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Tackling the TBR: Round 1 (the picks)

I’m sure I’m not the only one with a seemingly unending TBR pile. Throughout the year I love going through my To Read shelf on GoodReads and weeding out duds. Last year I discussed culling my shelves and ultimately created a few new ones – priority books, ones that hadn’t been released, and books I wasn’t 100% sold on but still wanted to check out.

This method worked perfectly until last week when I decided I wanted something more streamlined and simplified. I did away with all those extra shelves and, once more, culled the number down to what I truly wanted to read.

Last summer I created a book jar and let it fall to the wayside for a bit. NO MORE! I’m ready to tackle my TBR once and for all! Some of these books are novels I already own, some are library copies. I allowed myself a little wiggle room just in case a pick hasn’t come out yet, in which case I’ll simply have another book selected for me.

ROUND ONE: THE PICKS
Rat Queens vol. 1 by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.

It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!
I’ve heard absolutely nothing but praise for this series AND I’ve been on a graphic novel kick so this works out perfectly!

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
While I’m not overly fond of epistolary novels – Letters from Skye is told through, well, letters – everything else about it screams LEAH: WWI, WWII, a swoony romance that spans the Atlantic, a family torn apart by a dark secret. Yes, yes, YES!

Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society.

The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary—it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!
Middle Grade makes my heart sing, especially when there’s magic involved. Or, in Abby’s case, when it’s NOT involved. Because I’m currently on a Harry Potter binge read, my mind naturally gravitates to Squib and I’m pretty curious to see where this goes!

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
n an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching “the Chopper” could make Eliza’s career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father’s forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London’s luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own. Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free…
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I’ll get into these moods where I desperately want to read a specific genre. I recently read Kelley Armstrong’s Deceptions and wound up with a craving for more Urban Fantasy. I actually grabbed this one from my library before I did my picks. Talk about perfect timing! The Diabolical Miss Hyde is a steampunk retelling and I’m expecting it to be pure fluff and totally fun.

The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer
Neither Sir Tristram Shield nor Eustacie, his young French cousin, share the slightest inclination to marry one another. Yet it is Lord Lavenham’s dying wish. For there is no one else to provide for the old man’s granddaughter while Ludovic, his heir, remains a fugitive from justice.
Georgette Heyer is one of those classic novelists that everyone seems to have read. …everyone but me, apparently. While she does have a good number of mysteries, she’s more known for her historical romances. This Regency romance was originally published in the late 1930s and I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy it immensely.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
The Song of Achilles is a novel I bought when it first came out after hearing nothing but glowing praise. I was SO excited to sink into it…only to let it sit on my shelf and collect dust. Naturally. I’m thrilled to finally have the push I need to get to this one – I know it’s a novel I’ll adore.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
YES, I’VE NEVER READ THIS DON’T KILL ME. A former coworker was appalled that I had never read it and all but forced me to buy a copy. I’ve been proven wrong time and time again, but for some reason I keep convincing myself that classics = LONG. And that couldn’t be further from the truth: Hitchhiker’s Guide clocks in at a whopping 215 pages. I can get through that in a sitting.

I’m pretty excited about these picks! There’s a ton of variety, novels from a wide range of genres, and I’m looking forward to diving in! Have you read any of these?? Where should I start?

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