

Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn’t invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards.

Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city’s underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive…

I’ve had this recommended to me so many times I’ve lost count. Booklr loves it. My librarians love it. Everyone loves it. So I should read it, especially because I love fantasy, and con artist fantasy sounds like tons of fun, right? It stays. Man, I’m not getting rid of anything so far!

#5 – Shadows on the Moon, by Zoë Marriott

moonTrained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form – a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.

 

I honestly don’t remember where I heard about this book, and I added it on a whim and promptly forgot about it. After reexamining its Goodreads page for this post, I came across something I find troubling in the Questions section–upon a reader asking about the specific time period of Japan when the story is set, another reader quotes the author’s note at the beginning of the book:

Although Shadows on the Moon uses many Chinese and Japanese terms, the story is set in a fantasy realm called the Moonlit Land, or Tsuki no Hikari no Kuni. Most of the details of this country are pure invention, and this book is not intended to represent a historically accurate picture of any Asian country at any point in history.

This sounds to me like exactly the kind of cobbled-together faux-Pan-Asian nonsense that people of Asian descent describe as harmful and offensive. At one point in my writing history, I had a pseudo-Japan/China setting for one of my stories, and while I like the basic plot I had planned and may revisit it someday, I abandoned the story itself when I realized I’d be perpetuating the kind of Orientalism we should all leave behind with the Victorians who started it. The world doesn’t need my fake romanticized version of East Asia, and I don’t think I want to read this one, either. It 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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