Since next week’s topic is our Autumn (or Spring) TBRs, I thought rather than just making another TBR before that, I’d use this post to knock a few books off my TBR instead. So for the last few weeks I’ve been working on reading these ten books.
Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath
Pre-reading thoughts: I started reading this one back in August of last year and I honestly thought it’d maybe take me maybe until October. I’m only 35% of the way through. This is absolutely going to be the one on this list that takes the longest to read, but I’m determined to get through it. I have a few other collected poems of different poets that I want to get to as well, so I need to get through this first.
Post-reading thoughts: Let me tell you, I almost cried when I finally finished this. Turns out, this wasn’t the one on the list that took me the longest to read. Once I actually buckled down, I read it in the space of about five days. I had read most of these before, but I really enjoyed the ‘juvenilia’ section at the back that included poems Plath had written before 1956. It was fascinating to see the different styles and topics she tried and which carried onto her later poetry and which didn’t. This was also one of the oldest books on my TBR, so extremely happy to finally have it off!
The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman
Pre-reading thoughts: I fully intended to pick this up as soon as I got it back in late 2019 and then you know, life happened. After that I was going to wait as someone told me I had to read Terra Nullius first, but honestly, I’m going to stop putting things off in 2021 and the easiest way for me to implement that is to start with books.
Post-reading thoughts: So I have to admit that I didn’t get that far into this. Lots of reviewers on Goodreads say this is a space opera/military/alien kind of thing, and I honestly thought it was more of a feminist dystopian a la Handmaid’s Tale. I read the first 30 pages and it’s just not for me, so it’s going off the TBR. I do still plan to read Terra Nullius later on this year, but more on that then.
Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang
Pre-reading thoughts: As always, this post is just a really great exploration of how much I truly procrastinate. I bought this one for a project I was doing, but then that project got pushed to the sidelines—I’m going to come back to it, but I’ll end up deep diving into this then. So for now, I want to get my first read done so that I can know what I might want to explore deeper when the project gets back on its feet.
Post-reading thoughts: I was actually pleasantly surprised by this one. I thought it might be kind of difficult to read and while it definitely wasn’t a fast read, it was actually really enjoyable. Chang’s writing is incredibly atmospheric and lyrical while simultaneously following the lives of some truly awful people. There wasn’t a single story or character that I ‘liked’ in that kind of simple way, but I was fascinated by them and in awe of how Chang crafted their stories to feel real. The first two stories start off in this way that sort of feels like you’re being sat down and told a tale and I found that really interesting. I’ll be intrigued to pick up some more of Chang’s works in the future.
The Threads of Magic by Alison Croggon
Pre-reading thoughts: I’ve also started this one. See what I mean? My level of procrastination is just unrivalled. I knew I wanted to get to this one in the next few months already so that I could talk about it for the Let Us Read Middle Grade challenge so it might as well be now!
Post-reading thoughts: I ended up unhauling this one as well. I read 100 pages of it and I just wasn’t impressed. For one, I couldn’t work out how old the characters were meant to be—I thought they were kids but then they were drinking in a tavern and I don’t know. I know it’s a weird thing to care about, but you know when your mind just latches onto something and you can’t think of anything else? Beyond trying to work out their ages, I really didn’t care about the characters or anything that was going on. This is the second of Croggon’s books I’ve given a go and I just don’t think her writing style works for me either.
Naked In Death by J.D Robb
Pre-reading thoughts: This one is very much out of my comfort zone. There are about three non-Christie crime novels I’ve enjoyed thus far, so there’s a high chance I won’t enjoy this one. But I bought this last year with the sole purpose of pushing myself to give crime fiction a go, so I might as well read it, right?
Post-reading thoughts: This was actually the first one I finished for this post. I started it at like 9 at night and then had to keep reading until I finished it around midnight. Whoops? So, turns out that I absolutely loved this and now I desperately need the next books in the series. I adore Roarke and his relationship with Eve and I’m desperate to learn more about them. Would I suggest reading this book late at night when you have anxiety? Honestly, no. Is this romance so freaking precious that I kept reading anyway? Yes, yes it is.
Romanov by Nadine Brandes
Pre-reading thoughts: This one is an eBook—I’m seriously bad at remembering to read what’s on my Kindle, so this way at least I’m knocking one off that list. This is, of course, an alternate history of Anastasia Romanov. I’ve always been interested in the Romanov children, so this is pretty intriguing to me even if it is just an alternate history.
Post-reading thoughts: I also decided not to finish this one. I read the first few chapters and they just didn’t grab me. This was just off Kindle Unlimited so if I decide in the future that I’d like to give it another go, it’ll hopefully still be on there. I think if I didn’t have such a huge list of things I want to get to in March then I might’ve tried to push through, but for now I just don’t have the time for books that don’t immediately suck me in.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Pre-reading thoughts: From here on out, all of the books mentioned are rereads. I’ve been talking about getting to this one since I read Allegedly late last year and it’s finally going to happen. I’ve been nervous about this one because it ruined me the first time around, but let’s do it.
Post-reading thoughts: First off, this still ruined me. I’d actually forgotten more of this than I realised so it was like be ruined all over again! But honestly, every time I read one of Jackson’s books I’m just reminded of how skilled she is as a writer and how she just manages to flawlessly fit in all these different twists and turns. I was struck this time by how different the protagonist, Claudia is in this book compared to Mary in Allegedly and yet they are both such incredible characters. Tiffany D. Jackson is seriously underhyped in the book community so I highly recommend picking her books up!
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Pre-reading thoughts: I read this one back in 2018 but recently I bought the other two books in the series. The problem being now, of course, that I remember literally nothing about this book other than that it’s to do with Egyptian mythology. After rereading this, I’ll be moving onto the rest of the series.
Post-reading thoughts: I apparently wasn’t very impressed by this the first time around, but I did genuinely enjoy it this time. I’m not too fussed on Carter, but I love Sadie—I think she’s great fun. I think my one compliant about this book is that it really lags towards the end. Even though it’s sort of slow to start, it’s still interesting while we’re meeting all these new characters and discovering all these things about with Sadie and Carter but I felt like it could have easily been cut 50-100 pages in that final section. I’d been really loving I up until that book and was thinking to myself ‘why didn’t I like this the first time?’ and then we sort of hit that slump and it was like ‘whoop, there it is’. I don’t even know what it was, it just went from exciting to when will this end?
Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Pre-reading thoughts: I’ve read almost this entire series apart from the last one, but I read this one back in 2015 so I don’t remember enough to read that final book. My plan here is to see whether I still love this series and if I do then I’ll keep rereading the next three so I can read that fifth one finally. I really want to read the rest of Kova’s books that have been released since, so need to get a move on with this.
Post-reading thoughts: This was still excellent. The whole time I was reading this I just felt like I was spending time with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. I think there’s a lot of YA fantasy that take this same idea—the elemental based-magic system in particular, but I think this remains one of my favourites. There’s just something so charming about it, and I love that Elise Kova never tries to overcomplicate things—it’s about the characters and the story more than her trying to be like ‘oh, look at the confusing magic system I created that no one understands.’ The magic in here is complex but never so much so that the story suffers for it. Time to move onto the next one!
Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rosell
Pre-reading thoughts: I can actually remember a decent amount about this one, but it feels like one of those series that deserves to be read in close succession. It’s a sweet middle-grade series with a little bit of fantastical element to it but also lots of cats. If that doesn’t sell you on it, then I’m not really sure whether you’ll fit in here.
Post-reading thoughts: I’m so glad I decided to read this one because it was just so lovely. I had forgotten how many A Series of Unfortunate Events vibes this one has and that’s honestly probably why I love it so much. Stella reminds me a little of Violet Baudelaire, who is probably my all-time favourite character, so it’s probably no surprise that this is a definite favourite series of mine. Now I did manage to finish off the final two books in this series in February too, but you’ll have to wait until later this month to see my full thoughts on those and this series as a whole.
And there it is! So technically this only took five books off my physical TBR but also this rereading is certainly going to help me clear some more things out in the next few weeks. Have you read any of these? Have you been doing any Spring cleaning of your TBR?