Hello lovelies! Thank you for giving me such a positive response when I decided to join in with the ‘Down the TBR Hole’ meme 😀 Let’s dive straight into round two, shall we?
Here are the rules:-
- Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
- Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!
Rasputin: The Untold Story by Joseph T. Fuhrmann
A century after his death, Grigory Rasputin remains fascinating: the Russian peasant with hypnotic eyes who befriended Tsar Nicholas II and helped destroy the Russian Empire, but the truth about his strange life has never fully been told. Written by the world’s leading authority on Rasputin, this new biography draws on previously closed Soviet archives to offer new information on Rasputin’s relationship with Empress Alexandra, sensational revelations about his sexual conquests, a re-examination of his murder, and more.
– Based on long-closed Soviet archives and the author’s decades of research, encompassing sources ranging from baptismal records and forgotten police reports to notes written by Rasputin and personal letters
– Reveals new information on Rasputin’s family history and strange early life, religious beliefs, and multitudinous sexual adventures as well as his relationship with Empress Alexandra, ability to heal the haemophiliac tsarevich, and more
– Includes many previously unpublished photos, including contemporary studio photographs of Rasputin and samples of his handwriting
– Written by historian Joesph T. Fuhrmann, a Rasputin expert whose 1990 biography Rasputin: A Life was widely praised as the best on the subject
– Synthesizing archival sources with published documents, memoirs, and other studies of Rasputin into a single, comprehensive work, Rasputin: The Untold Story will correct a century’s worth of misconception and error about the life and death of the famous Siberian mystic and healer and the decline and fall of Imperial Russia.
I think I added this one due to my love of all things Russian and particularly, my childhood love of Anastasia. However, I tend to struggle with non-fiction. Unless someone was to buy this for me, I’m unlikely to ever get to it.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
I’ve owned this book for FAR too long. I’m determined to read it. I think I’ll make it one of my must-reads for 2020.
[Related post: 12 Books I MUST Read in 2019!]
Matched by Ally Condie
In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.
Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.
I’m hoping this is a judgement-free zone! I added this one in my very early Goodreads days, back when I was behind on years’ worth of books. Books like this were all the rage back then and I wanted to see what I was missing. I think the time has definitely passed.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.
From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
Patrick Ness is one of my auto-buy authors so of course, I already own a copy of this. But to this day, I have not had the courage to pick it up. Having lost my own mum to cancer when I was young, I know that this one is going to be very close to the bone for me. I’d like to read it one day but I need to make sure I’m in a mentally strong place.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.
I think I found this on a Pinterest list waaay back in the day. I’ve never really heard much about it since. But it sounds like it could be interesting.
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel “cuts” water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, it seems California is making a play to monopolize the life-giving flow of the river, and Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a drought-hardened journalist, and Maria Villarosa, a young refugee who survives by her wits in a city that despises everything she represents. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria, time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.
I think this came from the same Pinterest list as the previous book. This cli-fi sounds to me a lot like Neal and Jarrod Shusterman’s Dry. So I feel like I’ve kind of been there, done that? And I don’t know if I’d like the gangster slant in this one.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
The extraordinary new novel from the author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize winning The Remains of the Day. The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards – some strange and other-worldly – but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
I’ve never read anything by Ishiguro but I like the sound of this one. Plus I already own it so I have no excuse not to read it.
Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life. Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way. But then she meets Eli, and he’s not ready to let her go, not without a fight.
Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St. John Mandel’s Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation. It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and – ultimately – about the nature of obsession.
Station Eleven is one of my all-time favourites so I definitely want to read more from this author.
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
The Lola Quartet: Jack, Daniel, Sasha and Gavin, four talented musicians at the end of their high school careers. On the dream-like night of their last concert, Gavin’s girlfriend Anna disappears. Ten years later Gavin sees a photograph of a little girl who looks uncannily like him and who shares Anna’s surname, and suddenly he finds himself catapulted back to a secretive past he didn’t realise he’d left behind.
But that photo has set off a cascade of dangerous consequences and, as one by one the members of the Lola Quartet are reunited, a terrifying story emerges: of innocent mistakes, of secrecy and of a life lived on the run.
Filled with love, music and thwarted dreams, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Lola Quartet is a thrilling novel about how the errors of the past can threaten the future.
As above. Plus I find these book covers really striking, so I want to see them all lined up on my shelves!
The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel
After shaking off an increasingly dangerous venture with his cousin, Anton Waker has spent years constructing an honest life for himself. But then a routine security check brings his past crashing back towards him. His marriage and career in ruins, Anton finds himself in Italy with one last job from his cousin. But there is someone on his tail and they are getting closer . . .
The Singer’s Gun follows Anton, Alex Broden – a detective on the trail of a people trafficker, and Elena, caught up in the investigation against her will. Taut and thrilling, it is a novel about identity and loyalty, and the things we are willing to sacrifice for love.
Yeah, I feel like a broken record now. They’re all staying.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
Wow, that’s a long synopsis. This is another one that I own and want to read at some point. I didn’t actually realise that it was set near Christmas so maybe I’ll read it before the year is over.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
It’s 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.
At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it’s too late to introduce himself.
After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart… and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.
Yeah, so you’ll notice that I had a habit back in the day of adding every book an author had written. I don’t own this one and it sounds like a straight-up romance which is not really a genre I read. Maybe if I like Landline, I’ll add it back but for now…
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a love letter to love stories and the power of words – to every ‘chosen one’ who ever had more on their mind than saving the world.
*waits for the gasps of horror*
No, I’ve never read Carry On. Honestly? I’m apprehensive; I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about this Harry Potter spoof. But I’d like to read it just to see what the hype is all about. And I do like the nod to Supernatural in the book titles (whether it was intended or not).
The House on Carnaval Street by Deborah Rodriguez
When her family faces kidnap threats after the publication of her first book, Deborah Rodriguez is forced to flee Kabul, leaving behind her friends, her possessions, the beauty school she helped found and her two beloved businesses: a beauty salon and a coffee shop.
But life proves no easier ‘back home’. After a year living on top of a mountain in the Napa Valley and teetering on the edge of sanity, Deborah makes a decision. One way or another she’s going to get the old Deb back.
So, at the age of forty-nine, she packs her life and her cat Polly into her Mini Cooper and heads south to a pretty seaside town in Mexico. Home is now an unassuming little house on Carnaval Street.
There she struggles to learn Spanish, works out with strippers and spends her Sunday nights watching clowns. And maybe – just maybe – the magic of Mexico will finally give her what she’s always dreamed of: a life on her own terms . . .
I added this one after enjoying The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul but I managed to miss the fact that it was a memoir (I thought maybe it was fiction but based on truth? I don’t know.) Anyway, I don’t tend to read memoirs unless they’re by someone I’m super interested in.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Who did massacre the Day family?
I recently unhauled the physical copy of this from my shelves so it can definitely come off my digital shelf too! I just feel like this author is really over-hyped and I’m no longer interested in reading her books. (Sorry if that offends anyone!)
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Not everyone has to be the chosen one
What if you’re not an indie kid, fighting zombies, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Sometimes you just have to discover how even an ordinary life can be extraordinary.
From the bestselling and award-winning author of A Monster Calls and More Than This comes a bold, funny and insightful about many different types of remarkable.
Ah, another Patrick Ness. I must read this one of these days.
The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
One night, George Duncan – decent man, a good man – is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.
The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George’s shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.
Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.
This is probably the Patrick Ness book that I’ve heard the least about but oh my word, it sounds wonderful.
The New World, The Wide Wide Sea, and Snowscape by Patrick Ness
The New World: In this dramatic prequel to the award-winning Chaos Walking Trilogy, author Patrick Ness gives us a short story of Viola’s journey to the New World.
The Wide, Wide Sea: The Wide, Wide Sea is set in the past, at a time before the Spackle War, and we get a first look at the fishing village on the sea where some very important things happen at the end of Monsters of Men.
Snowscape: Snowscape is set after the end of Monsters of Men, so that’s when you should read it. That’s all I’ll say, I don’t want to give anything away. 😉 – Patrick Ness
I’m taking these three short stories together because I can’t be bothered to repeat myself 3 times lol. These stories all relate to the Chaos Walking trilogy which I loved but they’re only available as e-books and that’s not a format I enjoy reading. Plus it’s been years since I actually read the trilogy so these wouldn’t resonate as much with me nowadays.
Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link
The nine stories in Link’s second collection are the spitting image of those in her acclaimed debut, Stranger Things Happen: effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of delicate lyrical fantasy. In “Stone Animals,” a house’s haunting takes the unusual form of hordes of rabbits that camp out nightly on the front lawn. This proves just one of several benign but inexplicable phenomena that begin to pull apart the family newly moved into the house as surely as a more sinister supernatural influence might. The title story beautifully captures the unpredictable potential of teenage lives through its account of a group of adolescent schoolfriends whose experiences subtly parallel events in a surreal TV fantasy series. Zombies serve as the focus for a young man’s anxieties about his future in “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” and offer suggestive counterpoint to the lives of two convenience store clerks who serve them in “The Hortlak.” Not only does Link find fresh perspectives from which to explore familiar premises, she also forges ingenious connections between disparate images and narrative approaches to suggest a convincing alternate logic that shapes the worlds of her highly original fantasies.
I feel like this synopsis is trying very hard? But I still quite like sound of this book and I’ve been enjoying short story collections more and more recently.
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link
Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.
Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.
With Monstrous Stories by M. T. Anderson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nathan Ballingrud, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, Nalo Hopkinson, Dylan Horrocks
Nik Houser, Alice Sola Kim, Kathleen Jennings, Joshua Lewis, Kelly Link, Patrick Ness and G. Carl Purcell.
I obviously added this based on the Kelly Link connection but it sounds pretty awesome and there are some authors whose contributions I’d like to read.
Books removed in this post: 9
Books removed in total: 17
Total books analysed: 42
Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! x