Top Ten Tuesday: TBR Progress Update

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

This was this week’s topic:

June 15: Books On My Summer 2021 TBR (or winter, if you live in the southern hemisphere)

But since I’m trying to read through old TBRs before making new ones (I doubt I’ll be able to stick to this resolution for long!) I decided to revisit some old TBRs and do a progress update. If you’re interested, I did one of these in the past, and I’m trying not to repeat books:

  • Majesty: American Royals by Kristin McGree (on my Fall 2020 TBR) This was silly and soap opera-ish but enjoyable for those times when that’s exactly what you need. I made a mental note (that I’m just now remembering) to check out more of McGee’s work for that purpose.

  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (2018 TBR) This was a disappointment. It had a really compelling premise, that I really wanted to like, but it was turned into a just OK book. It wasn’t bad, but it was good enough for me to wish it were better.

  • Tangerine by Christine Mangan (2018 TBR) I remember liking a lot about this one, but I don’t remember much about it! I think it had sort of an “old Hollywood” feel that I liked. It felt like a mashup of elements of Agatha Christie, Daphne DuMaurier, Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock.

  • The 7 and 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (2018 TBR, Apparently I read a lot from this list!) This was another one that I was really excited for based on the premise, but the execution fell flat for me. I think the Groundhog Day-eque premise needs to be really done well, in order for the book to work. If it’s not, it just feels repetitive. In this case I’d start to get interested in where it was going and then I was frustrated to be sent back to the beginning again! Again, I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

  • Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence (Backlist TBR) This lived on my shelf for many years. I wasn’t in the mood for it, really, for one reason or another. During lockdown, I finally read it, and didn’t much like it. Once again, not bad, but I liked it less than I liked some of the other books on this list that disappointed me! Here, the problem was that I didn’t like the characters or care about the plot. I really need one out of two!

  • The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard (Backlist TBR) I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. So I’m sort of torn about continuing with the series. There are four more Cazalet books out there, and I’m on the fence about whether or not they’re worth reading. I did enjoy the first book, but a five book series just feels like quite an investment!

  • An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (TBR Procrastination) This was my fifth, and I think, final (for now, at least) book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Jacqueline Winspear is a talented author, and It’s not that I don’t like them, but I feel that each one covers mostly the same ground. If the tone were slightly different that might work. For example if these were cozy mysteries I might find the same thing charming, over and over. But these are really depressing. Like they take place in during the Great Depression, with characters traumatized by WWI. And of course they’re working with crimes all the time, so it gets pretty bleak. None of the characters have grown on developed enough to make me feel like it’s worthwhile.

  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (Upcoming Releases for the 2nd Half of 2019) This was an enjoyable dual timeline thriller. I do wish that Simone St. James would return to the historical, gothic, romantic mysteries where she started out. Her last two books have had more contemporary settings, at least in part, (though they’ve had dual timelines as well) and while they’re good, my personal tastes tend toward to historical. I’ll keep reading her books though, because they’re still fun.

  • Milkman by Anna Burns (Winter 2018-2019 TBR) I read this after it won the Man Booker Prize. I was a bit nervous going into it, because I’d heard mixed things, but I ended up liking it more than I realized at the time. It’s not an easy read in terms of understanding what’s going on, so it required some mental effort to read. But looking back on it, I appreciate it in a way I didn’t quite “get” while I was reading it. So this one is a bit better in retrospect.
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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Would Make Great Song Titles

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

November 10: Book Titles that Would Make Great Song Titles (submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)

For this one I just went through the titles of books I’ve read over the past few years.

1, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

2. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

3. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence

4. The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

5. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

6. Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald (this might be cheating, because I think there are several songs with this title!)

7. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

8. One Day in December by Josie Silver (I could see this as a good title for a Christmas carol)

9. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

10. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wanted To Abandon

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

This weeks’ topic was:

May 26: Opening Lines (Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc.)

but I got confused about the date and didn’t realize until the last minute, so I had already made a list for:

May 12: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned (this could be books you DNFed, books you decided you were no longer interested in, etc.) (submitted by Claire @ Book Lovers Pizza)

which was a week I’d skipped. I don’t usually DNF books because not finishing something always makes me feel like things are left undone.  But these are the last books that I definitely considered putting down at one point or another. Maybe I’ll revisit this week’s topic on another week.

91gjjmku0ul._ac_uy218_1.Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon– My book club has been reading a books of a different genre each week. For this coming week it’s horror. I chose this book because I’d read The Other by the same author and really liked it. Unfortunately this one didn’t live up to that standard.

 

 

71n0ypoubcl._ac_uy218_2.Three Women by Lisa Taddeo– I read this one because it had been getting rave reviews and showing up on a million “must read” lists. The subject (female desire) didn’t particularly interest me, but I figured if it was handled with insight or skill that might change. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like this look at the sex lives of these three (suburban, white, American) women shed any light on the subject.

 

91sxuv4qn0l._ac_uy218_3. Clandara by Evelyn Anthony– I’d  had  this on my shelf forever and I can’t remember where I first got it. It’s a historical romance set against the fall of the Jacobite cause in Scotland. The research and history was actually handled well, but the “hero” and “heroine” were both such despicable human beings that I didn’t care what happened to either one of them. I just felt sorry for any characters who happened to cross their paths.

 

5174gdpp4ml._ac_uy218_4. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence– I had a copy of this one for a while too (If nothing else, this prolonged time at home is helping read a few of those books I’ve had sitting around!) and it looked good: a historical mystery set in the early days of America. But I couldn’t engage or invest in any of the characters. Usually I can invest in unlikable characters, but in this case I got the sense that the author didn’t know that they were unlikable.

 

91y5qqyms0l._ac_uy218_5. The People in the Trees by Hana Yanagihara-In this case  the author was well aware that the character was unlikable. I  read this one because I’d been really moved by A Little Life by the same author. Once again I admired the skill with which the difficult story was told, but in this case I felt like I was reading a textbook rather than a novel. Even when it was supposed to make me angry, I couldn’t feel anything.

 

81epe0lxakl._ac_uy218_6. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher- I was surprised by the fact that I didn’t like this one because I’d expected to. It’s been recommended to me many times and it’s been compared to other books I’ve really liked. But the inter-generational story featured three generations of characters I didn’t like: even when I was clearly supposed to. The characters that I wasn’t supposed to like felt paper thin.

 

81mtqf4rhyl._ac_uy218_7.Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine– I’d been interested in reading books by this author for a while since she’s frequently compared to authors that I like.  Maybe I’ll give her another chance with a different book. This one sounded like it had potential: a mystery set in the 1890s with an heiress and several wealthy friends on a fishing trip with an accused murderer. But nothing landed. I felt like I was just waiting for it to be over.

 

81gig3gangl._ac_uy218_8.The Answers by Catherine Lacey- This one was recommended quite a bit and got pretty good reviews. It also had an interesting premise, a broke girl gets a second job as a “girlfriend” of a famous actor. But while interesting thoughts and ideas were presented, nothing was really explored and I never felt like I knew the characters.

 

 

a1yvcyz-l._ac_uy218_9.  An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear– I liked the first few Maisie Dobbs books, but with this one I really started to feel like the series was covering the same depressing ground over and over. In the first book we meet a heroine who has been traumatized be her service as a nurse in WWI as she starts a post war business. Several books later it’s the great depression, she’s still traumatized and all her cases still involve things that happened during WWI. I don’t know if I’m going to move on with this series or not.

 

Top Ten Tuesday:

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

ttt-new

April 7: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… (Fill in the blank. You can do 10 books you bought for the same reason, i.e., pretty cover, recommended by a friend, blurbed by a favorite authors, etc. OR you could do a different reason for each pick.)

For this one, I decided to list the last ten books I read and why I read them.

5174gdpp4ml._ac_uy218_ml3_1. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence– I’ve had this book sitting in my bookcase for a while, and I decided to read it at last. Really I think that’s as far as the decision went! I bought it at a thrift store for $1 because it looked OK. It was OK, but not much more than that.

 

 

 

418ovkyoal._ac_uy218_ml3_2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton– I was going to go to a book club that was reading this. I’d read it in college but it deserved a reread. The book club was cancelled due to the situation with coronavirus, but I’m glad I had a chance to revisit this book.

 

 

91ruwg9786l._ac_uy218_ml3_3. Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss- I’m a fan of Goss and I got this as an ebook when it was on sale with a  reduced price of $1.99. I think the sale was the reason I bought it, but I might like to buy a physical copy, which I often tend to do with ebooks I really live. They feel like they’re more mine when they’re physical books.

 

 

81kwruwfyll._ac_uy218_ml3_ 4. Normal People by Sally Rooney- I had heard a lot of good things about this one, and I saw it in the library and decided to give it a shot. It lived up to my expectations more or less.

 

 

 

51ggnslcxml._ac_uy218_ml3_5. The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman– I’ve been rereading Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and this is #2. In my memory it was a very “second in a trilogy” book, but on rereading it, I felt that in some ways it was stronger than The Golden Compass. I suppose that’s why it pays to reread sometimes!

 

 

91oqeffundl._ac_uy218_ml3_6.The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter- I got this from the library because I often enjoy Slaughter’s work as an author of mystery/thriller/crime novels. However in this case I think the fact that I happened to read this as the coronavirus was starting to turn up impacted my enjoyment. The crime in question seemed a bit too close to home.

 

 

61oldgmz8gl._ac_uy218_ml3_7.Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley– I read this one because Kearsley is one of the authors that I feel like I can turn to for a reliably good read. This is her latest, and it was no different in that respect.

 

 

 

813zrwfvrdl._ac_uy218_ml3_8. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys– I got this one from the library because it looked interesting and it was set around and in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, which was a historical period that I know very little about. While I’m still interested in the period, I felt that the book was just OK.

 

 

914o0doecll._ac_uy218_ml3_9. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber– This was a library book that I picked out simply because it looked good. It was. I think that the magical realist, feel good novel was more or less what I needed.

 

 

 

81lcl0qrdbl._ac_uy218_ml3_10. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett– I’m a big fan of Ann Patchett so this one had been on my TBR for a while. While it wasn’t my favorite of her books, I felt it lived up to expectations.

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist TBR

First of all, if you are reading this and have not yet voted, do so now. This post isn’t going anywhere. It’ll still be here when you get back.

Now, for That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

November 6: Backlist Books I Want to Read

There are a lot of backlist titles that I want to read. These are really just the top ten that came to mind!

21w51tywckl-_sl160_sx135_1. Sing to Me Of Dreams by Kathryn Lynn Davis– I really enjoyed some of Davis’ other work (Too Deep For Tears trilogy, Child of Awe) and I am curious about how she handles a different setting/culture from much of her other work.

 

51hukb9xql-_ac_us218_2. Silence and Shadows by James Long– This has been sitting in my Amazon cart forever, and I’ve never actually read it. It’s about an archaeologist who is working with a woman who reminds him of his late wife. At the same time, his brother in law has been singing a song about a Saxon princess who also resembles the coworker and the wife, and the archaeologist makes an important discovery that  may tie all of these characters together.

5174gdpp4ml-_ac_us218_3. Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence– This has also been on my TBR for ages. It’s set in post Revolutionary war America and it’s about a midwife who is drawn into a murder investigation. It’s a combination of a few genres I like (historical fiction, suspense) so hopefully it’ll be good.

 

51ienjvnb4l-_ac_us218_4. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis– I really like Connie Willis’ other Oxford Time Travel novel The Doomsday Book, and I’ve heard from some fans that this one is even better, so I’m looking forward to reading it!

 

41oulsn7jul-_ac_us218_5. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn- This interracial romance has been in print since 1966. A copy of it has been sitting on my shelf for about two years.

 

 

51myynrq6l-_ac_us218_6. The Group by Mary McCarthy– This was a major bestseller and National Book Award Finalist  when it first same out in 1963. It’s about eight friends from college making their way in the world. It’s been compared to everything from The Best of Everything to Sex and the City. I’m curious to read it as see how it holds up.

 

51mw0x9so4l-_ac_us218_7. Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow– This story of a female spy during the Revolutionary war was written in 1959 and has been compared to Gone With the Wind. I suppose that the comparison also comes from the fact that it’s about a southern heiress who has some kind of romance. Regardless it’s sitting on my shelf and it looks like it could be fun.

51ffmarlcpl-_ac_us218_8. Bird Box by Josh Malerman– I vaguely remember reading a good review of this when it came out. I put it on my TBR and never got around to it. Then I saw the trailer for the movie coming to Netflix in December. I’d like to read the book before then.

 

51dyrlatcxl-_ac_us218_9. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey– This may be the record holder for book that’s been sitting on my shelf for the longest. It’s on pretty much every “best fantasy books” list on the internet.

 

 

514fv3sagil-_ac_us218_10. The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard– The Cazalet Chronicles has been on my TBR for a long time.  The fact that it’s a five book series always holds me back from  getting started.