Tackling the TBR #31

My 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 on my list. Perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!
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The last time I did this type of post was September 20, 2021. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 813 books. Today it has 850 (I honestly have no idea how I added that many so quickly…oops). I have gone through 340 books.

Temptation Rag#341.  Temptation Rag by Elizabeth Huthcison Bernard

Synopsis: The world of ragtime is the backdrop for a remarkable story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness. Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the poor but talented Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. Mike abandons his concert career to become “Ragtime King of the World.” But as his professional rivalry with the self-proclaimed Originator of Ragtime, Ben Harney, escalates into obsession, he sinks deeper into a life of self-indulgence and moral depravity. May, trapped in an abusive marriage arranged by her parents, struggles to find freedom through her poetry, involvement in the women’s suffrage movement, and yet another forbidden relationship, this one possibly more scandalous than the first. Both May and Mike continue to conceal painful truths until a chance meeting offers the opportunity to make a life-changing choice. From vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early African American musical theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly fictionalized historical saga.

Comments: I love stories that feature music as a predominate theme or element to move the story forward. Historical fiction is also one of my favorite genres. However, this one sounds a bit too blunt and emotionally charged for my preference. I can see why I added it, but I don’t think I am ever actually going to read it.

Decision: Remove

Between Two Shores#342.  Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Synopsis: The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral in a world tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the Seven Years’ War against her wishes when her British ex-fiancé, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel claims he has information that could help end the war, and he asks Catherine to help him escape.

Peace appeals to Catherine, even if helping the man who broke her heart does not. But New France is starving, and she and her loved ones may not survive another winter of conflict-induced famine. When the dangers of war arrive on her doorstep, Cathering and Samuel flee by river toward the epicenter of the battle between England and France. She and Samuel may impact history, but she fears the ultimate cost will be higher than she can bear. 

Comments: I’m intrigued!

Decision: Keep

Happiness Below#343.  Happiness Below by Erika Matthews

Synopsis: After his mother’s death, Josiah Brannon is convinced that God is not love. Abigail Lawton has only one dream: to preserve the happy cohesiveness of her rapidly-changing family life. As their paths intersect time and again amidst earthly life’s sobering challenges, how can two ordinary lives discover true happiness below?

Comments: This book sounds both sad and overly simplistic. Granted, it’s a short story, so simplicity is expected, but I still think I’ll pass.

Decision: Remove

Anna Karenina#344.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Synopsis: Acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel, Anna Karenina provides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia [circa 1877] and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in all of literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature – with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author’s own views and convictions.

Comments: This one is sticking around my TBR for the mere fact that it is such a highly acclaimed classic. It doesn’t honestly sound all that great, but some day I will actually read it and see if it lives up to the hype.

Decision: Keep

The Glass Menagerie#345.  The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Synopsis: Abandoned by her husband, Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by ‘gentleman callers’. Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother’s suffocating embrace, while Laura, her daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories.

Comments: I know that Tennessee Williams is known for being ‘realistic’ and ‘modern’ and rather melancholy, but this just sounds…unhelpful all the way around.

Decision: Remove

Anthem#346.  Anthem by Ayn Rand

Synopsis: In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him–a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd–to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great “we” reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word–“I.”

Comments: I know there are a lot of mixed thoughts on the ideology of this book, but it truly sounds fascinating and eventually I do want to read it. It probably would have been good/interesting to read this when I read Brave New World.

Decision: Keep

The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess---in Her Own Words#347.  The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

Synopsis: Consuelo Vanderbilt was young, beautiful, and heir to a vast fortune. She was also in love with an American suitor when her mother chose instead for her to marry an English Duke. She sailed to England as the Duchess of Marlborough in 1895 and took up residence in her new home—Blenheim Palace. She was the real American heiress who lived long before Downton Abbey’s Lady Grantham arrived.

Mme. Balsan is an unsnobbish and amused observer of the intricate hierarchy both upstairs and downstairs and a revealing witness to the glittering balls, huge weekend parties, and major state occasions she attended or hosted chronicling her encounters with every important figure of the day—from Queen Victoria, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas and the young Winston Churchill.

Comments: I really want to read this memoir someday, but none of the libraries near me have it, and it’s not enough of a priority to buy it yet. Someday, maybe.

Decision: Keep

Gods and Kings (Chronicles of the Kings, #1)#348.  Gods and Kings (Chronicles of the Kings #1) by Lynn Austin

Synopsis: Though born the second son of King Ahaz, Hezekiah is not protected from his father’s perverted attempts to gain the favor of the idol Molech. Terrified and powerless at the foot of Molech’s altar, Hezekiah encounters for the first time the one true God of his royal ancestry, Yahweh.

But his journey to the Holy One is riddled by influence from an assortment of men: Zechariah, a grandfather of noble standing who has fallen into drunkenness; Uriah, the High Priest whose lust for power forces him to gamble the faith he proclaims; and Shebna, the Egyptian intellectual who guides Hezekiah’s instruction.

For the two women who love Hezekiah, the meaning of love–and its sacrificial essence–will direct the course of their lives and help shape the young prince’s future.

Comments: Biblical fiction is such a unique genre. Like historical fiction, you know where the big picture is going, but the details along the way could be anything. If my TBR list weren’t so long already, I think I would leave this book on it, but as it is I just don’t think the scandalous kingdom aspect is something I would really enjoy.

Decision: Remove

Within These Lines#349.  Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Synopsis: Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

Comments: I’m sure this is powerful, but it sounds too blue for my taste.

Decision: Remove

Love Amid The Ashes#350.  Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews

Synopsis: Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job’s life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family? Through painstaking research and a writer’s creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau’s tribe and Jacob’s daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.

Comments: This book is somewhat a placeholder to remind me that I want to read anything by Mesu Andrews. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this Christian author and her books, but I’ve never taken the time to read any of them myself. Perhaps someday soon I will start with this book.

Decision: Keep

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Ending number of books on TBR list: 845

I truly did not expect to look at my TBR shelf on Goodreads and find it up to 850 this time! It must be all of the children’s books that I am reading for class introducing me to great authors and interesting series. And, the more children’s books I read, the more I wonder why I stopped reading these books. Just because I can appreciate adult books doesn’t mean that I have to exclusively read them, especially when there are so many fun middle grade books out there!

But I digress. Did anything from today’s list catch your eye? There were a few classics this time – have you read these or any of the other books?

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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