Down the TBR Hole #39

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?

My owned-and-unread book total is down to exactly 150, which means I can possibly (but not definitely) clear it this year, and definitely in 2022. But my overall TBR is 464 books (down only slightly from last month, because I added a handful.) Let’s see if I can prune that some today.

#1 – 3: A bunch of Stephen King novels

My literary relationship with Stephen King is that he is one of my favorite authors because he has produced some of my favorite books, but he has also written absolute stinkers that I hated, and a few I couldn’t even finish. Here’s the thing: there’s basically no way to know ahead of time which it’s going to be for any given book, which makes me hesitant to cut any King novel from the TBR once I was interested enough to put it on there in the first place.

I got these three specifically from a rec list made by a more devoted King fan than I am. These were three of her favorites, and notable in that I hadn’t already read them, or even found secondhand copies that are still waiting on my shelf for me to get to them. (Currently, that honor goes to The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, Cell, and Nightmares & Dreamscapes.)

While it’s possible that eventually I will catch up with King’s backlog, it’s not a high priority, and I should consider the possibility that I don’t need to read everything he’s ever written just in case one of them becomes a favorite.

That being said, rereading the blurbs for these three specifically? Bag of Bones has the red flag of the protagonist being a novelist, again. I am kind of tired of how King writes about writers constantly. That one can go. If it happens that I stumble across a copy at the library book sale, once I’m allowed to go in the building again, then I’ll reevaluate.

Duma Key and Revival both get to stay. One has mad-painter vibes, and I often like the way King writes about creativity when it’s not attached to yet another writer protagonist. The other looks like it tackles big-tent religion in a cool and creepy way, and that could be fun, interesting, terrifying, or hopefully all three.

#4 – Vox, by Christina Dalcher

I’m pretty sure I’ve entered at least four or five giveaways for this book on Goodreads, and failed to win any of them, of course. I know that’s how I found out about this title, and it seemed interesting enough at the time to justify adding it to my TBR in exchange for a chance to win a free book with an intriguing premise.

In the time since I have failed to win this book four or five times, I’ve lost a significant amount of interest in dystopian fiction for its own sake, and the reviews for this are polarized from best-book-ever hype to “this is just The Handmaid’s Tale but worse, don’t waste your time.”

I’m just not into you anymore, Vox. You can go.

#5 + 6: Two more entries in the Camp Firefly Falls series

This huge multi-author series tempted me with a few free or on-sale books back in 2018 when it was released, and several of them were by authors I already knew and trusted. Tamsen Parker was one of them, and I did read In Her Court, the book just ahead of these two (#18, these are #19 + 20.)

I scanned the rest of the offerings to see what else looked like it had potential, and apparently it was just these. So how do I feel now?

Love, All is a full-length novel by one of my favorite romance authors, but I’m not heavily invested in the setting, and the blurb isn’t grabbing me, and the reviews are fairly lackluster. There are other Parker novels I’d rather read, so this can go.

Must Have Been Love has a slightly more complicated story. It’s a novella, which I often but not always find unsatisfying. The premise still sounded good, though, so I clicked through the Goodreads page to see how much it cost, because I could through 99 cents at a 45-page novella, no problem, if it sounded good. But it doesn’t appear to be available any longer, anywhere, from what I can tell. And it’s not just this one–only one title by this author is available on Amazon, compared to the six titles that Goodreads lists. So this also goes, not because I wouldn’t read it, but because I’m not holding out hope that it’s ever going to be available again.

#7 – The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne

I see this on the same rec lists where I see romances I’ve loved like The Kiss Quotient and Get a Life, Chloe Brown and even, sometimes, Red, White, & Royal Blue. So obviously if people think this is similar, that’s a strong point in its favor, as is the fact that nearly all of my Goodreads friends who’ve read it, adore it. Lots and lots of five-star ratings.

I suppose the only reason I’m hesitant is that I’m often leery of enemies-to-lovers arcs and workplace romances, and this is both. When these tropes go wrong, they can be disastrously bad, so I was never going to jump on this with both feet. I was, and am, cautiously interested.

Of course, I see that my library has it available as both an ebook and audiobook, so the only cost I would pay if I don’t like it is my time (and possibly one of my Hoopla borrows, which I never use all of anyway.)

This can stay, and I’ll even put it on my “audiobooks to listen to while crafting” list that I’m compiling, so that when I need to give looking-at-words reading a break, I can switch things up.

#8 – Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant

Oh, I have complicated feelings about this.

On the one hand, I still feel slightly betrayed by Grant for the disappointment that was Blackout after how much I loved Feed and how invested I was in it. But this is a different property, and it’s just a first book, and I can get it from the library.

On the other hand, this was hyped to me because “murder mermaids” and “weird science.” My problems with the declining of the Feed trilogy were not science-based, I liked the science there. So I probably shouldn’t hold the problems it did have against this book.

On a third hypothetical hand, I was severely disappointed by the last hyped mermaid book I read, and I have to accept that book-based social media might be so hard up for mermaid representation that this maybe isn’t as good as they say it is.

And finally on a fourth extraneous hand, I already have an entire series of this author’s work I own and have yet to read, the Wayward Children series, because Mira Grant is also Seanan McGuire. So maybe I should get to those first and then decide? This can stay, for now, but I’ll have no problem purging it later if further reading disappoints me again.

#9 – My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel, by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris

I’m definitely still intrigued by the concept, because I think at least half of the books I read in second and third grade were the Choose Your Own Adventure novels so popular in the ’80s. Once, in high school when I felt nostalgic for them, I even designed a game around the concept with hand drawn maps and a whole series of traps and challenges and the like. (Now that I’m older and know far more about tabletop gaming, I was actually synthesizing CYOA books with the experience of dungeon-mastering a tabletop RPG, I just didn’t know it at the time.)

So I want to like this book based on my love of both genres that it’s synthesizing.

However, based on the reviews, it doesn’t seem like people can agree on whether or not this is a parody, and whichever side of the argument an individual reviewer comes down on, they still might love it or hate it. How can I assess the consensus when some people think it’s a real romance and adore it, while other people think it’s a parody and enjoy it, and still others think it’s terrible whether it’s playing the romance genre straight or not?

That spread of opinions alarms me. This is getting the axe.

#10 – Acting on Impulse, by Mia Sosa

When I saw this on the list, I said to myself, “well, this probably came from a rec list, but have I read this author before?” The name sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it until I looked up her other works to check, and she has a much more recent and popular work out, The Worst Best Man, which I’ve seen floating around everyone in the romance booksphere.

But no, I haven’t read her work yet, and there must have been a reason this made it onto my TBR, right?

Rereading the blurb, it still sounds good, a mix of vacation romance, a celebrity who doesn’t get recognized, and a working relationship that becomes a romantic one. I’m still on board with that.

Throw in the fact that I get to try a new-to-me author of color, and the book’s available on Hoopla? No risk. This definitely can stay.

Okay, this month I cut 5 and kept 5. That’s fine with me. As always, if you’ve read any of these books and have an opinion, I’d like to hear it in the comments. You can agree with my assessment or make a case to keep a book I’ve cut, whatever you like. Until next month, keep reading, and keep decluttering your TBRs!

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