Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2020 TBR

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:

FORTHCOMING TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:

  • March 17: Spring 2020 TBR (or whichever season it is where you live)
  • March 24: Genre Freebie 
  • March 30: Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover (basically, people know you’re a book lover because… i.e., you’re always carrying a book or two, your library card broke from overuse, etc.)
  • April 7: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… (Fill in the blank. You can do 10 books you bought for the same reason, i.e., pretty cover, recommended by a friend, blurbed by a favorite authors, etc. OR you could do a different reason for each pick.)
  • April 14: Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)
  • April 21: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names (submitted by Michelle)
  • April 28: Books I Wish I Had Read As a Child

So, welcome to my Top Ten… erm… Thursday. It has been one of the mot bizarre and strange weeks in my limited little life so far. Coronavirus. Covid-19. Panic buying and empty shelves in the shops. Invited (politely but firmly) by my employer – who used the word “strenuous” three times during the conversation – to self isolate as a vulnerable adult. UK schools being closed. Exams being cancelled. And as a teacher learning how to “work from home”, a laptop locked by BitLocker with IT techs unwilling to share the recover code because of security did not help!

So now I am self isolating and home schooling my daughter and working from home for at least four and maybe up to twelve weeks; and perhaps as long as until September… the idea of self isolation being a chance to marathon through my tbr list seems no more likely than it was before! And that to-be-read list is the subject of this Top Ten Tuesday.

The List

The easiest way to complete this list is to refer you to The Women’s Prize longlist or the Carnegie Medal shortlist (announced today) but, even since the Women’s Prize was announced I’ve still added more books to my list and remembered others so I shall limit myself to only two books from that list. Maybe three. I’ll also choose not to include the three books I’m currently reading!

A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes

I loved Haynes Stand Up For The Classics on Radio Four: deeply embedded in the source materials and with all the irreverent reverence of the best stand up – I am very excited by her more literary re-interpretation.

In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective, for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. . .

In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash . . .

The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all. . .

Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.

Fleischman is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner

There has been a lot of controversy about this book and I am just excited to be able to make up my own mind.

Finally free from his nightmare marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of online dating and weekend-only parental duties. But as he optimistically looks to a future that is wildly different from the one he imagined, his life turns upside-down as his ex-wife, Rachel, suddenly disappears.

While Toby tries to find out what happened – juggling work, kids and his new, app-assisted sexual popularity – his tidy narrative of a spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if he ever wants to really understand where Rachel went and what really happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen it all that clearly in the first place . . .

Strange Hotel, Eimear McBride

At the mid-point of her life a woman enters an Avignon hotel room. She’s been here once before – but while the room hasn’t changed, she is a different person now.

Forever caught between check-in and check-out, she will go on to occupy other hotel rooms, from Prague to Oslo, Auckland to Austin, each as anonymous as the last, but bound by rules of her choosing. There, amid the detritus of her travels, the matchbooks, cigarettes, keys and room-service wine, she will negotiate with memory, with the men she sometimes meets, and with what it might mean to return home.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, Natasha Pulley

The sequel to Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which was delightfully charming and quirky – I am very excited to see what happens next to Thaniel and Mori.

For Thaniel Steepleton, an unexpected posting to Tokyo can’t come at a better moment. The London fog has made him ill and doctor’s orders are to get out.

His brief is strange: the staff at the British Legation have been seeing ghosts, and his first task is to find out what’s going on. But staying with his closest friend Keita Mori in Yokohama, Thaniel starts to experience ghostly happenings himself. For reasons he won’t say, Mori is frightened. Then he vanishes.

Meanwhile, something strange is happening in a frozen labour camp in northern Japan. Takiko Pepperharrow, an old friend of Mori’s, must investigate.

As ghosts appear across Tokyo and the weather turns bizarrely electrical, Thaniel grows convinced that it all has something to do with Mori’s disappearance – and that Mori might be in far more trouble than any of them first thought.

Tyll, Daniel Kehlmann

He’s a trickster, a player, a jester. His handshake’s like a pact with the devil, his smile like a crack in the clouds; he’s watching you now and he’s gone when you turn. Tyll Ulenspiegel is here!

In a village like every other village in Germany, a scrawny boy balances on a rope between two trees. He’s practising. He practises by the mill, by the blacksmiths; he practises in the forest at night, where the Cold Woman whispers and goblins roam. When he comes out, he will never be the same.

Tyll will escape the ordinary villages. In the mines he will defy death. On the battlefield he will run faster than cannonballs. In the courts he will trick the heads of state. As a travelling entertainer, his journey will take him across the land and into the heart of a never-ending war.

A prince’s doomed acceptance of the Bohemian throne has European armies lurching brutally for dominion and now the Winter King casts a sunless pall. Between the quests of fat counts, witch-hunters and scheming queens, Tyll dances his mocking fugue; exposing the folly of kings and the wisdom of fools.

The Familiars (and The Foundling), Stacey Halls

I have been meaning to read this one for an age and it is just possible – perhaps – that I will manage to get round to it over the next 12 weeks.

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

The Mercies, Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I loved Hargraves’ Girl of Ink and Stars and Island at the End of Everything so really looking forward to reading this, which many say should have been nominated for the Women’s Prize.

Winter, 1617. The sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. A young woman, Maren, watches as the men of the island, out fishing, perish in an instant. Vardø is now a place of women.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of the island to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In her new home, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place flooded with a terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs . . .

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

To be honest, with a review summary like “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” had sold this to me before I bought it!

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Starsight, Brandon Sanderson

The sequel to Skyward is bound to be great: the first book didn’t leave it on a cliff hanger as such, but cracked the world of the novel wide open in preparation for an expanded universe in the sequel.

All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumours of his cowardice are true – he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars – and it was terrifying. What she learned turned her world upside down. Everything Spensa’s been taught is a lie.

But Spensa also learned a few things about herself – and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.

Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Why have I not found time to read this yet?! What is wrong with me? Oh yes, so many other books clamouring to be read all at the same time.

They were the new icons of rock and roll, fated to burn bright and not fade away – until it all came crashing down…

There was Daisy, rock and roll force of nature, brilliant songwriter and unapologetic drug addict, the half-feral child who rose to superstardom.

There was Camila, the frontman’s wife, too strong-willed to let the band implode – and all too aware of the electric connection between her husband and Daisy.

There was Karen, ice-cool keyboardist, a ferociously independent woman in a world that wasn’t ready for her.

And there were the men surrounding them: the feuding, egotistical Dunne brothers, the angry guitarist chafing on the sidelines, the drummer binge-drinking on his boat, the bassist trying to start a family amid a hedonistic world tour. They were creative minds striking sparks from each other, ready to go up in flames.

It’s never just about the music…


So there we go, a snapshot of ten of my continually growing tbr pile in no particular order. How many will I get through? In what order? What books will sneak in in front of these again and drop them further down the list? Who knows?

Drop me a comment and tempt me with the gems on your tbr lists!

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