Down the TBR Hole #31

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 want-to-read shelf is down to 562 books! How many of those will get cut this month?

#1 – Dictionary of the Khazars, by Milorad Pavic

Wherever I first heard about it, this sounded amazing, in that weird and absurd way that I enjoy when done well. And the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with a few one-stars spiked through for flavor. Most people seem to love it, but if you don’t love it, you hate it.

I’m not feeling the whole experimental-fiction vibe like I used to, especially after a recent read that boggled my mind a little too much. This can go. It’s not necessarily you, Dictionary, it’s me.

#2 – The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

I recall adding this when the author had another book coming out and suddenly everyone was talk about her, because a) I should be reading more world literature and b) this did sound interesting. However, it’s a debut novel from more than twenty years ago that managed to win the Booker Prize, and let me tell you, my track record with hyped-up “literary” novels is less than stellar. Sure, there have been some good ones here and there, but mostly I can’t stand them. If a copy falls into my lap at a book sale, I’ll reconsider, but for now, this can definitely go.

#3 – Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews

I’m 99% sure I’ve read this before, long long ago in a junior high far far away. The cover looks familiar, the plot sounds familiar, but if I have read this it hasn’t been more recently than 25 years ago. I forget what specifically made me put this back on my list, and amazingly since then I’ve yet to find a secondhand copy of it in my book sale trolling–plenty of other Andrews books, sure, but not this one. It stays, at this point more out of curiosity than anything else. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere.

#4 – House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

What was I thinking? Rereading the blurb for this and looking at even just a scattershot of reviews presents this novel to me as the print equivalent of The Blair Witch Project, an over-hyped pretentious headache-inducing horror ride that’s either the most terrifying or the most boring thing in existence, depending on whether or not you “get” it. My Goodreads friends don’t seem impressed, and another reviewer said outright that they felt the book was trying to make them feel stupid. Not my scene.

#5 – I Am Legend and Other Stories, by Richard Matheson

I have no interest in seeing Will Smith be Will Smith in the movie adaptation, but the idea of the story, when presented to me, was intriguing enough to go on my TBR. I’m so used to zombie apocalypses now that a vampire apocalypse would be a nice change of pace, actually. I’m quite picky about my horror so I know there’s a strong chance I won’t like this anyway, but Hoopla’s got it on audio, so it can stay. I’m not really risking much giving it a try.

#6 – Dirty Little Secret, by Kendall Ryan

When I took a second look at this book, the author’s name rang a bell–I’ve picked up three freebies from her, in my wild freebie-hoarding days back in 2017. I haven’t read a single one of them yet, but as one goal this month is to clear out a lot of those old romances, I probably will soon. But this one, I clearly added specifically because a Goodread friend gave it an amazing review, and it’s a librarian romance. It can stay, at least until I’ve read the other three I already have. If I don’t like them, it can go then.

#7 – Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, by Eddie Izzard

I love Eddie Izzard’s comedy, I truly do, and seeing this on my list again might prompt me to go out in search of his more recent work, because I haven’t kept up with him lately. But this book can go. I find myself mostly disappointed with celebrity memoirs after I went on a glut of them a few years back, and much as I love the man’s work, the reviews for this memoir aren’t making me excited for it. I should probably just give up on memoirs entirely at this point, though there’s always the chance I won’t be able to resist the right celebrity.

#8 – The Life and Death of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan

I choose my nonfiction more carefully these days than I used to, but I can already state with certainty that this book stays. This is about my home. I lived on Lake Michigan for a good chunk of my childhood and near Lake Huron for most of my adulthood. This is my home, and I should know more about it. (Also the blurb compares this to Elizabeth Kolbert’s work, and I adored The Sixth Extinction. So there’s that.) It might scare me, it might depress me, but I should read it.

#9 – Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, by Emma Byrne

The reviews seem mixed on whether this is good science, pop science, or simply entertaining but bad science, but everyone does seem to agree it’s entertaining. When I first learned it really does hurt less if you swear when you stub your toe, I was fascinated, so I’m on board for the idea of this. I’ll keep it around even knowing I might be disappointed with its execution. Anyone who’s read my book reviews knows I have no problem swearing for effect, so this could be right up my alley.

#10 – I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

After seeing a lot of Tumblr hype around a different Nelson novel, The Sky is Everywhere, I read it and was underwhelmed. It wasn’t terrible, but I felt entirely too old for it. A conversation with a fellow book nerd friend convinced me to give her other major novel a try, and just going from my other friends’ reviews this certainly does seem like the stronger work. But more than two years later, do I still care? Is life long enough for potentially mediocre YA when I’ve already read so much of that lately? This goes.


An even split this time, five staying, five going. As always, if you’ve read any of these books and want to offer your opinion or try to change my mind, drop me a note in the comments and tell me about it!

Down the TBR Hole #30

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 current book stats on Goodreads are 1033 read/584 want to read. Until the middle of last year, I wanted to read more than I had recorded as read, whereas now I’m approaching twice as many finished as my TBR. In no small part to my diligent progress on Mount TBR this year (I’ve only read four library books so far) and also, this evaluation process! Time to see what ten (or so) books are up next for consideration.

#1 – Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World, by Richard C. Francis

26530381I read less nonfiction these days than I used to, but I will certainly give interesting titles a second look. I’m pretty sure I saw this while browsing shelves in a bookstore, wasn’t quite interested enough to buy it, put it on my TBR instead.

I’m still intrigued by the subject, and the negative reviews aren’t putting me off this time, because the major complaint seems to be that this isn’t a pop-science book, accessible to the masses; that it’s written for biologists. Good thing I’ve got a degree in that!

It stays.

#2 – The Day Before the Revolution, by Ursula K. Le Guin

revolutionI made it a project to read the entire Hainish Cycle a few years back, and I did–at least, I read all the novels. Without a compass, map, and a pocket full of breadcrumbs it’s nearly impossible to keep all of Le Guin’s work straight–she just wrote so much! And I did not, at the time, make much of an effort to include the various short stories.

I have the massive paired anthologies of her short stories and novellas, and if this is already included there, I’m sure I’ll get to it; if not, Hoopla’s got it. It will be nice to revisit that universe–this stays.

 

#3 + #4 — Akata Witch and Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor

I need to be reading more works of all genres by authors of color–that’s just a fact. When I started tracking my reading more closely for all the various challenges I do every year, I added on a few stats to track my titles for female authors, authors of color, and queer authors/protagonists. I usually do great on female authors because I read so much romance, but that also means I’m reading a lot of books by white women, so…

Anyway, I own Binti by this author already but haven’t gotten to it yet. I added these titles at the same time, and of the two, I think I’m more interested in Who Fears Death because it’s adult, whereas Akata is YA or possibly even middle grade, depending on which reviewer you believe. I’m not saying all children’s literature is bad, but I’ve definitely been burned/bored by it in the past, especially recently.

But Akata is available through Hoopla, while Death is only in hard copy in my library system, and I don’t know when the physical libraries will reopen, so…

They can both stay. Conditional, as usual, to how impressed or not I am with the author after I read the book of hers I already have.

#5 – Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches, by John Hodgman

vacationJust seeing this book on my TBR makes me miss The Daily Show.

This got added when the author did an interview promoting the book, though now I can’t remember if that was on TDS or The Colbert Report, because I always watched them together, right? And while I liked the author well enough in his days as a fake news correspondent, he wasn’t my favorite, and seeing this book again made me more nostalgic for the show than it did his own humor. I might enjoy this, I might not, but at this point I’m far enough removed from it that I’m less inclined to find out. It goes.

#6 – Autoboyography, by Christina Lauren

autoI definitely put this on my TBR for its premise but without noticing it’s queer YA from a romance author (duo) that I hear a lot about but have yet to read. So that’s interesting.

I’m still on board with the concept, I still want more bisexual representation, and I’ve had pretty good luck so far with contemporary queer high school romances, so this can stay. I’m disappointed to see I’ll have to wait a while to get it through the library (only physical copies again! argh!) but hopefully it will be worth the wait.

 

#7 – The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

housePaula was amazing, but Daughter of Fortune, the first Allende fiction I tried, was profoundly okay. I’d like to give her another try, but looking over some content warnings in reviews, this might not be my best bet. Since I was given a copy of The Japanese Lover a while back, I already have my second try sitting on the shelf waiting for me, which means this can go.

If Lover turns out to be amazing, I can always put this (and any other Allende novels that look intriguing) back on the list later.

 

#8 – Nights at the Circus, by Angela Carter

circusMan, I am so burned out on circus fiction. But let’s give this a fair shot anyway.

I don’t remember where I heard about this book, and reading the blurb again, I guess I can see why I added it–surrealism, romance, circus nonsense, historical setting.

But holy crow, the bad reviews are bad, and the good reviews are frothing at the mouth about how transcendent this is. I might be giving up something truly amazing, but it feels more like I’m dodging a bullet. This goes.

 

#9 – The Mistress of Spices, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

spicesWhen I reread the blurb, it still sounds awesome, with magical realism and romance and a little spice shop.

But the reviews are awful, just wretchedly awful, and lots of them are sending up red flags that I won’t ignore.

Definitely ditching this, but I will make sure I toss another book on my TBR soon by an Indian author, because I know there are a lot out there writing romances that I need to be reading. (In fact, I just picked up another work from Suleikha Snyder after enjoying Tikka Chance on Me. So I guess I already have!)

#10 – A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

timeHow did I forget this was on my TBR? Magical realism set in Japan! By a Japanese-American author! Why am I sitting on this!

Of course, as with all “literary” fiction I may end up hating it. Even the stuff that looks the best on the outside can end up being so far up its own ass that I want to pitch it across the room. But I have a good feeling about this one, based on the reviews, and when I have a good feeling about a book, it stays.

 


I cut 4/10 this month, pretty average. As usual, if you’ve read any of these and have an opinion you want to share, whether or not you agree with my assessment, leave a note in the comments, please!

Down the TBR Hole #29

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 making great progress on this year’s Mount TBR challenge, so the books I already own are being removed from the list with great frequency. But what about the books I don’t own yet? Let’s see what I can accomplish this month.

#1 – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes PBK mech.inddI saw this book in a photo on someone’s Tumblr, and I was into it. I read less and less nonfiction every year, but I’ll dip my toes in when something seems intriguing.

The reviews from both my Goodreads friends and the general reviewing population are mostly positive, so this can stay.

I don’t think I’ll be getting to it any time soon, given the current state of the world I’m not too eager to read about death even in the academic sense, but I’ll come back to it.

 

#2 – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino

374233._SY475_I threw this on the TBR after a friend recommended Calvino to me in a roundabout way, sending me a link to a video of the actor Liev Schreiber reading a story from The Complete Cosmicomics. I loved it and eventually got the book, though I haven’t read it yet. (Story of my life, that’s why I’m doing this weeding-out process at all, so I won’t buy books I don’t read!)

So this stays for now with my usual caveat that if I read the book I already own and hate it, I’ll purge any other works by that author from my TBR at that point.

 

#3 – #7 – Five Ray Bradbury Works

  1. Dandelion Wine
  2. The Illustrated Man
  3. Zen and the Art of Writing
  4. I Sing the Body Electric! and Other Stories
  5. The Golden Apples of the Sun

So, yeah. Bradbury is one of my favorite authors in that The Martian Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite books, and back in high school when my mother unearthed her vintage paperbacks I know for sure I also read and enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes. (I may have also read The Illustrated Man then but I’m not positive, hence its presence on the list.)

But Bradbury has also written some real clunkers in my experience, and if I’m honest, I downright hated The Halloween Tree. So I’m aware that I’m probably not going to like all these equally, and maybe they don’t have to all be here.

Dandelion Wine appears to be a novel-of-stories much in the same vein as The Martian Chronicles, and it gets bonus points for being a story of the Midwest, my stomping grounds. The Illustrated Man I’m honestly just curious to find out/remember if I read it back then. Zen and the Art of Writing appears to be divisive on its usefulness as a how-to/inspirational work for writers, but seeing as how I am one and I do love reading about the processes of other authors, it’s probably worth a look. These three can stay.

I Sing the Body Electric! seems to be a take-it-or-leave-it collection that many people believe to be great if you’re a diehard fan but not one of his better books. The Golden Apples of the Sun gives off the same impression. Though I don’t doubt there are probably good stories in both, these two can go.

#8 – The Hidden Lives of Owls: The Science and Spirit of Nature’s Most Elusive Birds, by Leigh Calvez

28007990

More nonfiction! I love owls and would love to read about owls, but apparently this might not be the book for it. The first less-than-stellar review recommends half a dozen other books to give a reader a better understanding of birds of prey (and I’ve read one of them, H is for Hawk) while other reviewers lambast this work as being written by an enthusiastic but obnoxious amateur. No matter how many glowing reviews this has, that’s a big, big red flag for my future enjoyment of this work.

This goes.

 

#9 – #14: Six Cookbooks I Saw When I Went to Powell’s Books

…and basically haven’t thought about since. On that trip to Portland and other points northwestern, I bought so many books I had to ship some of them home. I kept a list of the ones I was interested in but didn’t buy, for both space and monetary reasons, and I’ve just reached the block of my TBR where they all got added. (The Hidden Lives of Owls was one of those, too, but not a cookbook.)

I still do buy cookbooks sometimes, but with so many free recipes out there on the Internet a search term away, something really has to catch my eye to be worth purchasing. Of these six, which I’m not even going to bother to list because like I said I haven’t thought much about them in the two and a half years since that trip, the only one I’m keeping is The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East, because Chetna Makan was one of my faves on her season of The Great British Baking Show, and I want to support her baking career. The others? Meh.


This month sees me cut 8/14 books. Progress! This brings my TBR down to 587, though the last book I’m keeping is only #159, leaving over 400 still to wade through. It’s unlikely I’ll ever actually catch up with myself here, but this is still worthwhile to me, because life is too short to read bad books when they can be avoided.

Down the TBR Hole #28

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 at exactly 1000 books read on Goodreads, and down to just over 600 in my TBR. Progress! So let’s keep that downward trend going, probably:

#1 – Rogue Desire, various authors

35654211._SY475_A romance anthology of politically-minded short stories, featuring one author I love, a few I’ve heard of, and the rest I don’t know at all. I’m sure that I added this because of Tamsen Parker’s presence, but reading through the blurbs for each story, I think this collection may have missed its moment with me.

I have enough unread authors already sitting on my Kindle that I don’t need to specifically buy more right now. This goes.

 

#2 – The Phoenix Codex, by Bryn Donovan

phoenixI love Bryn’s blog and have been following it for a few years, but have yet to read any of her work. I know one of her older books escaped cutting on my TBR in a previous post, but this one can stay too, because I dig paranormal romance and I have a good feeling about this one. I’ve just recently broken my book-buying ban, and I’m not planning to go crazy with purchases, but this could easily be a birthday present to myself in May, because I need to do more to support authors I’m a fan of.

 

#3 – Antisocial, by Heidi Cullinan

antisocialI have no doubt I was attracted to this by the cover, and the promise of gray-ace m/m romance.

Looking into both the positive and negative reviews, I’m far less sold on its content than I was the shiny packaging. Instead of being Japanese cultural appreciation, it’s shading far more toward appropriation.

Listen, I’ll be honest, I’m a weeb. I adore anime, I’ve read my share of manga, and if I weren’t white as hell I’d be rocking a kimono to every formal occasion ever because they’re basically the most beautiful item of clothing on the planet.

But I’m not okay with an author (allegedly) making up a fictional Japanese-sounding town/college of “culture admirers” and having white main characters randomly speaking Japanese and not actually having any Japanese characters, apparently. The positive reviews of this book speak well of the romance, and that’s great, but the negative reviews speak poorly of literally everything else in the book, so..it goes, what the hell was it even doing here in the first place.

#4 – #6 — the Blank Canvas series, by Adriana Anders

I think I came across the second in this series, was interested, and added all three. But looking past the exceptionally pretty covers into both the blurbs and reviews, they’re all going. All of these stories cover one of the leads undergoing and recovering from serious trauma, and that’s not inherently bad, but many reviews across all three books are sending up red flags like insta-love, moves too fast for believable recovery, unplanned pregnancy, and shallow dynamics. I’m getting the feeling there’s little emotional depth underpinning the serious nature of the various traumas, and I don’t want to waste my time on abuse/angst porn.

#7 – Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata

kira kiraI don’t remember where I came across this–I’m still plugging along through books I added in the second half of 2017–but I’m sure it was because this is middle-grade historical fiction, written by a Japanese-American author, focusing on a female coming-of-age story.

I don’t read a lot of middle-grade these days, but that’s enough of a rarity to intrigue me. Little girls of Japanese ancestry in the 1950’s? Not long after WWII? I’m sold on the idea, because this isn’t a story I’ve ever seen done before, and that’s enough. It stays.

 

#8 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

brooklynYeah, I know. Somehow I’ve never read this. And since the previous entry on my TBR, made on the same day, was also a girl’s coming-of-age story, I have a feeling now that I saw a recommendation list that day and starting plucking stuff from it.

I do often find fiction set in New York City, by New Yorkers, a certain kind of insufferable, but I won’t know if this falls into that pit until I try.

It definitely stays.

 

#9 – Sugar Daddies, by Jade West

sugarThere’s a problem I’ve had from time to time in assessing books for this meme, and that’s the fact that the kinkier the romance novel, the more divisive the reviews tend to be. Readers on board with the kink in question will five-star the crap out of the book, and most of the rest will hate it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

So in looking at this MMF menage romance…it’s dicey. Two of my Goodreads friends have read it; one gave it four stars and a reasonably glowing review, the other a two-star rating with no review.

As expected, the general pool of reviews follows the pattern I outlined above.

I’ve read good MMF novels I enjoyed thoroughly, one that I even loved best out of its entire series (Kit Rocha’s Beyond books.) I’ve read a series with a couple that turned into a thruple down the road (Abigail Barnette’s The Boss series.) I’ve read middling romantic suspense where the best part of the story was the fact that the romance was MMF and the fun dynamics that thruples can have (one of the novels in Lexi Blake’s Masters and Mercenaries.) So it’s safe to say I’m down with this kink in my reading. I think I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and keep it on the list.

#10 – Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero

kidsI added this book because of the hype surrounding it at release–it was everywhere, and it sounded vaguely interesting, a mashup described as Scooby-Doo meets Cthulu.

But, boy, howdy, in the two years and change since, have I heard basically nothing about it, while the humdrum reviews piled up. And one Goodreads friend pointed out some systemic problematic attitudes towards Native American culture, trans people, and mental health.

Doesn’t make me want to read it, and it was added mostly on a whim anyway, so this goes with no regrets.


So I cut 6/10 this month, which is reasonable. The actual chunk of the TBR list I was examining this time covered less than a week of August 2017, which is crazy, at this rate I’ll never be finished with this meme! Should I start doing fifteen a month? These posts are already so long…

Down the TBR Hole #27

 

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?

Running a little behind this month, on the regular features, blame it on working on the novel a lot!

#1 – He Forgot to Say Goodbye, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

2521835Like many reviews of this also say, this is on my TBR because my first book by this author was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and I LOVED IT.

So of course I dug up another novel or two of his to add to my list. I don’t own this one–I do own The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and will undoubtedly read that first–so we’ll see if I’m still as impressed with Sáenz then. I will say, this one has decidedly more mixed reviews than his later works, but I’m still hopeful I’ll enjoy it. I’ll just hedge my bets by getting it from the library instead of buying it. It stays.

 

#2 – Brooks, by Chris Keniston

31427026I put this on my TBR quite deliberately after reading the first book in this romance series, even mentioning that in my review. But I just reread my review of that first book, and I gave it three stars, and now I’m just thinking I still have too many romances I already own to bother going back for the second book in a series that was enjoyable but not outstanding. I have other authors I like more I could be supporting, as well as many authors still to try. This goes.

 

#3 – It Devours!, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

28208687._SY475_Reading Welcome to Night Vale seems so long ago, but I loved it, and I haven’t made the time to reread it yet, and I think I will still want to read this follow-up after I do.

It can stay.

Especially since many reviewers think it’s an improvement on the first novel, which I gave five stars for entertainment value and punching me right in my love of the absurd, despite some clear pacing and stylistic issues. If those got straightened out, even a little, then this will be worth my time.

#4 – Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler

60929I have had mixed luck with Butler’s other works. I’m pretty sure I put this on the list after being highly impressed with Parable of the Sower, which I enjoyed much more than my first Butler novel, Kindred.

But then I couldn’t even finish Wild Seed, which made me so angry I would have thrown it across the room if it weren’t a library book I didn’t want to damage.

I think if I want to read more of Butler’s work, I’d do better to finish the series I started and enjoyed, than starting yet another one. This goes.

#5 – By Gaslight, by Steven Price

28007842I do not have even the slightest memory of how this came to be on my TBR, but since that’s true, I can read the blurb with fresh eyes and check out some reviews.

Okay. Definitely re-thinking this. A) it’s a historical mystery; b) not only is it long, it’s also incredibly slow-paced, and c) many, many reviewers mentioned confusion/irritation with the stylistic choice to forego quotation marks around dialogue.

That’s enough to make me go, eh, maybe it’s good but it sounds like too much bother. This absolutely goes.

#6 – Moment in Peking, by Lin Yutang

1320195No idea where this addition came from, either, but in the time this I put this on my list I have had the most TERRIBLE luck with reading historical novels set in China, by both white and Chinese authors. Like, the only good one was The Night Tiger, and there are at least half a dozen others that made me want to hurt things with baseball bats, they were so bad.

I’m not saying I’ll never read a historical novel set in China again, far from it, but based on what I can see about this one, it’s not going to be where I start when I’m ready to try again. It can go.

#7 – Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

6294I have seen the Studio Ghibli anime adaptation of this novel, exactly once, long enough ago that I remember basically nothing about it.

But I do know that people ADORE this book. Most of my Goodread friends who have read it gave it five stars, and not one of them less than three. It’s pretty safe to call this book “beloved.”

It can stay, though I have absolutely no idea when I’ll get to it. I will. Someday.

 

#8 – The Crow Girl, by Erik Axl Sund

30965660._SY475_

I put this on the list after reading and mostly enjoying the much-more-famous Millennium trilogy, and I thought, hey, Swedish thrillers are pretty interesting, why not try more?

But since then I have tried more, and not really liked them. Also, by the end I didn’t even like the Millennium trilogy that much.

Do I need more Swedish crime novels in my life? I’ve been doing just fine without them for several years, so I think their moment with me has passed. This goes.

 

#9 – Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones

24763621I’m sure this crossed my radar and I thought, huh, a book that’s kind of like Labyrinth but is also heavily focused on music and musicianship.

That concept sold me, but my friends’ reviews are either hyperbolically good or pretty terrible, and the general pool of reviews is pointing things out like “the first half was interesting but I completely lost interest by the end” and “the romance plot is the worst part of the book.”

That doesn’t fill me with confidence. Going to pass on this one.

#10 – Ship of Theseus, by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst

34203542._SX318_Sorry, Mr. Dorst, I’m too mad at J.J. Abrams about the new Star Wars disaster trilogy to bother with this anymore. Not your fault.

In all seriousness, every piece of Abrams media I have ever consumed tells me he can have a vision no problem, then utterly fail to execute it properly. The Force Awakens was a tired and safe retread of A New Hope. The Rise of Skywalker was just a fast-paced mess. Going way back, Lost was interesting the first season and failed to keep me hooked through the second, let alone the rest. Felicity had its moments but mostly annoyed me whenever I tried to take it seriously. All of his Star Trek movies are essentially flash (also literally flash, thank you excessive lens flare) and no substance.

Which is the precise description I saw of this book in no less than three separate reviews. Some people love it, obviously, but the high concept that intrigued me at first now just seems like a set up for disappointment when it falls on its face somewhere before the end. This most definitely gets cut from my list.


Wow, I only kept 3 out of 10 this time around! Harsh, but fair, and the last couple of rounds I was keeping a lot. There’s only so much time in a day, right? I can’t read everything. But as usual, if you have something to say about any one of these books, a warning that a keeper might not be as good as it looks, or an argument for one of the books I cut, please let me know in the comments!

Down the TBR Hole #26

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?

New year, same meme!

#1 – Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban

776573A post-apocalyptic story that is also a linguistic puzzler. Don’t remember where I stumbled across this title, definitely see why I added it.  As to whether it should stay? I may never write another post-apocalyptic work myself, or I may, who knows at this point. But I didn’t lose interest in the genre. I’m interested enough that it can stick around.

 

 

 

#2 – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami

2195464._SY475_One of the top-rated reviews on Goodreads, under “who do you recommend this for?” says “runners and writers.” I am not a serious runner, a marathon runner, but I am both of these things. I have a piece of Murakami fiction on the shelves already–Norwegian Wood–and ordinarily I’d do the thing where I say “if I hate that then I’ll come back and cut this” but fiction and nonfiction are different beasts, even from the same author, and I’ll probably still want to read this even if I don’t end up liking Norwegian Wood. It stays.

 

 

#3 – Chemistry, by Weike Wang

31684925._SY475_I heard a lot about this leading up to its release and just after, then it sort of disappeared from my radar. I’m pleased to rediscover it, because a) it still sounds awesome, and b) I need “a book with a protagonist in their 20s” for the PopSugar challenge this year and that spot on my list was still blank, waiting for me to read a book on a whim and find out it qualified. But now, I’ve got a plan! It stays and goes on the challenge list.

 

 

#4 – The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

15819028Wooo boy, I do not remember putting this on the TBR. Rereading the blurb makes it sound okay, but just okay. Skimming my friends’ reviews section on the Goodreads page leads me to believe this is a love-it-or-hate-it book, because the downside seems to be an incredibly slow pace to the story, but the upside of that is “lush, evocative prose.” I’m not going to invest the kind of time that kind of book needs on a blurb I think is so-so. This definitely goes.

 

 

#5 – Persuading Prudence, by Liz Cole

11329359What exactly the heck? I reread this blurb and have no memory of finding this book or putting it on my list or any reason why I might have done so. If you’d asked me about this title before I did this meme, I would have said, in all honesty, “Never heard of it.” Doesn’t seem like my thing at all, away it goes.

 

 

 

#6 – 8  — The NOLA Nights series, by Thea de Salle

These are on the list because a Tumblr mutual, back when book 2 of the series was released, was hyping it to the stars like it was her own personal mission to make as many people as possible aware of this book and hopefully get them to read it. I was convinced enough to throw the whole series on there, but let’s reexamine that, shall we? Book one has lovers with a pretty large age gap, older male/younger female, and that can be a turn-off for me, but reviews point out that she’s plus-size and he’s bisexual. Bisexual male lead? I can forgive a lot of other things that might make me hesitant if that’s good, because bisexuality as a whole doesn’t have good rep, but within that bi ladies are far more visible than bi guys. So I’m on board so far. Book two, the one that was shoved under my nose so vocally, also has bi rep apparently, and basically everyone who reviewed it thinks it’s even better than the first (which is probably why it was the first one to come to my attention despite being the second in the series.) Still on board. Book three? It looks like there’s some religion/sex tension, which can be disastrous if done wrong, but by then if I’ve read the first two I’ll either like the author’s style or I won’t, and I can decide then to go on or not. The final assessment: they can all stay, and now I’m interested enough to put them at the top of my list when I break my book buying ban in the spring.

#9 – ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King

11590My dedication to pruning my TBR even extends to Mr. King, who is simultaneously one of my favorite authors (his best books are easily a few of my lifetime favorites) and one of the least consistent authors I’ve ever read. When he’s good, he’s great, but when he’s bad, I hate it. (I’m looking at you, Lisey’s Story.) So while I will pick up any King novel I don’t already own at a book sale, no question, I will also DNF that sucker in a heartbeat if I’m not enjoying myself–it’s happened, more than once. I couldn’t get through It, which nearly everyone else loves! So the story behind putting this one on my list is that I did it after some of its character show up late in the Dark Tower series, and they’re pivotal, and I was curious. But now, given how long it’s been since I finished the series (that was my big 2017 series goal) and how disappointed I was with it in the end, my nostalgia for something I haven’t actually read is not good enough. Would I read this book on its own merits? Stephen King does vampires. Old-school, early-career horror. So, so many people claiming in their reviews that it’s their favorite King novel (or at least one of them.) I think this can stay. It won’t be high on my priority list any time soon (I’m currently reading a King story collection and have three more of his novels that I do own slated for challenges this year) but it doesn’t need to be cut. I’m quite likely never going to catch up entirely on King’s back catalog, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.

#10 – Everything Leads to You, by Nina LaCour

#11 – We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour

#12 – Every Day, by David Levithan

Two bonus books, because I need to do these three together, since they all come from the same source: these are the two authors who wrote one of my favorite books of 2017, You Know Me Well. I’m still recommending it as queer fiction to this day–I was just talking recs with a friend this past weekend and I threw this one at her. And I was lamenting my lack of wlw reading, because there isn’t as much out there as I want there to be, but I haven’t even read some of the big titles of what there is, and LaCour is the author who comes up again and again. Seriously, I loved that book so much, so I went straight to Goodreads to look up the authors’ other work and throw a few on there. They all stay. Looking back at what I chose I think I’m more excited about the LaCour books than the Levithan one, but that still looks interesting for its unusual premise.


Once again, it was a bumper crop of books that did not get cut. I only pitched 2/12 this time (like last month, unlike me) but if I was always cutting more than half my list, then what was I thinking putting them on there in the first place? As always, if you’ve got an opinion to share or a disagreement to voice about any of these books, drop a note in the comments and say why you think I should change my mind!

Down the TBR Hole #25

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?

If I ever want to actually comb through my entire TBR…well, I should probably post these daily, then. I was going to say weekly, but monthly is all the blog can handle. But there’s still so many books to go through! (Currently 641 items on my Goodreads “want to read” shelf.)

Okay, where I did leave off last month?

#1 – The Shirley Letters: From the California Mines, 1851-1852, by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe

1600115The mystery of where I found this title is solved easily by the date I added it on Goodreads being identical to the date of the review of the only friend I have to have read this. Her review was glowing; I was interested.

I completely forgot it was here, and I don’t read nonfiction much anymore. Not never, just not much. That would almost be enough to pitch this off the list, but one of the reading challenges I’m planning for in 2020 asks for a book I’d forgotten was on my TBR, and this seems like a perfect candidate. It stays. It certainly helps that I can get it through interlibrary loan, though, because I doubt I’d want to buy this.

#2 – The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

17910048I don’t recall where I found this, but I like the premise enough that I’ve considered buying it from Thriftbooks several times over the past several weeks, every time I place an order. (Which, between my personal purchases and Christmas shopping, has actually been quite a few instances.)

I still haven’t quite bought it–there’s always something I want just a little more–but I still want to read it eventually. It can stay.

#3 – The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie

944073._SX318_SY475_I think I grabbed this off a rec list, but just looking at the “readers also enjoyed” section on Goodreads makes me cringe, because The Lies of Locke Lamora is there–which I liked just fine–but so is Prince of Thorns, which I absolutely detested. I’m not sure I need to read more “dark, gritty” fantasy novels by men, when that’s such an over-saturated genre. Couple that with the good reviews being hyperbolic and glowing while the bad reviews are talking about this book trying way too hard to sound adult but coming off like a posturing teenager, and it goes, I’m not interested anymore.

#4 – Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham

31570While I don’t remember where I heard of the book, the appeal is obvious to me–I love curry, we have Curry Friday in my household the same as Taco Tuesday. I have half a dozen Indian cookbooks (both by native Indians and Brits of Indian heritage) and I make dishes from all over the country and its regional cuisines.

But, despite this being a combo nonfiction history and cookbook, I’m not digging it anymore. All the reviews are pretty meh and getting my hands on a copy doesn’t look like it’s going to be worth the hassle. It can go.

#5 – How to Suppress Women’s Writing, by Joanna Russ

1047343._SY475_Listen, I know I say I don’t read a lot of nonfiction anymore, and I am by nature skeptical of anything people say is “required reading” for any group of people, even those I belong to. And I am a woman, a writer, and a feminist, three things on various reviewers’ lists for that “required” reading.

But they also keep saying that it holds up beautifully for a 40-year old book about social issues, and practically reads like it could have been written now. And that intrigues me, on top of the subject matter. I still want to read this.

#6 + #7 – No Longer Human and The Setting Sun, by Osamu Dazai

I know I’ve been moaning lately about reading WWII fiction, and I am tired of it. But I also want to read more works by Japanese authors, because I studied the language for a year (nearly twenty years ago, but still) and I watch a ton of anime (both twenty years ago and currently.) The history and culture of Japan have fascinated me since I was quite a small child. Shouldn’t I dive into their literary traditions? I mean, I have, I read The Tale of Genji ages ago, and I have a few other books already in my possession. But when one anime character a while back just kept on quoting Dazai in practically every episode, I got curious! I don’t know if I’ll like them, maybe I’ll hate them (in which case I’ll only read one and ditch the other) but they should stay. I need to read more world literature and that definitely includes a country I’m already consuming lots of other media from.

#8 – The Man Who Loved Children, by Christina Stead

304344

I was tempted to chuck this without much deliberation, because I think I pulled this from a world-lit list (Australia) without looking too closely at it. Gentle digging uncovered incredibly divisive reviews proclaiming this the best under-rated book ever all the way across the spectrum to a steaming pile of trash. That alone would make me let it go.

But it qualifies perfectly for “an underrated/lesser known book” for that challenge I mentioned earlier. And I can get the ebook through Hoopla, which means no risk to me if I hate it. It stays for a very specific purpose.

#9 – Stoner, by John Williams

166997I know I pulled this off a rec list, though judging by the books following it that I added the same day, I can’t quite figure out what the rec list was advocating as a theme, because there seems to be no sense in it.

This “classic” seems to have a cult following even though I’d never heard of it–but then, isn’t that practically the definition of cult media? I’m torn. It sounds like it could be interesting, but it also sounds like it could be dull as bricks. I do want to read more “classics” even though it always seems like a 50-50 chance I’ll hate them. But then if I gave up on classics, I would never have read some of my favorites. With a great sigh, this can stay. But I will DNF it if it looks at me funny in the first 10%.

#10 – My Abandonment, by Peter Rock

5603935

This came from the same list as Stoner above. See what I mean? No clue what the point of the list was.

This, though, I’m not so torn about keeping around. It still sounds interesting in concept, it’s still based on a true story, and though the reviews are decidedly mixed and have myriad complaints, I’m still willing to give it a try. I need to read more outside my comfort zone in general, and hey, look, it’s on Hoopla. It can stay.


I only cut two books out of ten? That doesn’t seem like me. Especially since a lot of these are not-me kind of books. A sign that I’m still trying to grow as a reader? Or am I just being generous with my TBR since I’ve lowered my DNF cutoff this past year from 25% to 10%? It’s a lot easier to try a book out when you’re only committing to 50 pages or less, in most cases.

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.