BLOG: Tackling the TBR – July 2019 Edition

The most common refrain of anyone who works even remotely near books, or who blogs about books, is that their To Be Read pile increases at a rate that far outstrips their reading pace. I’ve been trying to be strict with myself – attempting to not buy new books, or request too many from Netgalley (particularly since I actually managed to hit a 90% feedback ratio earlier last month, only to then request four more titles – I make poor choices).

To try and organise myself and work out what needs to be read when, I thought I’d give you guys a look at what is currently on my TBR list – specifically books I already possess, not ones I am looking forward to coming out. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves with that sort of thing or we’ll be here all day.


1. Blackwing – Ed McDonald

A grimdark fantasy epic following a mercenary, who is also an indentured soldier to a powerful wizard, as he navigates a world on the brink of war with unbelievable horrors from the uninhabitable wastes beyond civilisation. I’m reading this at the moment, and don’t have much experience with grimdark fantasy (I’m not generally into things which are hopelessly bleak) but I’m enjoying the world building and the creatures and magic structure within in.

2. Ravencry – Ed McDonald

This is the sequel to Blackwing, and the third – Crowfall – came out on the 2nd July. It continues five years after the first book, and I get the impression things haven’t improved much. If anything, I expect they’ve deteriorated further.

3. Shadows of the Short Days – Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson (out 23rd July)

I was actually lucky enough to read the opening to this novel two years ago whilst interning for Gollancz, whilst they were considering taking it on. I’ve been waiting two years to read the rest of it. It’s dark and gothic, anarcho-punk in its style and setting. I can’t wait to see how things play out.

4. The Dragon Republic – R.F. Kuang (out 22nd July)

This is the sequel to The Poppy War which absolutely blew me away last year. It was involved, and brutal, and detailed, and completely and utterly absorbing. I can’t wait to see how things develop in the next in the series, as things had been changed irrevocably by the end of book 1, and it’s impossible to predict how things will go.

5. Sarong Party Girls – Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (out 1st August)

This is one of the Netgalley review copies I requested. Set in Singapore, and again examining high society in a satirical way, I thought it would perhaps follow in the steps of Crazy Rich Asians, which I loved. I’ve also been trying to make a point of reading about a wider range of cultures and authors, and it’s really enriched my reading. I fully recommend doing it if you can!

6. The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley – Ian Thornton (out 22nd Aug)

I actually first heard of Aleister Crowley when he became featured as a character in one of my favourite webcomics, Scary-go-RoundThe fact that this was published by Unbound as well, a publisher with a unique model of crowd-funded books. In the SFF section of Netgalley, the blurb had something a little Tom Holt about it (particularly Paint Your Dragon) which seemed to offer a bit of satire with the fantasy.

7. The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow (12th Sept)

This caught my attention after a fantastic ARC mailing campaign went live and bloggers and reviewers were sharing the beautiful books and the keys which came with them. This looks like a delightful fantasy including world-hopping, much in the vein of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and it should be really lovely.

8. Just One Damned Thing After Another – Jodi Taylor

This was the first in a series on Netgalley with the most recent (6th book) also available. It had a little of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series in the blurb, and I loved the series titles which promise hapless chaos and resignation to the chaos whilst also being solid time travel puns. The characters are described as “tea-soaked disaster magnets” and that is entirely my thing.

9. The Familiars – Stacey Halls

This is one that was doing the rounds on twitter earlier this year, and there was a lot of buzz around it. The cover was absolutely gorgeous as well, so my curiousity was piqued. I haven’t had a chance to start it yet but I can’t wait.

10. Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend

I got given the ARC of this while I was interning, and I just haven’t got around to reading it yet. I’ve only heard great things, but it just keeps dropping down my TBR list as new things come out. I need to get around to reading it, because everything I hear is so good.

11. Smoke in the Sun – Renee Adieh

I got this on a deal for 99p! I had the first book and really enjoyed it, so I was chuffed that this came up on kindle at such a useful time. I didn’t want to read it straight after the first book, however, because I thought it would be good to space out and see how they worked when they weren’t read one after the other.

12. How to be Champion – Sarah Millican

This was another kindle deal (those are absolutely deadly for me). A few years ago I read Miranda Hart’s autobiography and it actually came at the perfect time for me psychologically. I was having a rough time when I bought this as well, and thought it promised to be similarly uplifting, but I just hadn’t got around to it yet.

13. Lusus Naturae (Dark Days Novella) – Alison Goodman

I enjoyed the first two Dark Days books (The Dark Days Club and The Dark Days Pact). This novella retells elements of the first book from the POV of Lord Carlston. I didn’t feel the first two books missed anything, which is why I haven’t got around to reading this yet, but it should add an interesting perspective to book 1.

14. Empire of Silence – Christopher Ruocchio

This debut came out last year and made a few waves in SFF circles. It’s an epic fantasy space opera, which means magic in space. It’s also HUGE. I think I need to read this one when I’m not going to have to carry it around for long because it’s an absolute brick. I think size-wise it compares with The Priory of the Orange Tree and I spent long enough bitching about the size of that!

15. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

I will be honest, I picked this up because it seemed to be everywhere for a while – proof that being a bestseller will help you stay a bestseller. I started it, but hadn’t really settled fully into it before getting distracted by something else. I’d like to take another run at it though and try and finish it.

16. And I’d Do It Again – Aimee Crocker

I got this whilst I was interning at Head of Zeus, and was attracted by the gorgeous cover. It’s the autobiography of an American railroad heiress, who defied social convention and travelled the world, living a life of adventure. I think it will be great!

17. & 18. The City of Dreaming Books and The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books – Walter Moers

When I was in high school, I was given a copy of The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers and it blew my mind. It took me forever to read, but I adored it. From that point I would have happily filled my shelves entirely with Moers’ books. I bought The City of Dreaming Books about nine years ago, and was given The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books as a present after. The aesthetic and theme really appealed to me, but I’ve started the first and never finished it, and not got around to the second. They taunt me from my bookshelf.

19. The Ember Blade – Chris Wooding

There was so much hype for this when I was at Gollancz. Wooding is known best for his steampunk series, Tales of the Ketty Jay, but this is proper, old school fantasy. An epic story. And it’s massive, a weighty tome of fantasy fiction.

20. The New Owner – Kay Thorpe

We found this book when we were clearing out my husband’s grandmother’s house, and I was delighted. I am utterly fascinated with Mills & Boon, and their whole brand and publishing model. I have been ever since high school when I did work experience at the local library and there was a stand of them by the desk. Every day, little old ladies would bring in piles of them to return and immediately take out a new stack. I’ve only ever read one Mills & Boon in my life, and so I thought it was about time I read another.

21. A Short History of Drunkenness – Mark Forsyth

This was a Christmas present from my husband, and I can’t decide if he is trying to imply something… It looks like a really fun history of the culture of alcohol throughout the ages, though, which should be absolutely fascinating.

22. Brief Answers to Big Questions – Stephen Hawking

I’m looking forward to reading this. It wasn’t a book I would have bought for myself, but it’s supposed to be really fascinating and readable. Hawking was famous for being able to explain really complex concepts in understandable and accessible ways, the sign of a great teacher. I’m certain I’ll learn a lot.

23. The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

Another gift, this is a book I’ve heard described as peak uplit, wholesome and lovely, it should leave me feeling really happy at the end of it. I think this might be one I take on holiday with me, as it’s not too bulky and should leave me in a good mood.

24. The Eye of the Reindeer – Eva Weaver

I picked this up because I thought the cover was beautiful, reminiscent of Fair Isle patterns. It’s the story of a girl sent to a colony for ‘mad’ women and her journey home. Again, I think this will probably be an uncomfortable read in many ways, but hopefully also empowering.

25. The Sealwoman’s Gift – Sally Magnusson

I was given this book when I attended a job interview at Two Roads, and I thought it was really kind of them. They gave me the opportunity to select from a few different ARCs they had available as a thank you for coming to the interview, and I chose this one as something I wouldn’t normally pick up myself in a shop. I actually thought it was about selkies, but it turns out it’s about the abduction of 400 people from Iceland and their sale into slavery in Algiers. I think it will be a hard but fascinating read.

26. Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

I read the first book in the Rivers of London series about this time two years ago. I loved the humour, the robust knowledge of folklore, and also the humour that is perfectly observed. I have been meaning to read the next one ever since, but again it’s just kept slipping down the list. I think this will be another holiday read.

27. The Call of Cthulu and Other Stories – H.P. Lovecraft

I’ve had this book for years, and I’ve been chipping away at it. The thing about Lovecraft is that if you read too many of his stories in a row they tend to blend together. There’s something creepy about the stories, but you do tend to go a bit numb after a while.

28. New World Fairy Tales – Cassandra Parkin

I got this from Salt at the same time I bought My Shitty Twenties. I loved the creepy doll on the cover, I loved the idea of a new mythology of fairy tales for the modern world. I can’t wait to read them and see whether they embrace the dark origins of fairy tales in the way it looks like they do.

29. Ghost Hawk – Susan Cooper

Another Christmas present! This looks at the European colonisation of America from the point of view of the Native Americans. I think this is likely to be a hard read, but hopefully it’s done sensitively and will give me more insight into the time period.

30. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

This was left on a book adoption shelf at my old job. I remembered the film coming out a few years ago and it sounded really interesting, so I re-homed the book and meant to get around to to reading it. Possibly another holiday read, since it’s already a bit worn in so I won’t worry about damaging it.

31. Fragile Eternity – Melissa Marr

Sometimes I just want to read a lightweight fantasy romance. This looked to be urban fantasy YA, and it’s about fairies which… historically I haven’t had the best track record with when it comes to books, which is why I haven’t picked it up sooner. Again it might be a good holiday read because I can switch my brain off.

32. Sea of Rust – C. Robert Cargill

This one came in while I was interning at Gollancz and the cover is so stunning. It’s a post-apocalyptic ‘robot western’, and there are bits of that description I love (robot western) and bits which I am less sure on (post-apocalyptic). I think it will pay off for reading, but I have to circle my way up to it.

33. Caligula – Simon Turney

I was a bit of an ancient history nerd in high school, and studied Latin up to A-level. I wasn’t very good at it but I loved the stories. Caligula is such a great figure in Roman history, this should be a fantastic read.

34. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

This is actually my dad’s book that I have had knocking around for ages. I love the movie, and he really rates the book. I’m about halfway through, but the narrator just lacks the redeeming qualities which John Cusack seems to have in the film. He’s a bit overwhelmingly awful so far.

35. Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan

The Netflix series for this came out and I stumbled across a copy. I haven’t watched the series yet, but I’ve heard great things – I can’t decide whether to read the book or watch the series first.

36. All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

This was a Christmas gift too. I can’t actually remember what it’s about, but when I’ve mentioned the title to people I’ve had a lot of responses saying how good it is, and what a great book. It’s not often I go into a book with no expectations or knowledge, so this is unusual.

37., 38. & 39. Ironclads; Redemption’s Blade; Children of Time – Adrian Tchaikovsky

There was a deal on all Adrian’s books across a weekend, and I got a bit overexcited and bought these three. I’m looking forward to them stretching me as he is quite intense sci-fi, but I think that’s also made me a little nervous about starting them as I think they will make me work hard.

40. Rescuing the Prince – Victoria Leybourne

I am a sucker for a romance with a bit of royalty in, and this was another kindle deal. Definitely a holiday read, I think it will be relaxing, brainless, and a lot of fun.


41. Retribution Falls – Chris Wooding

This was the first Wooding I read, and whilst I could see it was excellently written at the time I couldn’t fully get into it. I want to give it another shot now I’ve read more broadly and see if I can appreciate it better on a second pass.

42. Devil’s Cub – Georgette Heyer

Having re-read These Old Shades recently, I want to read the sequel just to round it off. It’s another book I love, and I think again it will be a perfect holiday read.

43. The Rook – Daniel O’Malley

The TV series for this is coming out later this year and I am SUPER excited. I hope I get time to re-read this before it starts.

44. The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

I loved these books, but the first time I read them I felt that this wasn’t the strongest – perhaps because I didn’t really get it. I want to give the whole series another go, and see if I enjoy this better on a second pass.

45. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

This is an old comfort blanket that I haven’t had a chance to read in a while. I miss it, and want to revisit it.

46. The 13 ½ lives of Captain Bluebear – Walter Moers

As I mentioned above, I adored this book when I first read it. I’d love to read it again, but I haven’t had the time because it takes so long.

47. Man from Mundania – Piers Anthony

I read this as a teenager, and thought it was just a bizarre, oddly-written fantasy. I was a sucker for world-swap stories which is why I bought it. I discovered a few years back that it was in fact a satire, pointedly written that way. I found it in a box and thought I would give it a second shot before donating it.

48. – 57. The Malory Towers series and The Faraway Tree series – Enid Blyton

I found these in my mum’s loft a few weeks ago and was utterly delighted. I adored these series as a child. I read them again and again and again. They’re so dog-eared and battered. I’m excited about diving back into them.

58. The Oaken Throne – Robin Jarvis

I devoured this book a few times as a kid. It seemed so long and dark then. It certainly gave me a few nightmares. I can’t wait to read it again and see if it still hits the same spots it did the first time.

Total: 58 books

Recognise any of these? Are they on your TBR or have you read them already? I’d love to hear your thoughts on any you have finished! How long is your TBR? I know mine will grow before I clear out any backlog. I need a decent holiday where I can sit and plough through a load to make a real dent in it!

7 thoughts on “BLOG: Tackling the TBR – July 2019 Edition

  1. writingthebluesaway says:

    I was shocked by how long your list was at first but I think if I really sorted out my TBR I’ll find it’s more than I think, especially with re-reads! I’ve seen the series Altered Carbon and loved it so I’m quite interested in reading the book, but I’m not sure which would be better first! I’d like to read a Stephen Hawking book too, he was such an incredible man.


  2. whatthelog says:

    90%?! How the heck did you do that??? I have been perpetually stuck on 63%…

    You’ve got so many good books on this list! I would also like to go back and re-read some Georgette Heyer. The Reluctant Widow and The Quiet Gentlemen are my favourites!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Claire says:

      Haha I’m VERY cautious about what I request from Netgalley because having too many unread waiting for reviews gets me stressed!

      I can’t say I’ve actually read The Quiet Gentleman or the Reluctant Widow! My cousin loves The Grand Sophy, and there’s a couple I keep getting muddled up that I enjoy – one with Hero and Lord Sheridan, and another where the woman marries a foppish dandy who everyone thinks is an idiot but is actually quite clever. I feel like he was called Freddie?


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