Keep Or Toss (01.20)

It’s a new year, a new decade, and for many of us, a time to start something fresh. We set resolutions and clear out the clutter of the past year. At my house, I’m starting with one of my favorite hobbies – Reading.

If you’re like me, your TBR list has come to a point where it’s scary and definitely intimidating. I frequently forgot that I added a book until the website I was using reminded me when I tried to add it again. Furthermore, finding some to suggest when people wanted to buy me books as gifts was getting difficult. I had two digital lists and a completely separate written list at home. I even had a folder on my phone where I saved pictures of books I saw when I was out and about and wanted to investigate that title further.

Of course it doesn’t help when I receive emails about new release books and recommendations based on past reads (both for my Kindle and hardcopy). I receive flyers in the mail with coupons to the local bookstore. I get daily notices about audiobooks that are on sale and ready for download with just a click. I follow bloggers that are also book nerds like me and I read their reviews of books, adding those that receive positive feedback. I even had friends and family telling me about how I just HAD to read this one they just finished because it was amazing. (Which I love so please, don’t stop doing that!) But I feel like it was a little out of hand and I was getting overwhelmed with options.

In just 2 years, the digital TBR lists (Amazon and Goodreads) had over 700 titles combined! After manually copying the titles and authors (yes, MANUALLY, because there’s no export option that I could find) and moving them to an Excel doc, I removed the duplicates. I was able to whittle the list down to 677. Then I looked at my physical book pile in dismay and decided to tackle my real life shelves after I get through this online mountain.

But how? To do this, each week I’m going to take a section of books on the list and see which ones I want to keep and which ones I’m going to delete. I first saw this idea on Confessions of YA Reader. According to her post, she saw it on Lost in a Story. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to your goodreads to-read shelf. (As mentioned above, I combined my two shelves (Goodreads and Amazon))
  2. Order on ascending date added. (I’m working in alphabetical order)
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous). If you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time. (I’ll be reviewing around 15 each week)
  4. Read the synopsis of each book.
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go.

Seemed simple enough. But as I started working, I realized some things that I needed to set personal rules for moving forward. For example, Rule #1 is that if I decide to add a book to my TBR pile or purchase one, I should add it to a separate list so as not get it confused. Rule #2, outside of a few that I already know are going to be acquired when they come out, I’m putting myself on a book buying ban until I can get this list more manageable. Oh, and read at least half that have on my shelves already. Wish me luck and let’s take a look at the first book culling!!!

PS: I went through a bit of an erotica and romance phase so some of these titles reflect that. #NoJudgementPlease

The House (Armstrong House Series, Book 1) by A. O’Connor

Can a house keep secrets?

1840’s – When Lord Edward Armstrong builds the house for his bride, Anna, the family is at the climax of its power. But its world is threatened when no heir is born. Anna could restore their fortunes, but it would mean the ultimate betrayal. Then the Great Famine grips the country.

1910s – Clara finds life as lady of the manor is not what she expected when she married Pierce Armstrong. As the First World War rages, she finds solace in artist Johnny Seymour’s decadent circle. Then the War of Independence erupts and Clara is caught between two men, deceit and revenge.

Present Day – When Kate Fallon sees the house it is love at first sight. She and her tycoon husband Tony buy it and hire the last Armstrong owner, architect Nico, to oversee its restoration.

As Kate’s fascination with the house grows, she and Nico begin to uncover its history and the fates of its occupants in centuries past. But then, as her husband’s business empire faces ruin, Kate realises that they are in danger of losing everything.

I decided to keep this one. I’ve always been fascinated with old buildings and homes in particular. A sort of “if walls could talk” fantasy that makes my imagination run wild. In this story 3 women from 3 different time periods are all seemingly facing the same decisions. While I think I can make some assumptions based on the description, it still seems interesting enough to hold my attention.

Branded (Sinners Series, Book 1) by Abi Ketner

Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.

To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.

Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.

Constant darkness.

Brutal and savage violence.

Excruciating pain.

Every day is a fight for survival.

But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

I’m removing this one. I normally enjoy dystopian novels, which is probably why I added it, but this one just isn’t pulling me quite as strong.

Song of Edmon (Fracture World, Book 1) by Adam Burch

The isolated planet of Tao is a house divided: the peaceful Daysiders live in harmony while the pale Nightsiders pursue power and racial purity through the violent ritual of the Combat.

Edmon Leontes, the gentle son of a ruthless warrior noble and a proud Daysider, embodies Tao’s split nature. The product of diametrically opposed races, Edmon hopes to live a quiet life pursuing the music of his mother’s people, but his Nightsider father cruelly forces him to continue in his bloody footsteps to ensure his legacy.

Edmon’s defiance will cost him everything…and spark a revolution that will shake the foundations of Tao. His choice—to embrace the light or surrender to the darkness—will shape his own fate and that of his divided world.

This was a tough one but I decided to not keep it. For now anyway.

Cipher (The Shadow Ravens, Book 1) by Aileen Erin

Alone and on the run, Cipher doesn’t talk about her secrets, her powers, or the people chasing her. She can’t let anyone get that close. At least, she shouldn’t.

Knight is working undercover for the bad guys. He’s done things that have marked his soul, but it’ll all be worth it if he can save the girl who means everything to him—the girl who saved his life by putting herself in danger. It’s been twelve years, but Knight knows she’s still alive, and he’s made it his mission to find her and keep her safe.

When Knight finally catches up to Cipher, electricity sparks. He’s crazy gorgeous, stupid brilliant, and begging to lift the burden from Cipher’s shoulders. Can she really trust him with her secrets? With her life?

She doesn’t have long to decide, because Knight isn’t the only who’s been looking for her. Now Cipher can’t run without leaving him behind. What good is being together if they’re both dead?

To save Knight, Cipher will finally stop running…one way or another.

I decided to keep this one. I just sounds fun! And I have a soft spot for damaged characters that need to find themselves.

Booty Call (Forbidden Bodyguards, Book 2) by Ainsley Booth

I know what I’m doing when I text Scott at four in the morning.

He knows what I’m doing, too.

That’s why he shows up twenty-three minutes later, freshly showered with a condom in his pocket and a barely dissolved breath mint on his tongue.

I smirk as he looms over me. “You are such a dirty old man.”

“We need to stop doing this.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re twenty-one and I’m not. Because I want to take you on a f***ing date and you won’t. Because we wind up yelling at each other half the time.”

“But the rest of the time you’re inside me and it feels so good, right?”

His eyes darken and I don’t need to look down to know he’s hard for me.

This is one of those smut titles I was talking about before. It might be a great cotton candy read, as I like to call them, but I’m going to pass this time. Removing.

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Honolulu is the rich, unforgettable story of a young “picture bride” who journeys to Hawai’i in 1914 in search of a better life.

Instead of the affluent young husband and chance at an education that she has been promised, she is quickly married off to a poor, embittered laborer who takes his frustrations out on his new wife. Renaming herself Jin, she makes her own way in this strange land, finding both opportunity and prejudice. With the help of three of her fellow picture brides, Jin prospers along with her adopted city, now growing from a small territorial capital into the great multicultural city it is today. But paradise has its dark side, whether it’s the daily struggle for survival in Honolulu’s tenements, or a crime that will become the most infamous in the islands history…

With its passionate knowledge of people and places in Hawai’i far off the tourist track, Honolulu is most of all the spellbinding tale of four women in a new world, united by dreams, disappointment, sacrifices, and friendship.

I’m not sure why, but I’m always drawn to historical novels involving the social struggles of women. Maybe it’s because all these years later, we’re still fighting for our fair share in the world. So this one is staying.

Burning Man (A Gideon and Sirius Novel Book 1) by Alan Russel

LAPD cop Michael Gideon and his police dog partner Sirius became reluctant celebrities after capturing a notorious serial killer in the midst of an inferno. For their heroism, they were chosen to head up the newly formed Special Cases Unit. Now the duo tackles out-of-the-ordinary cases, anything deemed unusual or bizarre even by Hollyweird standards.

When a teenager is found crucified in a city park, Gideon and Sirius are handed the bizarre case. Confronting the gruesome tableau and having to work the case worsens Detective Gideon’s PTSD, a condition he has tried to hide from others. Gideon’s burns may have healed, but the fire haunts him still…in more ways than one.

Eerily prescient since that terrible night of the fire, Gideon has unusual insights into the crimes he investigates, a skill he and Sirius must learn to trust as much as they do each other if they are to solve—and survive—this case.

Honestly, I’m not sure how this one got on my list. I’m guessing it had something to do with the dog since I don’t really care for police procedurals. Tossing!

Gettysburg, 1913: The Complete Novel of the Great Reunion by Alan Simon

July 1-3, 1863: The famed Battle of Gettysburg turns the tide of the Civil War, but not before approximately 50,000 soldiers from both sides become casualties during those three terrible days of carnage.

June 29-July 4, 1913: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Battle of Gettysburg, more than 50,000 Civil War Veterans ranging in age from 61 to more than 100 years old converge on the scene of that titanic battle half a century earlier in the real-life occasion of healing that was known as The Great Reunion.

Abraham Lincoln had incorrectly surmised in his famed Gettysburg Address that “the world will little note nor long remember what we say here” four months after the battle itself, but those very words could well be said about The Great Reunion that occurred half a century later. Though at the time the 1913 gathering was a widely anticipated, momentous commemoration with 50,000 spectators joining the 50,000 veterans, the grandest of all gatherings of Civil War veterans has been all but forgotten in the 100 years since that occasion.

Until now.

I know exactly how this one got added though. My husband LOVES Gettysburg so I most likely added it as a reminder for him. But since this is supposed to be for my books, I’m removing it. He can make his own list. Haha!

Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre

Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.

This one looks like it’ll be a cute summer read; a la ‘V is for Virgin’ by Kelly Oram. Keeping!

Daffodils (The Katherine Wheel Saga, Book 1) by Alex Martin

Katy, a maidservant at Cheadle Manor, longs to escape her narrow life but events unfold slowly in her rural village. Jem Phipps has always loved Katy. His proposal of marriage rescues her from scandal but after tragedy strikes, Jem becomes a reluctant soldier on the battlefields of The First World War, leaving Katy behind, restless and alone. Lionel White, the local curate, has just returned from India bringing a dash of colour to the small village and offers Katy a window on the wider world. Only when Katy joins up as a WAAC girl does she finally break free from the stifling class-ridden hierarchies that bind her but the brutality of 20th-century global war brings home the price she has paid for her search. Through the horrors of WW1, she discovers only love brings freedom. In essence, Daffodils is a love story, whose tender heart is almost torn apart through this tumultuous time.

This was another tough one but ultimately I decided to remove it. It felt too much like so many other WWI and WWII novels I’ve read.

The Black Tulip by Alexander Dumas

Cornelius von Baerle, a respectable tulip-grower, lives only to cultivate the elusive black tulip and win a magnificent prize for its creation. But after his powerful godfather is assassinated, the unwitting Cornelius becomes caught up in deadly political intrigue and is falsely accused of high treason by a bitter rival. Condemned to life imprisonment, his only comfort is Rosa, the jailer’s beautiful daughter, and together they concoct a plan to grow the black tulip in secret. Dumas’ last major historical novel is a tale of romantic love, jealousy and obsession, interweaving historical events surrounding the brutal murders of two Dutch statesman in 1672 with the phenomenon of tulipomania that gripped seventeenth-century Holland.

So this is one of those where I’m going to make another rule. I’ve waffled over this book for the past few days and I still can’t make a decision. It’s a classic so I don’t want to completely dismiss it. Furthermore, the tulip boom in Holland in the 1600s is crazy. However, I’m also not jumping up and down to get to it. That leaves me with “Maybe” and that’s where I’m sticking it for the moment. Most likely, when I get around to it, I’ll decide then.

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Keeping! Especially since they made it into a television series and I love comparing the two.

What’s Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass

A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart’s brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he’s coming home from prison.

Amanda’s been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother’s recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he’s a monster. Still, she loves him. It’s her dark secret until she starts getting close to Henry again–whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.

A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she’ll let his choice destroy hers.

Toss. Not even sure what drew me to adding it in the first place.

Jaded (Second Chance Romance, Book 1) by Ali Parker

As a photographer for the New York Post, Kari Martin was used to seeing heartache and scandal up close. But one night at the club… her whole world changed.

Heartbroken and willing to call off her wedding, she decides a change is in order and moves from NYC to a small town in Maine, where the average age of the residents there is sixty (or thereabouts). She works to fit in perfectly, and tries like hell not to let anyone find out just how very jaded she’s recently become over the lie called love.

Jake Isaac left Texas quite a few years ago; his heart torn from his chest, and his mind set on being a bachelor forever. Maine would welcome him, give him land to explore and a community to belong to. Getting a job as the coach of the local junior high and serving on the fire department kept him busy — and labeled him a hometown hero — but the truth of his damaged heart was forever hidden.

No one would ever know just how jaded he was about love. That is… until he meets Kari.

Okay. So another fluffy romance to keep me occupied. Going in the “Keep” pile. Mostly because there’s a firefighter and I have a soft spot for them.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight…

Last one on the list for this week. It’s absolutely pure smut which while I find fun on occasion, I’m just not into it right this moment. So I’m tossing this one.

And there you have it – the first edition of “Keep or Toss” Tuesday! I’m keeping 6 books, removing 8, and sticking 1 on pause. I feel better and more focused already. 🙂

TBR

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