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.

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!