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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters With Cool Jobs

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

March 2: Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had (maybe not even because the job sounds fun, but maybe the co-workers are cool or the boss is hot?)

This was actually harder than I thought it would be!

  1. Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier– The main character in this one is a scribe, who sorts through family documents. Basically it sounds in the book like she reads all day, and transcribes things. I’m sure that medieval scribes had more to do than just that, but in this book that’s what it seems like. I think I could handle it, though I do have terrible handwriting…

2. Dresden Files series by Jim Bitcher– Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only professional wizard. Business isn’t always great, but he can get cool consulting gigs, helping police solve crimes that involve things that people most people like to pretend don’t exist (ghosts, vampires, werewolves etc). Truthfully I probably wouldn’t make the best ghost/vampire/werewolf hunter. But it certainly doesn’t seem like I’d get bored!

3. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal- Nikki is a law school dropout/bartender who takes a job teaching creative writing at a community center and finds her niche. I’ve taught kids. It’s hard and exhausting. But teaching Punjabi widows sounds like fun! They’re actually taking a class because they want to be there and they want to learn. And I’d be teaching something I love. Truthfully this wasn’t my favorite book (it wasn’t bad though!), but it did sound like a fun job.

4. Majesty: American Royals II by Katherine McGee– Queen of America is a job I could totally deal with! Actually, there are some significant drawbacks to the role, as the books shows, but I feel like I could cope with most of them if it means having the power to really help people in this country, as I might be able to as queen. Or even just draw attention to issues and causes that I feel are important. Because let’s face it: people listen more when you’re queen!

5. The Widow of Pale Harbour by Hester Fox– This is another example of a job that’s probably a lot harder than it sounds in the book, but based on what’s there, it sounds pretty nice. Sophronia Carver publishes a literary magazine, and it seems like she spends most of her time reading submissions. Yes, everyone in town thinks she’s a witch who murdered her husband (I could live without that part!), but she get’s the read for a living!

6. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman- What booklover doesn’t want to work in a bookshop? I did it for a summer in college and it was a lot of fun. Yes, there were some hard days, and some bad days, but even on the worst days, I was surrounded by books! The only reason I don’t do it now is because you really can’t make a living working for minimum wage (or slightly above in some cases)

7. The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis– When you’re a writer and full fledged theatre geek like me, being a Broadway playwright sounds wonderful. You can write, and be in that theatrical atmosphere 24/7. Yes, some of the great elements in this book are threatened by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare, but aside from that it sounds like a really cool job!

8. Detective Daniel Hawthorne series by Anthony Horowitz- In this series Anthony Horowitz writes a fictional version of himself as a sidekick to an investigator. Daniel Hawthorne wants a ghost writer to document to his life: to be a Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. So the (fictional) Anthony Horowitz teams up with him on all of his investigations and writes about it. Sounds fun to me. Yes, there are two books so far, and in both of them, Horowitz almost gets himself killed, but surely I’d be smarter than that!

9. The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess– In this book an aspiring writer gets a job as an assistant to a famous writer. She later has an affair with him, but again, that’s a mistake I’d avoid! I could deal with spending the summer doing research and helping out a famous writer in a big house on Cape Cod.

10. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag- Peggy runs a boarding house at 11 Hope Street in Cambridge, England. She takes in women who are destined for greatness in some way, but have hit obstacles. They have 99 days to stay in the house, get what they need from the talking portraits on the walls, and the messages that seem to find whichever resident needs them most, and then move on with life. I think running a boarding house like that (past residents include Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Florence Nightingale, Beatrix Potter and Dorothy Parker) could be a lot of fun. Plus, it would be nice to help people through difficult moments.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2020 TBR

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

September 22: Books On My Fall 2020 TBR (or spring if you live in the southern hemisphere)

  1. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke– Despite my mixed feelings about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m really looking forward to Clarke’s sophomore novel. It’s significantly shorter than her first, and it sounds like a perfect quarantine read. It was actually written in response to Clark’s own bout with illness.

2. Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman– I mean, it’s a prequel to Practical Magic and Rules of Magic. Yes, please!

3. The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett– This is a prequel to Pillars of the Earth, and I suppose all of Follett’s Kingsbridge novels. But I’m still behind on reading the third in the trilogy A Column of Fire. I suppose I should get to that, before I read the prequel. Or, are there “rules” about the order, since it’s a prequel?

4. Majesty by Katharine McGee- American Royals was a total guilty pleasure, and it turned out to be just what I needed when I read it. Hopefully the sequel will be the same.

5. Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow– I love the connection between magic/witchcraft and women’s suffrage. Perfect for an election year, when it’s more important than ever that we all vote!

6. One by One by Ruth Ware– I feel like Ruth Ware’s novels have gotten better as time goes on. I loved her most recent ones: The Death of Mrs. Westaway and Turn of the Key. I’m really eager to see if her newest lives up to that quality.

7. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade– I love the idea of this. An actor, unhappy with how his character has been written, takes refuge in the word of fan fiction. When he agrees to a publicity date with a fan, he realizes that she’s also his fandom friend in fanfic world. I think that this draws parallels between the love an artist has for his/her work and the love a fan has for something. I’m interested to see how it plays out.

8. Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency by Bea Koch– I love the idea of delving into the women of this period who are often left out of regency novels, and even much of written history. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jane Austen, but the regency wasn’t all about white women! This books looks at women of color and LGBTQ women, who have been too often overlooked by history.

9. Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney– I loved Cooney’s YA novels when I was younger, so I was excited to see that she had a new book for adult readers out soon. I also like that this book focuses on a protagonist in her 70’s. So many books focus on 25-35 year olds exclusively!

10. A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire– I’ve had mixed success with Maguire as an author, but I’m eager to see what he does with one of my favorite fairy tales, The Wild Swans set in 1960s NYC.

Top Ten Tueday: Anticipated Releases for the 2nd Half of 2020

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

ttt-new

June 30: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

These are obviously in addition to my most anticipated releases for the rest of the summer. 

81d81zgib6l._ac_uy218_1.Majesty: American Royals II by Katharine McGee: September 1, 2020. I just finished American Royals. It was a soap opera that imagined an America if George Washington had been king instead of president, and his descendants had inherited the throne. It was totally trashy but sort of the mindless thing I needed at the moment. This is the sequel. I’m sure in the coming months there will be a time that I need another mindless, trashy soap opera.

 

81d6gx6rjrl._ac_uy218_2.One By One by Ruth Ware: September 8, 2020. Though I find her work rather hit or miss (loved The Death of Mrs. Westaway, didn’t like The Lying Game, liked In A Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10), I do enjoy Ware’s writing enough to be eager to read her new book.

 

 

 

a1uwt8ehugl._ac_uy218_3. The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett: September 15, 2020. Though I suppose I should finish the Kingsbridge  trilogy  (I still need to read Column of Fire) before I read the prequel

 

 

 

 

81fhfpzakal._ac_uy218_4. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: September 15, 2020. In spite of some of my issues with Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m really eager to read more  from Susanna Clarke.

 

 

 

91flh6gam7l._ac_uy218_5. Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman: October 6, 2020. Since I loved Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, I’m eager to read the next prequel.

 

 

 

91wiogj29kl._ac_uy218_6.The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow: October 13, 2020: I’ve actually never read anything by this author but the premise of this really intrigues me, so I’ll give it a try.

 

 

 

71fofu2w2gl._ac_uy218_7. Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz– November 10, 2020 I’ve been liking Horowitz’s rather innovative whodunnits, so I’m eager for a new one.

 

 

 

81h9usxhkl._ac_uy218_8. The  Midnight Library by Matt Haig– This is just another book where I really like the premise: a book for the life you lived and  one for the life you could have lived.