Down the TBR Hole #10

Happy Friday, all! It has been a couple of weeks since I have done my TBR cleanup (August 21!!) , and I really need this. Instead of spring cleaning, I am a big fan of autumn cleaning: Cleansing everything before the winter so that you are at your best in the harshest months.

A while ago, I discovered this meme, Down the TBR hole, from Confessions of a YA Reader, which is created by Lost in a Story (now Sunflowers and Wonder). Down the TBR Hole revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: Should you keep it, or should it go.

This project has been incredibly helpful to organize my thoughts, since a lot of the books I am slogging through on my TBR were added almost a decade ago. I don’t know about you guys, but my 20-year-old self was a bit of a twit. I have averaged at 2.5/5 book removal (50%) rate, which I think is healthy but not insane.

My Goodreads: Sam Sigelakis-Minski
Current TBR: 1,441 (Higher than the last time I did this three weeks ago; the mind is weak when it thinks of books).


1. Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte

  • Date added: January 22, 2012
  • Synopsis: Drawing on her own experience, Anne Brontë charts the development of gentle Agnes and sympathetically depicts the harsh treatment she receives along the way. Leaving her idyllic home and close-knit family, Agnes arrives at the Bloomfield’s residence, inside whose walls reign cruelty and neglect. Although faced with tyrannical children and over-indulgent parents, the generosity of spirit and warm candour learnt from her own family never desert her. Agnes also remains firm in the Murray household, where she is used by the two disdainful young daughters for their own deceitful ends and where her chances of happiness are almost spoiled for her.
  • Real Talk: I am a sucker for a good classic. Anne is perhaps the lesser known writing Bronte sister, and I have been meaning to check her out. However, I am kind of sick of books about governesses getting abused and being perfect, not going to lie. I may check out her other novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall instead.
  • Verdict: I feel guilty as all hell, but I am not keeping this one.

2. The Romance of Tristan, by Béroul

  • Date added: January 22, 2012
  • Synopsis: One of the earliest extant versions of the Tristan and Yseut story, Beroul’s French manuscript of The Romance of Tristan dates back to the middle of the twelfth century. It recounts the legend of Tristan, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, and the king’s Irish wife Yseut, who fall passionately in love after mistakenly drinking a potion. Their illicit romance remains secret for many years, but the relentless suspicion of the king’s barons and the fading effects of the magic draught eventually lead to tragedy for the lovers. While Beroul’s work emphasizes the impulsive and often brutal behaviour of the characters, its sympathetic depiction of two people struggling against their destiny is one of the most powerful versions of this enduringly popular legend.
  • Real Talk: Another thing I am a sucker for is medieval epics, and this is no exception. I saw the Tristan and Isolde movie with James Franco when it came out, and I love anything peripherally Authurian, so this is in my wheelhouse.
  • Verdict: East keep.

3. Oh. My. Gods., by Tera Lynn Childs

  • Date added: January 22, 2012
  • Synopsis: When Phoebe’s mom returns from Greece with a new husband and moves them to an island in the Aegean, Phoebe’s plans for her senior year and track season are ancient history. Now she must attend the uber exclusive academy, where admission depends on pedigree, namely, ancestry from Zeus, Hera, and other Greek gods. That’s right, they’re real, not myth, and their teen descendants are like the classical heroes: supersmart and super beautiful with a few superpowers. And now they’re on her track team! Armed only with her Nikes and the will to win, Phoebe races to find her place among the gods.
  • Real Talk: I normally love all things Greek mythology. I got a 100% on my National Mythology Exam (nerd alert) and will read almost any adaptation/pastiche put in front of me. However, this one had bomb reviews. Like, a handful of good reviews combined with a massive amount of angry Percy Jackson and OG Greek myth fans. Since they are some of the easiest people to please, this worries me to no end.
  • Verdict: Tentatively deleting this one from my TBR, but I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on it.

4. Magic Lost, Trouble Found, by Lisa Shearin

  • Date added: January 22, 2012
  • Synopsis: My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker. The people who hire me are usually happy when I find things. But some things are better left unfound… Raine is a sorceress of moderate powers, from an extended family of smugglers and thieves. With a mix of street smarts and magic spells, she can usually take care of herself. But when her friend Quentin, a not-quite-reformed thief, steals an amulet from the home of a powerful necromancer, Raine finds herself wrapped up in more trouble than she cares for. She likes attention as much as the next girl, but having an army of militant goblins hunting her down is not her idea of a good time. The amulet they’re after holds limitless power, derived from an ancient, soul-stealing stone. And when Raine takes possession of the item, it takes possession of her. Now her moderate powers are increasing beyond anything she could imagine—but is the resumé enhancement worth her soul? 
  • Real Talk: Normally, a cover like that would turn me off. It looks kind of cheap, and life is too short blah blah blah. However, I am actively reading Lisa Shearin’s other series, the SPI Files, and I absolutely love her voice and her heroines. There is also apparently some crossover characters, so yay for that.
  • Verdict: Keeping it; I will get this series eventually.

5. Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne

  • Date added: January 22, 2012
  • Synopsis: One night in the reform club, Phileas Fogg bets his companions that he can travel across the globe in just eighty days. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, he immediately sets off for Dover with his astonished valet Passepartout. Passing through exotic lands and dangerous locations, they seize whatever transportation is at hand—whether train or elephant—overcoming set-backs and always racing against the clock. 
  • Real Talk: I love classics, and I love Verne especially. Here is one of those books where I am more than mildly embarrassed that I haven’t read it. And, I own it.
  • Verdict: Easy keep.

6. Ghost Dance, by Carole Maso

  • Date added: January 31, 2012
  • Synopsis: Vanessa Turin’s family has been broken up by an event so devastating she cannot bear to face it straight on. Her mother, the brilliant and beautiful poet Christine Wing, seems simply to have disappeared, and her gentle, silent father also vanishes. In Ghost Dance, the reader experiences firsthand the dimensions of Vanessa’s longing, the capabilities of her imagination, the persistence of her memory, and the ferocity of her love as she struggles to retrieve her family, to reclaim her country, and to come to terms with overwhelming sorrow.
  • Real Talk: This is hard for a lot of reasons. Maso is a wordsmith, and one who changed my life in undergrad. I ate her words up and emulated her in my own writings ad nauseum, not necessarily well. However, she is also soul crushing and hard to understand, and the ending is often tearful. My late uncle Tommy bought me a signed copy of this book my senior year of undergrad, and it has sat accusingly on my shelf ever since, even louder now that he has passed.
  • Verdict: I am keeping this, mostly because of my treasured copy, and because one day I will be in a stable enough mental space to get back into Maso.

7. First Truth, by Dawn Cook

  • Date added: February 17, 2012
  • Synopsis: Alissa doesn’t believe in magic. Her father’s stories about the Hold, a legendary fortress where human Keepers learn magic from the enigmatic Maters, are just that―stories. But her mother insists that Alissa has inherited her father’s magical ability, and so she must go to the Hold―the only place her talents can be trained. On her way, she crosses paths with Strell, a wandering musician from the plains. And though Alissa is not sure she can trust a plainsman, Strell has something she needs―one of her father’s old maps. Travelling together, they can reach the Hold before the snow sets in. But they don’t know that the Hold is nearly empty. Something is very wrong and someone believes that Alissa and Strell knows about a book called First Truth.
  • Real Talk: For those that don’t know, Dawn Cook was the pen name of Kim Harrison (of Hollows fame) prior to her becoming famous. I may be the only person in the UF readership to not be head over heels for Kim Harrison (except Felicia Day who quit the series the same book I did). I am not confident that her high fantasy is any better for me.
  • Verdict: Goodbye, Alissa. Maybe you should have believed in magic.

8. The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview

  • Date added: February 17, 2012
  • Synopsis: In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet– that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin’s wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it’s nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?
  • Real Talk: I normally love Pride & Prejudice pastiche, but some respect for the original is called for. I can’t really picture myself enjoying a book where Caroline Bingley is the heroine.
  • Verdict: I am a little sad to see this go, but it is for the best. Life is too short for bad pastiche.

9. Bewitching Season, by Marissa Doyle

  • Date added: February 17, 2012
  • Synopsis: In 1837 London, young daughters of viscounts pined for handsome, titled husbands, not careers. And certainly not careers in magic. At least, most of them didn’t. Shy, studious Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magic studies than enter society and look for a suitable husband. But right as the inevitable season for “coming out” is about to begin, Persy and her twin sister discover that their governess in magic has been kidnapped as part of a plot to gain control of the soon-to-be Queen Victoria. Racing through Mayfair ballrooms and royal palaces, the sisters overcome bad millinery, shady royal spinsters, and a mysterious Irish wizard. And along the way, Persy learns that husband hunting isn’t such an odious task after all, if you can find the right quarry.
  • Real Talk: This too has everything I like. It is Regency era, it has magic, and it has a heroine that is breaking convention. However, the reviews are shockingly negative for this type of narrative, where they really shouldn’t be. Way too many “this was boring” reviews to ignore.
  • Verdict: Again, sad to see it go. If anyone read this and loved it, please let me know!

10. The Decoy Princess, by Dawn Cook

  • Date added: February 19, 2012
  • Synopsis: Princess Contessa of Costenopolie knows everything a royal should about diplomacy, self-defense, politics… and shopping. She ought to. She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule. But her next lesson is in betrayal… The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess’s parents to come clean: She’s no princess. Their real daughter was raised in a nunnery for fear of assassins. Tess is nothing but a beggar’s child bought off the streets as an infant and reared as a decoy. So what’s a royal highness to do when she discovers she’s a royal target? Ditch the Misdev soldiers occupying the palace, use magical abilities she didn’t even know she had, restore the real princess to the throne, and save her own neck. But first, Tess has to deal with the scoundrel who’s urging her to run away from it all, and the Misdev captain who’s determined to thwart her plans.
  • Real Talk: Another Dawn Cook. This must be right after I read Dead Witch Walking. Honestly, the premise doesn’t sound half bad, but I would rather not waste energy on a writer I have a history of not loving.
  • Verdict: Bye!!

Conclusion:

I opted for ten books instead of five today because I missed a couple of weeks, and it was daunting. However, with risk is reward, and I managed to removed 6/10 from this list, and another handful of sequels from Kim Harrison that I didn’t realize were lingering on my shelf. Go me!

3 thoughts on “Down the TBR Hole #10

    1. Honestly, I had a hard time with most of the books on this list! I didn’t want to let any of them go, but always trying to trim down. It is always growing; I swear I add a new book every time I read other posts on WordPress. Oh well. Life is too short not to read as many books that make you happy as possible!

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