Tackling the TBR #33: Olympic Gymnastics, Historical Romances, & Biblical Fiction

It has become apparent that 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. Who knows, perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!reviews-from-the-stacks-headers

The last time I did this type of post was November 15, 2021. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 871 books. Today it has 896. That’s getting dangerously high, despite my efforts. I have gone through 360 books.

#361. I Got This: to Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez

I Got This: To Gold and BeyondSynopsis: At sixteen years old, Laurie Hernandez has already made many of her dreams come true—and yet it’s only the beginning for this highly accomplished athlete. A Latina Jersey girl, Laurie saw her life take a dramatic turn last summer when she was chosen to be a part of the 2016 US Olympic gymnastics team. After winning gold in Rio as part of the Final Five, Laurie also earned an individual silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. Nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her wide-eyed and animated expressions, Laurie continued to dance her way into everyone’s hearts while competing on the hit reality TV show Dancing with the Stars, where she was the youngest-ever winner of the Mirrorball Trophy

Poignant and funny, Laurie’s story is about growing up with the dream of becoming an Olympian and what it took to win gold. She talks about her loving family, her rigorous training, her intense sacrifices, and her amazing triumphs. Be prepared to fall in love with and be mesmerized by America’s newest sweetheart all over again.

Comments: I actually bought this book by accident on my Kindle a few years ago. It does sound like one I will enjoy reading, I just thought I was clicking to see more information instead of to purchase! Since I do own it though, I will eventually read it.

Decision: Keep

#362. In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

In the Neighborhood of TrueSynopsis: After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

Comments: How many YA books have been written on this trope, and how did this one end up on my TBR?

Decision: Remove

#363. The Art of Lent: A Painting a Day from Ash Wednesday to Easter by Wendy Beckett

The Art of Lent: A Painting a Day from Ash Wednesday to EasterSynopsis: Illustrated in full color with over forty famous and lesser-known masterpieces of Western art, this beautiful book will lead you into a deeply prayerful response to all that these paintings convey to the discerning eye.

“For those who want to appreciate the spirituality behind some of the world’s greatest works of art, this book will be hugely inspiring – not only during Lent but at any time of the year.”- Dr Janina Ramirez, art historian and broadcaster

Comments: This looks pretty cool actually, but my library doesn’t have it and I’m not interested enough to buy a copy of my own before reading it.

Decision: Remove

#364. The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

The Mayflower Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower, #1) Synopsis: Mary Elizabeth Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 alongside her father and brother as Separatists seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony.

The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land may be no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary Elizabeth survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

Comments: If I remember correctly, I added this book to my TBR because I wanted to read a later book in the series (Daughters of the Mayflower). However, I cannot remember which book it was, and none of the first few sound particularly interesting.

Decision: Remove 

#365. Out of the Easy by Ruta Seprtys

Out of the EasySynopsis: It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

Comments: I’ve heard a lot about this author but have yet to read any of her books. I’m not going to start with this one.

Decision: Remove

#366. A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh by Carolyn Miller

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #1)Synopsis: As the daughter of Viscount Aynsley, Caroline Hatherleigh knows every rule of society–and she’s always followed them precisely. But when she visits south Devonshire and encounters a fossil-hunting scientist and his sister, her assumptions about what is right are shaken. Questions she has never considered about the importance of friendship and faith suddenly confront her–and her comfortable understanding about how the world works is thrown off balance. What if God wants to be the center of her life, rather than merely a social obligation?

Gideon Kirby loves science, and hunting down proof of past lives is a joy he won’t willingly give up. But his scientific leanings are being challenged both by his personal beliefs and by local smugglers in the Devonshire countryside. And every day his sister’s illness becomes more desperate, her care growing more demanding. Adding a viscount’s daughter to the mix is a complication Gideon never expected–especially since he must stay far away from this young woman he’s falling for in order to protect his beloved sister’s secret.

When a mysterious stranger visits the village, that secret will be exposed, no matter how Gideon fights. Then tragedy strikes in a smugglers’ cave. And the threat of scandal may lead to broken hearts and passionless propriety. Will the shaky bond these two have nurtured be strong enough to overcome their differences–or will the trust they’ve withheld from each other tear three lives apart?

Comments: Despite being billed as a Regency romance, this book sounds really fun and interesting! 

Decision: Keep

#367. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

All's Fair in Love and CupcakesSynopsis: Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single. But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary…and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself, her, is suddenly in danger of slipping away. The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Comments: This sounds like a fun Hallmark movie as a book, and I could really go for that kind of fluff reading these days. Unfortunately, my library does not have a copy, but I think I’ll keep it on my list a while anyways.

Decision: Keep

#368. Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Glory RoadSynopsis: At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she’s fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she’s really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who’s known her better than anyone and whom she hasn’t seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions–particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.

As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.

Comments: I’m not usually a fan of books that include divorce or protagonists who are divorced, and I don’t think the story would override my distaste this time.

Decision: Remove

#369. Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Elwell Hunt

Delilah: Treacherous Beauty (Dangerous Beauty, #3)Synopsis: Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone. When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her. She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself.

When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory. By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence. After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart. No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.

Comments: Unique concept, but not a compelling perspective for me.

Decision: Remove

#370.  Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Elwell Hunt

Esther: Royal Beauty (Dangerous Beauty, #1)Synopsis: When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart.

Comments: Esther’s is a powerful story, but I’m not drawn to this author’s account. I can see why I added it (years ago), but it’s not going to stick around. 

Decision: Remove

reviews-from-the-stacks-headers

Ending number of books on TBR list: 889

I would love to hear your thoughts on these books in the comments!

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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