Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer 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.

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My TBR is an ever fluid mercurial beast and new books flow into it and old ones resurface from the maelstrom. Perhaps a change word, a memory, a comment on – let us say – a TTT reminds me of that book I’ve been meaning to read for so long. So the books below are currently waiting to be read, somewhere bobbing towards the top of the list, alongside the books on last week’s TTT exploring other books on my TBR list.

Will I read them all over the summer? I am sure not because there are already some eagerly anticipated released (Akwaeke Emezi, I am looking at you and your The Death of Vivek Oji).

But let us start with some ARCs – because the wish to meet their publishing dates means that they will get priority:

Summer, Ali Smith

The unmissable finale to Ali Smith’s dazzling literary tour de force: the Seasonal quartet concludes in 2020 with Summer

In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.

This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?

Summer.

Oh Ali Smith, how I do love your fluid, mythic, transformative writing. Boy Meets Girl was my first Ali Smith and it blew me away! Her Seasonal Quartet which opened with Autumn as Britain voted to leave the European Union and closes with Summer as we struggle our way out of the covid-19 pandemic. These books are gorgeous and I have been lucky enough to have been on the waiting list for an ARC of Summer direct from the publisher since February! That is how keen and excited I was – and still am – for this book!

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library.
When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change. 

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. 

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

“Between life and death there is a library”… with an opening like that, how could I not request this one from NetGalley?!

Eight Detectives, Alex Pavesi

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.

But that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.

If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary. But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .

The Honey and the Sting, E. C. Fremantle

Three sisters.
Three secrets.
Three ways to fall . . .

Forcibly seduced by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham and King’s favourite, doctor’s daughter Hester was cast aside to raise her illegitimate son, Rafe, alone and in secret. She hopes never to see his father again.

Melis’s visions cause disquiet and talk. She sees what others can’t – and what has yet to be. She’d be denounced as a witch if Hester wasn’t so carefully protective.

Young Hope’s beauty marks her out, drawing unwelcome attention to the family. Yet she cannot always resist others’ advances. And her sisters cannot always be on their guard.

So when the powerful Duke decides to claim his son against Hester’s wishes, the sisters find themselves almost friendless and at his mercy. But are their secrets their undoing or their salvation?

Because in the right hands a secret is the deadliest weapon of all . . .

The Boy from the Woods, Harlan Coben

Thirty years ago, a child was found in the New Jersey backwoods.

He had been living a feral existence, with no memory of how he got there or even who he is. Everyone just calls him Wilde.

Now a former soldier and security expert, he lives off the grid, shunned by the community – until they need him.

A child has gone missing. With her family suspecting she’s just playing a disappearing game, nobody seems concerned except for criminal attorney Hester Crimstein. She contacts Wilde, asking him to use his unique skills to find the girl.

But even he can find no trace of her. One day passes, then a second, then a third.

On the fourth, a human finger shows up in the mail.

And now Wilde knows this is no game. It’s a race against time to save the girl’s life – and expose the town’s dark trove of secrets…

And moving away from ARCs, the following are books that I have queued up, ready to go…

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie’s most daring crime mystery – an early and particularly brilliant outing of Hercule Poirot, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, with its legendary twist, changed the detective fiction genre for ever.

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose.

But the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he could finish the letter, he was stabbed to death…

Agatha Christie is a writer whom I have neglected, which is a tragedy and huge oversight for someone trying to write their own detective fiction! So i am trying to pick up a classic Christie whenever I can: The ABC Murders, And Then There Were None, and next in the list is Roger Ackroyd.

The Pursuit of William Abbey, Claire North

South Africa in the 1880s. A young and naive English doctor by the name of William Abbey witnesses the lynching of a local boy by the white colonists. As the child dies, his mother curses William.

William begins to understand what the curse means when the shadow of the dead boy starts following him across the world. It never stops, never rests. It can cross oceans and mountains. And if it catches him, the person he loves most in the world will die.

I do like Claire North: from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to Touch, she blends thriller and fantasy well with likeable characters, complex fantasy elements and a thumping plot and pace.

Kissing the Witch, Emma Donoghue

Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time.

Acclaimed Irish author Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances–sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous. Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed.

Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire.

Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one’s own path in the world.

Gender twisted, feminist lesbian fairy tales? Yes please! I love me a fairy tale retelling and re-creation (I mean, see the Top Five Saturday here for evidence of that!) and from The Bloody Chamber to The Sleeper and the Spindle, these tales have ample capacity for reinvention in our increasingly fluid age.

Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin

They’ve infiltrated homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, the streets of Sierra Leone, town squares of Oaxaca, schools in Tel Aviv, bedrooms in Indiana.

They’re not pets, nor ghosts, nor robots. They’re real people, but how can a person living in Berlin walk freely through the living room of someone in Sydney? How can someone in Bangkok have breakfast with your children in Buenos Aires, without you knowing? Especially when these people are completely anonymous, unknown, untraceable.

The characters in Samanta Schweblin’s wildly imaginative new novel, Little Eyes, reveal the beauty of connection between far-flung souls  but they also expose the ugly truth of our increasingly linked world. Trusting strangers can lead to unexpected love, playful encounters and marvellous adventures, but what if it can also pave the way for unimaginable terror? Schweblin has created a dark and complex world that is both familiar but also strangely unsettling, because it’s our present and we’re living it  we just don’t know it yet.   

Weather, Jenny Offill

Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unofficial shrink. For years, she has supported her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but then her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization.

As she dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to acknowledge the limits of what she can do. But if she can’t save others, then what, or who, might save her? And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in–funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

Nightingale Point, Luan Goldie

On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.

Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.

It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.

Fleishman is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner

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 . . . 

To say that Fleishman has had mixed reviews is to understate the situation dramatically! It seems to have garnered some genuine vitriol and bile! But I am a curious soul and I am interested to see what the fuss is about and form my own views…

The City We Became, N. K. Jemisin

Five New Yorkers must band together to defend their city …

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.


Forthcoming Top Ten Tuesday Topics

  • June 23: Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10! Option 1: pick a past TTT topic you’ve done and re-do/update it (Perhaps you’d remove certain books you put on the list back when you first wrote it, or perhaps you have 10 MORE books you’d add to that list now. You could also re-visit TBR posts, whether seasonal or series you need to finish, etc., and tell us if you’ve read them yet or not. Any variation of this idea works. Feel free to be creative.) Option 2: pick a past TTT topic you wish you’d done, but didn’t get a chance to do (the list of topics is below).
  • June 30: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020
  • July 7: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By
  • July 14: Books That Make Me Smile (For any reason! Maybe tell us why? Submitted by Julia @ pagesforthoughts)
  • July 21: Book Events/Festivals I’d Love to Go to Someday (Real or Fictional. Submitted by Nandini @ Unputdownable Books)
  • July 28: Freebie (This week you get to come up with your own TTT topic!)

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