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)

April 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Well. It’s hard to believe we live in a world where books are still coming out. My reading focus has been non-existent recently but hopefully some of you are faring a little better than me and able to distract yourselves with some good books. I wanted to maintain some normality and still give a shout-out to some of the books releasing this month, to help boost the authors whose publicity campaigns may have taken a hit!

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware. Some books that were meant to release in April have been pushed back due to the virus so be aware that it might happen to others on this list also.]

April


Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Release date: April 1st

wicked as you wish

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.

Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

Why I’m interested: I’m yet to read a Rin Chupeco book but they always sound great. And I’m definitely intrigued by the magic and icy aesthetic of this one.


The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Release date: April 1st

house in the cerulean sea

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Why I’m interested: I think this is middle grade? But it sounds utterly enchanting. A secret island of magical children, with found-family vibes? I’m in.


The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves

Release date: April 2nd

new david espinoza

David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again the fall.

Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As it says on the Iron Life wall, What does not kill me makes me stronger.

As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything.

Why I’m interested: Harper Collins have been publishing some amazing contemporaries lately and this one sounds like another winner. I feel like David will be a character everybody can root for.


The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Release date: April 7th

southern book clubs guide to slaying vampires

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavoured supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighbourhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

Why I’m interested: Grady Hendrix is hugely popular in the bookstagram community and I’ve been seeing his books around for ages. Of course, still haven’t read any of them, who is even surprised. But one day!


Little Universes by Heather Demetrios

Release date: April 7th

little universes

One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.

When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light, and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of bringing them closer, it feels like the wave has torn the sisters apart.

Hannah is a secret poet who wants to be seen, but only knows how to hide. The pain pills she stole from her dead father hurl her onto the shores of an addiction she can’t shake and a dealer who turns her heart upside down. When it’s clear Hannah’s drowning, Mae, a budding astronaut suddenly launched into an existential crisis—and unexpected love—must choose between herself and the only family she has left.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it could be an emotional but amazing read. I’m always here for sister vibes.


The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

Release date: April 7th

the perfect escape

Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and Kate needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a true shot at winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

Why I’m interested: You had me at “zombie-themed escape room”.


The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Release date: April 21st

book of longings

In her fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.

Why I’m interested: I have loved Sue Monk Kidd since I read The Secret Life of Bees in school. I’ve read some of her other books and always want more, so this is very welcome.


Looking Glass by Christina Henry

Release date: April 21st

looking glass

In four new novellas, Christina Henry returns to the universe she created for Alice and Red Queen, where magic runs more freely than anyone suspects, but so do secrets and blood.

Lovely Creature
In the New City lives a girl called Elizabeth, a girl who has a secret: she can do magic. But someone knows Elizabeth’s secret–someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that lives in a jar, a butterfly made by a girl called Alice.

Girl in Amber
Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm they stumble into a castle that seems empty and abandoned…at least until nightfall.

When I First Came to Town
Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive.

The Mercy Seat
Alice has a secret–a secret that not even Hatcher knows yet, but pretty soon she won’t be able to keep it from him.

Why I’m interested: I’ve shouted enough about Christina Henry and how much I love her dark fairytale retellings. And the amazing Titan Books have blessed me with an ARC!


Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Release date: April 21st

time of our lives

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives.

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.

Why I’m interested: I’ve heard a lot about this writing duo here in the blogging community and my newfound love of contemporaries is drawing me to their books. They look super cute.


Don’t Call The Wolf by Aleksandra Ross

Release date: April 28th

don't call the wolf

A forest, besieged. A queen, unyielding. Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black will devour this deliciously dark Eastern European–inspired YA fantasy debut.

When the Golden Dragon descended on the forest of Kamiena, a horde of monsters followed in its wake.

Ren, the forest’s young queen, is slowly losing her battle against them. Until she rescues Lukasz—the last survivor of a heroic regiment of dragon slayers—and they strike a deal. She will help him find his brother, who vanished into her forest… if Lukasz promises to slay the Dragon.

But promises are all too easily broken.

Why I’m interested: Buzzwords, buzzwords everywhere. Forests, Eastern-European, monsters, dragons… Yep. Gimme.


The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Release date: April 30th

glass hotel

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune Logistics, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of the Neptune Cumberland. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

Why I’m interested: Station Eleven is one of my all-time favourite books. I’ve always been meaning to read more from the author so maybe this will give me the kick I need.


Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Release date: April 30th

seven endless forests

A bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend from the critically acclaimed author of The Boneless Mercies.

On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister Morgunn is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls.

Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known and joins a shaven-headed druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword. On their travels, Torvi and her companions will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death. . .

Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.

Why I’m interested: The Boneless Mercies is on my tbr for this month and I love the sound of this King Arthur retelling too, even though Wink Poppy Midnight was a bit of a miss for me.


The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

Release date: April 30th

the girl and the stars

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

Why I’m interested: I was due to be on the blog tour for this one but I may not receive my copy in time due to the current world situation. It sounds awesome though and I hope I still get to read it at some point.


Q by Christina Dalcher

Release date: April 30th

q christina dalcher

The future of every child is determined by one standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and they attend a top tier school with a golden future ahead of them. Score low, and they are sent to a federally run boarding school with limited prospects for future employment. The purpose? Education costs are cut, teachers focus on the best students, and parents are happy.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year old daughter fails her next monthly test, her Q score drops to a disastrously low level and she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal school hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena knows intimately the dangers of failure in their tiered educational system, but as a mother who just lost her child, all Elena wants is to be near her daughter again. And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.

Why I’m interested: I really enjoyed Vox when I read it, despite being a little disappointed by the ending. Hopefully, this will be another gripping read.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are you planning to read any from my list? Let me know in the comments! And stay safe everyone 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)

March 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Hey everyone! It’s that time again 😀 I can’t quite believe how quickly February went by, it was an absolute blur! I hope you all had a great month and read some fantastic books.

March brings with it one of my most anticipated releases of the year – I’m sure you’ll have no trouble guessing but do let me know in the comments which one you think it is!

Also, this post was due to go up yesterday but I didn’t get it finished in time due to something very exciting happening 😀 I will be posting about that at some point soon!

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware. It always upsets me when I post these and then book releases get pushed back haha.]

March


Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Release date: March 1st

upright women wanted

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Why I’m interested: At some point last year, I featured Magic For Liars in an anticipated releases post. Literally no-one will be surprised that I haven’t read that one yet but this next offering from Sarah Gailey sounds awesome too. “Queer librarian spies on horseback” is a vibe.


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Release date: March 3rd

kingdom of back

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it will be utterly stunning. I’ve read some Marie Lu before but this sounds like it will be a book of my heart. I mean, it’s a magical Mozart story, for heaven’s sake.


The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: March 3rd

the midnight lie

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

Why I’m interested: I’ve not read The Winner’s Trilogy but I’m hoping that doesn’t matter for this? It sounds like just the kind of fantasy I enjoy.


The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Release date: March 3rd

vanishing deep

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

Why I’m interested: The water-world setting of this one sounds great but add in that sibling drama? Oh my goodness, this could be spectacular.


Anna K by Jenny Lee

Release date: March 5th

anna k

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Why I’m interested: A friend of mine read this recently and really enjoyed it. And I’ve said it before, I’m living for contemporaries these days 😉 I really like the sound of this Anna Karenina retelling.


Hold Back The Tide by Melinda Salisbury

Release date: March 5th

hold back the tide

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

Unsettling, sharply beautiful and thought-provoking, Hold Back The Tide is the new novel from Melinda Salisbury, bestselling author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy.

Why I’m interested: I have enjoyed Salisbury’s writing previously and I’m intrigued by this one. Mainly because the same friend who enjoyed Anna K recommended this one as well, because it’s not like I have a detailed blurb to go off!


The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

Release date: March 5th

love hypothesis

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key. What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew chemistry – in the lab and in love.

Is her long-time crush Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best girl friend some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

 

Why I’m interested: Again, my heart is yearning for those contemporaries. I like the sound of the science slant on this one and feel like it could be quite funny.


Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release date: March 12th

harley in the sky

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been intrigued by Bowman’s books for a while but haven’t got round to them yet. That’s going to change because her newest book is about a circus and you all know how much I love those.


Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer

Release date: March 17th

frozen beauty

Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….

No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like a powerful story in the vein of Sadie or Summer of Salt. And I do love me some lush, haunting prose.


A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Release date: March 19th

a phoenix first must burn

Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

Why I’m interested: First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that stunning cover? It’s exquisite. Secondly, I’ve gotten really into anthologies in recent years and this one features some incredible authors. It sounds like a fantastic collection.


Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Release date: March 24th

tigers not daughters

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Why I’m interested: This actually sounds a little bit similar to Frozen Beauty but with a different aesthetic. I’m here for that magical realism though.


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Release date: March 31st

my dark vanessa

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been hearing about this book for so long that I was actually surprised to realise it wasn’t already out. SO many people have been recommending this and maybe it’s the hype influencing me but I definitely want to see what it’s all about.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are any of these on your radar? And did you guess which of these is my most anticipated? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

February 2020 Wrap-Up!

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your extra day of the year and made good use of it to fit in some reading 😉

February was a strong reading month for me – I mostly enjoyed everything I read! Stay tuned for some brief thoughts on each of the books I got through! (Titles link to my full reviews.)

february 2020


Review Books

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

I have read some of van Praag’s books previously and enjoyed them, and I had a feeling this would be the best yet. I wasn’t wrong.

 

The Alibi Girl by C. J. Skuse

I requested this one having loved Sweet Pea and In Bloom by the same author. This was another success, featuring the great writing I’ve come to expect from Skuse.

 

Beast by Matt Wesolowski

This was my first taste of the Six Stories series but I definitely want to read the other books after enjoying this one so much! It was gloomy and atmospheric, and kept me guessing until the end.

Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné

Real Life defies categorisation but I found it a gritty and emotional read that left me breathless at times. Very dark but a worthwhile read if you can handle it.

 

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

This was a unique read, structured as a series of monologues from various characters. While there was a sense of detachment that came with this, I found it so intriguing and couldn’t put it down!

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

My first non-fiction of the year! And what a great choice it was. Written by a forensic psychologist, this was a fascinating exploration of the human mind in some of its darkest moments.

 

Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty

My final read of the month was a heart-warming road-trip story with an endearing cast of characters. A little sad at times but still hopeful, and a story which I enjoyed.


Books from my TBR

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

It took a long time for me to become interested in reading this book but I’m so glad I finally did as it was full of gorgeous sensory detail and fabulous characters! Hugely recommend this one.

 

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

This was my only real disappointment this month. From the prologue, I thought I was in for something special but it ended up being kind of dull, and I struggled to connect with the characters.


Rereads

I can’t believe I still haven’t reread any books in 2020! I’ve been so busy tackling my review pile hehe. But hopefully, I’ll get to some soon.


Stats

Total pages: 3166

Average pages per day: 109.2

Longest book: The Sisters Grimm (485 pages)

Shortest book: The Price Guide to the Occult (288 pages)

Favourite read of the month: The Sisters Grimm

Biggest disappointment of the month: The Price Guide to the Occult

Male authors: 1

Female authors: 8

Multiple authors: 0

february 2020 paperbackpiano reading wrapup


I find it so funny that my longest and shortest books of the month were my favourite and least favourite respectively! What was your favourite read of February? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

Authors I discovered in 2019!

Hello lovelies 🙂 This post is going up a bit later than I had planned but I hope it will still be interesting to some of you hehe. I did a post like this about some of my favourite new-to-me authors in 2018 and thought it would be fun to do it again for 2019! I love discovering new authors who end up becoming favourites and it’s great to look back and see when you first read an author.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive (because I read a LOT of new-to-me authors in 2019) but I’ve picked out a few who really stood out to me and who perhaps have a backlist of work waiting for me or who I know are bringing out more books soon!


Sophie Draper

I discovered Sophie Draper at the beginning of 2019 when Avon Books kindly sent me a copy of her debut, Cuckoo. I described Cuckoo as one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and I stand by that statement, despite being somewhat disappointed by her sophomore novel Magpie. I’m hopeful that her next book will be more in keeping with the tone of her debut.

sophie draper


Meagan Spooner

I read both of Spooner’s fairytale retellings, Hunted and Sherwood, last year and enjoyed both. Hunted in particular was a refreshing take on a story which I feel has been overdone. I look forward to seeing what she does next!


Angie Thomas

I was significantly late to the party when it came to reading Angie Thomas’ hugely popular debut, The Hate U Give. I’ll be totally honest, I was intimidated by the hype. But I’m pleased to say that I waited until the time was right for me to read it and I really enjoyed it. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the pressure to read it when it first came out as I wouldn’t have been reading it for the right reasons. Thomas then had a tough job following up on her success but I think she did really well and I enjoyed her second book, On The Come Up, too.

on the come up


Anna-Marie McLemore

2019 was the year I finally read an Anna-Marie McLemore book! I went with When The Moons Was Ours and it did not disappoint. McLemore’s writing is gorgeously flowery and though I know it doesn’t work for everyone, I loved it. I definitely want to read more of this author’s books at some point.


Alice Oseman

In 2019, I discovered a real love of both contemporaries and graphic novels, so I’m so glad I discovered Alice Oseman! Radio Silence became a new all-time favourite and the Heartstopper series is seriously adorable. I’m slowly but surely working my way through her remaining books I haven’t read and I’m really looking forward to her 2020 release, Loveless!

radio silence


Lauren James

Lauren James was a surprise for me as I’m usually intimidated by science fiction. But The Quiet at the End of the World ended up on my favourites of 2019 list! I then received The Loneliest Girl in the Universe for Christmas and can’t wait to read it, plus I’m looking forward to another offering from her coming out this year! I know she also has some backlist books for me to read so hopefully I can pick those up at some point too.


Jay Kristoff

Well done Jay Kristoff for being the only male author to make it onto my list!! I really do read a lot of women haha. In 2019, I finally got round to reading the Nevernight trilogy and I thoroughly enjoyed it (more than I expected to if I’m honest. ) I’m definitely intrigued by some of Kristoff’s other books – though the aforementioned fear of sci-fi is a small issue when it comes to some of them.

nevernight mr kindly bath bomb


Alice Hoffman

Hoffman is an author I’ve been curious about for some time. I’m so glad that I got to buddy-read one of her books in 2019 with one of my closest bookish friends. I loved The Museum of Extraordinary Things and definitely want to read more of Hoffman’s magical historical fiction!


Miranda Asebedo

Miranda Asbedo just missed out on a spot on my favourites of 2019 list! But I genuinely loved The Deepest Roots and I have my eye on A Constellation of Roses. Who knows, maybe I’ll get it for my birthday 😉

the deepest roots


Katie Henry

And finally, another author who did make it onto my favourites of 2019 list! As I previously mentioned, I read a lot of great contemporaries last year which really made me appreciate the genre more, and one of these was Let’s Call It A Doomsday by Katie Henry. This book had some of the best anxiety rep I’ve ever read. I definitely want to get my hands on Heretics Anonymous as well as anything Henry might come out with this year.


So those are some of the new-to-me authors who stood out for me last year! I’m looking forward to reading more from some of these this year 🙂

Have you read any of these authors? Who were some authors you discovered for the first time in 2019? Let me know in the comments! x

January 2020 Wrap-Up!

Hello my lovelies! I can’t believe we’re already looking at the first wrap-up of 2020! January has simultaneously felt a million years long but also over in the blink of an eye?!

From the quality of books I’ve read this month, I’m feeling good about what’s to come this year. Last year felt very ‘meh’ in reading terms and I didn’t discover many new all-time favourites but I have a feeling 2020 is going to be amazing!

january 2020 wrapup


Review Books

Magpie by Sophie Draper

This is the second book I’ve read by Sophie Draper and while I loved the first, I was disappointed by this one. I found it dull and meandering but I’m hoping the author’s next book will be more like her debut.

 

Pine by Francine Toon

I loved this Gothic debut with its atmospheric setting and eerie mythological ties. I questioned the ending slightly but on the whole, this was a very enjoyable read!

 

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

I loved everything about this one. It had me giggling before the end of the first page and it has stayed with me long after finishing it. I definitely recommend this one for fans of great characters.

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

My first Cara Hunter did not disappoint. I found this to be a compelling and original thriller, which addressed important and timely issues.

 

Bad Island by Stanley Donwood

This graphic novel was a fast read but one which was stark and haunting. I’ll be reviewing it soon so keep your eyes open!


Books from my TBR

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

My first read of the year was one which I was highly anticipating and which didn’t let me down. This gorgeous book was an incredible reading experience and one that I recommend to all fantasy fans.

 

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

This middle grade was a Christmas gift from one of my besties and I really enjoyed it. You know me by now, wintery aesthetics are my jam 😉

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

I had been anticipating this one for a good while but sadly, it was a bit of a let-down. I found it very repetitive and there was an immaturity to the tone that I didn’t enjoy. Full review coming soon!

 

A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke

Oh look, we’re back with that winter aesthetic. This was a prequel to A Shiver of Snow and Sky which I read a few years ago and loved. While this one didn’t grab me as much as that one did, I still really enjoyed it. Lueddecke’s writing is lovely.


Rereads

No rereads yet this year but I have a few planned for the coming months!


Stats

Total pages: 3147

Average pages per day: 101.5

Longest book: The Starless Sea (498 pages)

Shortest book: Bad Island (144 pages)

Favourite read of the month: Not So Pure and Simple/The Starless Sea (for very different reasons!)

Biggest disappointment of the month: Magpie

Male authors: 2

Female authors: 7

Multiple authors: 0

january 2020 wrapup


How many books did you read in January? Which was your favourite? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

February 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Hey everyone! January is finally over after what feels like a million years so it’s time for the year to go into overdrive as it always does! There are more amazing books coming out this month so let’s take a look, shall we?

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware. It always upsets me when I post these and then book releases get pushed back haha.]

February


Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

Release date: February 3rd

blood countess

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

Why I’m interested: I loved Popovic’s debut, Wicked Like A Wildfire, with its gorgeous writing and sensory detail. I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t read the sequel because I suck. But I’m still excited to see that Popovic is releasing a new book, this one a reimagining of the life of Elizabeth Bathory!


The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

Release date: February 4th

the stars we steal

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Why I’m interested: This was the first ARC I received from Titan Books this year and they have been spoiling me ever since! This sounds like it could be a little bit cheesy but a lot of fun.


Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Release date: February 4th

deathless divide

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

Why I’m interested: I’ve tried not to read that blurb because the first book, Dread Nation, is still unread on my shelf and I don’t want spoilers. Now that Titan Books have provided me with a free copy of this sequel, I’m absolutely determined to get to this series. It sounds awesome!


Below by Alexandria Warwick

Release date: February 4th

below alexandria warwick

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

Why I’m interested: What initially drew me to this one was the fact that I share a first name with the author. That’s always weirdly exciting for me 😀 But the more I learn about this one, the more interested I become; it’s based on Innuit mythology! And it fits my aesthetic perfectly.


Heartstopper: Volume 3 by Alice Oseman

Release date: February 6th

heartstopper volume 3

In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…

Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?

Why I’m interested: Nick and Charlie, my precious boys. I’m not sure a cuter graphic novel series exists.


What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

Release date: February 6th

what kind of girl

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions: Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? Some girls want to rally for his expulsion – and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been keeping an eye on Alyssa Sheinmel ever since reading Faceless (way back before my bookstagram days!) Her books always seem to tackle important subjects and this one sounds no different.


Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg

Release date: February 6th

glass town

The entrancing story of the Brontë sisters’ childhood imaginary world, from the New York Times bestselling graphic novelist

Four children: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne have invented a world so real and vivid that they can step right into it. But can reality be enough, when fiction is so enticing? And what happens to an imaginary world when its creators grow up?

Plots are spiralling, characters are getting wildly out of hand, and a great deal of ink is being spilt…

Welcome to Glass Town.

Why I’m interested: I loved The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth by this author and now she’s created a graphic novel about the Brontes?! I’m in.


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Release date: February 6th

the mercies kiran millwood hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

Why I’m interested: Here’s another book that is perfectly my aesthetic. Witches and frozen settings? Yes please. Plus I’ve enjoyed Hargrave’s writing previously.


Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

Release date: February 11th

turtle under ice

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive.

But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone.

Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

Why I’m interested: As you know, I’m always on the look-out for books that address mental health issues. This sounds like it could be a difficult but amazing read.


The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

Release date: February 11th

library of the unwritten

Join the library and raise hell in the first book of a stunning new fantasy series, where books unfinished by their authors reside within the Unwritten Wing of the devil’s own library, and restless characters will emerge from out of their pages…

Every book left unfinished by its author is filed away in the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell presided over by Claire, its head librarian. Along with repairing and organizing books, her job consists of keeping an eye on restless stories whose characters risk materialising and escaping the library.

When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto. But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong, in a chase that threatens to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell… and Earth.

Why I’m interested: As far as I’m aware, this book already came out in America last year. I’m so glad it has come to the UK because it sounds incrdible. Any book about books is already well on its way to a win with me.


The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Release date: February 20th

sun down motel

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Why I’m interested: I remember being interested in The Broken Girls when it came out but I’m yet to obtain a copy. This sounds like another great read from Simone St. James with a potentially great setting.


The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Release date: February 25th

the sound of stars

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favourite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Why I’m interested: First of all, have you seen that cover? Secondly, talk of a secret library, an AI/alien who loves human music, and a road trip sound like ingredients for a fun read.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are any of these on your radar? Let me know 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)

January 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Happy new year everyone! I hope 2020 brings you everything you’re dreaming of 🙂

This time last year, I posted the first of my monthly anticipated releases posts and they consistently remained some of my favourites to compile throughout the year. So I’m definitely continuing them! And if January is anything to go by, 2020 is going to destroy all of our bank accounts once again 😀

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware.]

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Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

Release date: January 7th

every other weekend.jpg

Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it could be an important mental health read. I just hope that it’s not one of these books that posits romance as a cure-all. Fingers crossed!


The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Release date: January 9th

the night country.jpg

In the sequel to her New York Times bestselling, literary/commercial breakout, The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert dives back into the menacing, mesmerizing world that captivated readers of the first book. Follow Alice Proserpine and Ellery Finch as they come to learn that The Hazel Wood was just the beginning of worlds beyond, “a place where stories and real life convene, where magic contains truth, and the world as it appears false, and where just about anything can happen, particularly in the pages of a good book”.

Why I’m interested: I’m a terrible person and still haven’t read The Hazel Wood even though one of my best friends gifted it to me ages ago. But I’m determined to read it soon with this sequel coming out!


The Unforgetting by Rose Black

Release date: January 9th

unforgetting.jpg

Her fate was decided. Her death was foretold. Her past is about to be unforgotten…

1851. When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she dreams of finding fame on the London stage. But Erasmus Salt wants Lily not as an actress, but as his very own ghost – the heart of his elaborate illusion for those desperate for a glimpse of the spirit world…

Obsessed with perfection, Erasmus goes to extreme lengths to ensure his illusion is realistic. When Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her headstones in the cemetery, she realises that she is trapped, her own parents think she is dead, and that her fate is soon to become even darker…

Why I’m interested: This sounds SO cool! A professor of ghosts? Illusions? Sign me up for this Gothic goodness.


Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release date: January 14th

dark and deepest red

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

Why I’m interested: I read my first Anna-Marie McLemore book last year and thought her writing was gorgeous! This sounds like a wonderful retelling of a lesser known fairytale and I’m excited for it!


Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Release date: January 14th

lucky caller.jpg

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumours threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiralling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

Why I’m interested: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any Emma Mills books but they’ve always interested me and I’m hoping to read more contemporaries this year so who knows? I’m just sad that this book doesn’t match her other pretty covers!


Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Release date: January 14th

saving savannah

The story of an African-American girl becoming a woman on her own terms against the backdrop of widespread social change in the early 1900s America. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., Savannah is lucky. Feeling suffocated by the structure of society, Savannah meets a working-class girl named Nell who introduces her to the suffragette and socialist movements, inspiring her to fight for change.

Why I’m interested: I have no doubt this will be a poignant and important read.


Spellhacker by M. K. England

Release date: January 21st

spellhacker

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

Why I’m interested: If I’m being completely honest, I’m slightly intimidated by this one. It sounds like it lands of the sci-fi side of SFF and that’s sometimes hit or miss for me. But I have an ARC of this from the lovely people at Harper 360 and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised!


The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell

Release date: January 21st

circus rose

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

Why I’m interested: It has ‘circus’ in the title. That’s all I need to know. On top of that though, this is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red and it sounds downright magical.


Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles

Release date: January 21st

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Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

Why I’m interested: This is another book that I have an ARC of from Harper 360 and I’m very excited for this one! It sounds like a really unique contemporary and I hope it lives up to my expectations!


Pine by Francine Toon

Release date: January 23rd

pine

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust. In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

Why I’m interested: I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this one! It sounds perfectly Gothic and definitely hits some of my buzzwords.


The Frost Eater by Carol Beth Anderson

Release date: January 28th

the frost eater

Seventeen-year-old Princess Nora is a frost eater who creates magical ice. Her royal life is luxurious but stifling.

Krey West has a rare magical talent: when he eats feathers, he can fly. His one goal is to find his missing girlfriend, Zeisha. He thinks someone in power abducted her.

Krey’s daring feats of magic earn him an invitation to the palace. Craving adventure and friendship, Nora offers to help him find Zeisha. He’s desperate enough to accept—though he hates the monarchy.

The truth is more terrible than they could imagine.

Every night, Zeisha wakes in a dark room full of sleeping people, unable to remember what she did in the light. Her dreams provide violent glimpses into her forgotten days.

If Krey and Nora can’t save her, Zeisha may lose herself forever.

Why I’m interested: I love the sound of the magic in this book. And it sounds like it could get quite dark, which I’m always here for.


The Island Child by Molly Aitken

Release date: January 30th

island child

Twenty years ago, Oona left the island of Inis for the very first time. A wind-blasted rock of fishing boats and sheep’s wool, where the only book was the Bible and girls stayed in their homes until mothers themselves, the island was a gift for some, a prison for others. Oona was barely more than a girl, but promised herself she would leave the tall tales behind and never return.

The Island Child tells two stories: of the child who grew up watching births and betrayals, storms and secrets, and of the adult Oona, desperate to find a second chance, only to discover she can never completely escape. As the strands of Oona’s life come together, in blood and marriage and motherhood, she must accept the price we pay when we love what is never truly ours…

Rich, haunting and rooted in Irish folklore, The Island Child is spellbinding debut novel about identity and motherhood, freedom and fate and the healing power of stories.

Why I’m interested: I’m sold on ‘Irish folklore’. This sounds like such a wonderful story. Thank you Rachel for alerting me to this one!



What books are you looking forward to this month? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)