Tackling the TBR 22.18

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 September 19. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 842 books. Today it has 870 (there were a lot of good recommendations during Five Fall Favorites 😂). I have gone through 580 books.

#581. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

The Zookeeper's WifeSynopsis: When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes. With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.

Comments: I’m sure this sounds like a great book, but I don’t think I could handle it.

Decision: Remove

#582. The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson

The Happy CamperSynopsis: Home is the place to heal, right? At least, that’s what Dillon Michaels is hoping as she leaves her disappointing career and nonstarter love life behind to help her grieving and aging grandfather on his small Oregon farm. The only problem? Her eccentric mother beat her there and has taken over Dillon’s old room. After a few nights sleeping on a sagging sofa, Dillon is ready to give up, until she receives an unlikely gift–her grandfather’s run-down vintage camp trailer, which she quickly resolves to restore with the help of Jordan Atwood, the handsome owner of the local hardware store.

But just when things are finally beginning to run smoothly, Dillon’s noncommittal ex-boyfriend shows up with roses . . . and a ring.

Comments: Melody Carlson is an author whose books I usually enjoy, so this looks promising.

Decision: Keep

#583. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

The Great DivorceSynopsis: C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment, Lewis’s revolutionary idea in the The Great Divorce is that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis’ The Great Divorce will change the way we think about good and evil.

Comments: There are actually several C.S. Lewis books on my list here, but I’m only including specifically mentioning the first because they are all books I hope to read eventually.

Decision: Keep

#584. Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischoff

Sons of Blackbird Mountain (Blackbird Mountain, #1)Synopsis: After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar place?

Comments: It’s book 2 in this series that I really wanted to read when I came across it, but I added book 1 because I dislike jumping into the middle of a series. Unfortunately, this book sounds pretty unappealing to me.

Decision: Remove

#585. American Hippopotamus by Jon Mooallem

American HippopotamusSynopsis: In 1910, the United States—its population exploding, its frontier all but exhausted—was in the throes of a serious meat shortage. But a small and industrious group of thinkers stepped forward with an answer, a bold idea being endorsed by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times. Their plan: to import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them.

The only thing stranger than the hippo idea itself was the partnership promoting it. At its center were two hard-bitten spies: Frederick Russell Burnham, a superhumanly competent frontiersman, freelance adventurer, and fervent optimist about America’s future—Burnham would be the inspiration for both the Boy Scouts and Indiana Jones—and Fritz Duquesne, a.k.a. the Black Panther, a virtuoso con man and cynical saboteur who believed only in his own glorification and revenge. Burnham and Duquesne had very recently been sworn enemies under orders to assassinate each other. They’d soon be enemies again. But for one brief and shining moment they joined behind a common cause: transforming America into a nation of hippopotamus ranchers.

Comments: I can’t remember who recommended this book to me, but it sounds both fascinating and strange. Unfortunately, most of the reviews sound like it’s not actually about the hippos all that much, which I would find frustrating.

Decision: Remove

#586. Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Daughter of RomeSynopsis: When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

Comments: I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t read more of Afshar’s books yet. Someday, I definitely hope to!

Decision: Keep

#587. Romanov by Nadine Brandes

RomanovSynopsis: Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other

Comments: Even though I usually don’t like fantasy books, especially ones with a strong magic element, I’m really intrigued by this one!

Decision: Keep

#588.  Follow the Dawn by Rachelle Rea Cobb

Follow the DawnSynopsis: Anna Emory grew up the invisible, shy younger sister, and she prefers it that way. But when her father attempts to arrange an unsavory marriage, Anna learns that courage is sometimes found in adversity. Then she meets a boy and his father struggling in their relationship, and they tip her quiet world upside down.

Captain Mathieu Tudder has run from responsibility, entrusting his young son’s care to another and devoting his Sea Beggar ship to the Dutch Revolution. After that cause fails, Tudder returns to England for the son he left behind. But his son seems to have given his heart to a unknown and quiet lady—a woman who reminds him of all he’s ever loved and lost.

Will these two hearts—the battle-scarred and the broken—ever find true freedom?

Comments: Probably this would be a somewhat interesting read – the characters sound interesting, at least – but ultimately I just don’t think it would by my cup of tea.

Decision: Remove

#589. Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart by Dion Leonard

Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big HeartSynopsis: Finding Gobi is the miraculous tale of Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner who crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 155-mile race through the Gobi Desert in China. The lovable pup, who would later earn the name Gobi, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the Tian Shan Mountains, across massive sand dunes, through yurt villages and the black sands of the Gobi Desert, keeping pace with him for 77 miles.

As Dion witnessed the incredible determination and heart of this small animal, he found his own heart undergoing a change as well.  Whereas in the past these races were all about winning and being the best, his goal now was to make sure he and Gobi’s friendship continued well after the finish line.  He found himself letting Gobi sleep in his tent at night, giving her food and water out of his own limited supply, and carrying her across numerous rivers, even when he knew it would mean putting him behind in the race, or worse, prevent him from finishing at all. 

Comments: Okay, the dog is adorable, but I don’t think I could make it through the whole story. Especially since the reviews say that this is more about the author’s life than his interaction with the dog.

Decision: Remove

#590. The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

The Grace Kelly DressSynopsis: In Paris, 1958, Grace Kelly’s royal wedding dress is still all the rage in fashion circles. Rose, a seamstress at a famous atelier, has just been entrusted with sewing another gown in its image. An orphan, she needs her job to survive. But when Rose finds herself in love with the bride’s handsome brother, she must decide what matters most: love or security.

Sixty years later, Rocky is thrilled to be marrying the love of her life. He truly is her perfect fit. But there’s just one problem: her family’s heirloom wedding dress isn’t. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother’s heart. What she doesn’t know is why her mother is so set on the dress—or about the shocking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she prepared to wear the dress herself. As the wedding day approaches, the mother-daughter pair will finally confront long-buried heartaches, and it might just be the dress that brings them closer than ever.

Comments: Despite a fair dose of hesitation, I’m hooked by this synopsis!

Decision: Keep

reviews-from-the-stacks-headers

Ending number of books on TBR list: 865

Have you added anything to your TBR recently, either physically or on Goodreads?

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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