The Top 5 series is back! Top Five Saturday is a meme hosted by Devouring Books to discover and share books that all have a common theme. Previously on the blog I have focused on witches, werewolves, thrillers, faeries, fairy tale re-tellings, high fantasy and many more. I am going to try and bring this series back for every Saturday.
PREVIOUS TOP FIVE SATURDAY LISTS:
20th June 2020: Books I’d Give a Second Chance To
27th June 2020: Morally Grey Characters
4th July 2020: Coming of Age Stories
11th July 2020: (Over) Hyped Books
So this week’s topic – this week’s challenge – is to list the top five books I own… but but I own all of my books, and I really don’t want to choose between them! I love my popcorn reads as much as my classics and my literary reads; I love my fantasy as much as my historical reads… you may as well as a parent to choose their favourite child!
So, in order not to feel the waves of guilt and indecision that this might cause, I am intending to read “books” as “ARCs” – and physical ARCs at that.
I mean, I love NetGalley and am increasingly being approved for most of those I request – see here for my tips on How To Win At NetGalley for my tips and advice (tl:dr it’s a numbers game! 80% review rate is the golden ticket!) – but there is something different about receiving a physical ARC. The email to a real human being, which perhaps becomes a conversation; the physicality and perhaps the intimacy of taking out of an envelope a book which someone else put into it. It is special.
So, my five favourite books which I received as physical arcs are…
Summer, Ali Smith
Ali Smith’s The Seasonal Quartet is sublime – lyrical, poetic and profound and deeply steeped in both the contemporary world and in art, cinema and literature.
Transformative is an over-used word but Smith’s prose truly is….
Summer is currently beside me to continue reading and it is wonderful.
Spring, Ali Smith
And I have been privileged to have received not just one but two of the series as ARCs from the publisher!
The novels are wonderfully musical as well, themes and threads and characters recurring and moving around each other… Reading Summer makes me want to return to Autumn and read them all in order back-to-back
And look at those covers with wrap around illustrations from the art of David Hockney – so gorgeous and appropriate for the novels… I just had to give a collection below!
Highfire, Eoin Colfer
Eoin Colfer has always been an enjoyable read, and I have fond memories of his treatment of the fairies in his Artemis Fowl novels – enough to watch the rather disappointing movie.
And High Fire follows the same pattern: great fun, larger than life characters, a cracking plot and with additional violence and swearing thrown in. And dragons. A dragon. A somewhat retired, vodka-drinking dragon who has a predilection for Flashdance t-shirts and NetFlix.
And the corrupted sheriff Regence Hooke was a deliciously abominable character!
There was a post from the publisher showing off the gorgeous cover and a cheeky tweet asking whether an ARC was available led 24 hours later to the book arriving on my doormat. If you don’t ask…
Lost Acre, Andrew Caldecott
I find that I tend to ask for ARCs for ends of series: having read one or two books in a series, I tend to gush unashamedly about them when asking for the final book as an ARC. And it worked with these last two.
The Rotherweird series is wonderful, gothic, eccentric, and very British – a village cut off from the rest of England, bound to an Elizabethan past and forbidden from knowing its own history, populated by a wonderful cast of quirky and flawed but engaging people. Fantastical, historical, humourous and bizarre – an odd product for an eminent QC to have created, but a fun trilogy.
The Winter of the Witch, Katherine Arden
And The Winter of the Witch, which brings Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy to a glorious end, is less quirky but more potent.
Drawing on Slavic traditions and folklore in the birth of the Russian nation, the trilogy creates beautifully a community on the cusp between history and modernity, past and future, paganism and Christianity where a little strange girl learns that her nurse’s stories of myth and legend were more than just a night time tale to scare children. The legends of the domovoi, rusalka, dvorovoi , vodianoy and most importantly Morozko, the Frost King and God of Midwinter who has a tendency to steal away young maidens are all terrifyingly beautifully real.
So there we have it, not necessarily the Top Five Books I Own – how can I choose? – but the Top Five physical ARCs I have received.
I’d love to know what tops your book charts this week – ARCs or otherwise!
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!