Book Reviews

2019 Beat the Backlist

This reading challenge, hosted by Austine @ NovelKnight, is all about knocking off those older books from your to-read list. Any genre, any format, any length. My goal is to read 20 books for this challenge.



The book must have been published in 2018 or earlier to count. It can be in any format (including an ARC/eARC) as long as the release date is earlier than 2019.

You have to start and finish the book in 2019 to count it. Any books started in 2018 and finished in 2019 do not count. Any books started in 2019 and finish in 2020 also do not count.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019
(your local time)

Please keep in mind that while this reading challenge has several different community elements to it, reading through your TBR comes down to you! I wish you the best of luck!



POST your backlist TBR for the year somewhere online! This can be in the form of a blog post, instagram photo caption, Twitter thread, Goodreads shelf, YouTube video, whatever works for you! You are NOT locked into these books, it’s just something to get you started! Make sure to share a link to this page somewhere in your post so others can find the challenge!

SIGN UP using the form below! Sign-ups will stay open all year long so you can join at any time.

READ backlist books and knock them off your TBR!

SHARE your updates on social media!



#BeatTheBacklist     #BeatTheBacklist2019

Sign Up Here


My TBR Backlist
2019 Beat the Backlist TBR List

Book Reviews

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Rating: ★★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Jessica Farris is a twenty-eight year old makeup artist. At her last appointment of the day (two valley-girl college girls), Jessica stumbles upon an opportunity to make some extra money. She overhears one of the girls talking about a study on morality and ethics. Also overhearing that her client will not be attending after a long night out, she feigns being one of the college girls. With her disabled sister on her mind, she welcomes the opportunity.

However, things go bad quickly when more is slowly asked of her. But with that comes more money to support her sister and family.

Unfortunately, I have yet to read The Wife Between Us. So, I had no idea what to expect coming into this novel, but of course, I was pleasantly surprised. My only complaint was that there was so much deceit (which always makes for a good story). Not one character could be trusted, so you never knew what to expect yet, or what was the “true” story at any given time.

Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

An Anonymous Girl is thought-provoking, suspenseful, and gripping. This novel will challenge your morality and ethics!

The expected publication date is January 8, 2019.

Book Reviews

Manga Classics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Title: Manga Classics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Stacy King
Rating: ★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Chafed by the “sivilized” restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father’s brutality, 14 year-old Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century. Their peaceful existence ends abruptly, however, with the appearance of the King and the Duke, an incorrigible pair of con artists who take over the raft. After many difficulties, Huck and Jim escape their tormentors, and with the help of an imaginative rescue by Huck’s old friend Tom Sawyer, Jim gains his freedom.

Manga Classics breathes new life into this American Classic with a faithful adaptation (complete with original text)of Mark Twain’s masterpiece Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I think what I struggled with a lot was the dialect. Whenever Jim spoke, I understood what he was saying less than half of the time. Plus, bad grammar is a pet peeve of mine. 

The story seemed a bit detached from the reader. One chapter, one thing was happening and then the next, a completely different thing. It seemed like it was an accumulation of a lot of different stories, almost like a novella. Granted, I have not read the novel prior, so maybe it would make a little more sense had I read it.

Also, the characters seemed entirely childish and unrelatable. I couldn’t connect with any of them and some things were completely unnecessary or lacked all common sense (which should be taught at schools today because most people seem to be lacking it).

I don’t think this manga was for me, unfortunately. But I can definitely see how many others would enjoy this, especially if it was true to the novel.


Book Reviews

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

White Stag

Title: White Stag
Author: Kara Barbieri
Rating: ★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a buddy read with Breanna from Paws and Paperbacks.

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

Janneke/Janneka entered into the Permafrost after her entire village was destroyed. For the last 100 years, she has been living with goblins. With only the hope of once again returning to the human world, she bears the suffering she has been given. One day, the white stag leaves the current Goblin King, meaning he no longer bears the most power. In a race to power (and to kill the white stag), no one is safe. 

We are all monsters in some ways.

On initial thought, this reminded me of the Wintersong series. A girl is taken “prisoner” into the goblin world, only to fall in love with the person she serves. However, the goblin in this story, Soren, I actually adore. He cares more about Janneke than having power over her, even if it means losing a large majority of his power, and possibly death. 

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the growth the reader experiences from Janneke. We see her become a strong, confident woman who faces her fears instead of running from them like she did in the past. She embraces the idea that every person (or goblin) has their own fate. Not only that, but not everything is as it appears. The novel ends with Janneke becoming an inspiration for those around her.

This started out fast, slowed some, and then sped up again. I wish there were more details in the last battle, because we only received the viewpoint of Janneke, so we didn’t know everything that happened in the battle (and I love battles!). Overall, this was fulfilling, didn’t contain too much romance (yay!), and gave the supporting characters some love. This would be a perfect read for those who enjoyed the Wintersong series and The Cruel Prince.

Expected publication date is January 8, 2019.

Book Reviews

The Flash: Starting Line by Brian Buccellato


Title: The Flash: Starting Line
Author: Brian Buccellato, Francis Manapul (Illustrations)
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Flash: Starting Line (DC Essential Edition) features an outstanding collaborative storyline from creators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, and collects The Flash #0-12 and The Flash Annual #1. Featuring gorgeous, brand-new cover art, The Flash: Starting Line (DC Essential Edition) is a definitive entry point to the DC Universe’s vast library, perfect for new readers and longtime fans alike.

Ever since he was struck by a bolt of lightning and doused in a potent mix of chemicals, Barry Allen has kept the streets of Central City safe as the Flash–the Fastest Man Alive! But thwarting crime has earned him a powerful and eccentric Rogues Gallery. Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Golden Glider, the Trickster and Weather Wizard have now united in their hatred for the Scarlet Speedster, and they won’t quit until they put the brakes on his crime-fighting ways.

The DC Essential Edition series highlights the best standalone stories the medium has to offer, featuring comics’ greatest characters. These trade paperback editions focus on the easiest entry points DC has in its vast library, with seminal, groundbreaking tales that transcend the printed page. Start with the Essentials.

Man! Introductions of all of our favorite villains showed up in this comic! But things don’t look good for the Flash when they all unite to defeat the Flash.

What is great is that the reader get a little bit of background to each villain and how they came to be, while also incorporating an overall plot line conducive to the story line of the Flash. The art is beautiful and true to the prior comics. This is a great beginner comic for fans of the TV show.

Book Reviews

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

The Girl King

Title: The Girl King
Author: Mimi Yu
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a Buddy Read with Breanna at Paws and Paperbacks.

Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal for readers of Sabaa Tahir and Alwyn Hamilton.

All hail the Girl King.

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…

Alone in the volatile court, Min’s hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

This is the first time I will ever admit to a novel having too much going on for me to handle! Lu, the Emperor’s daughter destined to take the throne. Min, forever in her shadow and always trying to be the perfect lady. Two sisters who are very different. Everything gets turned upside down when the Emperor chooses their cousin, Set, as next to the throne.

Myths are what common men call history distorted by time.

In a story of deceit, death, betrayal. and magic, is anyone safe? While on the run from Set, she runs into Nokhai, who happens to shapeshift into a wolf…and the only one left who can. While things quickly turn steamy between the two, history shows their “people” to be great enemies.

Beauty was a weapon – one that required honing and care, like a sword. But also like a sword it could cut both ways.

Min was always the obedient one. Set to marry the new Emperor, she is suddenly surprised when she learns about a power she now yields. Both girls embark on a journey of their own, except what they want might lead to the destruction of the other.

What is popular is not always what is right.

The action is non-stop and intense. I was engulfed in the novel the entire time I was reading it and actually wanted to read more than the allotted Buddy Read chapters per day. I’m excited for the sequel!

The expected publication date is January 8, 2019.

Book Reviews

The Liberty Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #6) by MaryLu Tyndall

The Liberty BrideTitle: The Liberty Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #6)
Author: MaryLu Tyndall
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lieutenant Owen Masters and Emeline Baratt meet on a British warship as sworn enemies. Where will Emeline place her loyalties when forced to spy against her country?
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

War Forces a Choice Between Love and Country
A trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy—until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him or her love for her country.

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)?
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)

What I liked about this novel was that the girl had more spunk than the male this time around. She was more adventurous and daring in the non-typical ways. Risking her life to save those she loved and taking on an invaluable role, Emeline was the picture of bravery. While a little ignorant to things going on around her, she was the epitome of a hero: selfless, brave, and patient. 

If you love enemy to lover stories, then this is the one for you! I love the attitude given by our two main characters to each other. It definitely brings some humor to the story! At first thought to be of opposing sides, Emeline and Owen’s chemistry still flourished. Once known of the same allegiance, their love blossomed. An easy read that will keep your attention!