Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics:
January 7: Most Anticipated Book Releases for
the First Half of 2020
January 14: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019 (these could be books, authors, blogs, websites, apps, products, etc.)
January 21: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf
January 28: Book Cover Freebie
Forthcoming TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:
February 4: Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads
February 11: Love Freebie
February 18: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover (submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)
February 25: Characters I’d Follow On Social Media (submitted by Tilly @thebiblioshelf)
March 3: Books With Single-Word Titles (submitted by Kitty from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner)
Now this topic requires a little clarification: what do I mean when I tag a book as five stars? It is a rather blunt – albeit useful – tool, the star ratings and very subjective. For me, am I looking for perfection in a five star read? Of course not! The way I view it is set out broadly here: a five star book is a read that lingers, that haunts me, that becomes – rather haughtily expressed, I’m afraid – a part of who I am; a book that I would highly recommend to anyone, whether they are readers of that specific genre or not.
Kate Atkinson, Transcription
“In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever.
Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.”
I could perhaps have populated this list with nothing but Kate Atkinson: whether it is the Jackson Brodie series or her more literary writing, Atkinson can do no wrong! Beautifully crafted, balancing comedy and tragedy and drama, her work is exquisite.
Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins
“A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.
“This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.”
And, again, another Atkinson, this time the sequel to her astounding Life After Life is almost guaranteed to be a modern classic.
Brandon Sanderson, Skyward
“Spensa’s world has been under attack for hundreds of years. An alien race called the Krell leads onslaught after onslaught from the sky in a never-ending campaign to destroy humankind. Humanity’s only defense is to take to their ships and fight the enemy in the skies. Pilots have become the heroes of what’s left of the human race.
“Spensa has always dreamed of being one of them; of soaring above Earth and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s – a pilot who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, placing Spensa’s chances of attending flight school somewhere between slim and none.”
Sanderson is another author on whom I can generally rely for a good, quality read. The Mistborn series remains my favourite, but skyships and aliens and a steampunk vibe… sounds great
Pierre Lemaître, Alex
“Alex Prévost – kidnapped, beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a wooden cage – is in no position to bargain. Her abductor’s only desire is to watch her die.
“Apart from a shaky police report, Commandant Camille Verhœven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads. If he is to find Alex, he will have to get inside her head.
“Resourceful, tough, beautiful, always two steps ahead – Alex will keep Verhœven guessing till the bitter end. And before long, saving her life will be the least of his worries.”
This is a bit of a risky prediction, based simply on the quality of the single novel of Lemaître’s that I have read: Blood Wedding. But golly that was a damned good thriller!
Stephen Chbosky, Imaginary Friend
Leaving your house in the middle of the night.
Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.
Starting a new school, making friends.
Seeing how happy it makes your mother.
Hearing a voice, calling out to you.
Following the signs, into the woods.
Going missing for six days.
Remembering nothing about what happened.“
Again, this is based purely on the quality and persistence of Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a novel which has lived with me for years. Plus, the Shakespearean and mythic echoes in the idea of going missing in the woods for days…. ooooh!
Margaret Atwood, The Testaments
“More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.
As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.”
I feel the need to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale before launching into The Testaments, but it is bound to be wonderful and powerful.
Marlon James, Black Leopard Red Wolf
“‘The child is dead. There is nothing left to know.’
“Tracker is a hunter, known in the thirteen kingdoms as one who has a nose – and he always works alone. But he breaks this rule when he joins a band seeking a lost child. His companions are strange and dangerous, from a giant to a witch to a shape-shifting Leopard, and each hides their own secrets.
“As they follow the boy’s scent from perfumed citadels to infested rivers to enchanted darklands, set upon by murderous foes, Tracker wonders: who really is this mysterious boy? Why don’t people want him found? And, crucially, who is telling the truth and who is lying?”
Another mythic and fairytale echo here as James delves into a fantastical version of the African jungles…. There are some very mixed reviews on Goodreads, though…
Adam Nicholson, The Making of Poetry
“Wordsworth and Coleridge as you’ve never seen them before in this new book by Adam Nicolson, brimming with poetry, art and nature writing. Proof that poetry can change the world.
“It is the most famous year in English poetry. Out of it came The Ancient Mariner and ‘Kubla Khan’, as well as Coleridge’s unmatched hymns to friendship and fatherhood, Wordsworth’s revolutionary verses in Lyrical Ballads and the greatness of ‘Tintern Abbey’, his paean to the unity of soul and cosmos, love and understanding.
“To a degree never shown before, The Making of Poetry explores the idea that these poems came from this place, and that only by experiencing the physical circumstances of the year, in all weathers and all seasons, at night and at dawn, in sunlit reverie and moonlit walks, can the genesis of the poetry start to be understood. “
Let’s include a little non-fiction: anything depicting Coleridge and Wordsworth and the lakes is going to have to be really bad for me not to love it!
Akwaeke Emezi, The Death of Vivak Oji
“One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens–and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis–the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.”
Hilary Mantel, The Mirror and the Light
‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’
“England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.
“Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?”
And there is no shadow of a doubt in my mind that this is going to be a five star read for me: I adored both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies and have been waiting so long for the final novel.
Keep reading the blog to see whether I actually manage to get to these predicted five star books! And whether the predictions pan out!
Again, a David Mitchell book is an event, and a thing of beauty! But the music industry is not my natural setting and again I was caught between this and another book – Daisy Jones and the Six in this case – and Daisy Jones was read first. This time, because it was nominated on a book club I was part of.
Bonus: 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.
This one has been on my TBR for years. Literally years. I have heard nothing but praise for it, but so far have never quite got around to reading it! Go figure!
So, there we go: a range of books that I got in 2020 – save for the Scott Lynch – and do regret not reading during the year. Is regret the right word? Probably not to be honest: I do not regret the reading that I did do last year at all. But these are books that I would like to find time to catch up with this year – before prize season hits us again!
Pop in the comments below your thoughts on these – maybe let me know which I should read first!