Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem: January TBRs

I never really give much thought to Tuesdays — not like I do to Mondays, or Wednesdays, or Fridays or even Sundays, at least. I was born on a Tuesday, so maybe I should pay more attention to the day…maybe. I usually have Tuesday off from work, though, so it feels more like a Sunday than anything else. Either way, it’s a good day for me to rest and reflect, and catch up on work. And, it’s a good day for me to post! As long as I can keep my shit together, I’m planning for new posts to go live every Tuesday around 6pm — emphasis on the phrase, “as long as I can keep my shit together.”

Speaking of getting my shit together — which, by the way, is a popular phrase in my vernacular, so if you’re not keen on casual cursing, you’ve been warned — I am so behind on reading this year. Like, seriously, we’re already eight days into the year and I’ve hardly looked at a book.

I suppose I shouldn’t beat myself up too much over that, though. This time last year I was only just starting to read again, and I managed to finish fourteen books in 2018 — the most since I was a junior in high school (six years ago)! But, then again, this year my goal is a little higher (and I need some content to talk about here every week) so starting today I’m going to feverishly work on getting through my ever-growing TBR list.

Which brings me to my topic this week: my January TBRs!

I’ve been on the internet for a long time, but I’ll admit that I am super new to the online book community, and only learned what TBR stands for like last month. For those of you who are new to the scene like me, TBR stands for To Be Read, and is used to organize books you’re planning on reading — as the name implies. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and I felt really silly when I finally figured it out because it took me so long to catch on.

Anyways, I have a few books on my TBR that I’m hoping to get through this month. My overall goal for 2019 is to complete 20 books — six more than my record last year! Yesterday, I picked up three books at the library that were put on hold for me, and I’ve still got one other that I’m trying to finish — so that starts me off with four right off the bat. On top of those, I own two books that I started reading ages ago and just haven’t gotten around to finishing; it would be nice to get through those as well! Here’s my list, in the order of how I plan to read them:

  1. Dangerous to Know – Tasha Alexander

Synopsis: “Returning from her honeymoon with Colin Hargreaves and a near brush with death in Constantinople, Lady Emily convalesces at her mother-in-law’s beautiful estate in Normandy. But the calm she so desperately seeks is shattered when, out riding a horse, she comes upon the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. The girl’s wounds are identical to those inflicted on the victims of Jack the Ripper, who has wreaked havoc across the channel in London. Emily feels a connection to the young woman and is determined to bring the killer to justice.

Pursuing a trail of clues and victims to the beautiful medieval city of Rouen and a crumbling chateau in the country, Emily begins to worry about her own sanity: she hears the cries of a little girl she cannot find and discovers blue ribbons left in the child’s wake. As Emily is forced to match wits with a brilliant and manipulative killer, only her courage, keen instincts and formidable will to win can help her escape becoming his next victim.”

I started this book back in October, and I’ve renewed it, returned it, and checked it out again far too many times. This is the fifth installment of the Lady Emily series and, while I absolutely adore Emily and Colin Hargreaves and the entire cast of characters, I’ve had a hard time recovering from the last book, Tears of Pearl. The end of that book was, quite frankly, traumatic to me — I’m not even sure why it’s affected me as strongly as it has, but I’ve related heavily to Emily from day one, and to see her suffer truly pains me. I’m hoping to get through this installment first!

2. Bird Box – Josh Malerman

Synopsis: “Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.”

I normally never jump on the bandwagon hype of the latest streaming hit. I’ve never seen Black Mirror, I’m only a couple episodes in on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I forgot to watch season 2 of Stranger Things — you get the picture. I’m not a huge streamer to begin with. But last week, I got sucked in while my mom and stepdad watched the new Netflix original film, “Bird Box,” and ho-ly shit it was good. No, it was better than good — it was amazing. I kept telling myself, “Okay, I’ll go in the other room once it slows down or I get bored,” but it never happened. I was engrossed the entire time.

So, naturally, when my boyfriend’s sister (who gives the best book recs, by the way) told me it was originally a novel, I had to reserve my copy at the library.

It came in much sooner than expected, though — every single copy in Rhode Island was on hold, so I didn’t plan on seeing this thing for months. But, lo and behold, I got the email Sunday night that it was in! I’ll be taking a break from murder mysteries with Lady Emily for a bit to read this one right after Dangerous to Know, just because I know there are more holds and I won’t be able to renew it past the 28th!

3. A Crimson Warning – Tasha Alexander

Synopsis: “Newly returned to her home in Mayfair, Lady Emily Hargreaves is looking forward to enjoying the delights of the season. The delights, that is, as defined by her own eccentricities—reading The Aeneid, waltzing with her dashing husband, and joining the Women’s Liberal Federation in the early stages of its campaign to win the vote for women.

But an audacious vandal disturbs the peace in the capital city, splashing red paint on the neat edifices of the homes of London’s elite. This mark, impossible to hide, presages the revelation of scandalous secrets, driving the hapless victims into disgrace, despair and even death.

Soon, all of London high society is living in fear of learning who will be the next target, and Lady Emily and her husband, Colin, favorite agent of the crown, must uncover the identity and reveal the motives of the twisted mind behind it all before another innocent life is lost.”

A Crimson Warning is the sixth installment in the Lady Emily series, and thus needs no further explanation of why it’s on this list. Tasha Alexander has a new book coming out in this series towards the end of the year, and I’m hoping to finish the series well before then — but I’ve still got a long way to go!

Regardless, though, I’m just happy to know that Emily is thriving, based on the book’s synopsis alone. #TeamEmily

4. Death in the Floating City – Tasha Alexander

Synopsis: “Years ago, Emily’s childhood nemesis, Emma Callum, scandalized polite society when she eloped to Venice with an Italian count. But now her father-in-law lies murdered, and her husband has vanished. There’s no one Emma can turn to for help but Emily, who leaves at once with her husband, the dashing Colin Hargreaves, for Venice. There, her investigations take her from opulent palazzi to slums, libraries, and bordellos. Emily soon realizes that to solve the present day crime, she must first unravel a centuries old puzzle. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, especially when these revelations might threaten the interests of some very powerful people.”

Again, this needs no explanation as the seventh installment of the Lady Emily series. I am excited (and internally rolling my eyes) for the reintroduction of Emma Callum as a character, though!

5. Deeds of the Disturber – Elizabeth Peters

Synopsis: “Can fear kill? There are those who believe so–but Amelia Peabody is skeptical. A respected Egyptologist and amateur sleuth, Amelia has foiled felonious schemes from Victoria’s England to the Middle East. And she doubts that it was a Nineteenth-Dynasty mummy’s curse that caused the death of a night watchman in the British Museum. The corpse was found sprawled in the mummy’s shadow, a look of terror frozen on the guard’s face. What–or who–killed the unfortunate man is a mystery that seems too intriguingly delicious for Amelia to pass up, especially now that she, her dashing archaeologist husband, Emerson, and their precocious son, Ramses, are back on Britain’s shores. But a contemporary curse can be as lethal as one centuries old–and the foggy London thoroughfares can be as treacherous as the narrow, twisting alleyways of Cairo after dark–when a perpetrator of evil deeds sets his murderous sights on his relentless pursuer…Amelia Peabody!”

Amelia Peabody became a fast favorite of mine. A victorian-era badass female who solves crimes and works as an archaeologist in Egypt alongside her dreamy husband? That’s basically the life I want to live! This series was another recommended to me by my boyfriend’s sister, and another that I’m working my way through this year. Last year, I got through the first four within a matter of months, but between life getting crazy hectic, my TBR list rapidly growing, and — honestly — the setting of this book going back to England, it’s been slow going. I do hope to finish this soon, but I own it so there’s less pressure.

6. Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe – Preston Norton

Synopsis: “Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he’s so enormous — 6’6″ and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother’s suicide.

There’s no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there’s only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

To his own surprise, Cliff says he’s in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS — Cliff feels like he’s part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn’t as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they’ve completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined.”

This is another book I’ve been trying to get through for ages, but I’ve been so caught up in series that it’s completely fallen by the wayside. Neanderthal was one of those books that jumped out at me on my weekly (unnecessary) stroll through the books at my local Target. It’s a cute coming of age YA novel — my favorite kind, if I’m being honest. It’s also told by a male protagonist, something I don’t often gravitate towards. I haven’t picked this one up since September, but I’d love to return to my reading roots, so to speak, and dive back into some good YA lit this month!

There you have it! My definitely over-ambitious TBR reading list for the month of January. I’m willing to bet money that this list will spill over into February at least — not only do I have a full-time job to schedule in, but my aforementioned boyfriend is flying in to visit me next week, so I won’t have nearly as much free time as usual. But, nevertheless, we’ll give it a shot!

What are your reading goals for the first month of 2019? Drop your plans in a comment below, or shoot them over to me on Twitter and Instagram!

xoxo Corvina


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