Down the TBR Hole #24

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’m late posting this month’s list due to NaNo, but such is life. Let’s get started.

#1 – The Warlord Wants Forever, by Kresley Cole

6388558I picked up book #10 in this series at a used book sale, so I looked it up and threw the first title on my TBR list so I wouldn’t forget about it. But I didn’t look too closely. First off, it’s a prequel novella, and those aren’t usually necessary for series continuity. Second, all the top reviews are bad and mention lack of consent and other rape-y behaviors. No, thank you, this can go. I’ll still give the book I already bought a try–maybe things have changed that late in the series, or maybe the novella was an aberration. But I’m not going to bother with this.

 

#2 – Luck on the Line, by Zoraida Cordova

22560542I’ve heard a lot of great things about this author, mostly in connection with her YA title Labyrinth Lost, which I own but haven’t gotten to yet. So when I saw somewhere that she had some adult contemporary romance, I said, sure why not, and put it on the list. The blurb still sounds interesting and the ebook is available on Hoopla, so there’s no reason not to keep this, for now at least–if I don’t like Labyrinth I’ll reassess. It stays.

 

 

#3 – Taking the Heat, by Victoria Dahl

24338317._SY475_I have no idea how all these Dahl books end up on my TBR in droves when I still haven’t read any of them. I think I may have even cut some in earlier TBR Hole posts? I’d have to check. So this one’s got a hot, bearded librarian dude, and while I don’t remember specifically the circumstances that led me to adding this book, I’m betting that was the hook. And my library system has copies available, so it can stay, with a similar caveat as above–if I get to one of her other books first and I don’t enjoy it, the rest are going to get the boot.

 

 

#4 – School Ties, by Tamsen Parker

30196041._SY475_I’m nail-biting this decision. Parker is one of my favorite BDSM-romance authors, and almost all of her books have been hits with me. The one novella that was a flop was so bad I’m trying to forget it exists, but the books are all just fine. I was temporarily squicky about the student-teacher aspect, but several reviewers point out that it’s all above-board until the student comes back into the teacher’s life as an adult. (A youngish one, sure, but definitely not a student or teenager anymore.) So that’s okay, probably. But the bad reviews are pretty damning. On the other hand, yeah, any author can have a flop, but my trust in Parker is pretty high. I think this can stay.

#5 – The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman

25938481Nonfiction is an occasional read for me these days, I have to really be interested in the subject, but a book about how birbs are smart and precious and wonderful and SMART they are? Totally still on board. This stays.

Seriously, though, nonfiction about science and nature is probably going to be a hit with me, unless it’s terribly written, and that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

 

 

#6 – The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

89717._SY475_I recently got around to reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and while it wasn’t perfect by any means, I did enjoy it and I’d be curious to see more of Jackson’s work. I don’t have much interest in watching the Netflix adaptation, I tend to prefer to read my horror rather than watch it, so it’s not a high priority, but this can absolutely stay on the list.

 

 

 

#7 – The Life She Was Given, by Ellen Marie Wiseman

32926258I think this came off a circus-themed recommendation list, and it sounded interesting enough at the time. But as usual when I’m on the fence about a book I know little about, I skimmed some spoiler-free or at least spoiler-lite negative reviews, looking for personal red flags, and I found a few here. Animal cruelty, poor research, a perfect-magical heroine marked by a physical difference from “normal”…I don’t think I’m going to enjoy this. It goes.

 

 

#8 – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

9591398This might be a case of the marketing that’s meant to entice me actually warning me away. I should be, in theory, entirely on board with a middle-grade fairies-and-dragons fantasy that has fun with words and wordplay. That could definitely be my thing. But then at the end of the blurb, this happens: “For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.” I didn’t think highly of the His Dark Materials trilogy when I read it last year, and I’m so, so, so incredibly worn out on works referencing Alice, whether or not they’re trying to be dark and edgy. So that reference pitch is prompting me to pitch the book. It goes.

#9 – 12 – A bunch of Neil Gaiman stuff

Ironically enough, there’s a special sale at Thriftbooks that I got an email about just this morning, and I’ve been good lately and haven’t bought much, so I splurged and got a few things from my wish list. One of those was the next book on my master TBR, Coraline. Normally I skip books I own, because I decided quite a while back that it makes much more sense to concentrate cutting books I don’t own before I buy them. So, technically I own it now. But then the next three things on the TBR after that are all Gaiman works too–his short fiction collections: Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. Of course they’re all staying, he’s one of my favorite authors of all time. But it seemed silly to handle them all separately, especially because that would push two of them onto next month’s chopping block.


I only cut 3/12 this time out, but that’s going to happen sometimes. I ditched a few books this past weekend, unrelated to any meme, because of the Sarah Dessen debacle on Twitter. She wasn’t on my TBR, since I read one or maybe two of her books several years back and they were not in my wheelhouse. But several of the authors who showed their asses in supporting her were on my TBR, and now, they’re not, because I try not to support authors who engage in public bad behavior.

Down the TBR Hole #23

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?

It feels so good to cut books from the list that I’m not interested in anymore! Let’s do this!

#1 – Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire

31183180._SY475_I had honestly forgotten entirely what the blurb of this novella said, and when or why I added it. I’ve heard great things about McGuire, and she pops up across my social media a lot because she’s got honest and great things to say about the writer’s life, social media itself, book piracy, etc.

I respect her for that, but since adding this title, I’ve also read three of her books (the Feed trilogy, written as Mira Grant) and I went from flabbergasted by the first one to utterly disappointed by the third. Also, I own Every Heart a Doorway, thanks to a sale, so I have an opportunity to give her a fourth try without keeping this one around. It goes.

#2 – History is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera

25014114._SY475_My gut is saying this should go, because I’ve had my fill of YA tragedy lately, and gay tragedy is wearing out its welcome with me. But that’s more of a “I don’t want to read it now” reaction than not wanting to read it at all.

So it can stay. With the caveat that I’m planning on reading another work co-authored by Silvera, They Both Die at the End, for the PopSugar Reading challenge sometime between now and the end of the year. If I don’t care for that, I’ll come back and pop this off the list.

If I do like it, then I’ll probably be glad I kept this around.

#3 + #4 – Rookie Move and Hard Hitter, by Sarina Bowen

27190530._SY475_

28869598._SX318_SY475_I’ve consistently liked Sarina Bowen’s work, and in fact, the first of hers I read was also a sports romance. While I’m not huge on hockey, I’ve lived in Michigan for most of my life, and it’s impossible not to know about the sport or be at least a little invested in how the Red Wings are doing any given year. These stay. Hoopla’s got them both as audiobooks so I can maybe listen while I cross-stitch.

#5 – Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson

13587130I’ve been reading a great deal less nonfiction lately, after some less-than-stellar experiences last year when I made it a point to read at least one a month for a personal reading challenge.

But I’m a foodie and an avid cook, mostly self-taught. I’m an Alton Brown devotee who’s inherited his hatred of uni-taskers in the kitchen. I love my mom’s old ’70s and ’80s cookbooks with their strange ideas of how to make food pretty and, especially, “party-worthy.”

This sounds fascinating, so it stays.

#6 – Ramona Blue, by Julie Murphy

31449227._SY475_Oh, the controversy. I remember.

People went batshit over a badly-written blurb that made this book appear lesbophobic, so lesbian reviewers threw bisexuality under the bus. Then bi reviewers showed up in droves to defend the book. Then it was actually released and people actually read it, and reviews are mixed, and two years later no one’s talking about it on social media anymore, good or bad.

For apparently being about a girl who believes she’s lesbian falling in love with a guy and realizing she’s actually bisexual, some reviewers say the dreaded “b” word is never used, despite the author confirming Ramona’s identity in interviews and on social media. I hate the missing “b” word and that’s enough to make me give this a pass now, long after this book ceased to be relevant in the community.

#7 – March, by Geraldine Brooks

13529I added this after reading and adoring Brooks’ People of the Book, a random find at a used book sale, and diving into her catalog for other potential reads. I mean, I love Little Women, and I’d just read a book by her that I also loved, so why not?

But I’m tired of reading about war, and honestly, I never felt any real curiosity about what Mr. March was off doing while his women were at home. Yes, this book won a Pulitzer, but the reviews are still strongly mixed, and winning literary awards has never been an indicator of actual quality or how much I’ll enjoy reading it (yes, The Road, I’m still looking at you, I will never forget how horrible you were.) It goes.

#8 – Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

4965Same deal here about why I added it, and when I reread the blurb, this seemed more like a keeper. Plague fiction! Sweet!

But almost all of the reviewers who did not give this book five stars, no matter what the rating was, complained about how disappointed they were by the ending. The first 75% of the book is either good, great, or amazing, but the last 25% dove off a cliff.

I’ve seen too many properties I once loved suffer and become irretrievably tainted by terrible endings that I’m not going to waste my time on a novel setting me up for the same. It goes.

#9 – Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard

29939389Added because of Tumblr hype, but this is another case of “two years later, nobody talks about this book anymore.” I’d forgotten I’d added it–I’d forgotten it existed. Even more damning, two more novels and a novella have come out since then in this series, and I’d never heard of any of them. Social media hype is not the only indicator of quality, but total lack of it is troublesome.

Paired with so-so reviews that call out thin world-building, weird pacing, and love at first sight, I’m going to let this one go and return to forgetting it existed.

 

#10 – The Scandal of It All, by Sophie Jordan

32600753._SY475_No idea now where I found this.

Also, no idea now why I added this. Back in 2017 I wasn’t as disappointed, on the whole, with the historical romance genre as I am now, but still, what about this appealed to me? Sure, the heroine is older than the hero for once, but apparently the age gap is significant, and that’s not my thing in either direction.

It goes, no question, and leaves me scratching my head about why it was ever on the list in the first place.

 


Cutting six of ten this month, not bad, not bad. As always, if you’ve read one of these books and have a difference of opinion to share, I’d love to hear it!

Down the TBR Hole #22

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?

Right now, my “read” list is exactly 201 books longer than my “to-read” list–between reading down My Own Damn Books and cutting stuff that doesn’t appeal anymore, I’m making real progress. On to some more!

#1 – What a Wallflower Wants, by Maya Rodale

20705673Oh, boy. I bet this came off a “bad boys” romance rec list, especially since I see I added it around Valentine’s Day 2017. Rodale is a name I keeping hearing recommended, but as I keep trying historical romance authors I keep not enjoying myself–I’m just not big on the subgenre in general, though there have definitely been some exceptions in the past. I don’t get the feeling this particular book is going to be one of them, with a “dark history” for the heroine and a jerk of a hero, according to many reviews. It goes.

 

 

#2 – By Your Side, by Kasie West

30256248._SY475_Locked-in-a-library romance? Yes, please. I’d still be interested in this twist on a contrived setup even if I hadn’t read and loved West’s Pivot Point duology since putting this on the list–I like her style and want to read more of her work. It stays.

 

 

 

 

#3 – Act Like It, by Lucy Parker

25750546._SY475_This stays, based on consistently good reviews and an interesting blurb. I was never a full-on theater geek–I did two of the four musicals in high school and I had a medium-sized role in my senior play, but those experiences failed to get me fully invested, and one of my college roommates blasting the soundtrack from Rent as her alarm every morning turned me off modern musicals in the early 2000s, though I’ve gathered being a musical geek is a thriving subculture these days, even aside from being in love with Hamilton. So I’m intrigued, and the ebook’s on Hoopla, I don’t have much to lose on this one.

 

#4 – The Bollywood Bride, by Sonali Dev

18938929._SY475_Second chance romance. Childhood friends. Bollywood. I’m sold. And it’s got solid reviews, and it’s on Hoopla, and I’m always trying to read more diverse romance. This sounds good enough it might even get moved up my list.

 

 

 

 

#5 – Radio Silence, by Alyssa Cole

23500162I love me some good post-apocalyptic romance, it’s my jam, so obviously this went on the list when I discovered it. Rereading the blurb reminded me it looked like enemies-to-lovers as well, which I like when done well. But the top-rated reviews are all pretty damning on the world-building front, that the PA setting is just window dressing and not fleshed out at all, adding very little tension. It goes. I don’t have time for subpar PA, and Cole is already elsewhere on my TBR list with (apparently) much better reads.

 

 

#6 – The Hidden Blade, by Sherry Thomas

22751852Both the blurb and several of the top reviews bill this story as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Downton Abbey, and I have to say, that’s an effective hook. Digging slightly deeper, I’m on board with the role inversion of the guy being the escapee from danger and the girl being the badass warrior he’s searching for. What’s holding me back isn’t so much “do I want to read this” but “should I read the second book first?” This is a prequel, and according to the author they’re each viable as a standalone, and some readers have read the second book first, the romance between these two adults, and gone back for their history. But looking at reviews for the second book, apparently it’s not even that great a romance, and the pacing is bad? I don’t want to get invested in a great first book that’s not a romance, only to have the romance itself fall flat in the second book. Sounds like I’d be setting myself up for disappointment, so it goes.

#7 – The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay

20053031._SX318_Historical witchy fantasy fiction. Yes, please. I saw the hype surrounding its release, added it to the list, moved on with my life, but now I’m excited all over again, so obviously it stays. I’ve seen quite a few of my booklr friends on Tumblr recommend going into this book as blindly as possible, so I’m just going to leave it at that.

 

 

 

#8 – #11 – The Checkmate series, by Kennedy Fox

I came across the third book in this series, This is Reckless, courtesy of a rec list, and it sounded interesting. Still does, sort of. I put it on my list, along with #4, its conclusion. And seeing that the series started with another duology for a different pair of characters, I added that too, though I’m thinking now I didn’t look too closely at them, because rereading their blurbs made me cringe. They sound terrible! The whole series looks like a mishmash of lazy tropes with “bad porn,” as one negative review called the first book. They all go. I’m sure I have enough bad romance already on my Kindle that I picked up for free, out of curiosity, that I don’t need to knowingly go get more.


Seven cut of eleven again this month, I’m feeling good about that. I still own just over three hundred unread books, between my physical and digital collections, so the books I don’t already own have got to justify their place on the list, at least if I ever want to have a shot at getting my TBR to manageable levels.

Down the TBR Hole #21

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 TBR has been creeping steadily downwards as I read stuff, and honestly I didn’t add that much to it in July. But I’m still well over 700, and while I own a lot of unread books, I don’t own them all! They don’t all have to stay on the list! So it’s time to put the next ten on the chopping block.

#1 – All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater

30025336._SY475_Since Stiefvater is one of my recent additions to my favorite authors list, this seems like a no-brainer, and I was tempted to skip it because there was no chance I’d cut it. But it’s worth a second look, because I really wasn’t that excited about it when it released, and the reviews I’ve seen of it are as much negative as positive. And I’m much, much more excited about the forthcoming Call Down the Hawk, which starts a new trilogy about Ronan, my second favorite character from The Raven Cycle books. So, honestly, do I need to read this? I think it’s actually going to go. I’m not obligated to read every book by an author I love, if the book itself doesn’t do much to make me want to read it.

#2 – Bound to Be a Groom, by Megan Mulry

20967590Okay, yeah, it’s a polyamorous Regency BDSM erotica. That was definitely outside-the-box enough to put it on my list, and when I found it (however that was) I saw that there’s a prequel novella that was free, so I have that. This can stay, provisionally, just because it’s such a novel concept, but I’ll read the novella first and if anything about it doesn’t wow me, I’ll come back and scratch this off the list.

 

 

 

#3 – Dead Ringer, by Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler

25932559._SY475_I’m positive this came off a queer romance rec list at some point, but I must have been picking the best of a bad lot when I added it, because now I’m questioning myself. If one of the characters is a celebrity fan boy, well, that’s just not my thing, and I got uncomfortable reading the blurb about this setup. Also, while the good reviews are telling me this is the best M/M romance since sliced bread, the bad ones are throwing up all sorts of flags that I care about–bad pacing, relying on misunderstandings to create conflict, etc. This goes. It just doesn’t look like it’s for me, and I’d rather figure that out now than after I start reading it.

 

#4 – The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddI knew about this book long before it made it on to my TBR, and I ignored the hype surrounding it because I didn’t think I would like it. I’m reasonably sure a friend recommended this specifically to me after reading my review of a similar YA title (though I forget which one) so on the list it went, because maybe I was wrong? But looking at it now, my Goodreads friends’ ratings are all over the place, and the selling point of the blurb seems to be instalove, which is a trope I can’t stand. So I think it’s time this came back off the list, because life’s too short for yet another YA romance I probably won’t love.

 

#5 – The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian

30226770This is a case where I hear an author recommended over and over again, and this is the book that I finally put on the list to try them out. Historical M/M romance is a thing I haven’t really tried yet, and Sebastian is reputedly one of the best, so here we are. The story itself does sound intriguing–con man and scientist/earl at odds with each other–so I’ve got no complaints there. It stays.

 

 

 

#6 – Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

25686927._SY475_Bowen is one of the few romance authors I’ve found by picking up a random free book of theirs and then genuinely liking it, as opposed to the multitudes that turned out on the scale from “meh” to “terrible.” So when I did some digging and found an M/M romance co-authored by her, that was enough to put it on the list. I reread the blurb, it still sounds like a fun time, it can stay.

 

 

 

#7 – Pairing Off, by Elizabeth Harmon

23440537I know precisely where this came from, a sports-romance rec list that was going around during the 2018 Olympics because of a certain shippable ice dancing pair. (Not that I approve of shipping real people, because I don’t–this list was a “so you want romances about figure skaters and other Olympic-type athletes, huh?” reaction to that hubbub.) This one in particular references The Cutting Edge as an inspiration/template–a movie I adore the hell out of. There was no question I wanted to read it then, and I still want to read it now. It stays.

 

#8 – Letters to Nowhere, by Julie Cross

18046135From that same list came this YA gymnastics romance, and I think I’m less excited by this now as I was then. Also there’s no ebook edition currently (though it appears there used to be), it’s not available at my library, and I don’t think I’m invested enough to invest in the paperback edition? Like, it still sounds cute, but again, life’s too short for another YA romance I’m not terribly excited about. It goes.

 

 

 

#9 – #11 The Iron Seas series, books 2-4, by Meljean Brook

I read The Iron Duke back in 2017 and loved it. Adored it. Fantastic. So I added the rest of the series to my TBR (minus the huge collection of novellas, though I did read Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City because it was included as a bonus in my paperback.) But a) I haven’t really thought about that book or this series since, and b) reviews for book 2, especially, but in general all the remaining books, seem to indicate a significant drop in quality. Now, The Iron Duke was pretty damn amazing, so I’d understand if the other books were good, but not as great–but I have one Goodreads friend in particular whose romance tastes seem to mostly line up with mine, and they’re not impressed. And I’m just not invested. They can all go. If I ever happen to find one of these at a used book sale, I’ll maybe pick it up and give it a try, but in the meantime I will just consider Duke a standalone that wowed me.


This month I cut seven of eleven. Feels good. Feels like progress. Cleaning house is such a positive thing, whether it’s your actual living space or your virtual bookshelves. But as always, if you’ve read anything on this list and want to make a case for changing my mind (in either direction) leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!

The Book Blogger Confessions Tag

I was wondering what to post next–I’m trying to get ahead on the blog while #spookyromancenovel is in beta–and I saw this bookish meme on Adele is Reading! Please give her a visit and check out her answers as well!

Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

There’s going to be a review on Friday for my most recent DNF, but I don’t want to spoil that, so the prior one would be Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’d heard great things about it, and I’d already read a bit of her nonfiction–We Should All Be Feminists. And I tried and tried and got almost halfway through but I just couldn’t make myself keep going. There was a lot I liked about it, in terms of cultural detail and setting and some of the characters, but the plot wandered without much direction.

Which book is your guilty pleasure?

I’m trying not to think of things in that frame of mind any more, to let of the “it’s bad but I love it anyway” mind set. But my current guilty pleasure, not in the way you think, is Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Not because it’s bad–it’s amazing!–but because when I’m not super into the book I’m “supposed” to be reading for whatever challenge or book review, I’ll go back and reread my favorite sections of RWRB instead. I haven’t read it cover-to-cover more than once, but there are definitely scenes I go back to (not just the sex scenes, either, get your mind out of the gutter) when I can’t face whatever I don’t feel like reading. It’s quickly becoming a comfort book.

Which book do you love to hate? & Which book would you throw into the sea?

I have to reach pretty far back for this one, but the worst book I’ve ever read was Cormack McCarthy’s The Road, and I feel no shame hating it with a flaming passion for all its faux-literary pretentiousness, wandering pointless plot, complete lack of meaning or satisfying conclusion, and fundamental inability to help the reader understand literally anything about what’s going on in the story by neglecting the basic tenets of common dialogue and punctuation. In reading it I felt like McCarthy himself was standing over me, reveling in how much I couldn’t keep track of who was speaking, what was happening, and what any of it meant, while sneering and saying, “But look how many awards I’ve won!”

I would happily throw my copy into the sea if I hadn’t already thrown it away long ago. With it, I’ll toss in anything “classic” that is horribly outdated in terms of social justice, sexism, and racism but continues to be taught in school because that’s the book that’s always been taught and Old White Male Authors are the only literary tradition worth perpetuating. You can all go into the sea, for all I care.

Which book have you read the most?

I can’t pinpoint for sure, because before I started frequenting used book sales in the last five years, my collection was actually quite small and I reread books frequently. Most likely, it’s a Sharon Shinn book, possibly Archangel or Angelica, but if it’s not one of hers, then the next most likely culprit is Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest. Now, I hardly reread things at all, because I have too many new-to-me books to plow through.

Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

I got my husband a nice leather-bound, gilt-edged copy of Moby Dick & Billy Budd, because I knew MD was one of his favorite classics. I tried to read it, finally, and I hated it. So don’t anybody give me another copy of my own, a) I don’t need it and b) I wouldn’t want it anyway, it’s terrible.

Which book could you not live without?

Tough choice, but I think this is going to go to another one of my favorite authors, heavily featured in my personal collection: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Every time I reread it I get more out of it, and it’s strange and fascinating and beautiful, and I recommend it to everyone I think might have even the slightest chance of appreciating it. I would never willingly get rid of my copy, ever.

Which book made you the angriest?

If we ignore The Road because I’ve already ranted about that, the book that made me angriest was The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth, by Gerald Schroeder. Many years ago, when my devoutly Southern Lutheran grandmother found out I had given up on church and was on the road to becoming atheist (which I am now) she was not disappointed or judgmental, she didn’t cut me off. (She was really the best grandma ever, I miss her so much.) What she did was send me this book, hoping that it would convince me science and religion weren’t oil and water, that there could be room for both in my life, that they could be reconciled.

Honestly, just looking at the book made me mad, so I didn’t read it. For several years, actually, and then my grandmother passed away and still it sat there, staring at me from the shelf and making me feel guilty that I neglected that avenue of connecting to her.

Eventually, I did try reading it, and gave up 10% in. It was a terrible mishmash of flawed reasoning, rampant logical fallacy, and at times seemingly willful misunderstanding of “science” in order to twist in into something that gelled with Christianity. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for, some insight into my grandmother’s faith that I’d never understood, but it just made me angry that drek like that can get published and continue to mislead people about what science even is.

Which book made you cry the most?

Recently, that’s definitely Feed by Mira Grant. I was in occasional tears throughout the first half of the book and near-constant weeping at the end. I was a soggy, exhausted, emotional mess. And it was amazing.

Which book cover do you hate the most?

I haven’t read it yet, so I have no idea if this is going to be a good-book, terrible-cover situation. But I’ve got a copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted, and that cover is just a nightmare waiting to happen:

Haunted.JPG

I picked it up from a used book sale not on the strength of its cover, just on the author’s fame. I did one of those “put your writing in the box and we’ll tell you who you write like!” and I got him. (From the entire first chapter of What We Need to Survive, if you’re curious.) But I hadn’t read any of his work, and a few months later this turned up, so it went into my basket and came home with me. Maybe I’ll try to get to it soon.

I hope you enjoyed my answers to this tag! Feel free to keep it going on your own blog, and if you do, please link back to me so I get notified and can check out your post!

Down the TBR Hole #20

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 read a lot of books in June, which was awesome, but I also added at least half as many to my TBR, thanks to reading one first-in-series that I adored and necessitated putting the rest of the series on my list.

Let’s get started.

#1 – Dark Touch, by Aimee L. Salter

28174019._SY475_

I have absolutely no memory of adding this, nor do I recall where the recommendation came from.

These days, I generally avoid what looks to be overly angsty YA, and this has all the hallmarks, though I give it credit for having the female half of this lovebird pair be the dark, edgy, messed-up one while the boy is sweet and innocent. I’m not saying that never happens, but it’s definitely not the standard. However, it can go.

 

 

#2 – Trinity Falls, by Regina Hart

17239886This came from a “read more black romance authors” list.

I love small town romance as a genre, I reach for them when I need something sweet, comforting, and wholesome, so this was an easy add to my TBR.

And it’s on Hoopla. It stays.

 

 

 

#3 – Talk Me Down, by Victoria Dahl

4716621Dahl comes highly recommended by a big cross-section of Romancelandia, and I’m pretty sure somewhere else on my TBR I have some of her other books listed.

I’m not sure which I’ll get to first, but this one still sounds interesting, because, hey, if the heroine is a secret romance/erotica author, I’m probably going to read it. It stays.

 

 

#4 – Beauty and the Geek, by Sydney Bristol

30979185._SY475_Woo boy am I tired of Beauty and the Beast retellings.

This must have sneaked in under the guise of being geeky, but rereading the synopsis and skimming the top-rated reviews, I’m dropping this like a hot potato. Whatever spark interested me at first has not persisted.

 

 

 

#5 – Punk 57, by Penelope Douglas

29104680._SY475_I’m torn. I still like the idea of a love-hate relationship playing out between two childhood pen pals.

I’d forgotten how I came across this one until I saw a glowing review by a Goodreads friend…so that pushes me in favor of keeping it.

But rereading the synopsis, I don’t really like the style. I think I’ve got enough to read without this one. It can go.

 

 

#6 – Brown-Eyed Girl, by Lisa Kleypas

28220639This is going.

Since I added this, I’ve read enough Kleypas to be fine with her, but I’m not eager to try her contemporary works, rather than historical, when this one doesn’t seem to be well-received by any of my romance-reading buddies.

Life’s too short to keeping reading authors that don’t ever wow you.

 

 

#7 – The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket, by Trevor Corson

250638._SX318_Giving it the once-over to refresh my memory, I’m still interested in the subject matter. However, quite a few things are stacked against this.

The poor reviews all mention a juvenile, “atrocious” writing style, which doesn’t inspire confidence. Other reviews go into how it doesn’t deliver on its original premise, to the point where it’s apparently been republished under a less misleading title? Also, my library system doesn’t have it, and I’m sure as hell not going to buy it, not with these issues. Bye-bye.

 

#8 – Fixing Fate, by Anna Brooks

32454071._SY475_Not sure where I found this one, but I’m questioning my past self’s judgement.

There are romance red flags ALL OVER THIS. Reviews are calling the “hero” perverted and creepy; I’m not into romantic suspense in general; and the synopsis is laughable.

What the hell was I thinking? It goes.

 

 

#9 – Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

16130549._SY475_It’s odd, King rarely appears in this meme for me, because a) I will try reading anything he’s written, and b) I already own a ton of his books that I haven’t gotten to yet, because he’s so easy to pick up secondhand.

But I don’t already own Doctor Sleep, and I definitely still want to read it.

The Shining  is one of my favorite King novels, so why wouldn’t I want to read the sequel? [Unless it was critically panned across the board, which this definitely isn’t! People love it!]

#10 – Under Rose-Tainted Skies, by Louise Gornall

28101540This made it on to the list via Tumblr hype, especially from some very vocal people with various mental illnesses who applauded how agoraphobia and OCD where handled here.

While those are not my issues, I’m here to support anything that helps de-stigmatize neurodivergence in any form. It stays.

 

 

 


So this month I cut six out of ten, that’s a good month for me! As always, if you have read any of these and have a different opinion, feel free to leave a comment and let me know, whether you want to talk me in or out of reading a book. Until next month!

Down the TBR Hole #19

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?

After my birthday book haul, my shelves are crazy overflowing. However, a few days ago I was clued in to Library Extension, which makes it easy for me to find books in my library system while browsing Goodreads. Before, whenever I did one of these posts, I’d look up each book individually in the catalog, first in my county system, and if I didn’t find it, then in the statewide system. I recorded the results on my master reading list spreadsheet–yes, I have one of those, I’m tracking three major reading challenges and fluctuating numbers of monthly ones.

Turns out some of my entries were out of date! Hoopla has expanded to include some books I previously thought I’d have to request through inter-library loan, and I’ve already read two of them.

So now, going though my TBR for this is even better! But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be cutting dead weight. Let’s get started.

#1 – Zenn Diagram, by Wendy Brandt

31423684

YA paranormal/contemporary romance featuring a math nerd. Yeah, that sold me for putting it on my TBR right out of the box.

Should I keep it? Yes. It apparently scores high marks for adorableness, and since so much of the YA/NA romance I read is drenched in (usually unnecessary) angst, I’m all for sweetness and light to level things out.

Plus, I now know it’s on Hoopla, so borrowing it is easy as pie. Thank you, Library Extension. (I won’t belabor this point anymore, but seriously, it’s awesome.)

#2 – Swing Time, by Zadie Smith

28390369This book was everywhere on social media when I added it (December 2016, yes, I’m still working on TBR from two and a half years ago,) but I’ve seen little about it since, which concerns me. Reviews are all over the spectrum by now, which concerns me, too.

I can’t read every book by every author of color, but I’m hesitant to chuck one off the list for vague “but maybe it’s bad” reasons, when the story still sounds interesting and I’ve never tried the author. And when my TBR is definitely predominantly white-written and I want to read books from more diverse voices. It stays. Let’s hope it’s awesome.

#3 – Dragon Slippers, by Jessica Day George

669570I don’t go out of my way to read middle grade books, but every once in a while, one pops up on a rec list somewhere and I say “huh” and pop it on my TBR.

The blurb makes this sound like a fantastic subversion of the classic “girl sacrificed to monster” trope, and I’m on board for that.

It can stay.

I know I’m a sucker for things with dragons, and that gets me into trouble, but this still looks good.

#4 – The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

18007535Since I don’t go out of my way to read horror, I honestly don’t know how this ended up on my TBR, I don’t remember. (Except for Stephen King, but given how easy it is to find his books used, that’s not out of my way.)

My gut instinct was to let it go, simply because it’s outside my wheelhouse. I used to read horror almost exclusively as a kid, I’m too old for Goosebumps but around 12-14 I was all about King and Dean Koontz, then I gave it up by college.

I think this should actually stay. I’m curious.

 

#5 – Letters to a Young Muslim, by Omar Saif Ghobash

29635593While I was still watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I would put the books of authors interviewed there on my TBR if they sounded interesting. Ghobash gave what must have been a decent interview with Trevor Noah, though I don’t remember it clearly now. So his book went on the list.

Sadly, it can go. Despite numerous reviews likening it to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, which was an amazing read, this doesn’t seem at all like something I want to read. I’ll look to other sources to expand my understanding of Islam.

 

#6 – Cards of Grief, by Jane Yolen

1107458Whenever obscure works pop up on my social media with tags like “I can’t believe no one else is reading this,” I pay attention.

Especially when reviews keep saying “similar to Ursula K. Le Guin.” You know, only one of my favorite authors ever.

I’d never heard of this book, or this author, before. I’m hoping once I read this, I’ll want to hunt down more of her work–because obviously this stays–and dive deep into the mind of someone who writes adult scifi with an anthropological bent while also writing tons of children’s books about dinosaurs. Fascinating.

#7 – Hold Me, by Courtney Milan

24348034Oddly enough, finding this book on a rec list for trans characters in romance is what introduced me to Courtney Milan. I’ve since read several of her books and liked or loved them (including the first entry in this series, which was AMAZING) and yet, I still haven’t laid hands on a copy of this, despite it being the first book to grab my attention.

It stays. And I’m making myself a note to move it up the list, if at all possible.

Trans representation in romance by an awesome author! Do want!

#8 – Even Odds, by Elia Winters

27778677This came from a geeky romance rec list, and that should put it squarely in my wheelhouse. I’m a bona fide video game nerd, even if gaming has taken a backseat to my at-home job as an author. I should be all over this.

But I’m not. It goes.

No matter how promising the setup is, no matter how diverse and appealing the characters are packaged as, reviews like “no chemistry between the leads” and “predictable conflicts” and “even the sex was boring” are absolute killers for me in a romance novel.

#9 – Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions, by Six de los Reyes

29849709More nerdy romance, from the same list, I’m pretty sure.

Some reviews mention this being too science-y, which will never been a problem for my biology-degreed self; while others positively compare it to The Kiss Quotient, which I read recently and adored. So this stays.

Nerds finding love is so beautiful, especially us science nerd girls. We’re awesome. We deserve awesome love.

 

 

#10 – Breaking Legacies, by Zoe Reed

30242712

This 100% came from the Writeblr community on Tumblr, because this is an independent author and a lesbian fantasy and I’ve had it recommended to me like eight times by five different people. Once, I was like “this sounds familiar but let me put it on my TBR” only to find out it was already there.

I’m all for supporting indie authors–I am one. And the reviews for this are pretty glowing. (Not that I haven’t been in the minority on that before, but still. I’ll give it a try.) It stays.

 


I only cut 2/10 this time, but that’ll happen. Eventually I’ll bet there’s an inverse week where I cut 8/10! (I’m not going back to check, but I doubt my record’s that high. I’m pretty sure I’ve cut at least four in a week a few times, maybe five, but I’m doubtful about six.)

As always, if you’ve read any of these and want to weigh in, feel free. I’m open to changing a book’s status if you’ve got a story to tell about your experience with it.