Hi again, bibliophiles!
I haven’t done one of these since November, and my Goodreads TBR continues to be disturbingly long (1,261 books at present 😬), so I figured it would be fun to do another one. Shelf #14 was picked by the random number generator, so here goes nothing…
- 1. Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf
- 2. Order on ascending date added.
- 3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
- 4. Read the synopsis of the books.
- 5. Time to Decide: keep it or should it go
Let’s begin, shall we?
From the author of ‘The Midnight Dance’ comes an epic YA fantasy featuring royal drama, dark magic, and a secret that could topple a kingdom.
Kalen has been cursed with a gift: he’s a mental picklock, able to access a person’s memories and secrets by touch. His skills make him the perfect questioner to the king, and he spends his days interrogating prisoners of the crown.
But when Kalen’s estranged childhood friend, Prince Cirrus, falls into a sudden coma, the king begs Kalen to intervene. By accessing Cirrus’ mind, Kalen saves his life—and uncovers a terrifying secret. The prince has a sister, banished long ago, and she is the key to the destruction or survival of the kingdom.
With the help of Cirrus and a silver-haired thief named Luna, Kalen must find the princess and bring her home. Or risk death at the hands of his king.
This one sounds interesting enough, but I read a lot of reviews saying that a) the worldbuilding was dismally underdeveloped and b) there’s insta-love…mmmm, nope. The 3.11 rating on Goodreads was definitely a bit of a red flag (though average ratings often lie), but I don’t think I’ll take my chances.
VERDICT: LET GO
2. Sea (The Huntress Trilogy, #1), Sarah Driver
In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.
Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .
Sea-churning, beast-chattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure. The first book in a stunning new fantasy adventure trilogy, perfect for readers aged 9+ and fans of Philip Pullman, Piers Torday, Abi Elphinstone, Katherine Rundell and Frances Hardinge.
I should really read more middle grade, but I don’t think this one’s the one for me. The synopsis is a bit sparse, and I wasn’t a huge fan of Piers Torday, Frances Hardinge or Philip Pullman, so…nah.
VERDICT: LET GO
3. V for Violet, Alison Rattle
Battersea, 1961. London is just beginning to enter the swinging sixties. The world is changing – but not for sixteen-year-old Violet. She was born at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced Victory in Europe – an auspicious start, but now she’s just stuck in her family’s fish and chip shop dreaming of greatness. And it doesn’t look like fame and fortune are going to come calling anytime soon. Then she meets Beau. Beau’s a rocker – a motorcycle boy who arrives in an explosion of passion and rebellion. He blows up Violet’s grey little life, and she can’t believe her luck. But things don’t go her way for long. Joseph, her long-lost brother, comes home. Then young girls start going missing, and turning up murdered. And then Violet’s best friend disappears too. Suddenly life is horrifyingly much more interesting. Violet can’t believe its coincidence that Joseph turns up just as girls start getting murdered. He’s weird, and she feels sure he’s hiding something. He’s got a secret, and Violet’s got a dreadful feeling it might be the worst kind of secret of all…
O O F I’m sorry but the closer I looked at the cover, the worse it got…it’s trying way too hard to be edgy…
Eh, but anyway, books with “and then she meets [insert name of broody boy here]” lines in the synopsis are always red flags for me, and either way, there’s not much else in this one that’s pulling me in.
VERDICT: LET GO
4. The Orphanage of Gods, Helena Coggan
Twenty years ago, the humans came for their gods.
In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.
No one has ever escaped the orphanage.
Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free – but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her – ones that will change the world forever . . .
As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?
WHEW, this one has an even lower rating than The King’s Questioner (2.88)…so I’m still a little hesitant, but there doesn’t seem to be anything blatantly offensive in the reviews. The premise sounds fascinating too, and it’s shelved as LGBT (though I’m not sure of the representation), so I think I’ll keep this one.
5. Irradiated (The Tunnel Trilogy, #1), S. Elliot Brandis
Jade, a headstrong young woman, lives in an irradiated wasteland. She struggles each day to protect her younger sister Pearl, a sweet girl who was born mutated. Their life is tough, but Jade is determined to survive.
One day, Jade returns from a supply run and finds her sister missing. She knows one of two groups is to blame: the fascist society that lives underground, scorning the sun and all mutants, or a fellow scavenger on the surface, acting out of depravity or desperation.
Jade is willing to risk everything to save Pearl, including her own life and morals. With her gas mask fixed tight, and a heavy chain in hand, she sets off on a mission of vengeance. If she fails, Pearl will die.
There…really isn’t anything I’m finding in this synopsis that sets it apart from a lot of other dystopian books I’ve read/heard of? I’m a bit jaded with dystopia as a whole, but occasionally, there’s some that pull off an inventive twist. I can’t find anything compelling or terribly original here either…
VERDICT: LET GO
6. In the Dark Spaces, Cally Black
“What will happen when you don’t come back?”
A genre-smashing kidnapping drama about Tamara, who’s faced with an impossible choice when she falls for her captors.
Yet this is no ordinary kidnapping. Tamara has been living on a freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople – the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now – and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive.
But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople’s way of life, and the threats they face from humanity’s exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she’ll never see her family again … or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?
This ground-breaking thriller is the latest YA novel to win the Ampersand Prize, a stand-out entry with a blindingly original voice: raw, strange and deeply sympathetic. With its vivid and immersive world-building, this electrifying debut is The Knife of Never Letting Go meets Homeland, for the next generation of sci-fi readers.
Uh…the fact that “Stockholm syndrome” was my first thought upon reading the synopsis over again instantly turned me off. Nope.
VERDICT: LET GO
June Bana might post nearly daily makeup looks that gain thousands of likes but Real Life June has built a wall behind which she exists with her two cats.
But with messy feelings getting in a way of early hermit life, June begins to realize that she wants more. She wants model/actress, Sunshine Reincarnated Selena Clarke. It doesn’t hurt that Selena is amazing with cats and quiets down June’s anxiety to bearable levels.
June is given the choice of facing her anxieties about relationships to gain not only a girlfriend but also a better understanding of how far she’d go for love.
But would she take it? Would she leave her comfort zone for something softer?
I don’t usually gravitate towards contemporary novels, but this sounds like such a sweet sapphic romance! And cats!
8. The World That We Knew, Alice Hoffman
In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.
Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.
What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending
I read another of Alice Hoffman’s books (Nightbird) ages ago and rated it 3 stars, and I remember nothing about it, so I don’t really have much to go off for this one. It sounds a bit depressing, too…I’m not opposed to heavy books, but this one doesn’t feel like the right fit for me.
VERDICT: LET GO
9. The Monsters of Music, Rebecca F. Kenney
A darkly romantic gender-swapped modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, with a scarred Muse girl, a rock-star boy, and a singing competition. For fans of The Wicked Deep (Ernshaw), Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones), American Idol, or The Voice.
Mel must share her creative magic or be driven mad by it. But finding her first protégé isn’t as easy for her as it is for most Lianhan Sídhe (muses of Celtic myth). Though the women of her race are naturally beautiful, she carries horrifying scars across one side of her face, inflicted by her mother’s obsessive boyfriend. And Mel isn’t only interested in pouring her creative energy into a man; she wants to use her musical genius herself, too. But the laws of the Lianhan Sídhe, and her own savage appearance, stand in the way of her ever singing onstage.
To relieve the painful pressure of her magic, Mel latches onto Kiyoji, a boy with a beautiful voice, and coaches him through a televised singing competition. But neither of them are prepared for the power of their connection, or for the new kind of magic that happens when the two of them sing together.
Fans of Holly Black’s contemporary fantasy books (Tithe, Valiant) or Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely will enjoy this dark, offbeat retelling with a hint of cyberpunk and a dose of Celtic mythology. The novel celebrates a broad range of music from various decades.
I’m not super familiar with The Phantom of the Opera, and this retelling doesn’t sound all that compelling…I mean, there’s some interesting aspects, but it seems like the only thing that’s been done to it is a bit of modernizing.
VERDICT: LET GO
10. The Mimosa Tree, Antonella Preto
It’s the summer of 1987 and Mira is beginning her first year at uni. She’s got a radical new haircut, and an all-black wardrobe — she should be having the time of her life.
But it’s hard to get excited about anything when you’re being smothered by your crazy Italian family, enrolled in a course you’re not interested in, and expecting nuclear warfare at any moment.
Even a new best friend and the magnetic boy from art class can’t wipe away the image of a looming mushroom cloud. And Mira’s right. Her world is about to explode, but it’s not the skies she should be checking.
I’m not opposed to long books, but with the sparsity of the synopsis, I’m not sure how this one will fill up 370 pages with just that…maybe there’s more than the blurb lets on, but I don’t think I want to stick around.
VERDICT: LET GO
LET GO: 8
MY MOST SUCCESSFUL DOWN THE TBR HOLE TO DATE! I’ll be looking for the two that I kept, but I’m glad I was able to cull a few books from my endless TBR for once. And what I like about doing these posts, other than the obvious, is that maybe even though I cut a book from my TBR, somebody else might put it on theirs. Something for everybody, right?
Since I’ve already posted once today, check out today’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.
That’s it for this Down the TBR Hole! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!