Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my TBR that I’m avoiding and why

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly prompt posted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl, but this week I’m taking a cue from Leelyn @ Sometimes Leelyn Reads and expanding the topic to include books that aren’t on my physical TBR. Honestly, if it’s a book I don’t want to read right away, I’m not going to keep it on my shelves.

  1. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – I’ve heard lots of rave reviews for this book, but I also heard a review that mentioned one particular description that turned me off this book completely. I don’t know the context of the line, or even the full quote, but it’s something like “beautiful like a fresh suicide.” From what I’ve heard, death and decay are prominent themes in this book, but can we all just stop romanticizing suicide? I’ll go ahead and cut myself off from ranting.

2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – This is a book I’m avoiding, but I might actually come back to. I did try reading this not too long ago. I got about 10 pages in and returned it back to the library. I had high expectations for this book since so many people love it, but I was bored instantly. Normally I’m into books with a slow burn, but I might have just picked this up at the wrong time.

3. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – I made the mistake of watching the movie adaptation before I read the book. The movie started out okay but was ultimately disappointing. I know I should read the book because it’s probably way better than the movie ever could be, but I don’t want to be disappointed again.

4. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – So I do really want to read this book. The thing that’s holding me back is that it is hefty. It also seems like it’s going to be complex enough that I will want to annotate it, which means I need to buy my own copy instead of borrowing it from the library, and I haven’t seen a copy of this in my local used bookstores. I hesitate to buy it brand new because I don’t know if I will love it and also $$$.

5. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin – I really want to love Le Guin. I do. It’s just that I started out with The Dispossessed and it was a huge mistake. Now I’m afraid to try something else, even though Earthsea appears to be far more accessible, and there’s rumors of another tv adaptation, which means I’m obligated to read the series so I can point out every way that the tv adaptation differs from the books and annoy all of my friends and coworkers.

6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – This has been compared to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which is what made me want to read this book in the first place. It is also the reason I haven’t read it yet. I’ve never read anything by Kristin Hannah, but can this really be as good as The Poisonwood Bible? I may never know.

7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – I’m sure this book is fine. I’m just really over the whole trend of writing heartwarming stories (based in reality or not) set during the Holocaust. In my opinion, people like to latch on to stories about hope and survival because it’s easier than thinking about what led to these terrible events in the first place. *Shrug emoji*

8. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – I enjoyed Ruth Ware’s books up until The Death of Mrs. Westaway, which I thought was terrible. I’m interested to see what she does with this, since it’s based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but I don’t want to get my hopes up in case I’m disappointed again.

9. The Library Book by Susan Orlean – I work at a library, and I love true crime. For those reasons alone, I should want to read this book. I don’t know why exactly, but I never really got excited about this book when it first came out. I haven’t heard from very many library workers who have read it and recommended it, which makes me hesitant to read it.

10. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – One of the main reasons I haven’t read this book yet is because I’m afraid it won’t live up to expectations. I’ve heard from some people that it is excellent, and from others that it was not so great. If this gets a movie adaptation, I will definitely watch it regardless of whether or not I’ve read the book, because I love movies about music.

There you go! If you think you can change my mind and make me want to put any of these at the top of my TBR list, have at it. I’m willing to be persuaded!

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (light spoilers)

This book was solidly okay. I’m a little surprised I even finished it, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I listened to it as an audiobook and I end up DNFing most audiobooks. I usually get bored and stop listening. If I’m going to listen to someone talk, I would rather listen to a podcast because the hosts are usually more dynamic and the content that they are sharing is easier to absorb in 30-45 minute segments. That being said, I have a bad habit of downloading audiobooks through my library because I like the idea of audiobooks, and then I never listen to them. If anyone knows how to solve my listening problem, please pass along advice. The narrator for this audiobook is Rebecca Soler, who also narrated Sadie by Courtney Summers. Soler was a great choice of narrator, because she’s so good at conveying the emotions of an angry teen girl. 

As for the story itself, the first half(ish) of the novel was my favorite. I enjoyed it enough that I kept listening. The writing was engaging, I was interested in the character of Alice, and the story was a bit suspenseful. One of the things I appreciated about this novel is that even though the two main characters show some level of attraction towards each other, there is no forced romance. 

Now for some things I didn’t like. After Alice gets to the Hinterland (or Hazel Wood? I’m still not clear which is actually the fairytale land), the story gets so much less interesting. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I wasn’t very invested after that point. It was around this time that I started to notice the excessive use of similes and metaphors. There were so many that the descriptions stopped making sense. I don’t know if I noticed this because I was starting to get fed up with the story and it had been going on all along or if the writing changed dramatically after that point in the novel. Also, I wanted the story to be more high stakes. At one point one of the main characters dies suddenly, and then it turns out he isn’t dead! Because no one dies in “the stories!” Ugh. In the end everyone got what they wanted, except for me. 

If you’ve read The Hazel Wood, let me know what you thought!

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September TBR

For September, I’ve decided to self-impose a ban on checking out library books. It may seem a little weird, because normally I hear from other readers about book-buying bans. I’ve actually been able to cut down drastically on my own book buying over the past couple of years, mostly because I started working at a public library. However, I realized I had a different problem on my hands when I started maxing out my hold list and returning multiple library books at a time that I hadn’t read. I like to read (mostly) new books, so instead of buying them, I was checking them out at the library. It definitely has saved me money, but I still haven’t gotten through my TBR, which also contains quite a few new/newish books that I really do want to read. So now I’m going to, at least temporarily, freeze all of my holds at the library, return any unread books, and spend the month focusing on my shelves at home. Part of my argument for prioritizing library books was that the books on my TBR shelves would “always be there.” No shit. They’ll be there because I haven’t read the things. Also, guess what, self? The library books will always be there, too. (But, oh god, what if all public libraries lose funding and get shut down and what then? As an employee I’m pretty sure I would have dibs on the books before the public, so I’m still safe.)

I also do unhauls pretty frequently and take the books I can’t bear to look at anymore to a local used bookstore where I trade them in for store credit. The thing is, I still don’t read the books I have leftover. I guess I could just trade in every single book I haven’t read and truly conquer my TBR, but that feels like a cop-out and also there are books on this shelf right in front of me that I would very much like to read please.

So here we are. I set aside six books for the month of September that I would like to get through. I probably won’t be able to do all of them because I’m starting my last semester of grad school (woohoo), and I won’t have as much free time. I did want to go ahead and pick these books because if I don’t set goals for myself, I don’t accomplish anything. I chose two ARCs, two books I have purchased within the last year, one book from a jolabokaflod exchange (look it up), and then one re-read. 

The Bride Test is a book I bought at a used bookstore just a few weekends ago. I heard good things about the first book from this author, and I try to read books that represent diversity so that I don’t accidentally become a bigot. I live in the South, y’all. Most of us were raised to be trash babies. 

The other recent purchase is Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. I love following Traister on Twitter, and I’m big on feminist nonfiction. I bought this on a trip to Asheville back in January and never even opened it. 

I have two ARCs on my list for this month, and I don’t know much about either of them. One is Renia’s Diary, which I received from St. Martin’s Press (MacMillan).  It contains the diary of a young Jewish woman living in Poland during the Holocaust with some notes from her sister who survived. The other is Therese Anne Fowler’s newest book, The Good Neighborhood. I know even less about this one other than that my friend who recommended it to me knows me well enough to decide whether or not I would enjoy the book. I’ve read Fowler’s historical fiction before and really loved it, so I have high hopes for her new book. 

My re-read this month is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was participating in a Harry Potter re-reading book club and somehow I forgot to read the last book. I don’t even remember why, but I’m almost certain it involved me trying to finish a library book so I could turn it in without getting any fines. Also, I’ve only read the series once before, so reading them again now is great because I remember almost nothing from the first time around. Everything is a surprise!

Anyway, here’s hoping I make some progress. Follow me on Instagram and Goodreads to see how it goes, and let me know what you’ll be reading this month!

Happy reading. 

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Wow, this book. I absolutely devoured it. The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking how I wish I had written it myself. It made me want to write fiction again, which is quite a feat because I’ve had not so great experiences with fiction writing in the past. 

One thing I appreciated about this novel was the lack of character growth. Weird, right? It didn’t seem to me that the main character “grew” so much as became more self aware. I guess that’s a kind of growth in and of itself. The character recognized her flaws and apologized for them when they negatively affected other people, but she didn’t make an effort at changing. To me, that’s more reflective of real life. Sometimes people just don’t change and you have to learn to exist with them anyway, or leave them behind. 

When I came to the ending, I was initially frustrated with the main character. She didn’t make the decisions I wanted her to make. She did create a life that worked for her, however temporarily. I wish I could follow the character of Frances and see how she would live the rest of her life, and whether she would start caring for herself. 

This novel, and the characters in the novel, were incredibly pretentious. It reminded me of how I thought in college, or at least how I was trying to think. I wanted to have lofty ideas and express myself well. Now I look back and wonder about how little I actually knew. 

As you can tell, this novel inspired a lot of self reflection, which in my mind is the mark of a 5 star book.

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