Down The TBR Hole [#5]

Hello lovely people! I’m desperately trying to keep this blog alive right now but I’m finding it hard to give it my attention. I’m trying to limit my time online because I just end up falling down rabbit holes of scary news and making myself anxious. But I want you to know that I appreciate the continued support from everyone and I promise I will try to reconnect with you all as soon as I can! You’re all amazing ❤

For now, I’m just going to keep things simple with my next ‘Down The TBR Hole’ post!

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Radleys by Matt Haig

the radleys

Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret.

From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.

I have loved the Matt Haig books I’ve read so far and I’m sure this one will be no exception. I keep meaning to read it around Halloween but then I never end up getting round to it. So I’m hoping I’ll just randomly pick it up at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig

dead fathers club

The story of Hamlet is not usually thought of as one meant for laughter. But Matt Haig’s able retelling of the tale in The Dead Fathers Club will make you laugh, though it might also evoke a tear. Eleven-year-old Philip Noble is at his father’s funeral when who should appear but his father’s ghost, who wastes no time in telling Philip that his Uncle Alan, an auto mechanic, tampered with his car, causing the accident that killed him. He warns Philip that Uncle Alan will shortly be tampering with his mother too, because Unctuous Uncle Alan wants the pub that Philip’s father owned.

The solution to this problem, according to Philip’s dad, is that he must kill Uncle Alan. If he doesn’t do it before Dad’s next birthday, 11 weeks away, Dad will be consigned to the Terrors for all eternity. Philip agrees, in principle, but killing someone, especially without getting caught, isn’t easy. But a promise is a promise, so Philip gives it a whirl, in fact, several whirls. Real life interferes in the persons of two school bullies, truly nasty and perverse thugs, who seem ready to kill Philip because they think it’s funny that his father died. Philip also falls in love, and his Ophelia (named Leah) thinks that shoplifting is tons of fun. Poor Philip is in over his head in every way possible. There are many encounters with other Dead Fathers in a great sendup of ghostly dealings, Hamlet-like, on the moors, and several sly references to the play. There is even a character named Dane. The ending is not pure Shakespeare, but it is pure Haig and that is very good indeed.

Same reasoning as above. I got a set of Matt Haig’s books from The Book People and definitely intend to read them all at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

love that split the world

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

I had honestly forgotten I added this but wow, it sounds stunning. You all know I’m a sucker for magical realism.

Verdict: Keep


What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

what is not yours is not yours

The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?

I’ve been loving short story collections in recent times and the idea of this collection revolving around keys is one that definitely intrigues me.

Verdict: Keep


The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

bookshop book

Every bookshop has a story.

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.

This sounds cute but it’s nonfiction which I struggle to pick up most of the time. I don’t think it’s one that I’m ever likely to get to, unless it was gifted to me.

Verdict: Remove


Trolls-Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

trolls eye view

Everyone thinks they know the real story behind the villains in fairy tales – evil, no two ways about it. But the villains themselves beg to differ. In Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s new anthology for younger readers, you’ll hear from the Giant’s wife (“Jack and the Beanstalk”), Rumplestiltskin, the oldest of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and many more. A stellar lineup of authors, including Garth Nix, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman and Nancy Farmer, makes sure that these old stories do new tricks!

This might be ‘for younger readers’ but it contains some amazing authors. And let’s face it, nobody is too old for fairytales 😉

Verdict: Keep


The Child Thief by Brom

the child thief

Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland. Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is always more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

I’ve been intrigued by Brom’s work for years now but still haven’t made the effort to acquire any. I love Peter Pan retellings though so this is definitely where I would start.

Verdict: Keep


Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

maggot moon

One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell – who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright – sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…

The format of this one sounds intriguing but it’s not one that I ever see around or that I’ve heard much about.

Verdict: Remove


Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

adulthood is a myth

Are you a special snowflake?
Do you enjoy networking to advance your career?
Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared?

Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comics document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t feel that I need to read this one because I see enough of the author’s work online. Maybe that’s wrong of me and I should buy the book to support her but I’m poor and have to choose which books to buy very wisely!

Verdict: Remove


Jane Steele by Faye Lyndsay

jane steele

A reimagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.

This one sounds decent enough but I’ve kinda lost interest now. I have too much else to read haha.

Verdict: Remove


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I told myself I would read this one last year and, surprise surprise, it didn’t happen. But it will continue to wait patiently on my shelf until the time is right.

Verdict: Keep


Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

bellweather rhapsody

Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered at the Bellweather for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, teenagers on the verge and adults haunted by memories. This is a genre-bending page-turner, full of playful nods to pop-culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee.

I still love the sound of this one! It hits a lot of my buzzwords.

Verdict: Keep


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

love letters to the dead

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more — though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was — lovely and amazing and deeply flawed — can she begin to discover her own path in this stunning debut from Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead.

I’m sure this will be a poignant read but I love the whole concept and would still like to read it at some point.

Verdict: Keep


Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes A Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt

why love matters

Why Love Matters explains why love is essential to brain development in the early years of life, particularly to the development of our social and emotional brain systems, and presents the startling discoveries that provide the answers to how our emotional lives work.

Sue Gerhardt considers how the earliest relationship shapes the baby’s nervous system, with lasting consequences, and how our adult life is influenced by infancy despite our inability to remember babyhood. She shows how the development of the brain can affect future emotional well being, and goes on to look at specific early ‘pathways’ that can affect the way we respond to stress and lead to conditions such as anorexia, addiction, and anti-social behaviour.

Why Love Matters is a lively and very accessible interpretation of the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis and biochemistry. It will be invaluable to psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, mental health professionals, parents and all those concerned with the central importance of brain development in relation to many later adult difficulties.

This is a book that I bought while I was completing my undergraduate degree. I don’t think it needs to remain on my TBR shelf!

Verdict: Remove


Auggie and Me: Three Wonder Stories by R. J. Palacio

auggie and me

WONDER tells the story of Auggie Pullman: an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, whose first year at school changed the lives and the perspectives of everyone around him.

AUGGIE & ME is a new side to the WONDER story: three new chapters from three different characters – bully Julian, oldest friend Christopher and classmate Charlotte – giving an insight into how Auggie has touched their own lives. Thought-provoking, surprising, infuriating, heartbreaking and heartwarming, AUGGIE & ME is a must-read for the thousands of readers who loved WONDER.

I loved Wonder when I read it but I think the time might have passed to read these side stories. I would rather just reread the novel itself.

Verdict: Remove


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

wind up bird chronicle

Toru Okada’s cat has disappeared. His wife is growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has recently been receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada’s vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.

My first experience of Murakami was an interesting one but I haven’t written him off just yet. And as far as I can tell, this is one of his most popular novels.

Verdict: Keep (for now)


Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

company of liars

In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human drama.

The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.

Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.

Magical, heart-quickening, and raw, Company of Liars is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction.

I studied The Canterbury Tales in sixth form and this reimagining sounds like it could be brilliant.

Verdict: Keep


The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

owl killers

England, 1321. The tiny village of Ulewic teeters between survival and destruction, faith and doubt, God and demons. For shadowing the villagers’ lives are men cloaked in masks and secrecy, ruling with violence, intimidation, and terrifying fiery rites: the Owl Masters.

But another force is touching Ulewic—a newly formed community built and served only by women. Called a beguinage, it is a safe harbor of service and faith in defiance of the all-powerful Church.

Behind the walls of this sanctuary, women have gathered from all walks of life: a skilled physician, a towering former prostitute, a cook, a local convert. But life in Ulewic is growing more dangerous with each passing day. The women are the subject of rumors, envy, scorn, and fury…until the daughter of Ulewic’s most powerful man is cast out of her home and accepted into the beguinage—and battle lines are drawn.

Into this drama are swept innocents and conspirators: a parish priest trying to save himself from his own sins…a village teenager, pregnant and terrified…a woman once on the verge of sainthood, now cast out of the Church.…With Ulewic ravaged by flood and disease, and with villagers driven by fear, a secret inside the beguinage will draw the desperate and the depraved—until masks are dropped, faith is tested…and every lie is exposed.

This one doesn’t grab me as much as the previous book’s synopsis. I think I’ll ditch it for now and I can always add it back if I like the author’s writing in that one.

Verdict: Remove


The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland

gallows curse

Set in the reign of King John, when the whole of England was under sentence of excommunication (among other issues, King John wouldn’t accept the Pope’s choice of Archbishop). Can you imagine the chaos – all the churches closed, King John in retaliation arresting every priest who hadn’t fled and the people terrified of dying in sin without the last rites? No burials were permitted on consecrated land, no marriages were conducted, no babies baptized. But I don’t want to reveal much more, except to say the plot involves people-trafficking, murder and, oh yes… a very feisty dwarf and a eunuch with a hunger for revenge.

Here I go again, adding every book an author has ever written lol. Again, I think I’ll remove this and just try the one book that really interests me.

Verdict: Remove


The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland

vanishing witch

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

See my above reasoning!

Verdict: Remove



Books removed in this post: 9

Books removed in total: 44

Total books analysed: 102

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! xsignature (2)

Down The TBR Hole [#4]

Hello lovelies! It’s time for another round of clearing out my online bookshelves! I had some tricky decisions to make this time so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments 😀

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver lois lowry

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

This is one of those books that I feel I should have read long ago. I feel like everyone read this as a teenager but for some reason, it was never on my radar? I did find a copy in a charity shop a while ago so I’d like to see what it’s about at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Sci-fi scares me but I did enjoy the Martin Freeman movie adaptation of this one. And again, I do own a copy so it would be silly to not give it a try at some point. I just don’t know when that will be haha.

Verdict: Keep


Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

geisha

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.

I’m really torn about this one because I have literally owned it for years and never once felt inclined to pick it up. I need advice if you’ve read this one! I’ll keep it for now but it’s in serious danger of being unhauled.

Verdict: Keep


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

grapes of wrath

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

l have loved the Steinbeck books I’ve read and definitely want to read this one at some point. Plus (again), I own a copy. Are you sensing a theme?

Verdict: Keep


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

enders game

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.

This does have potential but it leans a bit too far towards the sci-fi side for my tastes. And I don’t own this one! Yay!

Verdict: Remove


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

a thousand splendid suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

The Kite Runner ripped my heart into a million pieces when I read it in school. I’ve been simultaneously intrigued and terrified by Khaled Hosseini’s books ever since. And I never seem to buy it even when I see it around. I’m not sure???!!! But I suppose I can always add it back on at a later date.

Verdict: Remove


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwood bible

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

My auntie recommended this one to me and did make it sound good. But unless someone gifted me a copy, I don’t feel like this is one I’m likely to buy myself.

Verdict: Remove


Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

anna and the swallow man

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

This absolutely sounds like my kind of book. Plus a friend who has very similar bookish taste to me and whose opinion I trust describes this as one of her favourites. So it’s not going anywhere.

Verdict: Keep


Edna in the Desert by Maddy Lederman

edna in the desert

Can a Beverly Hills teen survive without a smart phone, Internet, and TV? Edna will find out.
Edna is thirteen, a precocious troublemaker wreaking havoc at her Beverly Hills school. Her therapist advocates medication, but her parents come up with an alternative cure: Edna will spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents. Their remote cabin is cut off from cell phone service, Internet and television. Edna’s determined to rebel until she meets an older local boy and falls in love for the first time. How can she get to know him from the edge of nowhere?

I was interested in this one at some point but not so much anymore. I feel like I’m maybe too old for it now?

Verdict: Remove


Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier

fancies and goodnights

John Collier’s edgy, sardonic tales are works of rare wit, curious insight, and scary implication. They stand out as one of the pinnacles in the critically neglected but perennially popular tradition of weird writing that includes E.T.A. Hoffmann and Charles Dickens as well as more recent masters like Jorge Luis Borges and Roald Dahl. With a cast of characters that ranges from man-eating flora to disgruntled devils and suburban salarymen (not that it’s always easy to tell one from another), Collier’s dazzling stories explore the implacable logic of lunacy, revealing a surreal landscape whose unstable surface is depth-charged with surprise.

I think this came up as a recommended book in my early Goodreads days and I added it due to the author comparisons it had. But I can’t genuinely say I want to read it.

Verdict: Remove


The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

the girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in tw

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

Again, this was added in my early Goodreads days. And I’m now convinced that Goodreads never used to show you the position of a book in a series because this is apparently the third book and I don’t know why I would have just randomly added it without the first two? This has happened more than once now haha.

Verdict: Remove


365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik

365 thank yous

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams–including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge–seemed to have slipped beyond his reach. Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year’s Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal–come what may–of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year. One by one, day after day, he began to handwrite thank yous–for gifts or kindnesses he’d received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who’d done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he’d sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John’s way–from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John’s whole life turned around. 365 Thank Yous is a rare memoir: its touching, immediately accessible message–and benefits–come to readers from the plainspoken storytelling of an ordinary man. Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one and the negative things that have been said have kind of put me off.

Verdict: Remove


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

wild cheryl strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I’ve read a fictional story with a similar plot to this and I enjoyed it. I’m still very interested in reading Strayed’s experience.

Verdict: Keep


The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

the 13 lives of captain bluebear

Captain Bluebear tells the story of his first 13-1/2 lives spent on the mysterious continent of Zamonia, where intelligence is an infectious disease, water flows uphill, and dangers lie in wait for him around every corner.

“A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest,” says the narrator of Walter Moers’s epic adventure. “What about the Minipirates? What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot… Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair’s breadth, last-minute escapes.” Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It’s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author.

I might have enjoyed this when I was younger but sadly, I’m not Peter Pan and I think I’ve grown up too much for this one.

Verdict: Remove


The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

the city of dreaming books

Optimus Yarnspinner, a young writer, inherits from his beloved godfather an unpublished short story by an unknown author. His search for the author’s identity takes him to Bookholm–the so-called City of Dreaming Books. On entering its streets, our hero feels as if he has opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop. His nostrils are assailed by clouds of book dust, the stimulating scent of ancient leather, and the tang of printer’s ink.

Soon, though, Yarnspinner falls into the clutches of the city’s evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the labyrinthine catacombs underneath the city, where reading books can be genuinely dangerous…

I must have added this at the same time as the book above and I’m going to remove it again for the same reason I gave there.

Verdict: Remove


Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

mr penumbras 24-hour bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

There seem to be a lot of books on the market about quaint little bookshops or book clubs or other similar themes. I’ve got a few on my shelves and it’s taking me forever to get round to them so I don’t think I need to worry about another one. But if this one is special, by all means try to convince me!

Verdict: Remove


The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

jane austen book club

In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

What was I saying about books about books? This is one of those that’s already on my shelves so it can stay (for now).

Verdict: Keep


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

175A

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story.

This is one of those books I’ve seen recommended in so many places. And I’m sure it’s a fascinating read. But I don’t tend to read memoirs from people I’ve not already got an interest in.

Verdict: Remove


From Here To Eternity by James Jones

from here to eternity

Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company’s boxing team, he gets “the treatment” that may break him or kill him.

First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he’s risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer’s wife.

Both Warden and Prewitt are bound by a common bond: the Army is their heart and blood… and, possibly, their death.

In this magnificent but brutal classic of a soldier’s life, James Jones portrays the courage, violence and passions of men and women who live by unspoken codes and with unutterable despair… in the most important American novel to come out of World War II, a masterpiece that captures as no other the honor and savagery of men.

I love the movie adaptation of From Here To Eternity and would be interested in reading the original. Though I’m slightly intimidated by how huge it is!

Verdict: Keep


The Healing by Jonathan Odell

the healing

Mississippi plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he considers to be a “slave disease.” Insane with grief, Amanda takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada, much to the outrage of her husband and the amusement of their white neighbors. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave reputed to be a healer. But Polly’s sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest across the plantation. Complicating matters further, Polly recognizes “the gift” in Granada, the mistress’s pet, and a domestic battle of wills ensues.

Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is the kind of novel readers can’t put down—and can’t wait to recommend once they’ve finished.

I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book anywhere but it sounds amazing! Please tell me if you’ve read it.

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 11

Books removed in total: 35

Total books analysed: 82

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! xsignature (2)

Down The TBR Hole [#3]

Hello lovelies! I’m really enjoying the ‘Down the TBR Hole’ meme. It feels great to be cleaning up my online shelves 😀 I’ve had a slight break from it due to the festive period and new year but the time has come for round three!

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Underground Man by Mick Jackson

underground man

The Underground Man offers a humorous portrait of the fifth Duke of Portland, a wealthy, eccentric nineteenth-century nobleman who constructed a vast network of underground tunnels from which he could escape to the world outside.

Short and sweet blurb there. I’m not at all sure what made me add this one – especially considering it was first released in 1997?! I can’t genuinely say I’m interested based on so little information so…

Verdict: Remove


Blankets by Craig Thompson

blankets.jpg

Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

I actually started to read graphic novels last year and I’ve been enjoying them, so this one can definitely stick around!

Verdict: Keep


 The Secret History by Donna Tartt

the secret history.jpg

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

Shock and horror. I know. I feel like this might be a good candidate for my ’30 before 30′ list? I really would like to get to it at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

bookman's tale

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

So this does sound interesting. Especially with that mention of Hay-on-Wye, a place of pilgrimage for many bookstagrammers these days 😉 However, reviews are very mixed and I don’t think I’m intrigued enough to want to find out for myself. So many books, so little time!

Verdict: Remove


Room by Emma Donoghue

room

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

This is another of those books I’ve owned for far too long. I know it’s probably old news by this point but I still do want to read it.

Verdict: Keep


Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

heart shaped box.jpg

When Judas Coyne heard someone was selling a ghost on the internet, there was no question. It was perfect for his collection of the macabre: the cannibal’s cookbook, the witch’s confession, the authentic snuff movie. As an ageing death-metal rock-god, buying a poltergeist almost qualifies as a business expense.

Besides, Jude thinks he knows all about ghosts. Jude has been haunted for years… by the spirits of bandmates dead and gone, the spectre of the abusive father he fled as a child, and the memory of the suicidal girl he abandoned. But this ghost, delivered to his doorstep in a black heart-shaped box, is different. It makes the house feel cold. It makes the dogs bark. And it means to chase Jude from his home and make him run for his life.

Back in the day, I read a short story collection called 20th Century Ghosts and wanted to pursue the author’s work further. So I’m fairly sure I have a copy of this one somewhere on my shelves? I just never seem to get round to it. *hangs head in shame*

Verdict: Keep


The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin

axeman's jazz.jpg

New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him…

Though every citizen of the ‘Big Easy’ thinks they know who could be behind the terrifying murders, Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, is struggling to find leads. But Michael has a grave secret – and if he doesn’t find himself on the right track fast – it could be exposed…

Former detective Luca d’Andrea has spent the last six years in Angola state penitentiary, after Michael, his protégée, blew the whistle on his corrupt behaviour. Now a newly freed man, Luca finds himself working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as the authorities’.

Meanwhile, Ida is a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, Ida stumbles across a clue which lures her and her trumpet-playing friend, Lewis ‘Louis’ Armstrong, to the case and into terrible danger…

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim. And as the case builds to its crescendo, the sky will darken and a great storm will loom over the city…

I feel really torn about this one. It sounds intriguing and like it could be fun. And I do own a copy. But it’s just not one that I ever gravitate towards. I feel like I should unhaul it but I don’t want to then acknowledge that I wasted money on it. I’ll let it stay for now but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this one!

Verdict: Keep


The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

girl with all the gifts

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

Yet another one I’m ashamed to have not read yet. I think because I got spoiled a long time ago so now I feel like what’s the point, you know? Someone please convince me to give this one a chance sometime soon!

Verdict: Keep


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

what alice forgot

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

I must have been in the habit of adding books I’d bought to Goodreads because I seem to already own a lot of these. This is another one that I’m not sure I’m interested in any longer but as I have a physical copy, it can stay for now.

Verdict: Keep


The Accident by C. L. Taylor

the accident

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s …

I’ve read quite a few books by this author now but I’m not really bothered about going back to this very early one.

Verdict: Remove


Those Above by Daniel Polansky

those above daniel polansky

They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.

Those Above is the first of an extraordinary new fantasy epic by the author of the acclaimed Low Town series that will sweep the reader into a wholly alien, wholly recognizable world of rebellion and revenge, of love and of death, of intrigue and pitiless war.

I must have been interested in this when I added it but, to be honest, it no longer sounds like my kind of book. I struggle with sci-fi books and though I do try now and then to push myself out of my comfort zone, I don’t feel like I would be inclined to pick this one up.

Verdict: Remove


How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom & Pier Bryden

how can i help

A humane behind-the-scenes account of a week in the life of a psychiatrist at one of Canada’s leading mental health hospitals. How Can I Help? takes us to the frontlines of modern psychiatric care.

How Can I Help? portrays a week in the life of Dr. David Goldbloom as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and touching behind-the-scenes account of his daily encounters with a wide range of psychiatric concerns—from his own patients and their families to Emergency Department arrivals—puts a human face on an often misunderstood area of medical expertise. From schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder to post-traumatic stress syndrome and autism, How Can I Help? investigates a range of mental issues.

What is it like to work as a psychiatrist now? What are the rewards and challenges? What is the impact of the suffering—and the recovery—of people with mental illness on families and the clinicians who treat them? What does the future hold for psychiatric care?

How Can I Help? demystifies a profession that has undergone profound change over the past twenty-five years, a profession that is often misunderstood by the public and the media, and even by doctors themselves. It offers a compassionate, realistic picture of a branch of medicine that is entering a new phase, as increasingly we are able to decode the mysteries of the brain and offer new hope for sufferers of mental illness.

This still sounds like an interesting read but I’m unlikely to buy it for myself and unless I found it at the library, I’d probably not go out of my way to get it.

Verdict: Remove


Jakob’s Colours by Lindsay Hawdon

jakobs colours

This heartbreaking and tender novel will appeal to readers who loved Sophie’s Choice, Schindler’s Ark, and The Book Thief.

Austria, 1944: Jakob, a gypsy boy—half Roma, half Yenish—runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another’s blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y. He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone. “Don’t be afraid, Jakob,” his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. “See the colours, my boy,” he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs. Spanning from one world war to another, taking us across England, Switzerland, and Austria, Jakob’s Colours is about the painful legacies passed down from one generation to another, finding hope where there is no hope, and colour where there is no colour.

I love WWII fiction and this sounds heart-breaking and beautiful. Definitely a keeper.

Verdict: Keep


My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal

my name is leon

It’s 1981, a year of riots and royal weddings. The Dukes of Hazzard is on TV and Curly Wurlys are in the shops. And trying to find a place in it all is young Leon.

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, a belly like Father Christmas, and mutters swearwords under her breath when she thinks can’t hear. Maureen feeds and looks after them, and claims everything will be okay.

But will they ever see their mother again? Who are the couple who secretly visit Jake? The adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing pretend faces. They are threatening to take Jake away and give him to strangers. Because Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we somehow manage to find our way home.

I still really like the sound of this one. I’d love to grab a copy and try it some day.

Verdict: Keep


Movie Game by Michael Ebner

movie game

It’s been three years since Joe’s father vanished. Now seventeen, he is unaware that government agents are watching him in case his dad makes contact. Joe is too distracted by his secret girlfriend, midnight swims in the pools of strangers, free drinks from his buddies at the movie game and the glamorous college student, Felicity. But his movie-esque existence and addiction to fiction is set to collide with a heavy dose of reality this summer when he discovers everything is not what it seems: his secret girlfriend wants to be the real thing. His college fling may have ulterior motives. And the government agents want co-operation to catch his missing father. All this and the three year old death of Joe’s first girlfriend Alice are going to cause him to face some dark truths.

It’s no longer a movie game. This is his life and he wants to win.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one and I feel like it could go either way for me. But the mentions of an unlikeable protagonist put me off a little. I think there are many more books that are a higher priority for me to read, so I might as well get rid of this one!

Verdict: Remove


The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water & the World by Eila Kundrie Carrico

the other side of the river

The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water and the World is a deep searching into the ways we become dammed and how we recover fluidity. It is a journey through memory and time, personal and shared landscapes to discover the source, the flow and the deltas of women and water.

Rooted in rivers, inspired by wetlands, sources and tributaries, this book weaves its path between the banks of memory and story, from Florida to Kyoto, storm-ravaged New Orleans to London, via San Francisco and Ghana. We navigate through flood and drought to confront the place of wildness in the age of technology. Part memoir, part manifesto, part travelogue and part love letter to myth and ecology, The Other Side of the River is an intricately woven tale of finding your flow…and your roots.

This sounds utterly stunning. Definitely appeals to the Nature Girl in me.

Verdict: Keep


Down Station by Simon Morden

down station

A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through…and find themselves on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. The way back is blocked. Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf’s cloak and with wolves by his side. He speaks English and has heard of a place called London – other people have arrived here down the ages – all escaping from a London that is burning. None of them have returned. Except one – who travels between the two worlds at will. The group begin a quest to find this one survivor; the one who holds the key to their return and to the safety of London.

And as they travel this world, meeting mythical and legendary creatures,split between North and South by a mighty river and bordered by The White City and The Crystal Palace, they realise they are in a world defined by all the London’s there have ever been.

Reminiscent of Michael Moorcock and Julian May this is a grand and sweeping science fantasy built on the ideas, the legends, the memories of every London there has ever been.

I actually love the sound of this. I have always enjoyed books about other worlds and have read many about alternative Londons in particular. I would still be happy to read this.

Verdict: Keep


Nettle Blackthorn and the Three Wicked Sisters: Part One by Winter Woodlark

Book Cover Paper Back SAFE

Blackthorn Cottage dwells within the dark and sinister forest of the Forgotten Wilds; a forest inhabited by fanciful folk, kept hidden from the rest of the world. When Nettle’s family return to the cottage her father makes the children promise to never, ever enter the forest, but Nettle’s not the type of girl to heed those types of warnings.

Quite soon, Nettle embarks on a grand adventure that leads her to Olde Town, a strange village set at the top of a very odd hill. When she meets Claudine Balfrey, she knows she’ll be the perfect new wife for her father. Claudine and her sisters own the Three Wicked Sisters’ Tea House where a black cat sleeps by a cauldron, visitors gather to eat strange delectables and children nibble on faerie candy.

But is Olde Town all it appears to be? And just who are the Balfrey sisters? Soon enough Nettle finds herself embroiled in a mystery that began several centuries ago with the Accursed Lysette.

It’s a shame because this one sounds like it could be awesome but it has hardly any ratings on Goodreads and it seems part two never arrived. So I wouldn’t want to read part one and be left without answers!

Verdict: Remove


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

diary of a young girl anne frank

Anne Frank’s extraordinary diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, has become a world classic and a timeless testament to the human spirit. Now, in a new edition enriched by many passages originally withheld by her father, we meet an Anne more real, more human, and more vital than ever. Here she is first and foremost a teenage girl—stubbornly honest, touchingly vulnerable, in love with life. She imparts her deeply secret world of soul-searching and hungering for affection, rebellious clashes with her mother, romance and newly discovered sexuality, and wry, candid observations of her companions. Facing hunger, fear of discovery and death, and the petty frustrations of such confined quarters, Anne writes with adult wisdom and views beyond her years. Her story is that of every teenager, lived out in conditions few teenagers have ever known.

I know, I know. Feel free to shout at me. I realise what an important book this is and I’m ashamed I haven’t read it yet. But I do own a copy and I’m determined to make the effort! I think I’m just holding off because I know how emotional it will make me.

Verdict: Keep


Animal Farm by George Orwell

animal farm

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.

I read and enjoyed 1984 a few years ago and have been meaning to read more Orwell ever since. I definitely need to see what this one is all about.

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 7

Books removed in total: 24

Total books analysed: 62

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! xsignature (2)

Down The TBR Hole [#2]

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?

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

Rasputin: The Untold Story by Joseph T. Fuhrmann

rasputin

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.

Verdict: Remove


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready player one

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.

Verdict: Keep

[Related post: 12 Books I MUST Read in 2019!]


Matched by Ally Condie

matched

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.

Verdict: Remove


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a monster calls.jpg

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.

Verdict: Keep


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

kavalier and clay.jpg

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.

Verdict: Keep


The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

water knife

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.

Verdict: Remove


The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

buried giant

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.

Verdict: Keep


Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

last night in montreal.jpg

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.

Verdict: Keep


The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

lola quartet.jpg

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!

Verdict: Keep


The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel

singer's gun

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.

Verdict: Keep


Landline by Rainbow Rowell

landline

 

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.

Verdict: Keep


Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

attachments.jpg

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…

Verdict: Remove


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry on

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).

Verdict: Keep


The House on Carnaval Street by Deborah Rodriguez

carnaval street

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.

Verdict: Remove


Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

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!)

Verdict: Remove


The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

the rest of us just live here

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.

Verdict: Keep


The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

crane wife

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.

Verdict: Keep


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.

Verdict: Remove


Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link

magic for beginners

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.

Verdict: Keep


Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link

monstrous affections.jpg

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.

Verdict: Keep



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! xsignature (2)

Down The TBR Hole [#1]

Hello lovelies! I’ve really been wanting to tidy up my Goodreads shelves recently so I’m finally diving into this meme! I’ve seen so many people doing ‘Down the TBR Hole’ and it always intrigues me, so hopefully you won’t mind me joining in with it 😀

I’m going to format these posts in the same way as I do my anticipated releases for the month because I really like that setup!

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry

little prince

Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.

This is one of those classics that I feel like I should have read as a child. Sadly, that time is long-since past but I’d still like to read this book at some point and see what it’s all about.

Verdict: Keep


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

bell jar

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

This is another one of those classics that I absolutely want to read at some point – particularly as this is a mental-health related title. I feel like I’m the only person in the world that hasn’t read The Bell Jar and that’s something I want to remedy.

Verdict: Keep


Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

smoke and mirrors

The distinctive storytelling genius of Neil Gaiman has been acclaimed by writers as diverse as Norman Mailer and Stephen King. Now in this new collection of stories–several of which have never before appeared in print and more than half that have never been collected–that will dazzle the senses and haunt the imagination.

Miraculous inventions and unforgettable characters inhabit these pages: an elderly widow who finds the Holy Grail in a second-hand store…a frightened little boy who bargains for his life with a troll living under a bridge by the railroad tracks…a stray cat who battles nightly against a recurring evil that threatens his unsuspecting adoptive family. In these stories, Gaiman displays the power, wit, insight and outrageous originality that has made him one of the most unique literary artists of our day.

I fully intend to read everything Neil Gaiman has written. It’s just a case of when. I’m taking part in a Gaiman readathon in November so maybe I’ll pick this one up if I’m in the mood for some short stories.

Verdict: Keep


Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

wicked

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

I pretty much know the story of this one thanks to the fabulous musical soundtrack. And I’ve heard that the book itself isn’t actually that great. I think I’d rather just go see the show.

Verdict: Remove


The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

wasp factory.jpg

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

The Wasp Factory is a work of horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all. A novel of extraordinary originality, imagination and comic ferocity.

I don’t know why I ever added this. Maybe the mention of a psychiatric hospital? But honestly, it sounds kind of horrific. Add to that all the negative reviews and I don’t fancy it.

Verdict: Remove


Let The Right One In by John Adjvide Lindqvist

let the right one in

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

I’ve heard mixed things about this author but since this is a classic of the genre, I think I’ll let it stay (for now).

Verdict: Keep


The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

magicians lie

Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician’s Lie, a debut novel in which the country’s most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband’s murder –and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.

But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless—and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.

I don’t remember adding this one but I can tell from the first line of the synopsis why I did. Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus? Sounds made for me. This one can stay.

Verdict: Keep


I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

i am the messenger

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

The Book Thief is one of my all-time favourite books and I’ve always been intrigued by Zusak’s other books. Plus I own a copy of this one. I just need to get to it at some point.

Verdict: Keep


Collected Folk Tales by Alan Garner

collected folk tales

The definitive collection of traditional British folk tales, selected and retold by the renowned Alan Garner.

Following on from the fiftieth anniversary of Alan Garner’s seminal fantasy classic, THE WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN, here are collected all of Alan’s folk tales, told with his unique storytelling skill and inimitably clear voice. Essential reading for young and old alike.

Among the stories collected here are:
• Kate Crackernuts
• Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree
• Yallery Brown

I don’t think I’d ever pick up a full collection like this and read it cover to cover. It’s probably more of a reference book that you would dip in and out of at times.

Verdict: Remove


Mental Health Matters: A Reader by Tom Heller

mental health matters

Mental Health Matters is an innovative, interdisciplinary collection of texts which challenge traditional understandings of mental health, emphasising the perspectives of mental health service-users. Combining classic writings about mental health practices and problems from psychiatry, sociology and psychology with specially commissioned new articles, it considers theories and debates in mental health and distress; the social and historical dimensions of mental health; involving users in mental health services and practically improving those services.

This is a book that I acquired during my psychology degree. I still own it and would use it for references at times but it’s not really the kind of book that needs a place on my TBR.

Verdict: Remove


Prudence by Gail Carriger

prudence.jpg

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

I really enjoyed Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and I would love to try this spin-off series about her daughter at some point.

Verdict: Keep


Imprudence by Gail Carriger

imprudence

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they really are… is frightened.

I’m making it a rule to only keep first books in series on my TBR shelf, as a placeholder for the series as a whole. If the time comes, I can add this back.

Verdict: Remove


Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

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A haunting Victorian ghost story of love, loss and the mystery of death from the bestselling author of THE THIRTEENTH TALE.

A childish act of cruelty with terrible consequences.

A father desperate to save his daughter.

A curious bargain with a stranger in black.

And Bellman & Black is born.

I read The Thirteenth Tale many many years ago and remember enjoying it. This one is languishing on my backlist but since I own it, I plan to get to it. One day.

Verdict: Keep


The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

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Inside the abbey of a Benedictine monastery on tiny Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.

Jessie Sullivan’s conventional life has been “molded to the smallest space possible.” So when she is called home to cope with her mother’s startling and enigmatic act of violence, Jessie finds herself relieved to be apart from her husband, Hugh. Jessie loves Hugh, but on Egret Island-amid the gorgeous marshlands and tidal creeks-she becomes drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is mere months from taking his final vows.

What transpires will unlock the roots of her mother’s tormented past, but most of all, as Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, she will find a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right.

What inspires the yearning for a soul mate? Few writers have explored, as Kidd does, the lush, unknown region of the feminine soul where the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic exists.

The Mermaid Chair is a vividly imagined novel about the passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body; one that illuminates a woman’s self-awakening with the brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd’s ability could conjure.

Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees is another of my all-time favourites. I also really enjoyed The Invention of Wings. I’m a completionist so I obviously want to read this one.

Verdict: Keep


The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

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The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption.

I’m one of those people that loves epic poetry (Paradise Lost is a favourite). I’d love to get to this one day but I don’t currently own it and it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. If I ever acquire a copy, I’ll add it back.

Verdict: Remove


The Gates by John Connolly

the gates.jpg

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe. A gap in which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

Bursting with imagination, The Gates is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy. It is about a quirky and eccentric boy who is impossible not to love, and the unlikely cast of characters who give him the strength to stand up to a demonic power.

John Connolly manages to re-create the magical and scary world of childhood that we’ve all left behind but so love to visit. And for those of you who thought you knew everything you could about particle physics and the universe, think again. This novel makes anything seem possible.

I added this because I love The Book of Lost Things but I had forgotten about it. It sounds great though so I’m letting it stay. Anyone else get Good Omens vibes?

Verdict: Keep


The Book of Flying by Keith Miller

book of flying.jpg

In Keith Miller’s debut novel, our hero is Pico, a poet and librarian who is forbidden to pursue the girl of his dreams – for she has wings, and Pico does not. When he discovers an ancient letter in his library telling of the mythical Morning Town where the flightless may gain their wings, he sets off on a quest. It’s a magical journey and coming-of-age story in which he meets a robber queen, a lonely minotaur, a cannibal, an immortal beauty, and a dream seller. Each has a story, and a lesson, for Pico – about learning to love, to persevere, and, of course, to fly. A gorgeously poetic tale of fantasy for adults, The Book of Flying is a beautiful modern fable and daring new take on the quest narrative.

Another one that I can’t remember adding – I think it came up as a Goodreads recommendation? I’m honestly not sure what to do with it. It sounds decent so I’ll let it stay for now but I may remove it if anyone convinces me otherwise!

Verdict: Keep


Nocturnes by John Connolly

nocturnes

From #1 internationally bestselling author John Connolly comes Nocturnes, a dark, daring, utterly haunting shot story anthology of lost lovers and missing children, predatory demons, and vengeful ghosts.

Connolly’s collection of supernatural novellas and stories echoes the work of some of the masters of the genre while never losing his own distinctive voice. In “The New Daughter,” a father comes to suspect that a burial mound on his land hides something very ancient, and very much alive; in “The Underbury Witches,” two London detectives find themselves battling a particularly female evil in a town culled of its menfolk. And finally, private detective Charlie Parker returns in the long novella “The Reflecting Eye,” in which the photograph of an unknown girl turns up in the mailbox of an abandoned house once occupied by an infamous killer. This discovery forces Parker to confront the possibility that the house is not as empty as it appears, and that something has been waiting in the darkness for its chance to kill again.

I love John Connolly’s writing and definitely want to read this one. I actually own a copy of the second part, Night Music, and I’ve been holding back on it until I get my hands on a copy of this one.

Verdict: Keep


The Wanderer in Unknown Realms by John Connolly

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Soter is a man who has been haunted by World War I. But when he’s sent to investigate the disappearance of Lionel Maudling, the owner of a grand country house whose heir may be accused for his death, he encounters a home that will lead him to nightmares he could have never imagined.

Maudling’s estate houses countless books of every sort—histories, dramas, scientific treatises. But none seems to offer Soter any hint to Maudling’s whereabouts, until he’s led to an arcane London bookseller where the reclusive scholar made his last purchase. What Soter finds at the end of a twisted maze of clues is a book like no other, with a legacy that will put everything he knows in danger…

An inventive horror novella from internationally bestselling author John Connolly, this is a story of madness, of obsession, and of books’ power to change the world.

Apparently, I just added everything John Connolly has ever written. But that second volume of short stories I mentioned? This novella is apparently featured in it. So I can remove this as a separate entry.

Verdict: Remove


The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository by John Connolly

caxton private lending library

Mr. Berger has spent thirty-four years keeping his life as empty as possible. His job title as a closed accounts registrar doesn’t spark much interest, and his cautious flirtation with a woman at his company was cut short upon her engagement to another man. This doesn’t bother him, however, as he much prefers the company of books to that of people. When a series of fortuitous events leads to an early retirement in the English countryside, Mr. Berger is content to spend the remainder of his years nestled comfortably between the pages of a book. But fate has other plans.

His serene life turns strange when he witnesses a tragedy chillingly reminiscent of Anna Karenina as a woman flings herself before a train. When he rushes to the scene, she has vanished, leaving no body on the tracks. Berger’s investigation into this event leads him to Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository, where the line between fiction and reality becomes blurred beyond comprehension.

Another one that can be found in a short story collection. Plus what on earth is that cover? Goodbye.

Verdict: Remove



Books removed: 8

New TBR shelf count: 369

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Want to try and change my mind on any of them? 😀signature (2)