Okay, so here's the thing... I am recovering from a HUGE book buying problem. When I started watching Booktube and really falling into reading so avidly in 2015, I would buy any book just because I'd heard of it before. This has created a huge problem over time, as my bookshelf space is filled up with many books I just don't have interest in any more, or I don't even know the synopsis of. I've shed many of these books recently via donations and Little Libraries, but many still remain on my shelves.
To help remedy this, I've created a bit of a challenge for myself. Essentially, I need to read the following six books within the next year, or I have to unhaul them. I feel six books should be entirely manageable. I'd only be required to read one book from this list over every two months. However, I know myself and my procrastination. I may fail this challenge miserably. I have varying levels of interest in these books, and some of them I may never pick up without a strong shove. I'm hoping this will be the shove I need. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to my bookshelf time-bombs.
1. The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
The Accidental Empress is a historical fiction novel based on Empress Elizabeth and her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. The novel follows Sisi, as Elizabeth was called, as a young woman and her courting by Franz Joseph. Although it was her sister that was meant to marry into the Empress's throne, Sisi finds herself Franz Joseph's lover and conquest, and therefore the "accidental Empress." She now must face her new station and serve Austria and its people, as well as win over their hearts.
I purchased this one from a used bookstore for relatively cheap without really knowing much about it. All I knew was that I had seen it featured on a Booktube channel leading up to its release. I haven't had much interest in picking this one up, and I don't recall ever being particularly driven to. While doing some research to write this post, I've come across many mixed reviews. The negative ones all condemn this novel for being historically inaccurate and poorly written. The positive ones claim the inaccuracies are minor details used only to enhance the narrative's flow and praise the penmanship Pataki wields. Honestly, the mixed opinions do intrigue me, and I'm now more interested in this novel. I think I should do some independent research on the subject matter first, so that I'm not relying on fiction to educate me on Austrian history.
2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass
As far as I've gathered from various videos and GR reviews, Throne of Glass follows a badass lady assassin who is put against others in a grand battle to become the king's right-hand royal assassin. (I could be wrong, so don't put too much stock in this. I am grasping at straws here.)
One of my biggest book-buying problems was buying up all of the books of a series without having read anything in the series to know if I'll enjoy the books. I have never read Throne of Glass... or anything by Sarah J. Mass. Do I own the first four books of the series, though? Absolutely. Everyone was praising these books to high heavens, and I just needed to experience what all of the hype was about! Shortly after acquiring all of these books, people began to negatively review these books. The series began to appear in unhauls and "worst books"videos almost daily. My excitement for these books died down, because younger me always followed trends in the bookish world. Alas, these books still sit on my shelves unread. It is time to come to my own conclusions and stop blindly following the opinions I was spoon fed many years ago.
3. Kushiel's Chosen (Phedre's Trilogy Book 2) by Jaqueline Carey
Phedre's Trilogy takes place in a fantastical world where sex work is not only normal, but admired. Phedre is born into this line of work, but beneath the facade she is carrying out undercover observations of the world's corrupt politics and aristocrats for her patron.
The first book, Kushiel's Dart, teeters somewhere between erotica and political intrigue. The second half of the book shifts the overall tone entirely, and is what has kept me just interested enough to give book two a try. Well, that, and the fact that I bought up this series without much research as well. However, I haven't picked it up in over a year, so I clearly am not too excited to continue on. I have very mixed feelings about this world and the overall premise of this book. There is plenty of criticism and praise for this series, both of which are very deserving. With all of the terrible flaws in book one improving over the course of the story. I have a feeling the sequel will move to a more... healthy atmosphere. I will be able to attest to this within the year. Hopefully.
4. UnWholly (Unwind Book 2) by Neal Shusterman
In Unwind, Shusterman explores a world following a war over reproductive rights. The resolution which results is a chilling compromise: children from the ages thirteen to eighteen become eligible to be "Unwound." This is to say, their sentient lives will be terminated, and their body parts will be used to aid those in need. This "resolution" ends abortion, and eradicates death via organ failure, accidental injuries, and many illnesses.
Once again, I bought up an entire series at once and now must face the consequences. Unwind received general dissent from many reviewers I've watched and read. I happened to enjoy it. I find that Shusterman is brilliant at playing both sides of an argument throughout his novels. I love how thought provoking and challenging he can be. Most of the negative comments this book gets tends to be because the many characters and plot points don't align perfectly with their views on reproductive rights. I think that's the beauty here. I want to be challenged. I want to have to sift through my thoughts and feelings on an issue in order to more thoroughly understand why I think what I do, and to therefore better be able to support my opinions. I'm looking forward to picking up UnWholly, but I've struggled to get through the first 20 pages the two times I've tried. Third time's the charm?
5. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
"Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?"
I had to look up what A Shadow Bright and Burning was even about. Yikes. I will be entirely honest here, this was a cover buy. Once I realized it was the first book in a series, I was discouraged from picking it up. I have the weight of far too many series that I've yet to finish on my shoulders. This one sounds original, but I have a strong feeling it will read just like every other fantasy-turned romance in the YA genre. I know, I shouldn't jump to conclusions, but sometimes I can't help it. I will give this novel a try before the year is out, and we will have a more accurate verdict on the nature of this story.
6. The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
"Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship,Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when thePredatoris severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoringPredatorto its fighting glory.
And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…"
I had to look up synopsis of The Aeronaut's Windlass as well. I'm not as ashamed this time though, because I didn't personally purchase this one. I received this novel in a fantasy/sci-fi subscription box several years ago. It's one of the last books left from this service that I haven't yet read. As most of the books from this service received pretty low ratings from me, I haven't been in a hurry to try this one out. However, it's time to either move it or lose it.
I'm pretty excited to challenge myself to finally read these books. In fact, writing this post has rekindled some of the excitement that initially brought me to make these purchases. Stay tuned for my reviews of these books!