read-a-thon · TBR

January TBR: PopCulture Readathon (Part One)

Welcome to the first of three TBR posts for what I plan/want to read in January. My favorite readathon to participate in is the PopCulture Readathon and next month the theme is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m going to be honest that I’ve never watched the show (which I might start watching next month in honor of the readathon) but I loved the 90’s movie. The wonderful hosts of the readathon came up with three bingo boards and I love how unique some of the prompts are that I ended up finding a book for every prompt. Each board has 9 prompts so there is a total of 18 books plus some extras that I couldn’t get on them. I have a fair amount of books I need to review next month plus library books, buzzwordathon, book of the month books, my 22 to read in 2022 books, previously started books, a reread, a book from an old haul, and a book that I’m reading for a book club of sorts. So there is a lot. I would love to read all of the books but I will just have fun picking and choosing books off the three lists I made. In each post I will share a PopCulture readathon bingo board and also a couple of extras that I couldn’t fit on the boards.

Hey, I’ve died twice

I stopped reading this series in 2017 after I gave the book before this one 2 stars but I own all of them so I do want to read them. I hauled this book in the first haul I ever did on my blog so it’s about time I got to it.

In picture-perfect Rosewood, Pennsylvania, ash-blond highlights gleam in the winter sun and frozen lakes sparkle like Swarovski crystals. But pictures often lie— and so do Rosewood’s four prettiest girls. 
Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily have been lying ever since they became friends with beautiful Alison DiLaurentis. Ali made them do terrible things—things they had to keep secret for years. And even though Ali was killed at the end of seventh grade, their bad-girl ways didn’t die with her. 
Hanna’s on a mission to corrupt Rosewood’s youth, starting with a very attractive sophomore. Aria’s snooping into her boyfriend’s past. Spencer’s stealing— from her family. And pure little Emily’s abstaining from abstinence. 
The girls should be careful, though. They thought they were safe when Ali’s killer was arrested and A’s true identity was finally revealed. But now there’s a new A in town turning up the heat. And this time Rosewood is going to burn.

Angel

When a bull-riding champion is left holding his friend’s baby, could it be time to put down roots in Gold Valley?

Midwife Mallory Chance is ready for a fresh start in Gold Valley. And when she locks eyes with a handsome cowboy across the saloon, it feels like fate. After too many years wasted on her cheating ex, good girl Mallory is read to cut loose and prioritize herself. But when the dust settles on their hot night together, it turns out that her mysterious one-night cowboy is none other than her new landlord—and someone she’ll be seeing very regularly around Gold Valley.

Bull rider Colt Daniels has a wild reputation, but after losing his friend on the rodeo circuit, he’s left it all behind. If only he could walk away from his guilt as easily…or the temptation of Mallory. He can’t offer her the future she deserves—what does a cowboy with a heart as damaged as his know about forever? Then his friend’s tiny daughter ends up in Colt’s care. Colt has never wanted to rely on anyone, but he needs Mallory’s help taking care of the baby he’s beginning to love as his own. But is it all still temporary, or is it their chance at a forever family?

Buffy Summers

This is one of my 22 to read in 2022 books

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice.

When Theseus, the Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne forges a new epic, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.

Kendra Young

I started reading this last year and I’m exactly a quarter of the way through it. I still vividly remember the almost 200 pages that I read so I feel pretty confident that I can get back into this easily.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 70s, to the crack wars in 80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.

In every generation, there’s a chosen one

I started reading this one in November, I believe, and got 68 pages in before I put it down.

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series. Characters from the Epic of Gilgamesh populate this high-stakes contemporary adventure in which all of Manhattan is threatened by the ancient god of plagues.

Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents’ deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn’t know it, and that’s about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble. 

Sik’s not in this alone. He’s got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they’ll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.

Faith Lehane

This comes out January 18 and I have a blog tour coming up for it.

From international bestselling author Karen Hamilton comes another pulse-pounding domestic thriller set against a lush, tropical backdrop as a woman fleeing her past as a con artist finds herself trapped aboard a cruise ship with someone who not only knows about that past, but will stop at nothing to get revenge.

It’s an offer she can’t refuse…and might not survive.

Charlotte has an unsavory past, but she’s on the straight and narrow these days. She was so young then—she married the wrong man, falling for Sam’s sweet-talking charm and charisma, and got caught up in his con artist games.

If only she’d left him before things went too far.

Now Sam is missing. But before he disappeared, he left urgent, cryptic messages about someone threatening him—someone who has been threatening Charlotte, too.
So Charlotte takes a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party aboard a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella, to get far away from anyone who means her harm.

But as the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations, increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. Someone knows what Charlotte did. Is it the blushing bride? The seemingly placid mother-in-law? Or the mysterious heiress?

Someone knows, and someone wants revenge—before the ship reaches its final port.

Rupert Giles

I wasn’t planning on reading this anytime soon but I couldn’t figure out any other book for this prompt.

It is 1939 Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath.
Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Movie Buffy

This is another book from my 22 to read in 2022 list.

The second book in a YA trilogy based on the board game CLUE! 

In the aftermath of Headmaster Boddy’s murder, Blackbrook Academy has been thrown into complete disarray. Half the student body hasn’t bothered to return to campus—but those who have include Orchid, Vaughn, Scarlett, Peacock, Plum, and Mustard, now warily referred to by the other students as the Murder Crew. When another staff member is found dead and an anonymous threat begins to target the group, each of the teens’ opportunistic reasons for sticking around come to light. Orchid’s identity comes under question while Vaughn’s family life takes a turn; Finn and Mustard grow closer; and Scarlett and Beth struggle to turn over new leaves. All of this comes to a dramatic head at Tudor House with a cliff-hanger…

If the apocalypse comes

This is another one that I wasn’t planning on reading anytime soon but it fits this prompt perfectly.

Extras

This was my January pick from Book of the Month and I want to get better at reading the books that I get from them.

The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money. 

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

This comes out January 25 but I was lucky enough to get an ARC.

A breakneck procedural that is beautifully written and masterfully crafted, Erin Young’s The Fields is a dynamite debut—crime fiction at its very finest.

Some things don’t stay buried. 

It starts with a body—a young woman found dead in an Iowa cornfield, on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture.

When Sergeant Riley Fisher, newly promoted to head of investigations for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, arrives on the scene, an already horrific crime becomes personal when she discovers the victim was a childhood friend, connected to a dark past she thought she’d left behind.

The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found. Drawn deeper in, Riley soon discovers implications far beyond her Midwest town.

~Cassie

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