TBR Tackle Thursday #1

When I first started blogging, I saw a tag titled “Down the TBR Hole.” This was a great concept that helped me to start clearing out my TBR on Goodreads because it was a little bit out of control. I did the tag about five times, but then it fell by the wayside. Last week while scrolling through my email, I received an email from WordPress about a new post by bookschiefmanaged titled “TBR Tackle Thursday” and I thought what a great idea. Lets bring back tackling this endless TBR pile to clear it up before the New Year begins.

For those of you who haven’t done this before but need to get rid of some books from your ever-growing TBR list, here’s what to do:

  1. Go to that list of yours wherever it’s at.
  2. Go to the OLDEST stuff listed.
  3. Pick a chunk (5,10,15, 25, however many you want to go through) of books.
  4. Read the synopsis, and decide if you’re going to keep it on that list or if it’s one of those books that sounded good at the time.
  5. Post your list and your verdicts!

Here are the links to my previous Down the TBR Hole posts:

Instead of starting at the beginning again, I am going to start where I ended with Down the TBR Hole #5. Once I’ve circled through the first time, chances are I will start with the original books added to my TBR list. I also used to have this someday maybe bookshelf – but in this go round, I am not adding books to this shelf. We’re sticking with To Be Read, Educational Reads or getting rid of it.

Currently, I have 250 books on my TBR list.


Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.12.20 PMBone Machine by Martyn Waites

Synopsis: The body is discovered in an abandoned burial ground: a young woman, blond, ritualistically mutilated, apparently. Her eyes and mouth have been crudely sewn shut.

The police come up with a suspect quick enough: the victim’s boyfriend, Michael Nell, who has a notoriously uncontrollable temper as well as an incriminating record of violence against women. His lawyer, however, is not convinced that Nell is a killer.

All Joe Donovan has to do is prove the truth of Michael Nell’s alibi. The job proves not to be routine, as Donovan’s inquiries lead him and his crack team of operatives deep into Newcastle’s murky underworld of child-trafficking and prostitution. When the second body shows up, the former investigative journalist knows he’s up against more than local gangsters.

Still bearing the scars of his own crushing history since the disappearance of his six-year-old son three years before, Donovan now finds himself enmeshed in the dark biography of an elusive, deranged serial killer whom he can profile but cannot identify. The killer meanwhile obliges the authorities with maddeningly cryptic clues to his twisted, deadly intents, but all the while time for the next young, unsuspecting victim is fast running out.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.


Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

Synopsis: Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. In this gripping account, David Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?

Verdict: Educational Reads.


The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Synopsis: Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Verdict: Delete.


Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

Synopsis: I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn’s house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.

Verdict: Delete.


Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back From War by Finbarr O’Reilly

Synopsis: War tears people apart, but it can also bring them together. Through the unpredictability of war and its aftermath, a decorated Marine sergeant and a world-trotting war photographer became friends, their bond forged as they patrolled together through the dusty alleyways of Helmand province and camped side by side in the desert. It deepened after Sergeant T. J. Brennan was injured during a Taliban ambush, and both returned home. Brennan began to suffer from the effects of his injury and from the fallout of his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But war correspondents experience similar rates of posttraumatic stress as combat veterans. The causes can be different, but guilt plays a prominent role in both. For Brennan, it s the things he s done, or didn t do, that haunt him. Finbarr O Reilly s conscience is nagged by the task of photographing people at their most vulnerable while being able to do little to help, and his survival guilt as colleagues die on the job. Their friendship offered them both a shot at redemption.

As we enter the fifteenth year of continuous war, it is increasingly urgent not just to document the experiences of the battlefield but also to probe the reverberations that last long after combatants and civilians have returned home, and to understand the many faces trauma takes. Shooting Ghosts looks at the horrors of war directly, but then turns to a journey that draws on our growing understanding of what recovery takes. Their story, told in alternating first-person narratives, is about the things they saw and did, the ways they have been affected, and how they have navigated the psychological aftershocks of war and wrestled with reforming their own identities and moral centers. While war never really ends for those who’ve lived through it, this book charts the ways two survivors have found to calm the ghosts and reclaim a measure of peace.

Verdict: Delete.


Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.46.29 PMPandemic by A.G. Riddle

Synopsis: A hundred miles north of Alaska, an American Coast Guard vessel discovers a sunken submarine at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. It has no national identification and doesn’t match the records of any known vessel. Deep within, researchers find evidence of a scientific experiment that will alter our very understanding of the human race.

In Atlanta, Dr. Peyton Shaw is awakened by the phone call she has dreaded for years. As the CDC’s leading epidemiologist, she’s among the first responders to outbreaks around the world. It’s a lonely and dangerous job, but it’s her life—and she’s good at it. This time, she may have met her match.

In Kenya, an Ebola-like pathogen has infected two Americans. One lies at death’s door. With the clock ticking, Peyton assembles her team and joins personnel from the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the WHO. What they find in the remote village is beyond their worst fears. As she traces the origin of the pathogen, Peyton begins to believe that there is more to this outbreak—that it may be merely the opening act in a conspiracy with far reaching consequences.

In Berlin, Desmond Hughes awakens in a hotel room with no memory of how he got there or who he is. On the floor, he finds a dead security guard from an international pharmaceutical company. His only clue leads him to Peyton Shaw—a woman who seems to know him, but refuses to tell him how. With the police searching the city for him, Desmond desperately tries to piece together what happened to him. To his shock and horror, he learns that he may be involved in causing the outbreak—and could hold the only key to stopping it.

As the pathogen spreads around the world, Peyton and Desmond race to unravel the conspiracy behind the pandemic—and uncover secrets some want to keep buried.

Verdict: Keep it.


things fall apart.pngThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Synopsis: THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.


Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.47.47 PMOrange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Synopsis: With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before.

But that past has caught up with her.

Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance.

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.


Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.48.56 PMDivergent by Veronica Roth

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.


Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.50.05 PMThe Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver

Synopsis: It was a “million-dollar bullet,” a sniper shot delivered from over a mile away. Its victim was no ordinary mark: he was a United States citizen, targeted by the United States government, and assassinated in the Bahamas. The nation’s most renowned investigator and forensics expert, Lincoln Rhyme, is drafted to investigate. While his partner, Amelia Sachs, traces the victim’s steps in Manhattan, Rhyme leaves the city to pursue the sniper himself. As details of the case start to emerge, the pair discovers that not all is what it seems. When a deadly, knife-wielding assassin begins systematically eliminating all evidence–including the witnesses–Lincoln’s investigation turns into a chilling battle of wits against a cold-blooded killer.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.


Out of the books I looked at today:

  • Keeping: 6
  • Educational Reads: 1
  • Deleted: 3
  • Removed Duplicates: 3 (whoops)

Now I am down to 242 books on my TBR list.

Let’s Chat!

Did I get delete any books that you’ve read before and loved? Did I keep any that you’ve read and didn’t like?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han || Book Review

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Release date: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult


Premise: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


Thoughts + Feelings: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I think this book struck a piece deep in my heart because I remember the feeling of a boy finding out that I liked him. I remember how embarrassing was it was to show up at school and have to talk to him. If I could use one word to describe this book it would be: cute. I knew when I picked it up from the library that I wasn’t going to be blown away from the literary magnificence of it. I added it to my holds list because I thought the Netflix adaptation was adorable – what else was I to expect from the book?

Truth be told, I enjoyed the book more than the movie. While they were each different and special in their own way, I liked the way that Lara Jean developed in the novel more. Without giving spoilers away about them both – what I liked about the movie was how it was tied together. You know how the letters get out from the beginning; you see how Lara Jean, Kitty and Margot interact with each other in real life. I felt that in the novel, the Song sisters were not as close as they were portrayed in the movie. Maybe it’s just a difference in seeing versus visualizing.

I liked this book. It’s your average romantic young adult book. It felt like putting on warm pajamas when they come straight from the dryer. It was natural and relaxing to read. I’m going to read the next two books in the series because I want the same warm, fuzzy feelings.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Library of Trinity College || Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic: Bookstores or Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

I am going to do my own little twist on the topic. My post today is all about the Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve seen the library pop up on numerous lists today! I had the pleasure of visiting Dublin back in April 2018, so obviously I took a trip to visit the library.

The Library’s history dates back to the establishment of Trinity College in 1592 and it is the largest library in Ireland. You can stand in line to buy timed tickets to enter the library and see the Book of Kells, or you can purchase your tickets via the interwebs before you get there.

The Book of Kells is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces in both Irish art and early Christian art. It contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. I went to the Library of Trinity College without having any clue as to what to expect — and I didn’t even know what the Book of Kells was! I think the best way to describe it is that the pages are made of a special material (I don’t know exactly what it is), but it allows for the words to be decorated upon and illustrated. From what I remember, there are more drawings/decorations in the book than there are words!

The thing that is absolutely bonkers is that they only show one or two pages of the Book of Kells at a time. That means each time you go back and visit, it is likely that a different page is out for show.

 

After visiting the Book of Kells exhibit, you walk through the rest of the “library.” We were not permitted to go look/touch any of the other books in this part of the library… I have a feeling that there is a way to go and see more (especially the parts that the current Trinity College students use!) but for the short amount of time we were at Trinity College, we unfortunately were kept behind a line.

Looking from afar at the bookshelves was magnificent though. You just kind of get the feeling that you are in an important place. It smelled like old books – and I loved it so much.

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Lets Chat!

  • Have you been to any of the libraries or bookstores that are filling everyone’s lists this week?

I’ve also been to Shakespeare & Company in Paris, France and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.!

It’s Monday. What are you reading? #19

It is finally fall in the DMV. This weekend I packed up all of my summer clothes and pulled out my sweaters. Last week I was able to finish two books. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was very cute and I wouldn’t recommend Final Notice to anyone. I’ve also been working on a plan to be more consistent with my posting – I’m hoping to roll out my plan in the next few weeks and leading into 2019.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week

What I’m Reading This Week

CHALLENGE UPDATES:

Goodreads Challenge: 49/52 books completed (94%)
Around the Year in 52 Books: 34/52 books completed (65%)
A-Z: 15/26 books completed (57.7%)

Posts from Last Week:

 

Hope you have a wonderful week!!

Friends of the Library Book Sale || Arlington County

I found a place that I would like to deem a little piece of heaven on Earth. Last night the semi-annual Friends of the Library Book Sale began for the Arlington County Public Library system. I love the library and all of the opportunities that it offers for free to residents of the area. Need a place to use a computer in quiet? Go to the library. Want the newest release? Add your name to the list and pick it up at the library. Want to learn a new language or teach a class? Go to the library, etc. It provides a safe space for kids, adults, the elderly and everyone in between.

Upon arriving at the library last night, I joined the Friends of the Library so that I could have early access to the book sale. I was/am amazed by the organization of the entire event because there were so many people and so many books. I looked around and thought ‘This is what heaven looks like.’

I went in with the intention to only search for the six Jodi Picoult books that I am missing and To Kill a Mockingbird. But we all know what happens when a book enthusiast walks into a massive book sale…. they go a little crazy! Now I only left with 11 books – There were people there with boxes upon boxes of books. There were metal moving carts to help these people take the books around the crowded area and out to their cars. I thought I had come prepared with my single canvas tote so that I could pick up the books that I wanted. MAN OH MAN, I was unprepared for this experience. But I loved it. I was amazed by the vast piles of books that covered the garage of the library. There were countless customers with their piles/boxes/carts of books and incredible volunteers restocking the sale as the books were picked up.

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The sale goes from Thursday (yesterday) through Sunday — Chances are (and boyfriend willing) I will be heading back one more time to see what other goodies I can find. I wanted to expand my tastes in books more, but I pretty much stuck with books that I had seen before or authors that I had read before.

I purchased two books, Ghost Wars and The Unknown Darkness, by two authors I had never heard of before. But I have always been interested in crime/terrorism books, so when I saw them I knew I needed to add them to my tiny bag.

Books I Purchased:
  • State of Fear by Michael Crichton ($0.50)
  • Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan ($4.00)
  • Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden by Steve Coll ($2.00)
  • The Unknown Darkness by Gregg O. McCrary ($2.00)
  • Kill Shot by Vince Flynn ($0.50)
  • Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn ($0.50)
  • Separation of Power by Vince Flynn ($0.50)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ($0.50)
  • The Pact by Jodi Picoult ($0.50) ** Honestly, I’ve read this one before… but I didn’t own it and it was only $0.50 so I couldn’t walk away without it.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue ($0.50)
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ($0.50)

Total: $12

Have you read any of the books that I bought?

Have you ever been to a library sale like this one? What are your best sale shopping experiences?

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris || Book Review

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Release date: January 11, 2018

Publisher: Zaffre

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction


Premise: This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.


Thoughts + Feelings: I want to start off by saying that I loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Sometimes I worry about reading books from this time period because of the pain and anguish that was caused in the millions of lives of Jews, Gypsies and other communities that were extinguished during the Holocaust.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story of love and pain. Based on the very real life of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, we follow his journey through the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau where he ultimately becomes the tätowierer for the concentration camps. While tattooing the incoming prisoners, Lale meets Gita. You can tell from the moment that they cross paths that the story is going to turn down a romantic road, although its challenging to imagine as the workers are building crematoriums and housing for the thousands of individuals pouring into the camps.

This book was written as historical fiction and “based on a true story.” So while it appears that Lale may have remembered every detail of his life from the concentration camps, the books webpage makes it known that there was some creative license taken to fill in time space or delve into characters thoughts. It was also originally written as a screenplay, so there is a huge amount of dialogue.

The story is memorable. With a huge portion of the survivors passing way, it is not often that you hear stories of what happened in the camps. You don’t realize the tasks that these individuals were given. I asked myself – How could you possibly tattoo numbers on your own people and prepare them for death? Lale answers this throughout the text. You do what you need to do to survive. You bribe people; you help your neighbors if you can. While you may not believe in your faith, you believe that you will survive.

The authors note at the end provided an even better glimpse into the world of Lale and Gita. Prior to Lale’s death, he wanted to tell his story. He was connected with Heather Morris who took the time to listen, and question his story to truly understand how to connect the dots for the rest of the world. I can only imagine listening to the powerful story, but not getting it in one full swing. Heather Morris had to tie together the pieces from where Lale was comfortable and figure out what fit where. I am truly blown away by the piece of work that came out of their time together.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Top 10 Longest Books I’ve Read in 2017 + 2018

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic: Longest Books I’ve Read

I really started to track my reading in January 2017. I have a spreadsheet for each year where I track many different details about the books that I’ve read. One of those big details is the number of pages in each novel – so this was an easy question for me! I was surprised by the number of books that I read that had 400+ pages. I had seven other books that were above that range too!

10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (645 pages)

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (550 pages)

8. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (496 pages)

7. The Circle by Dave Eggers (493 pages)

6. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (480 pages)

5. American Sniper by Chris Kyle (448 pages)

4. Second Glance by Jodi Picoult (448 pages)

3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (444 pages)

2. American Assassin by Vince Flynn (435 pages)

1. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni (434 pages)

Surprisingly, I enjoyed every single one of these longer novels. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was probably my favorite; The Book Thief was my least favorite.


Let’s Chat!

  • Looking at your list of books from this week, were there any of them that just dragged on forever? Do you have that “when is this going to end?!?!” feeling?

I have definitely read some books that I wish would’ve ended way sooner, but luckily none of them made this list!

  • Have you read any of the longest books? Do any of them appear on your TBR? Post your link below so I can see your top ten!