Wishes for My TBR Pile #19: Why the Odd Name?

Wishes for My TBR Pile is a monthly post where I list and sometimes discuss the books I’ve discovered and would like to get and read.

I usually publish these posts at the end of every month, but I got off track last year. Though I didn’t publish one in January, I plan to upload a Wishes for My TBR Pile post every month going forward.

I just realize how odd the title of these posts is: Wishes for My TBR Pile. I have several TBRs. The largest is my to-read list on Goodreads, where I add every book I have a slight interest in reading. Every now and then, I weed out the ones I’m no longer curious about or would like to read. I count the unread books on my bookshelves as my TBR pile, which is what these posts refer to. The books I list here are books I’d really like to purchase and set on my shelves and probably read. Lol!

I’m just being honest. I often buy books I’m excited about and forget to read them. Lately, I’ve started visiting the library, which is helpful in making me read books I’m interested in. After all, if I borrow a book and return it to the library unread, I will be angry with myself for wasting my own time, though no money was spent. Ironically, this doesn’t happen with books I’ve bought and left languishing on my shelves unread for years.

Anyway, here are the books I added to my Goodreads TBR list and wish to add to my TBR pile, since my last post:

The White Hart by Nancy Springer

This is an old fantasy novel that was first published in 1979. I forgot who told me about it or what about it interested me, but I assume the dragon was part of the reason why I added it to my TBR. The synopsis on Goodreads doesn’t really state what this book is about, but these buzz words caught my attention: “Old Ones” (I guess beings so old they don’t even have names. I like that), “Book of Suns” (sounds like an era in the story; sounds interesting).

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

A young-adult fantasy novel about a teenage girl whose adopted mom is a wicked witch. Camellia doesn’t want to be like her mother, but when her mom sets loose a demon in their city, Camellia may have to cast spells to capture him. This one sounds fun and I’m always interested in stories about witches. Plus, I like the cover.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by Jon Klassen

A children’s story about a fox and a boy during a war (synopsis didn’t say which war). It seems like a sweet story and it was very popular after its publication last year. I’ll borrow this from the library, if I see it on my next visit.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

As the title suggests, this is a nonfiction book about poor Whites in America. The book was published last year, but it’s this 2014 article that appeared in The Huffington Post, which I read last year, that made me interested in it. I’m curious to see what the book has to say about classism in America.

The Goat’s Tale by P.J. Hetherhouse

A fantasy novel inspired by Celtic mythology, Arthurian legend, and astrology. 😀 It sounds awesome!! I discovered it in a review on Cover to Cover, where Liz gave it a glowing review and rated it 5 stars, which was helpful, but I was pretty much sold on the Celtic mythology and astrology.

The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker

Seems to be a fantasy novel about a retired assassin who agrees to be the master of a caravan travelling from an inland city to a seaside one. I don’t know what made me add it to my TBR, but the synopsis mentions bloodthirsty “Children of the Sun” and I’m always curious about creatures associated with the sun so that’s probably why I added the book.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

A young-adult fantasy novel about a boy magician-in-training who gets in over his head when he summons a djinni to help him avenge a magician who publicly humiliated him. I often see this book cover around, so much so that it feels familiar and I can’t tell if I’ve read the book before or not.

The Liszts by Kyo Maclear, illus. by Júlia Sardà

A children’s picture book about a family that loves making lists…? That’s what I got from the synopsis. It’s the bright, bold illustrations on the cover that caught my attention and made me add it to my TBR. I first saw it in a YouTube video and since then, it’s been haunting me in every book store I visit.

The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

I learned of this recently published book in an author interview on Naz’s Read Diverse Books blog. The cover caught my eye. It’s a young-adult fantasy novel about Portia and her twin sister who’re transported to ancient Egypt when Portia touched a scarab beetle during her history class. It sounds interesting, but I placed it on my TBR because it made me think of this young-adult fantasy book I read and enjoyed as a teen — Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death by Richard Peck.

Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden

I wanted more Assassin’s Creed after watching the movie (released last year), but I didn’t want to play the games — I suck at video games, — so I was excited to learn that there are books based in the Assassin’s Creed universe. I believe Renaissance is the first book. It has received mixed reviews, so I’ll borrow it from the library and see how it goes.

Klaus by Grant Morrison, illus. by Dan Mora

When I saw the cover of this, my immediate thoughts were “Badass santa? I must read it!” I discovered this comic in an Unbound Worlds post on sci-fi/fantasy books for Christmas. The story draws on Viking and Serbian lore to tell the tale of Santa Claus’s origin. Super cool! However, the sentence that made me immediately add this book to my TBR was this (from the Unbound Worlds post):

And really, who doesn’t love a Santa who crafts all of his toys during an extended drug trip brought about by a hallucinogenic stew?

Aahhaaa!! Sounds like it will be a crazy read! 😀

Here by Richard McGuire (illus.)

A graphic novel that tells the story of a corner of a room and its inhabitants. I discovered this in a YouTube video and immediately placed it on my TBR. I believe the story and structure of the graphic novel will be very different from any I’ve since tried.

“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed

tiny-beautiful-thingsI’ve been interested in reading one of Strayed’s books, namely Wild, since I first listened to a podcast episode featuring her on Longreads. The episode was inspiring and I thought her memoir would be also.

Though I bought Wild last year, I have yet to crack it open. However, at the start of this year, I decided to download Tiny Beautiful Things on my library’s Overdrive because it was available; but the electronic format made me sleepy.

I borrowed the book from the library and was so taken by it, that I found myself placing dots on almost every page (it’s my way of highlighting library books without being intrusive). Eventually, I decided to just get my own copy so I can highlight every damn thing.

Quick summary:

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I’ve avoided sharing my thoughts on this book because I didn’t know what to say. Of course, it’s inspiring and motivational and uplifting and all the other words usually associated with self-help books.

Many people have already read it and Strayed’s Dear Sugar column, which appeared in the online literary magazine The Rumpus, was pretty popular so I think I have nothing new to add to encourage folks to read this book.

I must admit, though, that because this book is composed of advice columns, I expected not to like it because I thought it would lean heavily on relationship topics. It did, but surprisingly I didn’t mind. Strayed often addressed the problems underlying the relationship issues, the problems that caused conflicts to arise in the relationships.

As the Dear Sugar persona, Strayed maintains a light tone throughout. However, it’s not so light as to be dismissive of heavy topics. The Dear Sugar persona is direct and raw, but comforting and reassuring. She seems to have no restrictions as she often includes much of her personal history in the columns, ranging from her struggles as a writer to having sex on a bathroom floor. I was surprised that she includes so much of her life in the columns, but I appreciated it because it made her as Dear Sugar seem real, like a friend, and her advice sincere.

Of the columns, here are the ones that resonated with me the most:

Write Like a Motherfucker: I think this one is pretty popular. I’d read it somewhere else before I learned of Tiny Beautiful Things or Cheryl Strayed. As the title suggests, the column encouraged the anonymous writer to start writing. I appreciate Strayed’s advice here because she discusses how sometimes our ego gets in the way of starting: “It was only then, when I humbly surrendered, that I was able to do the work I needed to do.”

“The only way you’ll find out if you ‘have it in you’ is to get to work and see if you do.”

No Mystery About Sperm: The anonymous writer here is finding it hard to achieve her dream of having a husband and child and is considering to become a single mom. Strayed is understanding yet straightforward about the difficulties that might arise from being a single mom. I like the column for its practical advice, which I think would be useful to many people I know.

“What’s important is that you make the leap. Jump high and hard with intention and heart. Pay no mind to the vision the commission made up. It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.”

The Future Has an Ancient Heart: The professor of a creative writing class at the University of Alabama wrote to Dear Sugar asking her to write a graduation speech for the class. I love this one. It’s the speech I wish I’d heard/read when I graduated college with an English degree and no idea what to do next while people constantly asked “So, what can you do with a degree in English, teach?” I had no desire to teach.

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history of economics or science or the arts.”

“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”

The Human Scale: Correspondence with an anonymous writer whose six-month-old daughter was in a pediatric intensive care unit because of a tumor in her brain. This one stood out to me because of its discussion on God and how/when people appeal to Him.

“To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion.”

“It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising — the very half that makes rising necessary — is having first been nailed to the cross.”

A Big Life: From a college graduate struggling with student loan debt and a strained relationship with her parents. I strongly related to this one because the writer felt defined by her debt, as if it was directing her life, so I appreciate Strayed’s advice here. It’s something I needed to see/read/hear and hopefully will follow.

“Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice.”

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.”

The Obliterated Place: Such a sad one. I could feel the writer’s pain in his letter, from a father whose son was killed by a drunk driver. The writer sorely misses his son, whom he loved dearly, and regretted not apologizing to his son for how he initially reacted when his son informed him that he’s gay.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Strayed’s advice to her twentysomething self.

“Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

“Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity.”

“The useless days will add up to something.”

Overall: ★★★★★

Not all the columns resonated with me, but those that did greatly affected me because Strayed’s advice in them were often something I needed or advice I know others close to me would find useful.

I highly recommend the book to you all.

More quotes from the book:

“Transformation often demands that we separate our emotional responses from our rational minds.”

“When bad things happen, often the only way back to wholeness is to take it all apart.”

“Acceptance asks only that you embrace what’s true.”

“Addiction is a tunnel that wakes you up in the middle of the night. Everything else happens out here in the light.”

“The narratives we create in order to justify our actions and choices become in so many ways who we are. They are the things we say back to ourselves to explain our complicated lives.”

“Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.”

Valentine’s Day Book Tag

I’m pretty proud of myself for doing this tag and posting it ON TIME for the event it’s for. I was tagged by Heather, the Sassy Book Geek, (thanks for tagging me!!) and the tag was created by CC’s Books.

A stand-alone book you love:

In Search of Lost Dragons

In Search of Lost Dragons by Élian Black’Mor (illus.) and Carine-M (illus.)

There are many stand-alone books I love but I chose In Search of Lost Dragons because it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned it. It’s an illustrated book packaged to look like the travel journal our protagonist carries as he documents the existence of dragons in Europe. If you love dragons and great illustrations, I highly suggest you check out the book. The illustrations are beautiful and I love all the little notes and maps in it.

Continue reading

lunar-new-year-book-tag-horizontal-banner

Lunar New Year Book Tag

I know celebrations for the Lunar New Year over, but I really wanted to do this tag. It was created by Tiff at Mostly YA Lit and Joey at Thoughts and Afterthoughts to celebrate the Chinese New Year. I’ve always wanted to participate in the celebration of the Chinese New Year in my area, but I’m always either too busy or forget to, and now this tag almost passed me by. Well, here’s a late Lunar New Year celebration on my blog!

I guess we should start with our Chinese zodiac animal and I’m a

cny-zodiac-book-tag-dragon

the-other-boleyn-girl

Continue reading

“Gilded Cage” by Vic James

gilded-cageHave you ever read a book that’s so compelling you can hardly put it down but is so annoying that you wish you could? That’s how I felt over the 8 days I spent reading Gilded Cage. I was curious about some of its plot points, but I had so many issues with it that I was frustrated the entire time I read it.

Quick summary:

Gilded Cage is a young-adult fantasy novel set in the present day, where some people (the Equals) have magical abilities (the Skill) and enslave those who lack such abilities (the Commoners). Some countries have improved their policies and allowed equal opportunities for both Equals and Commoners; however, in the U.K., where the story is set, slavery is still in effect.

When the story begins, one of our protagonists, Abigail, and her family are about to begin their slave days. Commoners must dedicate 10 years of their lives to being a slave, however individuals can choose when to begin. Parents can choose for children under 18, but all Commoners must begin before they are 60.

Abigail is 18 and is studying to be a doctor. However, she is willing to set her aspirations aside to start her slave days with her family, which includes her mom and dad, her 15-year-old* (I forgot his age, but it’s about there) brother Luke, and her 10-year-old sister Daisy. Abigail plans for them all to have an easy time working their slave days at the Kyneston estate, one of the most powerful Equal families in the country that is managed by brothers Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen Jardine. However, her family is ripped apart when Luke is taken to Millmoor, the harsh factory town that mistreats its slaves.

Continue reading

What’s On Your Nightstand: January 2017

What's On Your NightstandWhat’s on Your Nightstand, is a monthly meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month that summarizes what you’ve read for the month, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan to read next. For my posts, I also include articles, music, art, TV shows, and whatever else I did in the month.

January was rough for me. After all the wrap-ups and reflections and look-ahead posts, I was drained and wasn’t in the mood to read or blog. I instead spent much of my time watching movies and TV shows and now have so many TV shows I want to keep up with that I’ll have to make a schedule for them. I also read a couple interesting articles because of the divisive administration currently in power in the U.S., but I didn’t keep track of them so unfortunately, I won’t be able to share much in that section. But, enough of my rambling. Here’s what I did in January.

Continue reading