Down the TBR Hole #1

Hello, fellow book junkies! Here’s a fun trick to try when your TBR list gets longer than a Duck Dynasty character’s beard. You know those books you clicked on as “want to read” way back when? They looked wonderful at the time, but in hindsight maybe they don’t need to take up quite so much space on your TBR.  “Down the TBR Hole” is a brilliant way to whittle books off your list. It comes from Lia @ Lost in a Story, and I first saw it on Regina @ Bookish in Bed’s blog, so thanks, Regina! 

How to go Down the TBR Hole:
1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
2. List books in ascending order (oldest first).
3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
4. Read the synopses of the books.
5. Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here are my five picks for the week. Let’s see if any make the cut.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery20893527

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When, oh, when will I finally get around to reading this timeless classic?! Anne of Green Gables is only 320 pages long, so I suppose even if it doesn’t totally keep my interest, it’ll be a quick read. Judging by the quote, it’s a pretty joyful story, too, which is something I can always use more of: “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Verdict: Keep

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Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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I’m kind of on the fence about this book. Some readers had a hard time with the oppressor-oppressed romance and relating to the main characters.  It’s also a very heavy story–understandable considering the theme. Lies We Tell Ourselves has a lot going for it too. It’s an important story about racial oppression, which is something we have a long way to go toward needing to improve in society today. Apparently, Robin Talley has a great writing style (which is a big plus for me). It’s also well-researched, which is cool since I’ve been liking historical fiction a lot more lately. Oh, and we mustn’t there’s an F/F romance.

Verdict: Keep (for now)

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The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky Is Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is anyone else weary of stories about characters whose relatives die? This book opens with a nice, voice-y protagonist mentioning that her mother and sister have died. Uh-oh. I get that people die, and it is a very, very sad thing, but there are ways to build conflict and tension in a novel without needing people to die all the time. The opening of The Sky is Everywhere also has the MC saying her grandmother believes “a particular houseplant. . . reflects my emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.”  Quirky. I like it. 

Verdict: Keep

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The Everafter by Amy Huntley

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The Everafter has an average 3.71 rating on Goodreads. That’s a little on the low side, but then again rating isn’t everything. I loved The Graces by Laura Eve, for example, and can’t fathom why Goodreads insists it is only a 3.28 star read. Reviews of The Everafter also abound with the word “depressing.” That’s not a good sign. It’s hard enough to stay positive without reading a depressing story. Sorry but. . . 

Verdict: Go

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West 

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I really enjoyed books one and two of Kasie West’s Pivot Point and have been wanting to read something else by her. The Distance Between Us intrigues me with its premise: “Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment. However, the book is also labeled by some readers as a “cheesy romance.” (I should’ve have looked a little closer at the cover). I prefer books that explore human connections beyond stereotypical boy-girl romance, so. . . 

Verdict: Go

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Final score: 3 Keep, 2 Go. I’m making progress!

–Eve Messenger

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October Reads – End of Month Wrap-Up #amreading #YA

october-reads-2016

Hello, fellow book junkies! Can you believe we’re already on the home stretch toward Christmas? Wow, this year is absolutely flying by. So how was your reading month? Though there weren’t any five-star reads, mine was perfectly enjoyable. All the books I read fell into the YA category (unsurprisingly, since I love it so much) . The narratives took me all over the place, from My Lady Jane’s alternate 16th century England to The Absolutely True Diary’s Spokane Indian Reservation and all points in between and way not in between.

Here’s what I read in October . . .

YA Paranormal, Modern Day Texas & Fantasy Compound Where People with Special Powers Live
Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West 360pp
Kasie West is a fine writer; when I read her books I know I’m in good hands. However, I may be the toughest critic when it comes to sequels. What made the first book in this series so enjoyable was the thrill of going along for the wild ride as main character Addie, using her Searcher ability, mentally lives out two potential futures based on two different choices. This happened hardly at all in the second book; thus, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. 4/5 stars

YA Paranormal in a Modern Day Northern California Catholic High School with a very angry ghost
Shadowland by Meg Cabot 287pp audiobook
I’m always up for a story about a protagonist who can see ghosts. This book wasn’t bad, just the plot was a bit thin. It would have been better so much better if more things had happened. 3.25/5 stars

YA Paranormal(ish) in Modern Day Ireland
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle audiobook
Smalltown Ireland was a fantastic setting. This is one of those frustrating books that’s so well-written, with such a promising concept, but a plot that does not deliver. 3/5 stars

YA Contemporary/Humor on Spokane Indian Reservation
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Humorous and heartbreaking, this was an eye-opening journey into the life of an incredibly bright boy on an Indian Reservation in Spokane, Washington. The author’s illustrations were a nice touch. 4/5 stars

YA Alternative Historical Romance in 16th Century England
My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton & Meadows
I’ve never read a book quite like this. It was irreverent, entertaining, and impeccably well-researched. 4/5 stars

YA Steampunk in Alternate England
Timekeeper by Tara Sim  Netgalley ARC
This was my first foray into steampunk, a genre I’d be interested in reading more of. Timekeeper had lots of potential. My favorite character by far was Daphne, but she really didn’t have a very big part. The main character, Danny, was sweet and tortured, but I never really feel like I got to know him. My full Goodreads review is here3.75/5 stars

YA Dystopia in Post-Apocalyptic Denver
Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
I adored the first book, Legend. Book two kept my interest throughout but didn’t have the heartpounding, non-stop action that the first book did until about 2/3 of the way in. The Colonies alluded to in the first book are revealed in the second, and Marie Lu’s take on them is quite interesting. There are three more important things I want to say about Prodigy: Kaede, Kaede, Kaede. 4/5 stars

YA Contemporary/Coming of Age in 1990s Pittsburgh
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky  audiobook
Yay, I finally got around to reading this modern YA classic. Now I can see how true to the book the movie was. No wonder–wow, did Chbosky really write and direct the movie based on his own book? What a multi-talented guy. 4.25/5 stars

–Eve Messenger

The Surprise Star of the 8 Books I Read in March was. . .

March Reads 2016 copy

Oh, look at all the literary worlds I got to visit in March.

Only a Hundred Pages Shorter than Moby-Dick
At 565 pages, The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden was my longest read of the month, with A Gathering of Shadows coming in second at 500 pages. The Casquette Girls was one of those books that had me scratching my head wondering why it kept me so engrossed. I think the biggest reason is that the paranormal characters and events were interwoven with the enchanting, extraordinary world of New Orleans. 4 stars

Transported to a Dream then Sparked with a New ObsessionTsukiko from The Night Circus by CaylaLydon
With tThe Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern transported me to a dream world of magic, a battle to the death, and compelling characters, including my new favorite, Claire Bowen. This book also left me with a dire need for a prequel featuring Tsukiko and Hinata. If you read the  book, hopefully you’ll understand. The Night Circus was published in 2011 as the first in a series, but Erin Morgenstern is still working on the sequel because, apparently, writing this beautiful takes time. 4.5 stars

What’s a Story Without Believable Motives?
The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K.C. Tansley
There’s a lot to like about The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. Of course, there are ghosts, and a girl who can see them, then there’s possession and a sort of time travel with an ancient curse. The biggest issue for me was believability–there wasn’t a compelling enough reason for the protagonist to risk everything to embark on her dangerous journey. Perhaps for that reason, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts did not pass my “skim test,” meaning I found myself speed-reading through numerous passages that didn’t further the story.  3 stars

Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Write Alone
Beta read-Adult Paranormal WIP by  Tracy L. Jackson
My dear writing friend Tracy calmly talks me down from writing ledges, fangirls with me over The Walking Dead each week, and now has entrusted me to offer honest feedback on her wonderful work in progress, an adult paranormal novel. Since it’s not published yet, I won’t reveal much except to say there are MANY characters to fall in love with, plus an intriguing curse and, again, the amazing city of New Orleans. I want to read more books set in New Orleans! If you have any to recommend, I’d love to hear.

Why I am No Longer a Cassandra-Clare-Book Virgin
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
At last, I read my first Cassandra Clare book. Clockwork Angel was darker than I’d expected, which was a nice surprise. And the characters–Tessa, Jessamine and, oh, I’m enraptured by Jem. I saw certain plot twists coming from a mile away, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book and wanting to read more in the series. 4 stars.

Schwab, You Got Me to Read Your Second Book
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
I loved, adored, was blown away by the masterful writing of A Darker Shade of Magic, so I had to read the second book, A Gathering of Shadows. Amazing new characters were introduced, notably Alucard and Ojka. Plus, the Element Games were super fun, and Lila still kicks butt. But I enjoyed the first book more, probably because I’m a “discovery” reader, meaning I get the most pleasure out of discovering new worlds, characters, and writers, and it takes a LOT for me to spend more time in a literary world I’ve already experienced. 4.5 stars

Surprise Star of the Month
Pivot Point by Kasie West
I knew I wanted to check out Kasie West’s writing at some point, but Pivot Point wasn’t even on my radar until, on a whim, I picked it up from the library. I’m so glad I did. It was one of those “exactly what I was in the mood for” books. The plot kept me guessing all the way through, and the unique story structure made for a fascinating read. I’m all in for the next book in the series, Split Second. 4.5 stars

The Challenge of Sustaining Magnificence
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
At a hundred pages in, I was completely enamored by this beautiful, achingly bittersweet story. Through the second act, the story got a little same-y and could have used a twist, but the writing was strong, and the dual-POV structure worked really well. All the Bright Places is a moving story with deep philosophical themes and memorable main characters. 4 stars

 –Eve Messenger