Top Five Saturday is a meme hosted by Devouring Books to discover and share books that all have a common theme. The list of themes currently runs at
- 11/9/19 — Books with a Survival Theme
- 11/16/19 — Books by Unread Authors You Want to Read
- 11/23/19 — Books with Fake Love Couples
- 11/30/19 — Books to be read by the end of the year
I love this topic because it is so easy to play safe and priortise those authors and series you know you enjoy! And that safety can equally easily become a rut. So how do you force yourself out of that rut? How do you gird your loins in order to take the plunge into a anew author? Charity shops, borrowing from friends and libraries are all great: librarians in particular are unrecognised superheroes, always worth a chat along the lines of “I really liked… What else do you have?” Much better that Amazon’s recommendations at times!
And for me, NetGalley has also offered up a range of new authors who I hadn’t read before – as well as the pleasure of reading books before the publishing date!
With that in mind, let’s start:
A Long Petal Of The Sea, Isabel Allende
That September 2, 1939, the day of the Spanish exiles’ splendid arrival in Chile, the Second World War broke out in Europe.
Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser Bruguera, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.
When opportunity to seek refuge in Chile arises, they take it, boarding a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to the promised ‘long petal of sea and wine and snow’ over the seas. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.
A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.Amazon
I have never read Allende before but I have heard of her and I’m not sure what has put me off in the past. I have begun this one, so it is a little bit cheating to include it but I found the narrative voice a little difficult to get into but it is improving now that I have the “ear” for it. It is odd that The Spanish Civil War is beginning to creep into my reading regularly: this one, Ruta Sepetys’ The Fountains of Silence, Jessie Burton’s The Muse…
The Stray Cats of Homs, Eva Nour
‘A cat has seven souls in Arabic. In English cats have nine lives. You probably have both nine lives and seven souls, because otherwise I don’t know how you’ve made it this far.’
Sami’s childhood is much like any other – an innocent blend of family and school, of friends and relations and pets (including stray cats and dogs, and the turtle he keeps on the roof).
But growing up in one of the largest cities in Syria, with his country at war with itself, means that nothing is really normal. And Sami’s hopes for a better future are ripped away when he is conscripted into the military and forced to train as a map maker.
Sami may be shielded from the worst horrors of the war, but it will still be impossible to avoid his own nightmare…
Inspired by extraordinary true events, The Stray Cats of Homs is the story of a young man who will do anything to keep the dream of home alive, even in the face of unimaginable devastation. Tender, wild and unbearably raw, it is a novel which will stay with you for ever.
Another NetGalley offering, which appealed to me – something about the blurb and the title reminded me of The Cellist of Sarajevo which I adored!
Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix Harrow
‘A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers and the doors they lead us through . . . absolutely enchanting’ Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice
EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.
But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
‘One of the most unique works of fiction I’ve ever read’ Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author
‘A gorgeously written story of love and longing, of what it means to lose your place in the world and then have the courage to find it again’ Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians
‘Devastatingly good, a sharp, delicate nested tale of worlds within worlds, stories within stories, and the realm-cracking power of words’ Melissa Albert, author of The Hazel Wood
‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January healed hurts I didn’t even know I had. An unbearably beautiful story about growing up, and everything we fight to keep along the way’ Amal El-Mohtar, Hugo Award-winning authorAmazon
I mean – just look at that cover! How could I not want to read it?
Bone China, Laura Purcell
‘Du Maurier-tastic’ GUARDIAN
‘Deliciously sinister’ HEAT
‘A clever, creepy read’ SUNDAY EXPRESS
Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken.
But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home.
Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.Amazon
Have heard the name frequently and praise for The Corset and The Silent Companions and have decided that it is about time I took a look – and a delicious creepy Gothic read on dark winter nights sounds delightful.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.
Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.
Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it’s a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city.
But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa’s power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming.
A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora …Amazon
People tend to gasp audibly and go pale when I mention that I have never read The Lies of Locke Lamora – nor anything by Scott Lynch. So when time and my tbr pile permits….