Down the TBR Hole #1

My Goodreads TBR shelf is currently at about 400 books. I tend to add things without thinking too hard about it, and then its state stresses me out and I never actually look at it for suggestions!

Luckily, I saw this meme done by JJ at This Dark Material, (her blog is great, check it out), and I figured I’d give it a go!

The plan:

Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf

Order on ascending date added

Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books

Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m going to go through ten at a time, so it should take a while to complete! (Especially since I never stop adding more, universe help me.)

The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler

Daniel Handler is my favorite. I mean, maybe not my very favorite. But he’s up there. You may know him as Lemony Snicket, who writes the Series of Unfortunate Events books. The Basic Eight is about friends and a murderess and YES.

Keep

We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler

Sooo this one has pretty bad reviews! But it’s still Daniel Handler and I’m still on board because did I mention I love him?! I also already own this book, so.

Keep

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Okay this is just an OBVIOUS yes, right? I absolutely must read this. I hate that I haven’t yet.

Keep

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

I didn’t remember having added this one! It’s apparently about people being able to get surgery that will connect them to their romantic partners? I love stories about dangers of technology. Gotta keep it!

Keep

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

Another I don’t remember having added. This one is a literary thriller, and definitely doesn’t sound like something I’d be into at this point.

Pass

Join by Steve Toutonghi

About a technology that lets small groups of people connect minds, and a killer who basically hacks that technology. I need more sci-fi in my life!

Keep

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

About a reality tv show gone horribly wrong?! I’m such a sucker for that.

Keep

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hmm, so, after having read the synopsis, I don’t think it’s something I’d handle well at this point in my life. For now, at least, I don’t think I’ll seek it out.

Pass

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

This reminds me of a show I tried to watch, where a bunch of people have randomly disappeared. It doesn’t sound as exciting to me anymore? I just can’t imagine that I’ll actually read it.

Pass

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

It’s Neil Gaiman. It OBVIOUSLY STAYS.

Keep

So! I’ll be keeping 7/10, which really isn’t bad! It feels like a minor purge, and that’s always very comforting!

What About You?

Have you read any of these? Are you doing Down the TBR Hole posts? I’d love to see them!

 

Let’s Talk About Tropes, Baby

I’m gonna come right out and say it: cliches get a bad rap and it’s maybe unwarranted.

Humans are limited. Let’s face it. We’ve been telling the same stories since we’ve had writing. I love me some ancient Lit, and let me tell you that you’ll find the same themes in The Epic of Gilgamesh as in a lot of your current faves. It’s what we do! I think as long as a story is told in a new, fresh way, there’s merit to tropes, cliches, re-tellings.

Here are some of my favorite, and some of my not so favorite, tropes/themes/devices/plots:

Older Character Changed By Young Character

Okay my best example of this is the movie Up. I, sadly, haven’t seen it as well utilized in a novel. But I love it and I seek it out and if you know of a novel that does this well please tell me.

Amnesia

I don’t know why, but I love amnesia plots. I’m such a sucker for it. I think it’s because I adore an unreliable narrator, and watching my protagonist’s internal battle is just the best. My favorite example for contemporary is probably Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, and for an AMAZING sci-fi one, Archetype.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger and/or treasure hunts. Anything in this realm, really. The farther someone has to go, the better. I love it. I like it with magic, I like it with contemporary. I’m just all about it. I see a lot with my kiddo when we read middle grade novels, but I’m SO STOKED because I just got an e-arc of The Summer List, which is an adult novel about a scavenger hunt and I’m SO here for it.

Doomed Love

You’ll notice there has been nothing explicitly romantic on my likes thus far, and it’s because I’m not particularly attached to any (with this one exception). I think most romance tropes are silly. I also think a good romance can overcome a bad trope.

The one I am such a sucker for is doomed love. Going back much further than Romeo and Juliet. I love any story with starcrossed lovers, and honestly if they die, I’m totally cool with it.

Good Girl Loves Bad Boy

No! No no. I hate this. I mean, there are examples where this can be cute and work out, such as in One Of Us Is Lying, but that’s because he’s really a good person in bad circumstances. The ones I hate are like in Hexed, where the guy treats her like garbage and objectifies her and she loves him regardless. We can have nice, decent men who are still fun and sexy. Less packaging abuse as love k thanks.

Super Unusual Names

This is newer? But I’m seeing it a ton. My most recent example being As You Wish, where EVERY name was ridiculous. I accepted that the town had a secret, wish-granting cave. But I can’t abide the names.

Love Triangles

I KNOW THIS IS CONTROVERSIAL. It’s just not for me. I always like one, hate the other, and get mad at our hero/ine for having to make the decision at all when it’s so obvious.

#TeamPeeta

#TeamJacob

Instalove

Sigh. Instalove is unrealistic and obnoxious and very difficult to root for and somehow doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I just wrote about it in terms of Starswept, a book that I liked otherwise.

Chosen One

I love Harry Potter, and he’s quite literally the chosen one, I know. But come on. It’s too much now and I’m over it.

Girl Who Is In Every Way More Competent Than Boy Becomes A Damsel In Distress In The Third Act

I mean I think that says it all.

What about you?

What are your favorites? Do you like/dislike any on this list?

The Sunday Post | Weekly Wrap Up

I’m linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

This week FLEW by! Where did it even go? This Sunday post snuck up on me!

I did two arc reviews this week! (click on the picture to see the review):

Both adult titles this week, which is fairly unusual for me!

Hearts Like Hers, a lesbian romance which is SO cute and has some kickass characters! I give it four of five coffee cups.

And The Beloveds, a novel I wanted to love way more. Female psychopath, gorgeous writing. Unfortunately it fell a little flat with some pacing issues and a lack of plot. I gave it three of five houses.

WELL this is where things really fall to shit for me because I NEVER read what I plan to read.

   

Big little Lies is obviously not an arc, but I’ve had it on my shelf for a bit and I’m trying to get those down!

           

I am trying to do “Off the Bookcase” posts, as well as arcs. This week I started The Girls by Emma Cline, but ultimately DNF’d at 38% because I don’t love the (in my opinion) overly flowery sentences and it taking way too long to get to the plot.

 

I hope everyone is having an incredible week, and I can’t wait to read your posts!

Hearts Like Hers

Hearts Like Hers by Melissa Brayden

Published by Bold Stroke Books, Feb 13th 2018

Genre: Adult, Romance, LGBT

Pages: 233

YAY for an adorable lesbian love story! I adore Hearts Like Hers. Let’s get into it!

Loving this cover, too. So simple, but immediately invokes feelings of summer!

All work and no play has Autumn Primm in the market for a little excitement. Her Venice Beach coffee shop, The Cat’s Pajamas, is her pride and joy. While she doesn’t mind the long hours, she finds herself staring dreamily out the window, imagining the life she’s yet to lead. The time has come to take off the apron and see what the world has in store. 

Kate Carpenter needs to get away. And quick. A small-town firefighter, Kate’s been crowned a local hero for reasons she can’t quite get behind. An open highway and some time off have her fleeing the scene to sunny California to catch her breath and put some distance between herself and the unwanted acclaim. Dreamy Autumn Primm was never supposed to be part of that bargain. What Kate needs is a temporary escape, emphasis on temporary.

Dear Dwayne With Love

So I’ll be real here, basically the lesbian love is what called me to what is otherwise a very run of the mill story. I need more LGBT romances in my life. That said, the premise of Hearts Like Hers actually is very cute. Autumn, bored with her life, has decided to try to become pregnant on her own. Kate is in Venice on vacation, trying to escape a traumatic fire. The two meet and connect and it’s all very adorable.

Something I REALLY love about this is that Autumn owns a coffee shop, and much of the story takes place there, in The Cat’s Pajamas. I LOVE when a book has a place that takes on its own personality, that becomes like another character you can love. I love the coffee shop, and I love all the time spent there. There’s also an ongoing bit about Autumn having to repeatedly hire new help that is funny and adds color.

I also adore that we have a lesbian woman trying to become pregnant on her own. I love any stories surrounding pregnancy, really, but I love any with a “non-typical” family.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

What I love most here is the brevity. The writing is simple. It’s a very quick and easy read. It’s also short, coming in at 230ish pages, and it’s exactly the right length. I love a book that doesn’t fill up extra pages with nonsense, but uses exactly enough to tell the story.

The pacing is great, also, Once I was about thirty pages in and had a handle on the main characters, I was in and wanted to keep reading.

Also, the sex scenes are super hot and that’s worth mentioning.

It’s set in Venice, too! I may be biased because I’m from LA, but I LOVE that setting!

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

The characters really make Hearts Like Hers for me!

Autumn and Kate are great together, funny and witty, quick and intelligent, and their banter is really great. The way they interact is, for me, the highlight of the novel. We are also given a TON of screen time for their relationship, like the majority of their relationship happens “on camera”, which makes their relationship feel very real and makes it easy to root for.

The side characters are wonderful, too. If anything, I would have liked to see a lot more of them. Autumn has three close friends who support and love her, and I am ALL ABOUT those women friendships.

Also some cool family members: Kate’s brother, whom we love, and Autumn’s mother, whom we love to hate. Both add something special.

I will say that both Autumn and Kate were lacking any discernible flaws, and that didn’t work for me. It made it feel just this side of realistic. Still, I love them and root for them.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Hearts Like Hers is a quick, fun, very cute read. I am thrilled to find out that this is part of a series, each focusing on one of the girls (Autumn and her three friends) and I will definitely be looking into the rest!

*I don’t own any of the photos used for aesthetics in this post. Each photo links to where I found it!*

Not Quite Loving The Beloveds

The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley

Published by Gallery Books, scheduled for April 2018

Genre: Contemporary, Adult

Pages: 336

Well, y’all. The Beloveds has me stumped. I wanted to love it, I should have loved it (female psychopathic narrator? Come on). I loved some parts and really, really didn’t love others. So! I haven’t done a pro/con list in some time, here we go.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace.

Oh, to be a Beloved—one of those lucky people for whom nothing ever goes wrong. Everything falls into their laps without effort: happiness, beauty, good fortune, allure.

Betty Stash is not a Beloved—but her little sister, the delightful Gloria, is. She’s the one with the golden curls and sunny disposition and captivating smile, the one whose best friend used to be Betty’s, the one whose husband should have been Betty’s. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria inherits the family manse—a vast, gorgeous pile of ancient stone, imposing timbers, and lush gardens—that was never meant to be hers.

Losing what Betty considers her rightful inheritance is the final indignity. As she single-mindedly pursues her plan to see the estate returned to her in all its glory, her determined and increasingly unhinged behavior—aided by poisonous mushrooms, talking walls, and a phantom dog—escalates to the point of no return. The Beloveds will have you wondering if there’s a length to which an envious sister won’t go.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

The Writing

I have to say I was drawn in by The Beloveds immediately. Sister stories of all kinds intrigue me, (is there a more complex relationship dynamic than that of one between sisters?) and the book opens immediately with Elizabeth confessing that she has hated her sister from childhood on. That, to me, is compelling. The writing feels almost antiquated, but not in an unpleasant way. I could easily see it happening any time within the last fifty years, which makes the novel feel timeless. It is clever, very witty and sharp. The writing is probably what kept me intrigued through my cons.

Elizabeth/Betty/Lizzie

I am SO here for female psychopathic narrators. With men there seems to always be a sexual element to insanity that I simply cannot get behind. Elizabeth is brilliant, maniacal, manipulative, and completely unaware of how crazy she is. I adore it. I adore her. I can’t help it. She’s COMPLETELY unlikable, so don’t confuse my meaning, but I cannot help rooting for her even when she’s planning murders because she is so damn believable. THAT’S what I need from a narrator. They can be a heinous individual, but I need to believe in their causes and somehow root for them. And this accomplishes that for me. If you need a narrator you can love, Elizabeth is not for you. But I bet she’ll keep your interest.

The Art Gallery

(I almost wrote “Art Dealership”? It’s eleven at night. I’m tired.) For a portion of the book, Elizabeth works at an art gallery with her husband. The way she speaks about art is absolutely gorgeous. I’m a painter and art history nerd, so I may be partial. But this was also part of what makes Elizabeth’s love for her childhood home so believable. She doesn’t love people, doesn’t appreciate them. She loves and appreciates beauty, and it’s so apparent in how she speaks about art.

The House

Pipits! The House, called Pipits, is something really interesting. Elizabeth speaks about Pipits like it’s a lover. Like she’s in love. That sounds crazy but it works for her. The house speaks to her, she talks often about its voice. The house agrees with her, is occasionally disappointed in her. Pipits has personality.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

The Pacing

About 100 pages in, things nearly come to a halt. From this point, all the way to the end, for me, the book crawls and drags. Many, many pages of “I hate them, they’re in my house, I should be in my house, I must get them out of my house,” to then get to a couple pages of action, and back to the inner monologue. Again, I love the writing. I find Elizabeth’s inner monologue fascinating. Absolutely not for this much of the story, though. The Beloveds takes place over many years, and boy does it feel like it. “Angry Woman Wants Her House” is a good enough premise, but certainly not enough plot. It was all I could do to keep from skimming after a certain point.

The Characters

The peripheral characters have very little life or personality. I am willing to give (only slight) allowances on this, and here’s why. Elizabeth is clearly psychotic. She has no regard for a single other human being. So, I can see how, through her eyes, other characters could be flat. However, I really needed more. Henry, Elizabeth’s brother in law, has at least some dimension. He has anger, he has emotions, he has a hobby. Gloria really has none of this. She’s a complete dud. She’s boring, simple, lacks any discernible personality. For me, it would have been better had Gloria been an actual person, rather than a symbol of everything Elizabeth has wanted but not obtained.

The Total Lack of Closure

Basically, Elizabeth spends a good portion working on one plan to get what she wants. Then a little bit planning her next scheme. Then? Nothing. I mean. Actually nothing. She messes with her neighbors, spends more time angry. I cannot stress this enough: nothing else happens. There’s no real ending, no closure, no sense of anything having really taken place. This is just incredibly upsetting for me, and ultimately my least favorite part of a novel that showed promise.

Each of these gorgeous photos links to the IG post, show these some love!

*I don’t own any of the photos used for aesthetics in this post. Each photo links to where I found it!*