My written TBR (to be read) list has gotten nearly out of hand. Therefore, I have decided to do a post featuring ten books from it approximately every other week. As I go through the list, I will evaluate each book and decide whether or not it still belongs. Who knows, perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!
The last time I did this type of post was August 9, 2021. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 812 books. Today it has 812 (that’s a first!). I have gone through 300 books.
#301. Redemption’s Edge (Redemption Mountain #1) by Shirleen Davies
Synopsis: Dax Pelletier is ready for a new life, far away from the one he left behind in Savannah following the South’s devastating defeat in the Civil War. The ex-Confederate general wants nothing more to do with commanding men and confronting the tough truths of leadership.
Rachel Davenport possesses skills unlike those of her Boston socialite peers—skills honed as a nurse in field hospitals during the Civil War. Eschewing her northeastern suitors and changed by the carnage she’s seen, Rachel decides to accept her uncle’s invitation to assist him at his clinic in the dangerous and wild frontier of Montana.
The small town of Splendor is what Rachel needs after life in a large city. In a few short months, she’s grown to love the people as well as the majestic beauty of the untamed frontier. She’s settled into a life unlike any she has ever thought possible.
Comments: If I’m remembering correctly, I think I grabbed this as an ebook when I first had Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t sound like my taste anymore.
#302. Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys
Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life — until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?
Comments: Intriguing concept, but this book sounds more heart-wrenching than I prefer to read.
#303. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Synopsis: A gargantuan, mind-altering tragi-comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America.
Set in an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.
Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human—and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.
Comments: A friend recommended this book to me after I read Cloud Atlas. I’ve heard great things about it, but I don’t think I am the right reader for this book.
#304. You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Synopsis: Emma Healy has grown used to being the only ordinary one in her rather extraordinary family. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she realizes why she never felt quite whole. She sets off on a trip to visit her brother’s grave. Peter Finnegan, her neighbor, comes along for the ride. Emma thinks they can’t possibly have anything in common, but with each passing mile, they find themselves learning more and more about themselves and each other.
Comments: Jennifer E. Smith is one of my favorite feel-good authors. This book doesn’t sound nearly as lighthearted as the others I’ve read by her, but I still want to give it a read someday.
#305. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Synopsis: It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Comments: I started listening to this once, but I didn’t make it past the first few chapters. The premise sounds fascinating but somehow the book itself doesn’t hold my attention. I also haven’t seen the movie, which I think I might enjoy more than the book.
#306. Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
Synopsis: It all started with a mysterious and seemingly innocent postcard, but from that point nothing was to remain the same in the life of Griffin Moss, a quiet, solitary artist living in London. His logical, methodical world was suddenly turned upside down by a strangely exotic woman living on a tropical island thousands of miles away. Who is Sabine? How can she “see” what Griffin is painting when they have never met? Is she a long-lost twin? A clairvoyant? Or a malevolent angel? Are we witnessing the flowering of a magical relationship or a descent into madness?
This stunning visual novel unfolds in a series of postcards and letters, all brilliantly illustrated with whimsical designs, bizarre creatures, and darkly imagined landscapes. Inside the book, Griffin and Sabine’s letters are to be found nestling in their envelopes, permitting the reader to examine the intimate correspondence of these inexplicably linked strangers. This truly innovative novel combines a strangely fascinating story with lush artwork in an altogether original format.
Comments: This is another “non-traditional” novel, the format of which has drawn me in but the story of which does not sound interesting in the least. If it were to fall into my lap I think I would read this book, but if it does not, then I doubt I will ever end up seeking it out.
#307. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Synopsis: The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story—of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.
Comments: I read a good-sized portion of this book last year, but decided to stop reading when school started. It’s not a fun book, despite how interactive it is. Actually, I was kind of hating the story, but it’s so compelling that I still desperately want to know what happens in the end.
#308. The Light Over London by Julia Kelly
Synopsis: It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.
In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.
Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.
Comments: This sounds a lot like the books I’ve enjoyed by Sarah Sundin.
#309. The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson
Synopsis: Charlie Ryland has a secret. She may seem like your average high school sophomore—but she’s just really good at pretending.
Because outside of school Charlie spends all her waking hours training to become one of the best gymnasts in the world. And it’s not easy flying under the radar when you’re aiming for Olympic gold…especially when an irresistible guy comes along and threatens to throw your whole world off balance.
Comments: This is a book I have wanted to read for years – since maybe two summer Olympic seasons ago?
#310. The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Synopsis: From the dramatic redbrick façade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.
Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.
Comments: A few years ago I was greatly disappointed by Davis’ earlier book The Dollhouse. That book left such a bad taste in my mouth that I don’t think I could ever read anything else by her.
Ending number of books on TBR list: 806
I didn’t intend to be more ruthless than usual this time, but it is a good feeling to see my list going down by more than just one or two books at a time.
Have you read any of the books on this week’s list?
Until the next chapter,