Life is a bit insane right now, so posts are going to be infrequent for a minute. I thought it was time for another trip through my TBR shelf. Should be interesting this time because my birthday is in a week, so I am going to be taking notes for my usual bookshop buying trip!
This was originally created by Lost in a Story and seems like a good way to go through some of my TBR on Goodreads and see what is there and what I can get rid of or push me to start reading.
Links will be on the titles for the books Goodreads page. (I am going to do ten for this round of this tag).
It works like this:
- Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 or 15 or 20, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
- Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!
TBR Total – 247
Attrition of the Gods – P.G. Burns – Vague but still interesting. I like the idea of a force influencing all major things throughout time.
The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh – I have this book on my physical shelf. I want to read it because it sound interesting but I also am trying to not get into series at the moment. I am one of those people who has to finish a series once I start and I haven’t wanted to dedicate the time to a whole series yet.
The Achieved (The Archived #1) – Victoria Schwab – Another one I really want to read but again don’t have the time to get into a whole series but I do think I am going to read this one soon.
Broken Fate (Threads of the Moirae, #1) – Teenage Fates from mythology, I love the idea.
The Night Watch (Watch #1) – Sergei Lukyanenko – Sounds alright but generic, nothing is standing out as unique.
The King Must Die (Theseus #1) – Mary Renault – Sounds alright but hard to discern if it is supposed to be factual or fiction.
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – Jen Campbell – This sounds fun.
Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) – Pintip Dunn – Sounds like a YA version of Minority Report. I loved that movie so I am curious how this will be.
The Thirteenth Tale– Diane Setterfield – I got this book at a bookshop. I will pick it up someday soon.
How They Met, and Other Stories – David Levithan – I really like his storytelling and I like the idea of a various types of love stories in this collection.
Total TBR – 245
Didn’t do the greatest at removing this time but there are quite a few on this list I really want to get to soon.
Starr and her childhood friend Khalil make their way home from a party. The night takes a tragic turn when Khalil is shot and killed by a police officer. Starr is the only witness. Starr must decide how she wants to handle the situation. How she wants to speak out about what happened and who Khalil is as a person. She learns she has to use her voice, her weapon to make the changes that are necessary.
I have had this book sitting on my physical TBR shelf for a long time. I knew it was going to be a tough read, one that I had to be in the right mindset to read. It was just recently that I decided that I was in the right head space to be able to read this book and take in everything it was presenting.
Starr was a great narrator. I felt like I was close to her. I felt like I could easily understand her and her choices. We are presented with a young woman who is stuck in-between worlds. She lives in an impoverished neighborhood but goes to a wealthy private school. Her parents are making ends meets. They hold a devotion to their neighborhood and culture but also want to keep their children safe.
Starr states multiple times that she has to wear different masks depending on where she is. At her schools he has to be careful of how she speaks. She can’t use certain slang or a certain tone. She doesn’t want to be labeled as one type of person. She is very conscious of how she presents herself in that world.
At home she has to do the same thing. She is careful of what she says and how she acts, trying to not let out anything she talks about at school come out. She knows she has to be a certain person in this neighborhood too. She can’t be fully herself anywhere.
This was a tough part for me to read. She is always oscillating between different forms of herself. Reading about her trying to contain her emotions at school because she doesn’t want to be labeled as the “angry black girl,” was tough. I felt sympathy for her. No one, especially a kid, should have to always be watching themselves so people don’t label them as one way.
One of the things this book does so well is show you that there are so many different sides to a person and story. We have seen this story so many times in the news in the last few years. We always get the same way of interpreting the situation. The media gives us one story and doesn’t gives us the whole picture.
One of the things this book does so well is force to remember that you don’t know anyone in these stories. You don’t know these people and thus you do not get to pass judgement on them. A life is lost and that deserves to be respected. A few pictures do not tell a whole story. A few actions do not determine who a person is. What this book does is remind us that those who have been killed in these tragedies are human, just like anyone else. They deserve the same respect and dignity, period.
I also found the storyline with Hailey interesting. I know people who are similar to her. They make jokes, make comments not thinking about what they are saying. They think that if they don’t “mean” it, it doesn’t matter. They frame their actions through their own lens. They see their comments from their side but refuse to listen to the other side. They refuse to ask if what they said may hurt, refuse to see that they might have to change their thinking.
I thought this storyline was well done. You see Starr try so hard to make exceptions for this girl. You see Starr do all the work and finally realize that she doesn’t need to be the one doing the work. She doesn’t need to keep around a person who is narrow minded and refuses to realize that changing their thinking is needed.
There as nothing in this book that didn’t feel like it didn’t fit. It was a full story, it flowed well. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of this family’s life, watching as they navigate this complicated world. Their bound was strong and great to see. There was no forced happy endings. There was no forced ways of fixing the issues that weren’t realistic. You felt the connection between not only Starr and her family but also the neighborhood.
There nothing that did not work in this book. It was done so well.
I am white. I don’t live this life but I do work with kids who do. I work in an inner city at the schools. I hear these stories from their lips and this book helped me understand them even better. I gave this book five stars because it is one of those books that everyone needs to read.
“….people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.” (pg. 59)
“It is easier to find some crack than it is to find a good school around here.” (pg. 169)
(This line hit me hard. As someone working in after-school programming in these schools in order to try to help these type of situations this one really did hit hard).
“My bad. I didn’t know shoes determined somebody’s race.” (pg. 235)
“I wish people like them would stop thinking that people like me need saving.” (pg. 246)
“We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us.What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” (One of the main points of this whole book)
“They with a capital T. There’s Them and then there’s Us. Sometimes They look like Us and don’t realize They are Us.” (pg. 343)
Blue has found somewhere to belong. She has found friends that mean everything to her. They are getting closer and closer to find Glendower and waking him up. They are on the verge of making the ultimate discovery. There are just a few things in the way such as mysterious sleeping king’s daughters and a missing mother. Can Blue and her friends find a balance and end their hunt once and for all without losing themselves in the process?
Blue and Gansey’s growing relationship was one of my favorite aspect of this story. It is very subtle. There are no huge declarations of love or feelings. It is explored in a simple easy way throughout the story.
I am used to YA stories where the romance is overwhelming in the story. The characters are constantly thinking about each other. They are obsessing about if they should or should not end up together. You begin to wonder how they function thinking about anything or anyone else. For me, it always feels a bit unrealistic.
Here we saw how they became a couple without ever having this huge moment about it. It felt more real to me. They both know that their relationship can cause issues but there is no denying the way they found comfort in one another. I loved the way Gansey would anticipate the calls from Blue. We didn’t need him to go on and on about how important those calls were. We saw it and felt it right beside him.
I think this way of allowing the romance to grow organically let us concentrate on the rest of the stories and characters. It kept Blue and Gansey’s romance from taking over the story.
I also thought the addition of Gwenllian was fun. She was a good way to keep the plot moving and giving us more connection to the Glendower story. She is hilarious and I liked the way she talked about the world around her. I thought she gave the story and interesting perspective.
I still enjoyed the character growth throughout the story. I liked seeing Adam come into himself and Ronan begin to find a purpose for his dreaming. I thought we started to see what Gansey wanted an how he felt about the world. I was still invested in them as much as before but I started to wonder if the plot was going anywhere.
I still felt like we were heading somewhere but the story didn’t quite know where. Characters were thrown in hoping to almost distract us from the fact that things weren’t moving anywhere. The hunt for Glendower was still on but I almost wondered why it mattered at this point. I was just expecting for the plot itself to solidify a bit more in this second to last book.
Malory’s character seemed to have no point for the story. He came to visit and I expected him to really push the plot forward. I almost expected him to have some huge connection to Glendower himself and for his revelation to throw Gansey into turmoil. I wanted him to mean something to the story.
Instead he came, gave a bit of new information and then just hung out for the rest of the story. What he revealed he could have revealed over the phone. His insights into the ley line wasn’t anything we didn’t already know. I forgot he was even in the story for most of it. When he left at the end I didn’t care. He was jus there for another person to talk to, it felt.
I gave this installment 3 out of 4 stars. I liked how it continued the growth of the characters. I just wished that I felt more connected to the plot and that some of the characters had a real purpose.
“Lonesome means a state of being apart. Of being other. Alone-some.” (pg. 28)
“It was so impossible to live life backward.” (pg. 115)
“How unfair she’d been to assume love and money would preclude pain and hardship.” (pg. 242)
I decided I wanted to start doing monthly wrap-up posts. I will go through the books I managed to read throughout the month as well as the posts that I did as well. I might occasionally add movies and tv-shows.
During February I only managed to read three books. I think this was because one of them was slower and also because I did a lot of writing. I also did some rearranging of my apartment that took time away from reading.
Books I read:
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee – This was a quick read. Fun, funny and interesting. Eager for the second book!
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Beck Albertalli – I adored this book. My favorite of the year so far. Made me so happy.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang – Short stories but took me a while to get through. Some were better than others. I will do a full review soon with my thoughts.
I have been trying to post more often. I have a back-log of books to review which makes it easier. I am hoping to be able to keep up a steady posting schedule.
Down the TBR Hole #1
The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein- Review
Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli – Review
The Everything Box – Richard Kadrey – Review
Down the TBR Hole #2
New Writing Space
The Book Feels Tag
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzie Lee- Review
Queer Eye – I have been obsessed with the reboot of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” on Netflix. I binged all the episodes in a weekend. I loved the original but I think I love this reboot even more. The guys are great with all separate personalities, and every episode just has such an air of positivity and happiness. I can’t wait for more episodes!
What was your February like? What were some of your favorite reads, movies, tv shows or songs?
How far will you go for revenge? Would you enter a contest where the only way out was to win or die? Would you be able to kill other contestants in order to reach the position that will allow you to avenge your family?
These are questions that Sal has to ponder when they find a flyer for auditions to become Opal, part of The Left Hand of The Queen. Sal is a street thief who has spent the last few years just trying to survive. They know that becoming The Left Hand will allow them access to those who destroyed their life. Sal enters into the auditions and learns that revenge is not as simple as they first thought.
(Note since Sal is genderfluid and uses he/she/they pronouns based on how they are dressed I will be using they to refer to them throughout this review to avoid misgendering them at any point.)
What I enjoyed the most:
One of the things that caught my attention about this book when I first heard about it was the fact that the main character is genderfluid. I have read a few books where a side character is genderfluid but never one where the main character was. I have also not heard of genderfluid characters in a fantasy novel. I was interested to see how this story was going to be done.
Now I do want to state that I am not genderfluid and I don’t know anyone who is so my opinions are based off the research I have done. I did read some reviews of this book by genderfluid reviewers who approve of Sal and the way they were represented.
The society in this world seemed very accepting. When Sal first meets the rest of The Left Hand they state how they are to be addressed. They base their pronouns off what they are wearing, if they are wearing more feminine clothes they use she, if they are wearing more masculine type clothes they are he and if their clothes don’t fall into either category they use they. Once their pronouns are explained it is accepted. No one argues with them or try to fight them about who they are.
There was one moment where they were purposely misgendered and it was done by a character to argue against Sal. The character did it to put Sal down and argue against them staying in the competition. This character was quickly corrected and reminded to respect who Sal was. But that was the only time that Sal’s gender was discussed in any negative fashion.
There were also a variety of sexualities in this story. One character is bisexual, one is implied to be asexual and another is gay. There are also a number of POC as well. I liked the diversity in this book and how it was just accepted. This wasn’t about accepting people for their sexuality or color, it was about these auditioners trying to become The Left Hand for a variety of reasons. In the end it mattered what they could do not how they identified or who they were attracted to.
Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the use of masks. Everyone auditioning was given a mask with a number and that was who they became until the end. The three other Left Hands had their own masks and no one got to see their real faces. This was an important part of this story.
The masks kept identities secret. We didn’t get to know who anyone truly was. It didn’t matter. What mattered was what they could do. Could they kill without thought? Could they do what was necessary to become an assassin? Could they remove who they once were and take up this new position in life?
Sal puts on their mask and they become twenty-three. They become someone who is out to do whatever is necessary to become Opal. They can’t let anyone get in their way. But even though this is mainly about a competition to kill the competition there are soft sides to the characters. I liked that feel. I was glad to see lighter moments, moments where care was shown. I think without these moments the story would have been hard to relate to. I found who I would root for and who mattered. If it was all about death, it would have been easy to write everyone off including Sal.
What I okay with:
One of my favorite parts of a story is the dialogue. I feel like through the dialogue I connect to the characters. I can learn if they are humorous, deep or intellectual. I can learn if they are more sarcastic or serious or if they hide behind words. I had a bit of trouble with the dialogue in this story. I felt like it was stilted and clunky. There were times that I wondered what the point of a conversation was or where it was going. Sometimes it felt like conversations just ended for no reason. I wish the dialogue was a bit more precise and relatable.
I also had a bit of trouble with the world building. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t feel part of the story but it was enough that I never felt set in the story. I felt like we were fed pieces only when necessary creating more of a jigsaw puzzle image. I had trouble figuring out how things connected.
I wished we had gotten a bit more history. There is a timeline in the back of the book about how they land was created. I wish that had been peppered throughout the story instead. It wasn’t until I read that that I felt like I understood how certain pieces fit together but by that point I was done with the book. I think putting those pieces in the story would have helped me feel more grounded.
What I would change:
Characters are what keep me reading a story. They are the reason I feel connected to a tale. If a character is flat or undeveloped I find myself struggling to finish a book. Unfortunately for this story I felt little connection to Sal.
Sal is a thief who lost their whole family and is out to avenge them. That is about all I know about Sal. I wanted to know more about their connection to their family. I wanted to know more about their homeland. I wanted to know if they felt wanted or needed in their home if they were on the outside. I wanted more history about Sal.
I think if we had gotten some flashbacks to Sal’s life before we would have a better way of understanding their choices during the story. Sal has potential to be a deep character. I think making Sal a deeper character would have made this more than a simple revenge story.
In the end I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads. I liked the pace, it was fast and never felt dull or slow. I just wish we had gotten a bit more about the world and a bit more about Sal.
“Most everyone wanted me to pick one, make addressing me easier to them by denying myself. I was already dressing so they could get it right. The least they could do was try. I didn’t see why I had to choose.” (pg. 79).