The rules are simple:
- Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
- Repeat until the entire list has been filtered
It’s time for me to attempt a bit more pruning of my To-Read shelf on Goodreads which now contains a “mere” 487 books, but down on the 496 books last time.
The Dark Isle by Clare Carson (added 1st July 2017)
Sam grew up in the shadow of the secret state. Her father was an undercover agent, full of tall stories about tradecraft and traitors. Then he died, killed in the line of duty. Now Sam has traveled to Hoy, in Orkney, to piece together the puzzle of his past.
What she finds is a tiny island of dramatic skies, swooping birds, rugged sea stacks and just 400 people. An island remote enough to shelter someone who doesn’t want to be found. An island small enough to keep a secret.
Verdict: Keep – I still like the sound of this, especially the island setting, although it is the last in a trilogy and I haven’t read the previous two. Also I shared a guest post by the author way back in July 2017 as part of the blog tour.
Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout (added 3rd July 2017)
Katherine is only five-years-old. Struck dumb with grief at her mother’s death, it is down to her father, the heartbroken minister Tyler Caskey, to bring his daughter out of silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy.
But Tyler Caskey is barely surviving himself. His cold, church-assigned home is colder still since Lauren’s death, and he struggles to find the right words for his sermons; struggles to be a leader to his congregation when he himself is lost.
When Katherine’s schoolteacher calls to discuss his daughter’s anti-social behaviour, it sparks a chain of events that begins to tear down Tyler’s defences. The small-town rumour-mill has much to make of Katherine’s odd behaviour, and even more to say about Tyler’s relationship with his housekeeper, Connie Hatch. And in Tyler’s darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation’s humanity – and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all.
Verdict: Keep – It’s by Elizabeth Strout so it’s a no-brainer.
Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland (added 3rd July 2017)
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge – the York book emporium where she works – come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can’t hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
It’s time to turn the pages of her past . . .
Verdict: Keep – I wasn’t completely sure whether to keep this one but then I read the overwhelmingly positive reviews and that made the decision for me. And it’s set in a bookshop…
Afterlife by Marcus Sakey (added 18th July 2017)
The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion – a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people – until he sees they’re carrying machetes.
Welcome to the afterlife.
Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic. Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody. But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect – and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.
Verdict: Dump – I love a good thriller but the fantasy element makes me think this isn’t quite my thing. And although I enjoyed the books in the author’s Brilliance trilogy I wasn’t blown away by them.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (added 26th July 2017)
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.
At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.
Verdict: Keep – The reviews for this are stupendous and although it’s a big book it sounds the kind of story you could immerse yourself in. And I think there would be howls of disbelief if I dumped it.
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (added 26th July 2017)
1917: When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, announce they have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when the great novelist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, endorses the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a sensation; their discovery offering something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war.
One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript and a photograph in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story of the two young girls who mystified the world. As Olivia is drawn into events a century ago, she becomes aware of the past and the present intertwining, blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, will Olivia find a way to believe in herself?
The Woman in the Shadows by Carol McGrath (added 26th July 2017)
When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband…
Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London. The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing everything.
Verdict: Dump – I like the idea of shifting the focus to the wife of Thomas Cromwell but I think I’m more likely to read the last instalment of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy, The Mirror & the Light.
Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (added 27th July 2017)
Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France.
Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels’ necks …
Verdict: Keep – This is a massive book by my standard at over 600 pages but the setting and the angle of the story really appeals to me.
The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross (added 31st July 2017)
They are the light against the darkness. The steel against the necromancy of the Druj. And they use demons to hunt demons….
Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.
Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.
As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery – and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…
Verdict: Dump – I have absolutely no idea why this came to be in my TBR pile as I don’t read fantasy. Easiest decision today.
Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (added 2nd August 2017)
A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide.
An ordinary couple return from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing.
Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea.
They have one thing in common: they all lied.
And someone is determined to punish them…
Verdict: Keep – I’ve was introduced to Icelandic and Scandinavian crime fiction when I started taking part in blog tours for books published by Orenda. This seems to pre-date that so it must be just luck it ended up in my TBR pile but that snappy blurb has won me over.
The Result – 7 kept, 3 dumped. Would you have made different choices?