Monday, February 12, 2018

2017 Book of the Year: Meet the Challengers


My apologies beforehand, as this is a bit of a lengthy post.

I'm getting ready to start moving through the bracket to find my 2017 Book of the Year. The bracket is randomized and loaded, all ready for the slew of face offs that await. But first, a little bit of introduction to the books that make up all the fun.

You won't find any individual opinions on the books here, other than my official ratings. I'll be saving my personal thoughts for later posts as each book takes on a competitor. This is just to get your feet wet...maybe pique your interest in some potential TBR pile adds.

Here's the starting bracket. I'll be introducing them in order by side of the bracket, left then right, top to bottom.

And here we go...

Left Side Bracket

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore


Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows-the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family's show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it's a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace's life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.


The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg


Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 stars (3 stars on Goodreads because they refuse to give me 1/2 star options)

The last book in the Paper Magician trilogy.

Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own — an ability long thought impossible.

While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.


The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg


Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg


Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

The second book in the Paper Magician series.

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.


The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver


Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

The charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a 3-year-old native-American little girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.


Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

A 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.


Slade House by David Mitchell


Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars

I highly recommend reading Slade House without knowing anything about it. Seriously. I read this one while going in nearly blind on the synopsis and it worked out really well. I liked the use of multiple narrators and found myself quite enjoying a book that comes from a genre I rarely venture towards.

But...if you insist on having a bit more background...

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late. . . 


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green


Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun--but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.



The Girl Without a Name by Sandra Block


Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 3 stars

In what passes for an ordinary day in a psych ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is stumped when a highly unusual case arrives. A young African American girl, found wandering the streets of Buffalo in a catatonic state, is brought in by police. No one has come forward to claim her, and all leads have been exhausted, so Zoe's treatment is the last hope to discover the girl's identity.

When drugs prove ineffective and medical science seems to be failing, Zoe takes matters into her own hands to track down Jane Doe's family and piece together their checkered history. As she unearths their secrets, she finds that monsters hide where they are least expected. And now she must solve the mystery before it is too late. Because someone wants to make sure this young girl never remembers.


Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan


Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor
Rating: 3 stars

Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children - everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”).


It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han


Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

The second book in the Summer trilogy.

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

When, in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.


The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan


Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. But can she write her own happy-ever-after?

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. 

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.


Right Side Bracket

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green



Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.



The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han


Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars (Shaking my fist at Goodreads again.)

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


The Lauras by Sara Taylor


Genre: Fiction (listed as contemporary, but I feel it could easily fall into YA)
Rating: 3.5 stars

I didn't realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong. As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she d lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn't forget the home we d left behind, couldn't deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business. 

This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex s mother s life, each new state prompting stories and secrets. Together they trace back through a life of struggle and adventure to put to rest unfinished business, to heal old wounds and to search out lost friends. This is an extraordinary story of a life; a stunning exploration of identity and an authentic study of the relationship between a mother and her child.


We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 1 star

The Freeman family--Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie--have been invited to the Toneybee Institute to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family. But when Charlotte discovers the truth about the institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past invade the present in devious ways.  


Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs


Genre: YA Fiction; Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

The conclusion of the Miss Peregrine trilogy.

As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.


Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko


Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution.
Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions -- despair.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay


Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 stars

Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie's birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island , where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they'd returned to the island--over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island's haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Trapped in the wake of a family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts - as a son, a husband, a brother and a father - Antoine Rey will soon learn the shocking truth about his family and himself.


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Genre: Non-Fiction; Self Help
Rating: 4 stars

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy. 


Hollow City by Ransom Riggs


Genre: YA Fiction; Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

The second book in the Miss Peregrine trilogy.

Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom.

Hollow City draws readers into a richly imagined world of telepathy and time loops, of sideshows and shapeshifters - a world populated with adult "peculiars", murderous wights, and a bizarre menagerie of uncanny animals. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.


Snow Flower & the Secret Fan by Lisa See


Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4 stars

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.


We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. 


And there you have it! Twenty-six competitors all wanting to win the title of my 2017 Book of the Year. I'm keeping things a bit more interesting this year, as I won't be referring back to my official ratings as I progress through the bracket. Instead, I'll be relying on my memory and my gut. Why? Well...I discovered at some point in the year that I am not always consistent with my ratings, specifically in the 3.5-4.5 star range. Sometimes I am a bit more lenient than others. So...we're leveling the playing field just a bit.

What do you think of the competitors? Have your predictions for the final four? Or maybe you already think you've picked out my number one read... We'll have to see. Half of the contenders get the ax in the next post. Are you ready for some heartbreak?

Oh...and this year...I don't know the winner ahead of time. It will be a surprise for me as well.

Doing your own Book of the Year bracket? Link up to your introductory post below so I can check out your competitors!


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2017 Book of the Year: Opening Bracket


Each year, I review the books I read in the year prior by pitting them against each other in a round-by-round March Madness style elimination. I'm a little late on the get go with this year since January has traditionally been the month for my Book of the Year Bracket Challenge, but I'd say being off by a week isn't too shabby.

I'm pretty happy to say that I did better in 2017 than 2016, managing to read twenty-eight books instead of the previous paltry eighteen. This means I can utilize the thirty-two slot bracket with a few minor tweaks. First off, I eliminated two books that are non-fiction parenting manuals. They just aren't ones that will fit with this mission. Of the remaining twenty-six challengers, twenty-four are fiction and two are non-fiction. Included in the fiction mix are fourteen books I would consider young adult fiction, four historical fiction, and...oddly for me, one horror. The remaining five are general fiction.

Next, I had twenty-six books and thirty-two slots. That means that there will be six wildcard slots...books that will automatically win their first round through the brackets. In order to make this fair, I randomized the bracket.

As a result of this randomization, book numbers 6, 11, 13, 16, 18, and 24 will automatically win their first brackets. The numbering order of the books was determined by the order in which I read them.

Filling in the books to their respective slots, here's where this year's Book of the Year Bracket Challenge begins:

Next up, we'll meet the challengers. But wait...want to join along?

1. Write a post on your blog declaring your intent to join this year's challenge. Not a blogger? Post to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Your bracket updates can be posted as photos on those platforms. Help me to get the word out and get more bloggers involved. The official hashtag for this year's challenge is #BOTY2017. The more the merrier!

Feel free to take the blurb below and add it to your post in order to link back to this sign-up page and help others find the right place to start.
The Book of the Year Bracket Challenge is a blogging challenge open to all reading bloggers and operated by Elle at Erratic Project Junkie.  Participants track the books they read in a year and then enter those books into an NCAA style bracket of any size and in any order they choose. During Feburary of 2018, participating bloggers will begin working through their brackets, eliminating books and picking champions with the ultimate goal of naming their favorite book (book of the year) for 2017. 
2. Grab your list of books read between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.

3. Find a bracket that fits the number of books you read during the year. Brackets may exist in any of the following book counts: 8, 16, 32, 64, etc. You decide the parameters for how a book gains entry into your bracket and which position in the bracket they start in. Randomize your bracket or simply enter them in the order you read them. Pair up books based on their ratings, their publishing dates, or their number of pages. Want to pre-eliminate books based on lower ratings? Want to utilize Wild Card slots like I did this year? It's all up to personal preference. 

Want to participate, but not sure how to make a bracket? Don't worry! I have some for you. Don't let the fear of the bracket be the reason you don't participate!

4. Fill up your bracket! Any books are eligible for this challenge as long as you read them between January 1,2017 and December 31, 2017. Graphic novels and audio books are also welcome. It's kind of like the Choose Your Own Adventure of book challenges.

5. Participate in bracket elimination posts. Due to my somewhat erratic life and the fact that I currently post based on when my child takes decent naps, there is no set posting schedule this year. The only goal is to have the winner announced no later than February 28, 2018. Feel free to follow along with my schedule or create your own. Be sure to link your eliminations to mine by posting in the comments of my posts so that I and other participants can follow.

6. Start preparing for next year!  In order to help you keep track of the books you've read, consider getting an account over at Goodreads and adding yourself to their 2018 Reading Challenge. Once again, any books are eligible for this challenge as long as you read them between January 1,2018 and December 31, 2018. 

I'll see you next time with a run down of the books that made my bracket this year. Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been on my TBR the Longest

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event originated in 2010 by The Broke and the Bookish and operated as of January 2018 by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born out of a love for lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bloggers together. Each week a new Top Ten topic is posted. After that, it's bloggers UNITE! Participate with your own Top Ten post, have fun, and get to know your fellow bloggers.

This Week's Topic:

Top Ten Books That Have Been on my TBR List the Longest and I Still Haven't Read

My TBR is monumentous. Seriously. It should be legendary, but really it's more just, well...embarrassing. I slowly whittle books off it each year, but (inevitably) I'm pretty sure I add more than I remove. There are just too many good options...or at least options that I perceive as good and/or worth my time in the beginning. 

Some poor books have landed themselves on my official TBR (in Goodreads) for a ridiculous amount of time. This was also inevitable, I suppose. These ten have been unlucky enough to have resided there the longest...


About half of today's list consists of classics that I have been remiss about reading. Like a couple of later entries, Of Mice and Men is one you would have thought I would have read in either high school or college, but somehow my English courses slacked in their assignment of Steinbeck and I didn't manage to motivate myself to grab it off the shelf of my own accord.



This one actually landed on my list when I was in high school. It was during a phase when I also developed an interest in Upton Sinclair. Ah, stereotypical literary associations. I really do want to read this one, somehow I just keep putting it off. 




The Kite Runner ran in my literary circles for a while. It seemed like I was hearing about it left and right. I struggle finding the motivation on this one. It's well-reviewed and I typically enjoy historical fiction, but for some reason, I just can't find the desire. If you've read this one, please let me know your thoughts. I could use a bit of encouragement if you found it enjoyable and, if you didn't...well...then maybe I can feel better about ignoring it.




Sense and Sensibility is one of only two Austen novels that I have yet to read. Emma has also managed to remain untouched. I have zero reasoning for this one. I actually enjoy Austen's work quite a bit.



Another high school and college mishap. How I never came across Brave New World in a syllabus is beyond me. Given my predilection for dystopian fiction a few years ago (Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, Delirium), you would have thought this one would have come up. It's an especially atrocious oversight if you also consider that I've read 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale twice each. Shameful.




There was a junior high phase wherein I read nearly nothing but Stephen King and Anne Rice novels. And yet...one of King's most famous novels escaped my eyes. Hmm. Maybe I have an internal freezer tendency like Joey from Friends. It? Read it. Cujo? Read it. Christine? Four Past Midnight? All read. The Dark Tower? Half the series. And yet...The Shining sits without even having the cover cracked open. Seriously, some of these entries are just embarrassing. I feel like I'm losing street cred here.




One of two movie motivated additions to the TBR. Yes...I'm a sucker for The Notebook. It's just a good, sappy, girly movie. I think some of the avoidance on this one has been the result of my historic issue with book/movie combinations. It typically goes in one of two ways: (1) I read the book first and the movie is just disappointing in it's lack of following the narrative or (2) I watch the movie first and then the book is somewhat ruined for me and I just can't find a love for it. I guess I just don't want this one to be sullied.



The avoidance of The Princess Bride follows the same logic as The Notebook. I mean, this is a classic...both in movie and book form. I'm nervous to meet the potential that reading the book could tarnish a childhood favorite.



This one is the one book on this list that I honestly can't remember. I mean, I recognize the title and I have vague memories of thinking I should read it, but I don't remember what motivated me in that direction. And...it's probably the one book on the list that I feel the least regret for avoiding. It just gives me a bit of a meh factor. Maybe that's a sign that it shouldn't be on the TBR after all. Ugh. Let's be honest though, I won't remove it. I don't know that I've ever removed a book from the TBR without at least and attempt at reading it.




The Confession by John Grisham may be one of the saddest entries on the list. You see, once upon a time, I was a Grisham aficionado. I bought his novels as soon as they came out in paperback (I was young and cheap...budgets are real, my friends) and devoured one after another. He was by far my favorite author and I could hardly wait for the next published read. And then...somewhere around The King of Torts, I just stopped. I picked up a couple of his pieces beyond that over the years, but not in the voracious way I had read his previous works. There really was no reason for this shift, just one of those moments when reading tastes change, I suppose. I'm still interested in his work. A Time to Kill still ranks up amongst my favorite reads. And yet, here The Confession sits...just gathering TBR dust.


What about you? Have any of my TBR veterans landed on your list as well? How about personal favorites? I'll take any motivation you'd like to give.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bout of Books 21 Wrap Up & Other Updates...

Bout of Books

I have returned from my vacation and settled back into some kind of a "normal" routine. I'll be quick to admit that this normal isn't always the most productive. I've found that, even though second trimester does give back a bit of energy, being pregnant and chasing after a newly mobile 10-month-old all day tends to exhaust me on a regular basis. The boy, in the meantime, is relentless. He has escaped my attempt at "baby jail" and roams the floor relentlessly. 

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He has taken to making a beeline for the pets' water dish, so I've had to relocate it to the kitchen counter when he's toddling about. It only took him dumping the entire thing out four or five times before I finally made that adjustment. What can I say, I'm quick.

Luckily, he does allow me some form of a nap period every day (anywhere between 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 hours) to get some of my crap together. It's the only way this house doesn't descend completely into chaos during the day.

Before I left, I mentioned that I would still be somewhat participating in Bout of Books 21, despite my absence. I made these rather lackluster goals before escaping town:

Read-a-Thon Goals

1. Read at least 3 out of the 7 days.
2. Read for a total of at least 90 minutes.
3. Read at least 100 pages.
4. Complete at least 1 book.

I'm happy to say that I squashed those goals just fine. In fact, I managed to complete goals 2-4 during the plane trip out. It's not anything magical or astounding, but at least I made some progress, right?

So...what's next?

I've been working on updating my reading challenge pages and it's a job that's nearly done. In the upcoming days, I'll be posting a new 101 in 1001 as well as listing the read-a-thons I plan on taking part in for the remainder of 2018.

And then...it's time for the challenge!


For the past few years, I've posted my Book of the Year Bracket Challenge as a means of sharing my favorite read from the prior year. And this year...it's back! I'll be getting it underway in the next couple of days. Want to join me? Stay tuned for my introductory post, where I'll be providing access to some blank brackets for your own use.

I read a good smattering of books in 2017. I'm looking forward to the head-to-head competition this challenge allows. It's always fun for me and sometimes yields some unexpected and interesting literary face-offs. I'm excited to see what book comes out as the proud winner.

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