Welcome to a new week of my TBR cleanup. I evidently added a couple, which I don’t remember doing, so perhaps I’ve been doing some sleep perusing of goodreads. Anyway, I’m currently at 501, so let’s get started!
The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry
Synopsis from goodreads: “In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. But it is her father’s faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha’s well-being. Is Chung-Cha’s father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter? Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labor. Her crime? Being the daughter of a political traitor. The Beloved Daughter follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps of the contemporary free world. Will Chung-Cha survive the horrors of Camp 22? And if she does survive, will her faith remain intact? “The Beloved Daughter” is Alana Terry’s debut Christian novel and was a winner in the Women of Faith writing contest.”
Verdict: I’m a bit torn on this one. The story does sound incredibly compelling. However, it seems this is categorized as Christian fiction, which is something I don’t care to read as the religious stuff is often way too heavy handed and I’m not a religious person. I don’t mind religion in books, but I don’t want it to be the focus of the story and I don’t want to read something that has a main purpose of saving my soul. I do expect to learn something from a book, but I want it to be subtle and natural. I don’t want to be beaten over the head with a forced message. Most people rave about this book, but they seem to be in the camp of people that like that. Some reviewers did mention it to be off putting, so I think I will remove this one.
The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud
Synopsis from goodreads: “Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the “ultimate sacrifice” for a “noble destiny.”
If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn’t tough enough, Nathaniel’s master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy’s only saving grace is the master’s wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.
Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.”
Verdict: I do enjoy a good YA fantasy every now and again and this one has good enough reviews to hold my interest. It looks unique and like it would maybe be a good audiobook pick one day. I think I’ll keep it.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Synopsis from goodreads: “The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years—except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more—except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala—and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.”
Verdict: This is more like it when it comes to religion in books. Being able to have a little fun. I greatly enjoy humor, and I’ve had this one on my list for a while. I’m going to keep this one.
Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara
Synopsis from goodreads: “What would you give up to become the person you knew you were meant to be?
It’s 1935, and Dez Spaulding has sacrificed her plans to work as an artist in New York to care for her bankrupt, ailing father in Cascade, Massachusetts. When he dies, Dez finds herself caught in a marriage of convenience, bound to the promise she made to save her father’s Shakespeare Theater, an especially difficult feat since the town faces almost certain flooding to create a reservoir. When she falls for fellow artist and kindred spirit Jacob Solomon, she sees a chance to escape with him and realize her New York ambitions, but her decisions will have bitter and unexpected consequences.
Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will savor this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set in New York City and New England during the uncertain, tumultuous 1930s.”
Verdict: This novel has a truly gorgeous cover. From the reviews, it seems to be right up my alley. I will keep this one.
The Humans by Matt Haig
Synopsis from goodreads: “The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics, and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves. Combine Douglas Adams’s irreverent take on life, the universe, and everything with a genuinely moving love story, and you have some idea of the humor, originality, and poignancy of Matt Haig’s latest novel.
Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man–as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family, and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son–who have no idea he’s not the real Andrew–the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth.”
Verdict: I just finished The Midnight Library not too long ago, which was my first Matt Haig novel. I really enjoyed it and would read anything else he’s written. This also has a great average at 4.08. Definitely keep.
There you have it! It may look like I only removed one, but I stumbled across a book I’d already read that was still on my To-Read shelf so I removed it as well for a total of 499.