I think this August, I set a record for the most new books added to my TBR in the span of a month. I added 115 books to my TBR this month (and that’s actually a tiny bit lower than I originally thought)! The additions this month were an interesting mix of new books by authors I’ve read, books I’ve been debating adding for a long time, and books I learned about through vlogger recommendations. My TBR list in total currently stands at 2325 books, which is completely overwhelming! It’s funny because a co-worker recently asked me how many books I think I’ve read in the past 5 years, and was very impressed when I said it must have been between 400 and 500. That is definitely a ton of books, but nowhere near enough to keep up with my TBR! But that also doesn’t mean I’m going to stop adding more.
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviewsand ReadingReality.
1) The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker
This was one of the first books that I added right at the beginning of August. I’ve had one of Emily Bleeker’s other books on my TBR for two years already without picking it up, so when I saw this one on a list of new and upcoming releases this year, the author’s name caught my attention. This book is about a widowed woman named Veronica who is struggling with post-partum depression after the birth of her daughter. After coming home to find her baby missing, Veronica soon finds herself treated as the prime suspect instead of the victim, and realizes she is on her own to find her daughter. This sounds like exactly the kind of mystery/thriller that I enjoy. The only reason I was slightly hesitant to add it to my TBR is that it’s a bit on the short side, at just under 300 pages, and I often find shorter books don’t develop their plots and/or characters quite strongly enough. This book just came out on August 28, so I’m looking forward to giving it a chance.
2) Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder
I think this was another book I discovered through lists of new and upcoming releases, since this just came out in late July. It is about twins named Parker and Charlie who are opposites, which is only compounded by the fact that Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia and Parker wasn’t. With Charlie in remission, Parker should be happy with her life and the opportunity to go to Harvard, but she only feels anxious about it and has a difficult relationship with her brother. When Parker meets a boy named Finn, who leaves strange graffiti messages all over town, she starts to feel free for the first time in a long time. It’s been a while since I read a YA cancer story and it is not something I would usually gravitate toward, but this one sounded a little different from the others I’ve read. The early reviews have also been surprisingly strong, with an average so far of 3.9 stars. I’m a little worried this will be a typical YA contemporary romance, but it seems like it has potential to have a lot more depth.
3) Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
I found this book while looking ahead at upcoming releases for 2019, so it will be quite a while before I actually get to read it! This book is about a couple named Jack and Kate who connect at a party, and Jack soon realizes he is falling for her. When Kate dies, Jack is somehow sent back to the beginning of their relationship and has the chance to do it all over again, and hopefully to prevent Kate’s death. One of the first things I noticed about this book is that the cover posted on Goodreads included blurbs from Becky Albertalli and Angie Thomas praising this book. Since those are both authors that I love, it was definitely a good sign. I don’t reach for this kind of time travel story very often (even though I am literally reading one right now for my reading challenge), but I do tend to enjoy them. I love the whole concept of the story, and it sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read.
4) Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach
This is a book that is definitely outside my comfort zone, since it is tagged on Goodreads as horror! It is about Ben, whose younger brother Eric disappears while they are at the grocery store. Ben feels responsible and devotes himself to trying to find Eric, even five years later when police have given up the search. When Ben ends up getting a job at the same grocery store where Eric went missing, he realizes that things there might not be as they seem. It definitely seems like a very creepy book and I’m curious about what makes this one horror instead of just a mystery or thriller. The Goodreads synopsis hints at some horror elements, but it’s not too clear about what those might be. On the other hand, I think there’s something to be said about more realistic kinds of horrors. Real human criminals and the idea that these things could actually happen may be even more scary sometimes than ghosts or monsters.
5) Theo and Anna by Amanda Prowse
Honestly, Theo drew my attention at first mostly because of the beautiful cover art, and the fact that I already had a couple more of Amanda Prowse’s books on my TBR only confirmed my decision to add it. It didn’t really help that the synopsis available was incredibly sparse, and it wasn’t until just now that I realized this story actually consists of two books, each one giving one character’s side of their love story. I had Theo on my list for almost a month already without realizing that there was another book that goes with it, and added Anna to my list just now. I’m a little on the fence about how this will work, since it would mean reading two 300+ pages books that essentially tell the same story about the same characters, and it’s left me wondering why the author didn’t just combine it into one book with alternating perspectives. I’ll have to figure out whether it is best to approach these two books together or to space them out when I finally decide to read them. If anyone has read either of these (or both), feel free to let me know what you think!
6) Marriage of Unconvenience by Chelsea M. Cameron
Not going to lie, it bugs me a bit that the title says “unconvenience” and not “inconvenience.” I actually went back and forth about adding this one to my TBR, but ultimately decided to add it because it looked like fun. This book is about a woman named Lauren who is in desperate need of money after losing her job, but she can only collect her inheritance from her grandmother if she is married. When Lauren’s best friend Cara confesses that she also needs money to pay for grad school, Lauren decides they should fake a marriage to get the inheritance, and then get the marriage annulled. Although it starts out as a fake marriage, Lauren starts to realize it feels a lot like they are married for real and wonders if she could really be falling for her best friend. Fake marriage/fake dating is a trope that is usually a lot of fun to read, although this book is incredibly short at just under 200 pages! I’ve also noticed quite a few reviewers already (the book only came out at the end of July) mentioning that there are a lot of continuity errors, which can be frustrating. I still think it may be worth a try.
7) Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
I wasn’t sure how much this book really interested me until I saw a five-star review for it on Destiny’s blog HowlingLibraries. Like me, she had commented that this book was a bit outside her comfort zone, and I was glad to see that she ultimately ended up loving it! I’m not sure why, but I always seem to associate this book with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which I absolutely adored. This book is about a woman named Marisol who travels to Cuba to fulfill her grandmother Elisa’s dying wish of having her ashes scattered in the country of her birth. While there, she unearths a family secret and learns more about her grandmother’s life in Havana at the time of the revolution. First of all, where was this book the past two years when I had reading challenges requiring a book set in South or Central America?! This would have been a perfect fit, but I didn’t hear about it until very recently even though it’s been out since February. I know very little about Cuba and its history, so I think this one could be a very interesting book to read.
8) All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan
Is it bad that what first drew me to this book was the animal crackers on the cover? The book is about a boy named Ronney who comes from a family with a bad reputation in his hometown due to drug addiction and mental health issues, where a local eccentric decides to release the animals from the zoo before committing suicide. With his parents unable to cope, Ronney is left on his own to deal with his sister, best friend, and the lonely boy who follows Ronney everywhere. It definitely seems like a unique backdrop for a YA contemporary story, and I’m curious to see how the zoo animals on the loose actually play into the story. The early reviews for this one have been extremely mixed so far, so I’m not really sure how much I might enjoy it. I have read quite a few YA books that focus on mental health, and I like that this one takes the approach of focusing on a family member of the people who are affected by these conditions, since this is a perspective that is often ignored. As someone who was a family member of a person who had some severe mental health challenges, I think it’s a perspective that could use more attention, and I hope it is handled well.
9) What You Left Me by Bridget Morrissey
I was intrigued by this book because it has such a unique storyline. It is about two students, Martin and Petra, who connect when they are seated beside each other at graduation. When Martin is left in a coma after a car accident, Petra is left picking up the pieces, using their shared dreams as a way for the two of them to work together to help Martin wake back up. I have heard that, counter to my expectations, this book is not a romance but instead focuses on a platonic friendship — and I’m all for that! There are definitely not enough books, especially YA books, where the characters remain just friends throughout, and I’d love to see more of those. Anyone considering adding this to their TBR should also be aware that the author has given a trigger warning for allusions to sexual assault since one of the characters is dealing with the aftermath. I’m not entirely sure about the whole “shared dreams” idea, but the book sounds very interesting.
10) That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alan
I feel like I’ve seen this book around on Goodreads for quite a while now, but I’m not sure how that’s possible when it only just came out in May 2018. I found it while looking at options for a challenge prompt I have that requires a literary fiction book, and decided to finally add it to my TBR even though I picked another book for the challenge. This book is about a first-time mother named Rebecca who hires Priscilla, a Black woman she meets at the hospital, as her son’s nanny. Through their relationship, Rebecca is forced to confront her privilege for the first time in her life, which is put to the test even further when Priscilla dies in childbirth herself, and Rebecca steps up to adopt her baby. Although Rebecca loves and raises both children equally, she soon realizes that the rest of the world is determined to treat them differently. The average Goodreads rating is surprisingly low, at just over 3.1 stars so far, so I’m a little worried about giving this one a try, but it sounds like it has a lot of potential.
11) She, Myself and I by Emma Young
I seem to have found quite a few unique and unusual YA books in August! This book is about a girl named Rosa who is quadriplegic, who is chosen as a candidate for an experimental surgery in the US, where her brain will be transplanted into the body of Sylvia, a girl who is brain-dead and whose parents have donated her body. When Rosa wakes up as the first successful brain transplant survivor, she can’t help becoming a little obsessed with who Sylvia was, and what it means for her to be in someone else’s body. I have no idea if this kind of brain transplant is actually possible, but I’m very interested in the identity aspect of the plot, and what seems to be a focus on what makes the person who they are. There does seem to be a bit of a risk of this becoming the typical YA romance, and I’m sure there is a high risk of it being considered problematic due to the whole concept of a person leaving a disabled body to get a “better” life. I’m curious to see if and how the author addresses this.
12) Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain
It was the unusual title that first drew me to this book, and even then I debated a bit about adding it to my TBR until I noticed it had been compared to Wonder, which I loved. This book is about twins named Finch and Birdie who are stars of a flying trapeze show. When Birdie gets into an accident, Finch has to team up with a new kid named Hector to form an act to save the family circus school, and manage the demands of family, friends and figuring out who they are. Honestly, I’ve never been particularly invested in circus stories (aside from The Night Circus) but it is a setting that can be very intriguing. It sounds like it will be a really cute story and a lot of fun to read. I can’t say it is at the top of my priority list, but I’m looking forward to giving it a chance. A circus school is definitely a more unique setting than your typical YA high school, and I’m very interested to see how that plays out. I’ve read quite a few YA books over the past few years, so I’m always excited to see something that is a little different or puts a unique spin on the usual tropes, and it seems that this book has done exactly that.
13) The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus
This book immediately appealed to me because of the awesome title! It is about a woman named Frankie who decides to try an experiment to help herself find love, by planting her favourite books on trains with her contact information inside, and seeing who responds. I absolutely love this concept, and I think it will be so much fun to see what kinds of people respond to Frankie’s books, especially since the synopsis heavily suggests that she is quite the book snob and judges other people’s book choices. I’ve never really understood the point of judging other people for the kinds of books they read, so I’m curious to see how (or maybe if?) the author weaves that in without making Frankie too irritating. I was also excited to see that the book is told at least partly through blogs, emails, and texting, which is something I always tend to enjoy. I also tend to love books that focus on a bit of an unconventional romance, and it definitely seems like this one could head in that direction. I actually forgot that I had this book on my TBR, but I’m now thinking of making it a higher priority for my reading challenges next year.
14) The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
This is another book that I’d debated adding to my TBR for quite a while, and I finally decided to go ahead and add it after picking up a copy of the book for about $5 on BookOutlet. This book is about a girl named Cara who, along with the rest of her family, becomes extremely accident-prone every October. She knows that the upcoming “accident season” will be a particularly bad one, and soon learns that not all signs of an accident are physical as she starts to uncover the origins of why her family goes through this. This book is magical realism, which is not a genre I reach for often at all, and it sounds like such a bizarre story. This is another book where the reviews are quite mixed, but I’ve seen several mentions of plot elements that appeal to me (found families, for example) but also others that really don’t (a potential romance involving step-siblings). I’m curious to give this one a try and see for myself since most reviews seem to agree that it is beautifully written and atmospheric, which sounds great!
15) Bone, Vol 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith
This is another book that I’ve been debating adding to my TBR on and off for years now, because it just seems so adorable! This series originally came out in the early 90s, but I didn’t know about it until after I started using Goodreads. I’ve been hesitant to add it because I thought it might be too childish of a series, but a Goodreads friend recently read the entire series and highly recommended it, so I thought I’d give it a try too. The book is about three Bone cousins who are separated and lost after being kicked out of Boneville, and they have to find their way through the forested valley filled with scary creatures. Looking at a preview of the first few pages, it seems so cute and I can definitely see myself having fun reading it. I’ve heard that this series is very funny, and actually has a decent adventure story so it seems like it will be worth a try. I’m at least going to eventually try the first one, and hopefully enjoy it enough to read the rest of the series.
16) This Train is Being Held by Ismee Amiel Williams
I really need to stop looking at lists of upcoming releases for next year, since I end up adding books to my TBR that I can’t read for many months! This book is due out next April, and it focuses on a private school student named Isabelle who meets a Dominican-American boy named Alex on the train. The two of them meet repeatedly on the subway over the next three years, and begin to connect in a very deep way. Unfortunately, not much information is available about this one yet since it is still so many months away, but it has been compared to Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen. That does leave me a little worried about how much I’ll enjoy it because I find both of those authors’ YA books tend to be aimed toward a younger audience, but this story sounds like it could be really sweet. I love the whole concept of multiple chance encounters over time, and that their friendship or relationship will develop over several years. I’m definitely keeping this as one to watch.
17) Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Jennifer E. Smith’s books have always been a bit of an strange case to me — I have several of her books on my TBR, but rarely have much interest in actually picking one up, yet they interest me enough to keep them on the list. It doesn’t help that the one and only one that I have tried ended up being disappointing. To be fair, I added this one to my TBR before realizing who the author was, at which point I had already decided that I wanted to try this. It is about a boy named Hugo who wants to take a train trip across the US before going to college, however he has been recently dumped by his girlfriend and has a non-transferable, non-refundable ticket in her name. When he puts the ticket up online, he meets Mae, an aspiring filmmaker with a similar name to his ex, and they decided to meet and take the trip together. It’s another book that isn’t out until next year, so I’ll have to wait and see what kinds of reviews come in, but it sounds like a cute romance. Even though I didn’t like the first book I tried by this author, I’m willing to give her another chance.
18) Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner
This was another case where the cover art first drew me in, and yet another book that isn’t out until 2019. It is about two girls, Sam and Zoe, who exchange phone numbers after an unexpected encounter, and bond through text messages that develops into a private world they call Starworld, where they can really be themselves. When Sam’s feelings for Zoe begin to turn into something more than friendship, it puts the world they’ve created together at risk. I haven’t read anything by either of these authors yet, but I have Audrey Coulthurst’s Of Fire and Stars in my current library stack, which I will hopefully get to within the week. I have seen both of Paula Garner’s other books on Goodreads for quite a while, and have always considered adding them to my TBR without actually doing so (until just now, when I decided to just go ahead and add them). I love books that focus on social media and online/text friendships, so this one is definitely right up my alley. I’m very curious to see what people think as the reviews come in.
19) No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett
Along the same lines, I also added this book at the same time which is another 2019 release that focuses on technology and online friendship, and it also helps that is has been compared to Adam Silvera! This book is about a girl named Eden who loses her crush Will to a car accident, and her best friend Lacey to the inevitable changes of growing up. Eden discovers that Will set up an account with a service called In Good Company, which uploads voices and emails to create a digital companion that a person can call any time they need to talk. Eden comes to rely on this version of Will to help her get through her problems with her friend, and becomes so deeply involved that she doesn’t notice all the opportunities in her real life around her. I think this book has such a fascinating concept and I love the creativity of the In Good Company service, although I also find it a little creepy. I’m very interested in giving this one a try when it comes out next year.
20) The Wife Before Me by Laura Elliot
To be honest, I added just about all of Laura Elliot’s books to my TBR after reading Guilty earlier in August, and I really enjoyed it (although didn’t quite love it as much as I expected). I chose to focus on this one for the post since it is the Laura Elliot book that I’m most interested in trying next. This book is about a woman named Elena who is grieving the loss of her mother, who meets a man named Nicholas who is grieving the loss of his wife, whose car slid off a pier two years ago and her body was never found. As they help each other heal, the two of them eventually move in together, and Elena discovers a torn letter that frightens her, and she realizes she needs to find out who wrote it to save herself. Even though I already have an idea of what will happen in this book, I’m interested to see how it plays out. When I read Guilty, I really enjoyed Laura Elliot’s writing style so I’m definitely interested in trying more of her books.
21) The Other Sister by Sarah Zettel
I found this book while browsing my local bookstore one day while I was trying to kill time waiting for a bus, and I found quite a few interesting books. I added this one to my list specifically because it reminded me of a real-life case where an alcoholic mother was killed by her two teenage daughters, which was also turned into a movie called Perfect Sisters with Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley. This book is about Geraldine and Marie, two sisters who plot to kill their father, a cruel man who rules over their household and their town. Geraldine has a reputation as the bad sister, who ran away shortly after their mother disappeared twenty years ago, and Marie is the “good” daughter. This sounds exactly like the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy, and I’d love to give it a try. According to the reviews so far, the story is told in alternating perspectives from each of the two sisters, so it definitely seems like it is setting up for an unreliable narrator. I’m very interested in this one.
22) Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
This was another book that I added while at the bookstore. I’d seen it on Goodreads for quite a while but never paid much attention to it, so while at the store I finally decided to actually take a look at the synopsis.This book is about a Muslim woman named Ayesha who does not want an arranged marriage, despite her family’s interest in setting her up with someone. She meets Khalid who is smart and attractive, but also very conservative and judgmental of Ayesha. When it is suddenly announced that Khalid will be engaged to Ayesha’s young cousin Hafsa, Ayesha and Khalid both need to figure out what they want for themselves and how they feel about each other. This book has been called a modern version of Pride and Prejudice, which is one of my all-time favourite books. I have no idea why I overlooked it every time I saw it before having a copy physically in front of me. I didn’t buy it that day, but I immediately added it to my TBR so I’d remember to actually read it!
23) Mad About You by Sinead Moriarty
I also added this one immediately upon seeing it at the bookstore, but I didn’t realize that it was part of a series! This book is about a couple named Emma and James who have been struggling with infertility and eventually became parents to two babies in the same year. Now, while under pressure of moving to London for James’ new job, James starts getting strange texts, Emma starts to question her marriage. I was surprised to go back onto Goodreads the other day and realize that this book was labelled “Emma Hamilton #4” which I definitely didn’t notice when I first added it to my TBR. I went ahead and added the rest of the series to my TBR as well, although realizing I need to read three more books before this one has dampened my interest a tiny bit. I’m not entirely sure how the author can manage to spread out this family’s story over so many books, but the reviews in general have been higher than I expected. Ironically enough, this book has the lowest average rating of the 4. I’m still willing to give the series a chance, but it’s been knocked down my priority list a bit.
24) The Party by Lisa Hall and The Birthday by Carol Wyer
I’m grouping these two together because I added them at the same time, and for similar reasons. Both are books that I found while looking for new and upcoming thrillers. The Party is about a woman named Rachel who wakes up the morning after a neighbour’s party with no memory of what happened or why her husband left her alone there, and needs to piece together the truth about what really happened to her. The Birthday is about a series of disappearances and deaths of little girls who all attended the same birthday party at a local garden centre. As Detective Natalie Ward begins to dig into their deaths, a third young girl doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson, leaving the detective to try and find a way to stop the killer before anyone else gets hurt. Both of these books sound like very interesting mystery/thrillers, and they are definitely the kinds of books I tend to enjoy. I’m very intrigued by both of them, and hope to give both a chance soon.
25) Front Desk by Kelly Yang
I really need to stop assuming books are graphic novels just because they have a cartoon-ish cover! This was another book that I’d debated adding to my TBR because I rarely enjoy middle grade books, but the more often I saw this one the more it interested me. This book is set in the early 1990s, and is about a 10-year-old girl named Mia who has moved from China to America with her parents, who struggle to get the same kinds of jobs they had at home. The family is employed by Mr. Yao, who is a very difficult man to work for. At only age 10, Mia helps to manage the front desk, and her parents clean rooms as well as hide immigrants in empty rooms overnight. For one thing, I’m kind of curious how the author manages to justify having such a young child employed at the front desk, since that is not something I can see realistically happening. That was part of my hesitation to adding this book to my TBR in the first place. However, it does seem to tackle a lot of complex issues about immigrants and how they are treated in their new countries, so it has the potential for a really great story.
I’m so glad you added Next Year in Havana! It’s funny that you mentioned it reminding you of Evelyn Hugo, because that is actually why I accepted the review copy when they offered it to me – it reminded me of that, too. And while the plot is not super alike, the storytelling device of switching between past and present definitely had similarities, plus each book showcases these strong Cuban women celebrating their heritage and at the same time struggling with the whitewashing they’ve experienced in the US, which is tough to read about but for me, as a white woman? SUPER informative and inspiring. I really hope you enjoy it!