TBR Thursday–Take These Books, Please!

Let’s see…what can I get rid of, er, I mean give away this week? In case you missed previous giveaways, my word for 2015 is “Simplify.” It means cutting things out of my life that cause me stress, at least when I can, making complex tasks simpler, and decluttering. My 500-plus title TBR pile is stressing me out, and new books seem to arrive daily. So I want them to be available to you!

Be warned—they’re in no order by genre or format or release date. Today’s selections are from the stacks of books I have piled on the stairs en route to the second floor of my house, meaning the poor things never even made it up to the official TBR shelves. This is NO reflection on the quality of the book–in fact, several of them I’d really like to read, but…you know….TBR…Simplify.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment saying which of these books you’d read first!


CHARM AND STRANGE, by STEPHANIE KUEHN (St. Martins Griffin, June 2014).
This was Kuehn’s debut novel, which won the William C. Morris Debut Award from the American Library Association. This is a trade paperback. Warning: This book arrived in a full-out downpour and was left propped against the front door, so it has water damage. The blurb: No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself …of the wolfish predator within. But he’s also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him. A deftly woven, elegant, unnerving psychological thriller about a boy at war with himself. Charm and Strange is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos.


COMPLICITY, by STEPHANIE KUEHN (St, Martins Griffin, June 2014).
A second book from Kuehn, released at about the same time as the debut, although the two are standalones. This one’s a hardcover. The blurb: Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie. Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.  Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.


This is a total genre-fest, described as a “a fantastical, romantic science fiction” story, which sounds fascinating. This is a hardcover. The blurb: Kari, a young woman, returns to her jungle planet of Dora after ten years in Earth’s schools and is determined to unravel the mysteries surrounding the harpies, a feral species half-bird, half-mortal. The residences of Dora believe the harpies are dangerous game animals and hunt them for their trophy wings, but Kari thinks they are intelligent and not just wild animals. A rare golden harpy, a teenage blond male with yellow wings rescued Kari as a child from the jaws of a water monster. Upon returning home, she learns the harpies are facing extinction with the over-hunting and she sets out to save them, all the time wondering if the golden male is still alive. Flight of the Golden Harpy is a fantasy, but also a mystery, thriller, and a love story that leaves a reader questioning our humanity


This is billed as historical Christian fiction; one of my coworkers RAVED about it and it does sound interesting. There are no paranormal elements, so be forewarned. This is a trade paperback ARC. The blurb: A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz–and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan. Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover–the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul–who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron. A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire. As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.


KINSLAYER, by Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne, September 2013).
Second in the Lotus War series, a steampunkish tale set in a  feudal dystopian Japanese-inspired kingdom. I’m pretty sure I have book one somewhere so if you win this week, when I unearth book one I will send it along. This is a hardcover. The blurb: A SHATTERED EMPIRE: The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead. A DARK LEGACY: Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized. A GATHERING STORM: Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat: The ghosts of a blood-stained past.

So, which one most floats your boat, or if you’ve read one of them, what did you think? Leave your answer in a comment, and I will announce winners on Sunday! These books, by the way, must be mailed media mail in the US and slow-boat-to-anywhere internationally because otherwise the postage costs would kill me. So be patient!

TBR-Toppling Tuesday–Five Book #Giveaway

Okay, I said I’d do it and here we go.

Each year, I choose a “Word of the Year” as a theme, the theory being that it’s more doable than making resolutioins. Last year my word was “balance,” because I felt overwhelmed and had no time to recharge my creative batteries. That didn’t quite work out so well. This year, I’ll do better.

My word for 2015 is “Simplify.” It means cutting things out of my life that cause me stress, at least when I can, making complex tasks simpler, and decluttering. I tried to do a rough count of my TBR mountain this weekend and stopped at 500. I was not finished. I don’t count the hundreds of unread books on my Kindle, because they aren’t taking up physical space and stressing me out.

So I’m going to make my TBR YOUR TBR 🙂

For now, I’m leaving this giveaway opening internationally. In the US, I will ship via Media Mail, which is slower but less expensive. For international winners, I will have to look for the least-expensive mail options since obviously bankrupting myself with postage costs will not simplify my life–LOL. But I’ll keep it international as long as I can.

Some of these books are hardcover; some are trade paperbacks. All are new. A few are ARCs but most are finished copies. They are often books I’d eventually like to read–I mean, a lot of them sound AWESOME–but my reading time is so precious that I’m simplifying that too. My keeper pile is going to be a lot smaller than the TBR.

Here we go, then, the first TBR Toppler for 2015. I will likely do them on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. Some weeks I’ll do one a week; some two. Drawings will be at the end of the week, not at the end of the month, and will be announced on Sundays as in the past.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment saying which of these books you’d read first.

miss hydeBOOK 1:
THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE, by Viola Carr (Harper Voyager, February 2015).
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy. This is an ARC and it hovered over my keeper pile because I think it sounds awesome. The blurb: In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching “the Chopper” could make Eliza’s career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father’s forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde….When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London’s luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own….Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

tigerqueensBOOK 2:

THE TIGER QUEENS: The Women of Genghis Khan, by Stephanie Thornton (NAL, November 2014). Genre: Historical Fiction. A trade paperback of this one, which looks interesting because it’s such an unusual setting. This one’s gotten some great reviews. The blurb: After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, gifted Borte becomes an outsider within her clan. When she seeks comfort in the arms of aristocratic traveler Jamuka, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man who agreed to marry her and then abandoned her long before they could wed….Temujin will return and make Borte his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new kingdom. Their daughter, the fierce Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, will transform her desire for revenge into an unbreakable loyalty. And Sorkhokhtani, a demure widow, will position her sons to inherit the empire when it begins to fracture from within….In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, the tiger queens of Genghis Khan come to depend on one another as they fight and love, scheme and sacrifice, all for the good of their family…and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls.

frostfireBOOK 3:

FROSTFIRE, by Amanda Hocking (St. Martin’s Griffin, January 2015). Genre: Young Adult Fantasy. Trade paperback. This sounds interesting, but I’m no longer reading YA unless it grabs me by the throat and won’t let go. AWESOME cover, though. The blurb: Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes. Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden. But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

valleyfiresBOOK 4: 

VALLEY OF FIRES: A Conquered Earth Novel, by J. Barton Mitchell (Thomas Dunne Books, December 2014). Genre: Young Adult Dystopian. Hardcover. This is a YA that almost does grab me by the throat and has gotten really great reviews. Because you know I love a good dystopian novel. It’s the third in a trilogy, though, and I’d have to play catchup. If you win it, you might be able to find a deal on the earlier books and try it out. (Heck, I might have the earlier books in this monstrous book pile somewhere so stay tuned. If you win this one and I find the earlier ones, I’ll send them to you gratis.) The blurb: Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone—a powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to a state of complete subservience. But the Tone only affects the population once they reach their early twenties. Which means that there is one group left to resist: Children. In Valley of Fires the trio of kid heroes -Holt, Mira, and Zoey- are forced apart to accomplish individual quests if they are to have any hope of uniting what remains of Earth’s disparate survivors against its alien invaders.  Mira ventures west to bargain with Van Cleef, the enigmatic leader of North America’s most infamous resistance group. But Van Cleef has his own plans to end the conflict, a destructive solution that might actually work…but at a horrible cost. Meanwhile, Holt travels with Ravan and Avril back to the one place he swore he would never return: Faust, the sprawling and dangerous desert city of the Menagerie pirate guild. He goes not only to resolve his issues with Tiberius, its tyrannical leader, but to enlist the Menagerie in the fight to save Zoey. Except Tiberius has his own problems. Factions within the Menagerie are splintering, and word of rebellion is beginning to spread. If Holt wants the Menagerie’s help, he might have to help his greatest enemy in exchange. Traveling separate paths with little hope of safety or reunion, Holt and Mira bring this thrilling, genre-bending series to an utterly unforgettable close.

ultrathinmanBOOK 5:

THE ULTRA THIN MAN, by Patrick Swenson (Tor Books, August 2014). Genre: Science Fiction. Ooh, tempting for the keeper pile. It’s basically an interstellar detective-story thriller. This one’s a hardcover. The blurb: In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’s and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined….The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason….Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?

So…which of these five books would you read first?